Updating the Obstinate Audience

[This post comes from my candidacy exam, in which I was asked to respond to a classic article: Bauer, Raymond. 1964. “The obstinate audience: The influence process from the point of view of social communication.” American Psychologist 19: 319-328]

Which, if any, issues have been dealt with and/or resolved within the field of communication?

Bauer’s article, and his labeling of audience as “obstinate”, occurred around the time others in the communication field, such as Katz (1959) and Klapper (1960), were considering the extent of media effects research in being able to prove anything about the influential power of the media.  For decades, the academic and public had been conceptualizing the people who use the media, or the audience, as being a passive lot that were uniformly affected by their exposure to a common set of mediated messages.  At the time the audience was largely considered as a social “mass” (McQuail, 1997): a collective of individuals who remained anonymous to each other and the producers of the media; who were unorganized in their approaches and responses to the media; and who by remaining nameless, faceless and powerless were seen as malleable by those media producers who were assumed, by the Shannon-Weaver model of communication, to hold all the power in the communicating relationship.  Bauer was part of the movement, or at least heralded as such, that reconceptualized the audience to no longer be simply a mass market potential, a collective of individuals predisposed to become an audience if the media industry could simply create the product that would be persuade them to become that audience.

By labeling the audience as “obstinate”, Bauer’s call was for academics to no longer focus all power on the transmitter of the communiqué; instead they should realize the extent to which the receiver, the audience (as a collective) or media user (as an individual), had in determining what influence the media could or would have.  “The answer has come increasingly to be seen in entering the phenomenal world of the audience and studying the functions which communication serves.” (Bauer, handout).  Deconstructing this quote can provide the means by which to illuminate how Bauer’s contribution to the construction of the audience as active helped undo ideas of direct, undifferentiating, all-powerful media effects.  While Bauer probably intended for this entire sentence to be taken as an instruction for how to research the role of the person in media effects, what seems to have happened is that the conjunction “and” represents a chasm that separated how two different approaches have been taken by communication scholars.

The phrase before the “and” represents a more qualitative, phenomenological approach that is more common, or at least more called for, among critical and cultural scholars.  Here Bauer appeared to call for the media studies researcher to understand the effects of media exposure from the perspective of the person who is being affected.  The call is to enter the “phenomenal world of the audience”, thereby to understand how the audience views the media, either as an inside member of that audience, or hermeneutically-minded to clarify the various spheres of interpretation occurring in the relationship between person, media and life.  Research that has attempted to do thus have come out of cultural studies by those who have conducted audience reception studies, such as David Morley and Ien Ang.  These scholars have attempted to understand the ways in which the media (be it a technology or a text) are a part of the lifeworlds of the audience for that media.  Commonly such research has employed some version of a classic ethnography, where the researcher “goes native” by entering the “world of the audience”.  Through interviews and observations, the research deconstructs the perspectives of the media audiences on their media of choice.

To an extent, then, this aspect of Bauer’s call has been answered by one branch of communication and media studies – although I would argue it has not been answered not fully.  While the researchers may be interested in the media audience’s “decoding” of the media, such research typically does not follow a systematic interpretive approach to fully grasp the various nuances of the media user’s “phenomenal world.”  There have been theorists and researchers who have called for such an approach (e.g.Dervin, Livingstone, Cover, etc.), but I will save explicating my thoughts on this matter for my answer to the last question, as I believe it points to one of Bauer’s observations and instructions that remains relevant to today’s researcher.

The second phrase in this quote, that which follows the “and”, appears to have been taken up by media effects researchers as it links to the uses-and-gratifications approach that manifested about a decade after Bauer’s edicts.  The call is for “studying the functions which communication serves.”  In fact, come critics of uses-and-gratifications belie its tendency towards functionalist concerns of the role of the media in everyday life.  Uses-and-gratifications propositions the active audience member as using a particular media item in order to satiate some perceived need or desire; in this sense, the function of the media for that individual is to gratify the individual.  Since McQuail and colleagues (1972) formalized the first typology of needs that were gratified, there has been many attempts to isolate these needs and gratifications and to understand how seeking and obtaining them impacts not only the use of the media but the potential for that media to influence the user.  In other words, led primarily by quantitative researchers, the focus has been on identifying the functions the media has for the audience to explain why the audience uses that media and how the media could influence that audience.

