Media and Audiences: New Perspectives

Media and Audiences: New Perspectives

Media and Audiences: New Perspectives

Media and Audiences: New Perspectives


a simple yet excellent overview of the multilayered path of audience research, tracing its evolution over the last century European Journal of Communication

• How has the concept of 'the audience' changed over the past 50 years?

• How do audiences become producers and not just consumers of media texts?

• How are new media affecting the ways in which audiences are researched?

The audience has been a central concept in both in media and cultural studies for some considerable time, not least because there seems little point exploring forms of increasingly global communication in terms of their content if the targets of media messages are not also the focus of study. This book ranges across a wide literature, taking both a chronological as well as thematic approach, in order to explore the ways in which the audience, as an analytical concept has changed, as well as examining the relationships which audiences have with texts and the ways in which they exert their power as consumers. We also look at the political economy of audiences and the ways in which they are 'delivered' to advertisers as well as attending to the ratings war being waged by broadcasters and the development of narrowcasting and niche audiences. Finally, the book looks ahead to the future of audience research, suggesting that new genres such as 'reality TV' and new ICTs such as the internet, are already revolutionising the way in which research with audiences is taking place in the 21st century, not least because of the level of interactivity enabled by new media.


Informing any discussion of the media in contemporary societies is likely to be some notion or other of 'the audience', whether it is rendered explicit or simply taken for granted. Indeed, it is worth noting how frequently arguments made about the media rest on certain shared assumptions about how audiences behave – assumptions that often lack any sort of evidential basis to sustain them.

Critical Readings: Media and Audiences, edited by Virginia Nightingale and Karen Ross, provides a welcome corrective to this over-reliance on broad assertions. It has been designed to work as a rich resource both on its own terms and as an accompaniment to their co-authored text, Media and Audiences: Critical Reflections. Like the latter text, this Reader offers a valuable overview of several key conceptual and methodological issues that have been at the heart of the field of enquiry over the years. More specifically, it traces the shift from a field dominated by mass communication studies to one increasingly preoccupied with the interactivity of diverse audience formations. Each of the chapters highlights significant insights derived from investigations conducted across a wide array of media genres in varied situational contexts. Topics explored include the complex ways in which audiences negotiate journalism, advertising, television violence, sport, talk shows and cyberspace, among other examples. Significantly, in looking across the respective chapters, it quickly becomes apparent that it is necessary to move beyond familiar conceptions of 'the audience' as a singular, cohesive totality. Indeed, the Reader demonstrates how and why competing definitions of what counts as an audience change over time and from one theoretical framework to the next. Thus in its blending of early . . .

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