Audience Studies and Media Effects

Write an essy on Audience Studies and Media Effects.


Audience studies is a multidisciplinary field of communication research and consists of wide range of theoretical as well as methodological approaches which all share the common aspect of understanding the manner in which audience engages with the media and the political, social, economic and culture aspects of such. To understand how such audience studies have changed with the present era of digital media is the main focus for this essay. Subsequently along with this, summarization of the two articles by Matt Hills and Dmitiri Williams is presented. Both in the articles chosen for this essay, elements of how the audience and its dynamics have changed with change in the digital communication and internet era are highlighted. 
In the article by Matt Hills, he effectively emphasizes on the contradictions of fandom and depicts how the new media fans have been critically conceptualized in the cultural theory (Hills, 2012). Fans in fact are one of the most widely investigated groups of media consumers and as per Hill himself, “fandom” is related to a specific form of “emotional intensity or affect” and are characterized by intensified emotional investment. Hills draws examples of specific fan groups, starting from Elvis impersonators to that of Trekkers, and discuss a wide range of approaches to understanding and exploring fandom. The theories range from the Frankfurt school of thought to that of psychoanalytic readings and ask the question, as to how this new form of media, that is, digital media creates distinctions and possibilities of creation of new forms of fandom. The fan cultures worldwide explores the notion of major fun cults or following, and effectively explores how such media fans perform the very core aspects of “cult” status. 
Theory of Media Effects is a broad term which describes the study of the influence media can have on society at large and individuals. Cultivation theory is a specific model, based specifically on television and it focuses on how media can “cultivate” detailed and intended beliefs and attitudes within its audience. Dmitri William’s article, is based on a controlled experiment conducted on a video game and explored the attitudes and behaviours of the players of such a game. The article observed the manner in which participants communicated over one month and their perceptions about real life dangers changed. These real life dangers only pertained to situations in the virtual video game and not on real life crimes. It was found that cultivation theory leave a major impact on the game play as well as audience beliefs. It was also highlight that, more the players were engaged in the video game, more were they impacted by it. William’s article also helps to understand how video games should be studied and the social implications of such (Williams, 2006).

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 Lastly, to answer the question posed at the very start as to how audience studies and its key theories have changed in the present digital era, the following key points can be cultivated upon; 
-    Technology is evolving and so is audiences and the manner in which they operate
-    Web 2.0, has led for audience to collaborate, share and contribute as well as author their very own content (Conner, 2013)
-    Today audience is responsible for the decentralization of the locus of content
-    Audience has the power to disseminate own information to a broad market
-    Audience has greater power and much greater control
-    Internet / digital era has revolutionized the media and drastically changed the mechanism of audience studies 
-    Time and geographic distance has been rendered insignificant
-    Interactivity allowed by digital era, has led the power to the audience in selecting, interpreting and deciphering how and what content to be viewed
Hence, today, audience has the power of decision making and control and they have been given an operational freedom. 

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