This focus on the functions of the media has had a tremendous impact on reconceptualizing the relationship between audience and media.  Very rarely will a modern communication study report on direct media effects, with the assumption of the passive audience.  Instead, some aspect of that audience is allowed to be active, whether in the selection, interpretation or application of the media.  However, the focus on the “functions” has to a degree left out the focus on the “phenomenal world”.  Media effects researchers will now routinely consider psychological or demographic variables to provide information as to how the audience “makes sense” of the media.  Here the conceit is that because someone is high in the need for cognition, then they are more likely to interpret this message in this way.  However, there is rarely any accounting for that actual interpretation of the person, of trying to understand the “phenomenal world”.  Instead, inferences are based on demographic or psychological variables – or to an extent even from sociological and cultural variables, as is more common among critical and cultural scholars.  This will be a point I shall return to again shortly.

In summation, Bauer’s discussion of the passive audience and the role of the person in media effects are two issues that have been dealt with by communication and media scholars, but they have not been fully resolved.  Critical and cultural scholars engaging in audience ethnographies have shed light on the “phenomenal world” of the active, and often resistant, audience through their studies of particular sties of media use or the role of interpretive communities on types of decodings.  Uses and effects scholars, in accounting for a host of mediating and moderating variables, have acknowledged the role of the active person in the relationship between exposure and effect.  However, neither has provided much insight into the interpretive world of the audience beyond the inferences made about how the audience should be interpreting based on this or that demographic, psychological, or sociocultural variable.

Which, if any, issues have been dealt with and/or resolved within the communication industry?

The transmission model of communication of Shannon-Weaver has inherent to it a power inequality.  In this classic model, the sender of the message is given the authority as to what the purpose, or meaning, of the message is.  In literary studies, this is the Author of the novel – Jane Austen meant so and so when she characterized Darcy as prideful.  In film studies, this is the auteur of the film – Steven Spielberg meant such and such when he had Tom Cruise frantic over his children as the aliens attacked.  In communication studies from the critical and cultural perspective, this means the ideological forces behind the construction of the message whose goal it is to continue the oppression of the masses.  In communication studies from the uses and effects perspective, this means the prevalence of sexual and violent content that could be imparting negative values to today’s youth.  But from the media industry’s perspective, this means that they have the power as long as they stay in control of the production of the media.

Thanks to the work of scholars such as Dallas Smythe, we are all now rather aware of the role of advertisement in modern America’s media industry.  Television, radio, newspapers, internet, and even to an extent digital games and films, are reliant on the revenue generated by using their communication technologies to spread advertisements.  However, the industry will not receive this revenue if they cannot guarantee to the advertisers that there will be someone consuming the media with that particular advertisement.  In order to make this guarantee, the media industry needs to generate an audience for that media item.  The industry then sells that “audience commodity” to the advertisers.  In order to generate the audience then, the industry needs to have control over how the mass of potential individuals can be divided up and packaged in such a way as to be attractive to the advertisers.  It is the difference of selecting only certain grapes to turn into wine, versus collecting every grape possible to make jelly.  The wine can be sold to one type of buyer, and the jelly to another.  But in either instance, it is the farmer who maintains control over how the grapes are divided up; such is the same with how the media industry, who sees themselves in control of turning some people into a “wine” audience and some into a “jelly” audience.

If the American media industry’s ability to function, and make profit, is so dependent upon their conception of themselves as in control of the audience, then why would they undergo steps to answer Bauer’s edict?  “The failure in research to this point has been that the audience has not been given full status in the exchange: the intentions of its members have not been given the same attention as those of the communicator.” (Bauer, handout).  Again, Bauer was writing in criticism of a media effects approach.  This was a media effects approach that, while attacking the negative effects of the media, was also a means by which the media industry and the advertisers could ensure that the persuasive appeals of the advertisements would have an impact.  Media effects studies may have denounced the persuasive tactics, but in their discussing these tactics the scholars further legitimized or even created the methods the industry could use.  Both sides of the coin were focused on the ability for the sender to persuade the receiver.  Thus, Bauer’s criticism of academia applied equality to industry.

The question then becomes to what extent has the industry acknowledged the active audience and the role of the receiver, as called for by Bauer and acknowledged (in varying ways) by scholars?  The instinct for answering this question is that they haven’t — that the industry still prefers (perhaps necessarily) to see a large passive group of people who have the potential to become an audience as they wait for some media product to be offered for consumption.  The industry must maintain its mythos of being able to shape and control the potential audience in order to promulgate its advertising revenue.  They would rather not think of an active – let alone reactive and resistant! – audience that is capable of manipulating the media products, the way in which the media products are received, or even shun the media products all together.

