Mass Audience Theory & Media Influence

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Lesson 2 of the Audiences and Institutions scheme of work, this lesson focuses on mass audience theory and features a debate over film censorship.

Transcript of Mass Audience Theory & Media Influence

LO; To explore mass audience theory To understand the idea of the media s influence on audiences

What do you imagine to be a mass audience ?

The theory - The audience as a Mass When we watch a film in the cinema or read a magazine at home, we become part of a mass audience Everybody who experiences a media text becomes part of a mass audience of that text This of this like a football crowd at a match, all watching the same game, but with the media, the audience are separated by distance and even by time

The creation of mass audiences If you look at the history of the media, it is easy to see where the idea of mass audience came from In the space of around 100 years; photography, radio, film and television were all invented. Each one of these allowed works of art or entertainment that previously would be confined to one gallery or stage, to suddenly be shared in exactly the same form to people all over the world. It s easy for us to forget how strange this must have seemed at the time

Blumer s Mass Audience TheoryIn 1950, sociologist Herbert Blumer described mass audiences using four statements; 1. 2. 3. 4. It s membership come from all walks of life, including people of different class, culture and wealth The mass is an anonymous group, in that the audience for mass media do not know each other or see each other There exists little interaction between members of the mass audience. They are usually physically separated from each other The mass is very loosely organised and is not able to act with the unity of a crowd

TaskIn pairs discuss the following; 1. Do you think audiences for media texts really do come from all walks of life or do different kinds of people consume different kinds of texts?

The history of audience theory Blumer was writing about the mass media in 1950, five years after the Second World War had ended Before and during the war, Hitler in Germany and Stalin in Russia had both used the media for propaganda Through films, radio and posters, they attempted to persuade mass audiences to follow their policies It s not surprising that to the critics of the time, mass media seemed like a dangerous weapon

You as a mass audienceIf the audience is a mass, then it raises questions about the power of the media to influence us. Discuss; Can you think of a time where a media text persuaded or influenced you to act a certain way? Why/how did it persuade you?

The power of mass media So far, which theory is most suited to the idea of mass audiences? The theory goes like this; If you see something violent on TV, you will want to do something violent. Examples of films that have been banned due to violence include The Exorcist (1973) and A Clockwork Orange (1971).

Task In groups, you will be given a side to take; One side will support censorship of films and one side will be against censorship of films. You will have 15 minutes to go onto the internet and do some research. Find examples or news stories that will back up your argument. Make a note of anything that you think will support you, remember to get details such as names, dates and where you read it. Create notes on A3 paper, you will then present your argument to the rest of the class, remember that you will need evidence to support your claims.

The power of mass media It is important to remember that nobody has ever really claimed that everyone will be affected by the media in the same way Many people see the hypodermic model as too simplistic, since it doesn t take into account different types of people

Something to think aboutAmerican serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer murdered 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991. He would often watch his favourite film before committing these crimes This seems to show the hypodermic needle theory in action, however the film in question was

His psychiatrist said; "He really loved the power that Darth Vader had to intimidate and influence those around him,"

Which audience theory can we discuss with regard to this story?

Criticisms of Mass Audience theory Some people have argued that one of the problems with mass audience theory is the assumptions made about the audience The first people to think about media theories were fans of classical music and literature they saw TV audiences as The Mass i.e. less intelligent This suggests a judgment of audiences that they are easily led and not as clever as the theorists who were analysing them

Criticisms of Mass Audience theory TaskDiscuss; Are there any forms of media that you think society gives greater status to? For example, which do people see as better , films or television? Soap operas or crime dramas? Classical music or pop? Do you have any feelings about the kinds of audience that these different forms of media attract? Are some audiences likely to be more intelligent than others?

TaskOn your blog, give your own opinion of mass audience theory and show evidence to support your views. What texts do you consume? How and why do you use them? Give examples of times when you have been influenced by the media. Have you bought something after seeing an advert for it? Have you formed an opinion on something based on how it is portrayed in the media? What is your own opinion of mass audience theories? Do you believe that audiences are easily influenced by the media? Use the evidence that you found in your groups (or that another group found) to back up your points.

Today you haveLO; To explore mass audience theory To understand the idea of the media s influence on audiences

Explored media theory Mass audiences Made your own judgement on these media theories using your knowledge and experience of the media Explored the effect of the film industry on audiences