***Uses and Gratifications Theory History Early in communication research, an approach was developed to study the gratifications that attract and hold audiences to the kinds of media and the types of content that satisfy their social and psychological needs. Researchers Jay G. Blumer and Elihu Katz introduced the Uses and Gratification Theory not asking the question of “What do media do to people? ” rather asking, “What do people do with media? ” The Uses and Gratification Theory
A theory of Mass Communication that places the needs, motives and gratifications of media users in the center of interest and sees media users playing an active role in the media consumption process. It presents the use of media in terms of gratification of social and psychological needs of an individual. Categories of the Uses and Gratification Theory * Cognitive needs People use media for acquiring knowledge, information and understanding. The audience gains understanding of the world around by consuming media text. * Personal Integrative needs
People use media to treasure their status, gain credibility and stabilize social condition. Often people identify a part of themselves in media characters or in presented circumstances. There must be value reinforcement or reassurance; self-understanding and reality exploration. * Social Integrative needs People create personal relationship with the characters in the media. It encompasses the need to socialize with other individuals. * Tension release needs Media allows the user to relieve the tension by offering an escape to reality and creating a break from daily routines and problems. Entertainment Consumed purely for entertainment purposes, there are no other gratifications. Assumptions Uses and gratifications theory attempts to explain the uses and functions of the media for individuals, groups, and society in general. There are three objectives in developing uses and gratifications theory: 1) To explain how individuals use mass communication to gratify their needs. “What do people do with the media”. 2) To discover underlying motives for individuals’ media use. 3) To identify the positive and the negative consequences of individual media use.
At the core of uses and gratifications theory lies the assumption that audience members actively seek out the mass media to satisfy individual needs. Criticisms James Lull (2002) criticized the main assumption that people seek out media to satisfy a personal need, especially to entertain themselves. Lull suggested that audiences don’t always accept the content of the media and that not all media are meant to prove gratification or satisfy the need for entertainment. Audiences don’t always benefit from the use of the media and don’t take on in media assumption willingly and independently.
Ien Ang criticized that the theory only tends to focus on individual needs and disregarding social content. ***Spiral of Silence Imagine you and some other people are sitting around at dinner talking about a movie you had just seen. You don’t know these people all that well so you’ve just been listening to the conversation. You loved the movie, but they all keep talking about how much they hated it. You can’t understand why, but don’t want to express your views in front of all of them.
Later you start talking to one of the other people at dinner and learn that they too liked the movie. History and Orientation Neumann (1974) introduced the “spiral of silence” as an attempt to explain in part how public opinion is formed. She wondered why the Germans supported wrong political positions that led to national defeat, humiliation and ruin in the 1930s-1940s. Core Assumptions and Statements The phrase “spiral of silence” actually refers to how people tend to remain silent when they feel that their views are in the minority.
The model is based on three premises: 1) People have a “quasi-statistical organ,” a sixth-sense if you will, which allows them to know the prevailing public opinion, even without access to polls 2) People have a fear of isolation and know what behaviors will increase their likelihood of being socially isolated, and 3) People are reticent to express their minority views, primarily out of fear of being isolated. The closer a person believes the opinion held is similar to the prevailing public opinion, the more they are willing to openly disclose that opinion in public.
Then, if public sentiment changes, the person will recognize that the opinion is less in favor and will be less willing to express that opinion publicly. As the perceived distance between public opinion and a person’s personal opinion grows, the more unlikely the person is to express their opinion. Conceptual Model Scope and Application It is related to the mass media, in such a way that mass media influences public opinion. Shifts in public opinion occur commonly and therefore this theory is used to search an explanation for behavior (speak up or stay silent).
The theory has also been criticized for ambiguity and methodological weakness, but the idea has persisted. Evidence of the spiral effect is usually small but significant. Example * The 1991 Gulf War the U. S. support for the war was measured. Either it is a consensus view or did media coverage contribute to a spiral of silence that dampened opposition to the war? In a survey that asked about people’s opinions, respondents were clearly less supportive of the war than the popular support depicted by the media. Those who watched television and perceived that the public supported the war, were more likely to support the war themselves.
This study supports the spiral of silence and suggests that people are swayed by bandwagon effects rather than fearing social isolation. * Adolf Hitler is known for his skillful speeches, but his propaganda also helped the party get a large amount of support from the citizens. There is a clip of footage of an example of the Nazi propaganda from 1939, which shows German military maneuvers of tanks, troops, and combat planes. It suggests that the Nazi party is superior to other countries and displays their great source of power. It says that their combat planes can even fly under bad weather conditions.
It also describes that people are watching the sky with some fear, but at the same time they are smiling for hope and faith. The film is made with brave music and emphasizes the Nazi’s military strength. Also, it shows German tanks moving in to attack the Soviet Union. Nazis used not only films, but also other media such as newspapers, radio and magazines. The magazine “Signal” was a magazine which was published by the Nazi party from 1940 to 1945. It published about 2,500, 000 copies and was about German’s with a modern blend of articles and pictures about stories from the battlefield.