This stance can be easily seen in the response to online pirating.  The rise of Napster and the ability of the music fan to receive music from a source other than the album producers caused tsunamis of anxiety across the media industry – tsunamis that initially resulted in lawsuits and federal cases brought against the music fans.  The media industry was forced to face an active audience because of the rise of the internet.  When first introduced, the discourse surrounding the World Wide Web was one of equality, democracy, and shifting identities between consumer and producer.  The technology made it possible for the audience to be empowered – to seek out and use the media they wanted, when they wanted, where they wanted, all of which had traditionally been the purview of the media industry.  The internet embodied a move away from the transmission model Bauer decried, and it forced the media industry to be aware of and account for the obstinate audience.

And to a large extent they have.  But the result of this understanding appears to go against the Bauer edict as the media industry now apparently seeks to reinstate the power inequality.  In the past several years the media industry has rarely attempted to fight or thwart the active audiences that emerge and converge around their media products (outside of actual piracy).  Instead, the industry has been moving to co-opt and control these audience flows, to manipulate audience activity into directions that are favorable for the industry – to, in a sense, capture the lightning of the audience in a jar in order to power their own agendas.  Media producers are constructing spaces of audience activity that then shape the type of activity, and in some way the type of audience, that occurs at those spaces (Siaperra).

Where at one time producers such as Viacom and George Lucas would take legal action against the fans of Star Trek and Star Wars for their production of fan fiction, these same producers nowadays will host websites that promote such active involvement.  Where the industry feared the power of YouTube to draw people away from their media products, now Fox Corp and NBC-Universal will combine user-generated content with their own content.  Companies like Warner Brothers and Bad Robot will engage potential audience members in a viral marketing game that turns loyal fans into vociferous opinion leaders for the upcoming movies The Dark Knight and 1-18-08, respectively.  In all of these cases, and many more as such industry constructions are increasing, can we find that the activity of the audience is presumed, accepted, and in turn utilized to further the goal of the media producer: to maintain loyal audiences; to create engaged audiences; and to simply create audiences.

The rise of industry co-optation of active audiences reflects the desire of the media industry to maintain the image that they are in control of the people who consume their products, and thus they can know who the advertisers will be able to reach with their advertisements.  Perhaps from this perspective have we reached what Bauer called the “rough balance of exchange.”  On the one hand do we have an active audience, less likely to be conceived as simply a large mass of potential members for an audience and more likely seen as fragmented around specific tastes and lifestyles (i.e. social networks, personal interests, etc.).  This fragmentation was largely the doing of the industry, as it introduced more and more media products than the traditional mass audience could possibly consume in a lump sum.  But in fragmenting the audience did the industry produce specific segments that could consume specific products, and in turn be sold as such to the advertisers.  However, by providing all of these choices, the industry essentially assured the observation by Bauer that the audience is active – one has to be active in a complex mediascape in order to consume something over everything available.  The industry’s subsequent cries about the troubles of dealing with a fragmented audience should be taken ironically, for it was their own activities that dissolved the mass audience they had so lovingly cultivated and controlled.

Thus in modern America, for the media users of financial means, there is more power in the hands of the audience now than there was in the past – power not just in how to interpret the media, which had always been there as part of the “phenomenal world” Bauer called for us to research.  There is power also in the ways in which the audiences use the media to obtain the functions it provides.  With technologies like the internet and DVRs, the industry’s control over how we engage with the media has been diminished.  Although the industry may take steps to co-opt this activity and create audience flows that are more suitable for their needs, this most likely does not diminish the audiences’ activity; indeed, by controlling the flow through means that require activity, the media industry is again ensuring that such activity will become a necessary characteristic of modern media audiences.  This “rough balance of exchange” between the agency of the audience and the structure of the industry, where as one changes the other adjusts, exemplifies a shift from the transmission model of communication to a model Bauer had envisaged so long ago.

Which, if any, of Bauer’s insights are relevant for today’s audience and industry?

