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My Philosophy of Media Reception Studies

Along with my thoughts on the encoding-decoding-recoding model, what follows comes from my dissertation on gendered media engagings and describes how I consider the fundamental elements of media reception and audience studies.

What are media products?      

Media products are the technologies, channels and contents that constitute our understanding of what is ‘the media’. They are the items produced for the purposes of disseminating meaning in the form of information, whether or not it is deemed to be entertaining, from one person to other(s). All three aspects are necessary in order to transmit meaning from sender to receiver; that is, a media product exists as some combination of the three. Thus, for example, the media product Orange is the New Black is a specific content that exists only in the Netflix channel which utilizes online technology. When these three aspects converge, we can analyze them as ‘texts’ in that they are created by human beings to serve human beings and are thus imprinted with the meaning-making processes of human beings that can be decoded.

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Encoding Decoding Recoding

An Encoding-Decoding-Recoding Model of Media Studies

This blog posts continues the dissection of my dissertation that I began by introducing the topic of gendered media engagings earlier this year. This post focuses on a model I used in my dissertation to understand the array of media studies conducted to investigate the ways in which gender is involved in how people engage with media products. As with so many interested in understanding audience reception of the media, I have been highly influenced by the late, great Stuart Hall’s work on what has become known as the “encoding/decoding model” in media studies. Now, I, with much humility, wonder if this classic model could be improved with one more step: recoding.

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Understanding Uses and Gratifications

[The following comes from my Ph.D. candidacy exam in 2007; in this part of the exam, I was asked to consider the uses and gratifications approach to media studies: what it is, how it came to be, and what are the strengths and weaknesses of it.]             We are concerned here with explaining the uses-and-gratifications approach as part of the research field in communication and … Continue reading Understanding Uses and Gratifications

Digital game players’ preferences: Analysis of situation and gender

(The literature review for this paper can be found in this previous post.)

Study overview

As indicated above, our purpose for this study was to enter the literature on gender differences in game playing with two variations on the extant literature.  One of these was to include male and female assessments of game playing gratifications and feature preferences in the same study, something rarely seen in prior literature.  The second was to examine how gender predictions of these measurements of game playing vary across game playing situations.  For purposes of this study, game playing situation was defined as each player’s report of a game they liked, a game they disliked, and an imagined game they desired.  We specified only guiding research questions rather than hypotheses given the paucity of empirical and theoretical work directly pertinent to our focus.  In general, we expected gender differences from past literature to be reconfirmed.  But, we expected situation differences as well.  And, we expected gender differences to be complicated and mitigated at least partially by situation differences.

RQ1: How do men and women players differ on their game playing gratifications and game feature preferences?

RQ2: How do the three game playing situations differ on the reported game playing gratifications and game feature preferences?

RQ3: To what extent do the player’s gender and the specific game playing situation interact to impact game playing gratifications and game feature preferences?

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Adolescents, Media Use, and Identity Formation

A long time ago, when I first started graduate school, one of my primary research interests was the role the media plays in forming people’s identities.  At the time, I researched everything I could on the psychological and sociological underpinnings of identity formation, to try to understand how the media could be involved in this process.  I have not done much to follow-up on this line of thinking, as I became more interested in understanding media reception as situated sense-making.  But I do like to share my thoughts on these matters, in case they help others.  It’s rough, but the core ideas are there.

Originally conceived: February 2004

Basic Paradigm: One’s psychology is determined by the physical limitations of the brain, as determined by one’s unique genetic structure, as a depository and processor, which both shapes and is shaped by social influences and cognitive capabilities, which may be obtained via behavioral training and other learning techniques, but also serves as the platform from which higher functions can occur, such as metacognition, and from which subconscious functions of a more psychodynamic level can occur, with possibly unconscious effects. (a)

model

Psychology will then act as a filter through which: (b) one’s changing biology will be interpreted and evaluated, and; (c) one’s changing social/cultural environment and situation will be interpreted and evaluated.

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On Transgressing Audiencehood: Web 2.0, Interactivity, and Becoming What We’ve Always Been

I think I have now determined what my main research trajectory will be, and I wanted to take the opportunity to organize these thoughts to provide the beginning of a structure for how to organize my research, past, present and future. For awhile now, I’ve been convinced that how the new media has affected our understanding of “audience” is by highlighting certain behaviors that have … Continue reading On Transgressing Audiencehood: Web 2.0, Interactivity, and Becoming What We’ve Always Been

Teenagers Using Media Texts for Sexual Identity Exploration

What turns me on, turns me off?: Usage of media texts by adolescents for sexual identity exploration.

(A graduate school psychology final paper, edited for posting, with link containing the full paper.)

When the audience for the media and its content is children, research into the mass media typically focuses on two mediated “sins”: violence and sex.  Regarding sex, the concern is that the depiction of sex in and by the media will cause children to think about and engage in more sex than they would were they not expose.  However, this is only one possible relationship the audience can have with media texts.  The media may indeed inadvertently teach norms to a viewing public, but the viewing public may also seek out the media for a variety of reasons.  In their usage of the media, the audience may satisfy some desire, need or simple curiosity, and in gaining this satisfaction they may in turn think, feel or behave in a certain way other than had that gap not been filled.  Media usage is another means of approaching the relationship between young viewer, sex in the media and effect on attitudes and behaviors, and such a relationship may be rather prevalent among adolescents as they negotiate their sense of self as a sexual being.

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This conception of an active audience using the media and/or its content to satisfy some gap is at the core of the uses and gratifications (UG) theory of mass media.  Conceptually the flipside of the concern that the media will affect all viewers the same way, the UG theory would predict that adolescents in the process of sexual identity negotiation would seek out and use those media that are perceived as being advantageous sources of sexual information or other sexual gratifications.  Receiving these gratifications may then influence the adolescent’s senses of identity, of sexuality, of sexual identity, and thus may in turn impact attitudes and possibly even behaviors.  Hence, the theory is that mediated sexual information/entertainment (MSIE) is selectively sought, interpreted, and utilized as adolescents explore their sense of sexual self.  This literature review investigates the research that shows the uses adolescents make of the mass media in terms of sexual data, and the gratifications and possible effects they experience from this usage.

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