Also, it showed pictures of extreme weapons which other countries avoided showing. Critique The Spiral of Silence theory is a scientific theory that for the most part is quite sound in situations in which opinions are not of great consequence. For example, if my opinion is a strong conviction and I am unwilling to bend in my beliefs then the theory may not apply to me to such an extent. Also, if I am an opinion leader, (from the Katz and Lazarsfeld theory) that is I am the one voicing my opinion and affecting other people; then I also may not bend in my opinions either. ***MEDIA ECOLOGY THEORY
Definitions: It is an interdisciplinary field of media theory involving the study of media environments Media Ecology Association ; Lance Strate: The study of media environments, the idea that technology and techniques, modes of information and codes of communication play a leading role in human affairs. Marshall McLuhan 1977: Means arranging various media to help each other so they won’t cancel each other out, to buttress one medium with another. You might say, for example, that radio is a bigger help to literacy than television, but television might be a very wonderful aid to teaching languages.
And so you can do some things on some media that you cannot do on others. And, therefore, if you watch the whole field, you can prevent this waste that comes by one canceling the other out Inspired by McLuhan, Neil Postman founded the Program in Media Ecology at New York University in 1971: Media ecology looks into the matter of how media of communication affect human perception, understanding, feeling, and value; and how our interaction with media facilitates or impedes our chances of survival.
The word ecology implies the study of environments: their structure, content, and impact on people The word ecology implies the study of environments: their structure, content, and impact on people. An environment is, after all, a complex message system that imposes on human beings certain ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving. * It structures what we can see and say and, therefore, do. * It assigns roles to us and insists on our playing them. * It specifies what we are permitted to do and what we are not.
Sometimes, as in the case of a courtroom, or classroom, or business office, the specifications are explicit and formal. In the case of media environments (e. g. , books, radio, film, television, etc. ), the specifications are more often implicit and informal, half concealed by our assumption that what we are dealing with is not an environment but merely a machine. Media ecology tries to make these specifications explicit. It tries to find out what roles media force us to play, how media structure what we are seeing, why media make us feel and act as we do.
Media ecology is the study of media as environments. (Christine Nystrom) It is, by now, almost a commonplace to remark that the 20th century is an era of change, of change unprecedented in its scope, its pace, and its potential for violent effects on the fabric of civilization. * For Kenneth Boulding, the changes which have taken place since 1900 are of such enormous significance that he marks the 20th century as the turning point in what he calls “the second great transition in the history of mankind”—that is, the transition from “civilization” to “post-civilization. According to Boulding, the impetus for that transition is provided by a radical shift in what he calls man’s “image” of reality. * Thomas Kuhn refers to the same kind of radical shift as a revolution in paradigms; Pierre Teilhard de Chardin calls it a change in the noosphere; Ervin Laszlo, Ludwig von Bertalanffy, and others call it simply a shift in man’s world view. * What each is referring to is an epochal change in the status, organization, and application of knowledge. **Magic Bullet or Hypodermic Needle Theory This theory suggests that mass media has a direct, immediate and powerful effect on its audiences. It holds that media broadcasts directly shape the opinions and actions of viewers who remain passive and accept, rather than examine, media messages. The theory states that media has the ability to persuade the masses toward any point of view.
In the 1940s and 1950s, the mass media was perceived as a catalyst of behavioral change because of the following factors: * The fast rise and popularization of radio and television * The emergence of the persuasion industries, such as advertising and propaganda * The Payne Fund studies of the 1930s, which focused on the impact of motion pictures on children, and * Hitler’s monopolization of the mass media during WWII to unify the German public behind the Nazi party The theory suggests that the mass media can influence a large group of people by feeding them with messages designed to elicit a desired response.
Both the bullet and the needle suggest an aggressive and direct flow of information from sender to receiver. The message is represented as a bullet fired directly to an audience’s head and as a hypodermic needle that is injected directly to a passive viewer. They both suggest that the receiver is powerless in resisting the impact of the message and ends up believing whatever is said because there is no other source of information. Criticisms In the election studies in “The People’s Choice,” the Magic Bullet Theory was deemed inaccurate.
This project was conducted in 1940, during the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt to determine the relationship of mass media to voting and political behavior. According to the study, most of the people were not affected by political propaganda and was influenced by family, friends and peers. This showed how the people resisted media messages and did contradictory actions. Put into a contemporary perspective; let us take Prospero Pichay for example. In the 2007 elections, he was eclared the biggest spender in terms of political campaigns. Much to his dismay, he was not able to secure a spot in the senatorial slate. As more interactive forms of media like the internet became available, the magic bullet theory was replaced by other more instrumental models such as the two-step of flow theory and diffusion of innovations theory. Example The classic example of this theory is the broadcast of Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater Group of their edition of H. G.