For this final section, let me return to that chasm created by that inauspicious word “and.”  On the one hand has uses and effects media studies taken on the call to understand the “functions which communication serves” as they have employed the tenets of uses-and-gratifications to understand the mediating/moderating role of the individual in the relationship between media exposure and media effect.  On the other hand has the critical and cultural reception studies sought to understand the intricacies of the “phenomenal world of the audience” in how it impacts the decodings of a specific media text or the use of a specific media technology by some audience.  However, there remains the concern that both approaches tend to infer the actual interpretation of the media user, and by extension the media audience, from a variety of demographic, psychological and sociocultural variables.  It is in this gap, this lacking, that aspects of Bauer’s arguments are still relevant today.

Perhaps it is I who am reading too much into Bauer’s use of the words “phenomenal world”, but to me this implies engaging in research that attempts to understand how the media user — which could then be possibly extended to a media audience through analysis of patterns — interprets the media in relation to his or her own experiences and perceptions about the world.  Such a research activity would require engaging in a dialogue with the person as to what his or her thoughts, feelings, impressions are about the media and its position in his or her lifeworld.  The result of such activity would be an accounting of this engaging with the media in the words of the user; and such results could be matched or further complicated by the recording of other sets of information used to generate an understanding for how the user perceives the media – behavioral tendencies, valid scales for psychological constructs, physiological responses, et cetera, et cetera.  However, without the self-report or dialogue with the media user, using any of the other measurements to infer this “phenomenal world” cannot be taken as valid.  It would instead be a research activity that ends up describing the shape and size of the black box as a way to infer the actual processes that reside as the content of the box.

Bauer pointed to this research problematic when he discussed the failings of media effects research that relies too extensively on behavioral psychology experiments.  “We forget the cartoon in which one rat says to another: ‘Boy, have I got this guy trained!  Every time I push this bar he gives me a pellet of food.’” (Bauer, handout).  In these experiments, the subject is exposed to some media, technology or text, and then the subject’s reaction is measured, by some behavioral or physiological test (e.g. punching the Bobo doll or heartbeat on an electrocardiogram) or some self-report scale (e.g. willingness to self-censor).  Rarely is the subject asked to give their impressions or interpretations of the media through a series of interviews, or in some way engage in dialogue with the researcher to delve into the experience of the exposure.  The subject is classified by his or her response for some predetermined variable, usually demographic or psychological, and there is no further attempt to complicate the understanding of the subject’s interaction with the media as it would prove cumbersome or uninformative in terms of statistical results.  Any statistical model that tries to account for too many variables at once, and thereby becomes highly predictive, provides less information to the researcher who is interested in the impact of a select set of factors.  In the end, the experiment places the power of understanding the subject’s media experience in the hands of the researcher, as it is s/he who has determined what variables will be used to understand this experience.

However, to only chide experiments with Bauer’s recriminations would be unfair; truthfully, similar problems with inferences can also be found in the reception studies focus on employing classical ethnographies.  The classic ethnography is reliant on observation, either distant or participative, and interviews of a typically superficial level.  The ethnographer is expected to enter the field of study and spend enough time there as to understand how those people who live there do just that – how they function, what structures are in place, how they see themselves, etc.  Conducting a media or reception ethnography typically does not have the same type of field work – one can hardly move into a stranger’s house in London for any great amount of time just to observe how they watch the BBC.  Shorter periods of observation are offset by more reliance on interviews or analysis of discussions.  However, classic ethnography tends to leave out dialogue with those being observed as a means to know the research subject.  There is the fear of tainting the participant pool, of altering that which is being studied by engaging too intently with it.  There is thus more reliance on characterizing the structures in which the people live as somehow influencing the ways in which people live – seeing all Middle Eastern audiences’ interpretations of a Dallas as being similarly affected by the sociodemographic structure that is their ethnicity.  Instead of delving into the specifics of the person’s experiences with the media, his or her experiences are inferred by the presumed commonalities with other members of his or her gender, class, race, sexuality, etc.  In this sense, the classic ethnography is no better than the classic experiment in placing the power with the researcher, who in both cases infers interpretation based on factors of his choosing.

The lacking of both approaches’ methods can be found in how they conceptualize the audience as a subject of study, which relates to Bauer’s point about a transactional model of communication.  While both approaches commonly now see the members of the audience as active, they also tend to see the audience solely as a segment of people.

