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The Uses and Gratifications Theory

  • Date Submitted: 05/11/2010 09:14 AM
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The Uses and Gratifications’ Theory

  What is Uses and gratifications theory?

The uses and gratification theory was first discovered by an Israeli Psychologist, Elihu Katz in 1959, reacting to a research that answered the question “what do the media do to people?” He led the argument that there should be less attention paid to what the media do to people and more attention on what people do with the media. Mass media audiences are assumed to be active participants in the interaction between the mass medium and the audience. This implies that uses and gratifications research focuses on audiences’ motives for selecting certain media and media content.

He cited a study by interviewing people during a newspaper strike about what they missed in the newspaper. Many read because they felt it was the socially acceptable thing to do, and some felt that the newspaper was indispensable in finding out about world affairs. Many however, sought escape, relaxation, entertainment, and social prestige. These people recognized that awareness of public affairs was value in conversations. Some wanted help in their daily lives by reading material about fashion, recipes, weather forecasts and other useful information.

The audience is made up of individuals who demand something from communications to which they are exposed, and who select those that are likely to be useful to them. In other words, they must get something from the manipulator is he is to get something from them. A bargain is involved. The uses and gratifications approach involves a shift of focus from the purposes of the communicator to the purposes of the receiver. It attempts to determine what functions mass communication is serving for audience members.
The uses and gratifications approach reminds us that people use the media for various purposes. Studies have shown that bored audiences use the media for exiting content while stressed subjects would use relaxing content, supporting the idea that...

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