The concept of the audience has been a topic of continued debate and discussion in the study of media and communication. In the twentieth century, fears around the propagandistic impact of media technologies on mass audiences led to criticism and censorship of media texts from a number of different theoretical and ideological perspectives. However, alternative approaches to audiences have emphasised the active nature of ‘audiencing’, and researchers highlight audience reception of media messages in their cultural and social contexts. In the twenty-first century, the whole conception of the audience has been further challenged by digital communications technologies which allow users to be producers as much as consumers, and the impact of social networks and the internet more broadly have suggested the emergence of a more participatory culture. This can be linked to a move away from studying the ‘text-audience’ relationship and towards a focus on the place of media reception in the routines of everyday life.
This studio will encourage students to adopt an ethnographic approach to the study of audiences, by selecting a particular audience group and applying qualitative research methods to investigate the meanings and perspectives audiences generate and apply to their media use.
Read the story by The Guardian. What does it suggest about TV? About horror movies? Who are the ‘experts’ here? How is this linked to arguments around the value of popular culture? We will discuss these issues in the studio.
Outline the first seven weeks of study
The first few weeks of the studio will survey the history and theory of audience studies, in order to set the context for the ethnographic study of contemporary media audiences:
- Magic bullet theories
- Agenda setting
- Uses and Gratifications
- Reception Theory
- Active Audiences
- Audiences and publics
- Audiences and social constructionism
- Fandom and subcultures
- Networked audiences and social media
The latter part of the ‘taught’ studio will consider the different research methods (surveys, interviews, focus groups, participant observation) that have been used to investigate audiences.
- Alasuutari P (ed.) (1999) Rethinking the Media Audience: The New Agenda. London ; Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Publications UK
- Barker M, Arthurs J and Harindranath R (2001) The Crash Controversy: Censorship Campaigns and Film Reception. Wallflower Press
- Barker M and Petley J (2001) Ill effects: the media/violence debate. 2nd ed. Communication and society. London: Routledge
- Gauntlett D (2011) Making is connecting: the social meaning of creativity, from DIY and knitting to YouTube and Web 2.0. Cambridge: Polity Press
- Hills M (2002) Fan cultures. Sussex studies in culture and communication, London: Routledge
- Jenkins H (2006) Fans, bloggers, and gamers: exploring participatory culture. New York ; London: New York University Press
- Sullivan JL (2012) Media Audiences: Effects, Users, Institutions, and Power. SAGE Publications, Inc.
Studio 1: Another India
Studio 1: Another India will examine, reflect upon and critique the historic use of "exotic" motifs in design.
Studio 3: Music is the Weapon: Performance, Culture and the Music Industry
Studio 3: Music is the Weapon: Performance, Culture and the Music Industry is an exploration of race, gender, class and more in music.
Studio 4: What Not to Wear?
Studio 4: What Not to Wear? will investigate the roles that dress and fashion play in our workplaces.
Studio 5: Imperfect Theories
Studio 5: Imperfect Theories allows you to critically examine any work that can be seen as theory or presents an interesting relationship with theory.
Studio 6: Curating Contemporary Art: From the Wunderkammer to Installation art
Nico de Oliveira
Studio 6: Curating Contemporary Art examines the impact of curatorial practice on art.
Studio 7: Fashioning culture: clothing and the shaping of identity
Dr Lesley Stevenson
Studio 7: Fashioning culture will examine critically the links between fashion, clothing and identity.
Studio 8: Pleasure, Excess and Dirt
Studio 8 explores ideas of category, definition, identification and belonging through the examination of a series of objects and behaviours that appear to be in the wrong place instead of the right place.
Studio 9: The Continuing Lives of Objects
Studio 9: The Continuing Lives of Objects uses debates about change and preservation explore ideas within architecture.
Studio 10: Critical Theory and Critical Design. Artefacts, Images, Sites, Processes in Graphics and Illustration
Dipti Bhagat with Christopher Emmett
Studio 10 requires deep commitment and completion of critical theory and design for graphic design and illustration.
Studio 12: London Walking
Studio 12: London Walking looks at walking as a mode of creatively appropriating the city, with particular attention to our own city, London.
Studio 14: All in the best possible Taste
Dr John Cross
Studio 14: 'All in the best possible Taste' examines the historical influencers of taste, style and fashion.
Studio 15: Music, Technology and Ideas
Studio 15: Music, Technology and Ideas encourages you to explore how and why we make music, including its origin, relationship to technology and more.
Studio 16: Narrative and Storytelling
Studio 16: Narrative and Storytelling will see you produce storygraphs, storyboards and various forms of narrative analysis in the seminars.
Studio 17: Knowing Audiences
Studio 17: Knowing Audiences will encourage you to study an audience group using qualitative research methods in your investigations.
Studio 19: Material in Motion
Studio 19: Material in Motion will explore why an audience will put time, money and thought into acquiring an object.
Studio 20: Image ethics: Form, meaning and context
Dr Nick Haeffner
Studio 20: Image ethics: Form, meaning and context explores the aesthetics of the image and its role within fantasy, desire and social memory.
Studio 21: The Nonsensical Realm III
Studio 21: The Nonsensical Realm is a cross-disciplinary studio. This year it will engage with the idea of metaphor in art, architecture, design and music.
Studio 22: Meaningful work
Studio 22: Meaningful work explores the value of making and the idea of craft as meaningful work.
Studio 23: A Common Thread
Studio 23: A Common Thread examines the relationship between textiles and everyday life, including its design, trade, sustainability and more.