The uses and effects conceptualization builds out of the classic idea of the mass audience – as that pre-existing characteristic the American populace has to become a potential audience at any time.  What is left then to determine are the conditions under which the audience will congeal and form an audience for a specific media text; in other words, what is it that drives large numbers of people to use this or that media?  Attempts to answer this question have largely focused on demographic variables – men like this while women like that – or psychological constructs – extroverts like this while introverts like that.  While they acknowledge that the people can actively decide which media item they would like to use, uses and effects researchers want to know what determines this decision making process so that they could then predict who out of the unknown mass could become the known media audience, either for the purpose of protecting them against negative effects or persuading them toward positive effects.

The critical and cultural reception studies conceptualization was never as seemingly concerned about the mass.  Instead, their approach sees audiences as emerging and converging around a media text not because it simply exists – like hungry dogs pouncing on a scrap of meat – but because something in it has captured the attention of their interests – like hungry dogs tracking down a deer.  Their conceptualization has tended to be more active without this reliance on the mass audience and takes a more empowering step when the researchers focus on particular subcultures they claim are actively and openly resisting the offered media.  However, there is again the tendency to categorize audiences by some factor, such as sociocultural demographics.  As with uses and effects researchers, the focus is on the people to the extent that they are representations of some sociocultural variable applied to them.  With uses and effects researchers, these variables are applied on a more individual level, whereas receptions studies has typically found variables as applied on broader level of the audience as defined by the sociocultural category.

However, there is another way of conceptualizing the audience that may be more akin to what Bauer meant when he called for the transactional model of communication as “the most plausible description of the process of communication as we know it.” (Bauer, handout).  The transactional model, in brief, would understand the end result of the communication (here the reception or effect) not as being simply determined by the characteristics of the media or the audience.  Instead, the model would find that any end result would manifest through the ways in which these two components interact to produce something unique from the interaction.  Hence any meaning that could be found between the communicating of the sender and receiver cannot be seen simply in the sender’s intentions, the message’s structures, or the receiver’s interpretation, and in the determinants of any of these parts.  Instead, the meaning can be found in that process of intersection, where all components come together.

There are some audience reception scholars who are implicitly calling for a study of this transactional model when they call for conceptualizing the audience as something other than a pre-existing state of people, be it the mass or a particular sociodemographic category.  Sonia Livingstone argues that the audience can only be seen in the relationship between the person and the media – in that moment of intersect where the components engage with one another to form something unique, the audience.  Other researchers have called for the same, a concept of the audience as more fluid, plural, fractured and overlapping than has been previously conceived.  Part of this drive is due to the rise of the interactive media, such as the internet and digital games, that require a level of engagement not made explicit before – although all media require a similar kind of engagement, in that the reader always interacts with the text to generate meaning.

With internet websites, a media user could come across a particular one at any moment in their websurfing, but be an audience for that website only in the time spent engaging with that website.  Once the user has moved away from that website, s/he may never come back to it.  In order to understand what led the user to audience him or herself to the website, we need to understand the nature of this relationship when the user was actively engaging with that website.   Similarly, a digital game has a similar audience; as more current video games have the potential for a number of different ways of engaging with the game depending on the choices by the player, the audience for any particular game text only exists within the moments of playing that game in that way.  One user may decide to go one direction into a dungeon’s maze while another may go in the opposite direction – can we say then that these two people, who are having different game playing experiences, are the same audience for that game when it is their own choices that determine the text to which they have audienced themselves?

While it may be possible to characterize the larger potential audience as has been done by both uses and effects and receptions studies, understanding the actual moment of being an audience to that media, of understanding the experience of that user’s “phenomenal world”, is harder to infer from broader sociodemographic or psychological variables without also measuring the experiences of the user as s/he sees them.  Understanding the intersect involves understanding a potentially more individualized reception as there may be factors occurring that cannot be sufficiently accounted for by the broader constructs.  The questions are how does the media cue and/or constrain the interpretation, and what about the person influences how structural features are responded to.  While it may be possible to at some point understand the influence of the broader variables, it is most likely the case that finding such patterns would be best accomplished by understanding the transactive nature of this intersection through a more dialogic, interpretive and detailed delving into the media user’s “phenomenal world.”

In the need to perform such research, to bridge that gap created by the innocuous word “and”, does Bauer’s insights remain relevant to today’s research on the audience.  Such work would help us to create better theories that could be beneficial to the goals of uses and media effects and reception studies.  Such work would also be beneficial to today’s industry as they seek new ways to control the flows of the active audience; if they can better understand the interpretive processes of those transactional moments, then they can better design media products to manipulate those moments.

