Communication Theory/Uses and Gratifications

Introduction

Uses and gratifications ejon approach is an influential tradition in media research. The original conception of the approach was based on the research for explaining the great appeal of certain media contents. The core question of such research is: Why do people use media and what do they use them for? (McQuail, 1983). There exists a basic idea in this approach: audience members know media content, and which media they can use to meet their needs.

In the mass communication process, uses and gratifications approach puts the function of linking need gratifications and media choice clearly on the side of audience members. It suggests that people’s needs influence what media they would choose, how they use certain media and what gratifications the media give them. This approach differs from other theoretical perspectives in that it regards audiences as active media users as opposed to passive receivers of information. In contrast to traditional media effects theories which focus on “what media do to people” and assume audiences are homogeneous, uses and gratifications approach is more concerned with “what people do with media” (Katz, 1959). It allows audiences personal needs to use media and responds to the media, which determined by their social and psychological background.

Uses and gratifications approach also postulates that the media compete with other information sources for audience’s need satisfaction (Katz et al., 1974a). As traditional mass media and new media continue to provide people with a wide range of media platforms and content, it is considered one of the most appropriate perspectives for investigating why audiences choose to be exposed to different media channels (LaRose et al., 2001).

The approach emphasizes audiences’ choice by assessing their reasons for using a certain media to the disregard of others, as well as the various gratifications obtained from the media, based on individual social and psychological requirements (Severin & Tankard, 1997). As a broader perspective among communication researches, it provides a framework for understanding the processes by which media participants seek information or content selectively, commensurate with their needs and interests (Katz et al., 1974a). Audience members then incorporate the content to fulfill their needs or to satisfy their interests (Lowery & Nabila, 1983).

This is Uses and Gratifications. >

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