Wells’ “War of the Worlds” on October 30, 1938. On Halloween Eve, radio programming was interrupted with a news bulletin and the listeners heard that Martians had begun an invasion in Grover’s Mill, New Jersey. About one million of the 12 million who heard it actually believed that a Martian invasion was at hand. Hysteria filled the streets, interrupting religious services, causing traffic jams, and clogging communication systems. People stormed groceries and started panic buying.
This broadcast was the best example of how the theory worked. It showed how the media can manipulate a gullible and passive public. ***Interdependence Theory Interdependence implies that mass media and society are continually interacting and influencing each other. The media respond to the demand from society for information and entertainment and, at the same time, stimulate innovation and contribute to a changing social-cultural climate, which sets off new demands for communication.
The French sociologist Gabriel Tarde, writing about 1900, envisaged a constant interviewing of influences. Technological developments made newspapers possible, newspapers promote the formation of broader publics, and they, by broadening the loyalties of their members, create an extensive network of overlapping and shifting groupings’ (Clark, 1969). Today, the various influences are so bound together that neither mass communication nor modern society is conceivable without the other, and each s a necessary, though not a sufficient, condition for the other. From this point of view we have to conclude that the media may equally be considered to mould or to mirror society and social changes. ***Cultivation Analysis Television shapes concepts of social reality. * Cultivation theory (sometimes referred to as the cultivation hypothesis or cultivation analysis) was an approach developed by Professor George Gerbner, dean of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania.
It is derived from several large-scale projects “concerned with the effects of television programming (particularly violent programming) on the attitudes and behaviors of the American public” (Miller, 2005, p. 281) * This theory was developed to study whether and how watching television may influence viewers’ ideas of what the everyday world is like. * Cultivation theorists argue that television has long-term effects which are small, gradual, indirect but cumulative and significant. Core Assumptions ; Statements Cultivation theory suggests that television is responsible for shaping, or ‘cultivating’ viewers’ conceptions of social reality. * The combined effect of massive television exposure by viewers over time subtly shapes the perception of social reality for individuals and, ultimately, for our culture as a whole. * Gerbner argues that the mass media cultivate attitudes and values which are already present in a culture: the media maintain and propagate these values amongst members of a culture, thus binding it together. Cultivation theory presents television as ‘not a window on or reflection of the world, but a world in itself’. * The cultivation effect of television viewing is one of ‘levelling’ or ‘homogenizing’ opinion referred to as mainstreaming effect. * The cultivation effect is divided into two order: 1. First-order cultivation effects refer to the effects of television on statistical descriptions about the world 2. Second-order cultivation effects refer to effects on beliefs about the general nature of the world” * There is also a distinction between two groups of television viewers: light viewers – views television for less than 2 hours * heavy viewers – views television for more than four hours * People who watch a lot of television are likely to be more influenced by the ways in which the world is framed by television programs than are individuals who watch less * The difference in the pattern of responses between light and heavy viewers (when other variables are controlled), is referred to as the ‘cultivation differential’, reflecting the extent to which an attitude seems to be shaped by watching television. ‘Resonance’ describes the intensified effect on the audience when what people see on television is what they have experienced in life. This double dose of the televised message tends to amplify the cultivation effect. Steps in Cultivation Research 1. Content Analysis In 1969, Gerbner and his colleagues “began to chart the content of prime-time and weekend children’s television programming, and Gerbner et al. (1986, p. 25) noted that 2,105 programs, 6,055 major characters, and 19,116 minor characters had been analyzed by 1984. Significantly, Gerbner et al. pp. 25 – 26) noted the following patterns: * Men outnumbered women three to one on television * Older people and younger people are underrepresented on television * Blacks and Hispanics are underrepresented on [American] television * Seventy percent of television characters are “middle class” * Crime is 10 times as rampant in the “television world” 2. Cultural indicators analysis The process of “assessing individuals’ beliefs about what the world is like”; this analysis involves surveys of individuals using factual questions about the world
Miller (2005) says a separate measure (often at a different point in time) would be used to assess the overall viewing habits of the individual 3. Cultivation analysis A comparison between light television viewers and heavy television viewers: If heavy television viewers tended to provide answers that were more in line with the television response, researchers would have support for the cultivation hypothesis. Conceptual Model Scope and Application * Gerbner and Gross (1976) say “[t]elevision is a medium of the socialization of most people into standardized roles and behaviors.
Its function is in a word, enculturation” (p. 175). * Cultivation research looks at the mass media as a socializing agent and investigates whether television viewers come to believe the television version of reality the more they watch it. Example: In a survey of about 450 New Jersey schoolchildren, 73 percent of heavy viewers compared to 62 percent of light viewers gave the TV answer to a question asking them to estimate the number of people involved in violence in a typical week.
The same survey showed that children who were heavy viewers were more fearful about walking alone in a city at night. They also overestimated the number of people who commit serious crimes. This effect is called ‘mean world syndrome’. One controlled experiment addressed the issue of cause and effect, manipulating the viewing of American college students to create heavy- and light-viewing groups. After 6 weeks of controlled viewing, heavy viewers of action-adventure programs were indeed found to be more fearful of life in the everyday world than were light viewers.