While the communication field and the media industry have dealt with Bauer’s “obstinate audience,” there has not been a clear resolution on how active is active and who is truly in control of the communicating act.  Instead, we better understand the “rough balance” that exists between the audience and the industry.  The balance cannot swing to one side indefinitely, or else someone will write an article to highlight the “obstinate industry.”  By seeing both industry and audience as changing and adjusting to one other, and detailing the minute moments of such reciprocity, we can understand communication as a dialectic, and exciting.


  1. The cultural studies approach mentioned here refers to the work done based on the encoding/decoding model of Stuart Hall (1973/93). The studies include Morley’s Nationwide television projects (as reported in Morley & Brunsden, 1999), Ang’s look at pleasure and Dallas (1985), and Liebes and Katz’s cross-cultural audience receptions of Dallas (1990). These cultural reception studies tend to focus on how the audience’s derived meanings of the text match/conflict/oppose the intended meanings of the text.  This approach differs from the other cultural studies approach that focuses on using ethnographic techniques to understand the role of the media in the lives of the audiences (Scrøder, Drotner, Kline & Murray, 2003).
  1. The reference to Brenda Dervin relates to her work on the Sense-Making Methodology, which mandates a focus on the phenomenological experiences of the media audiences/users (Dervin & Foreman, 2003). The reference to Sonia Livingstone relates to her essays for over a decade on how the changing nature of the media audience requires more focus on the media user, especially on how moments of meaning-making occur at the intersection of the user and the text (1990; 1994, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004).  The reference to Rob Cover relates to his essays on how the rise of interactive media calls for researchers and theorists to understand the desire for such dialogue with any type of text, interactive or traditional (2004, 2006).
  1. This criticism is often directed as quantitative uses-and-gratifications studies, as part of its primary and implied fundamentals (Katz, 1959), by cultural studies scholars who are also interested in an active audience but are critical of structuralist assumptions (McQuail, 1984; Ruggiero, 2000).
  1. Originating in the 1970s, Dallas Smythe’s (1995) discussion of the “audience commodity” was one of the critical approaches that highlighted the capitalist nature of the relationship between the media industry and the media audiences.
  1. Since the impact of Napster on the musical industry, the television and film industries have more actively sought to control the ways in which people can access their original products. This can be seen first in the switch from the Internet as being completely something produced by the users to being a mass media for a more passive mass audience (Roscoe, 1999).  More recently do we see it in terms of providing downloading services, which they could control and reap advertising revenue from (Becker, 2006; Levy, 2005; Oppelar, 2002; Poniewozik, 2006), as well as the recent deal with marketers to consider ratings as “live plus three” (Elliott, 2007).
  1. Again, Livingstone has characterized the audience of the new media as plural and active, which highlights how academics and the industry have to change their conceptualizations of these media users (1999, 2003, 2004).
  1. The entire point of this argument rests on the observations of myself and others on how the media industry has begun to encourage the types of activities they once vehemently discouraged, to the point of providing space on their owned-and-operated online domains to promote such activity to cultivate brand loyalty (Adalian, 2007; Erickson, 2007; Goetzl, 2006; Powers, 2000; Shefrin, 2004; Siapera, 2004; Théberge, 2005; Poniewozik, 2006; Rich, 2007; Woodson, 2007). This occurred in part after attempts at shutting down fansites were lambasted into failure, having no any lasting effect (Consalvo, 2003; Shefrin, 2004).  However, the extent to which audience activity actually has an impact on original content is questionable, outside of the rare occurrence where concerted actions will save a show (Costello & Moore, 2007; Heffernan, 2007; Hollander, 2001) or box office flops like Snakes on a Plane.
  1. Fragmentation of the mass audience has been seen as troublesome in terms of less reliability in predicting who your audience is, possible reductions in product quality (Napoli, 2003), the fear of personalized advertising (Turow, 2005), and people who are less informed because they rely on one specific source (Webster, 2005; Yim, 2003). However, others argue such fragmentation is just the normal process of media evolution (McQuail, 1997; Neuman, 1991).
  1. This third conceptualization of the audience refers to the writings of Livingstone (1990; 1994, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004) and Cover (2004, 2006), as discussed above, and as they refer to the German literary reception studies of Ingarden and Iser (Iser, 1978; Holub, 1984).


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