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4: Audiences and Identity
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- 4.1: Audiences and Audience Research
- This section discusses the different ways we think about receivers, audiences, and users, and how communication and media scholars might approach thinking about and studying audiences. It is worth breaking these concepts down into separate components to try to understand them. However, these concepts are artificial constructs, and the line between receivers, users, and audiences is becoming increasingly soft and blurred and they may have faded in their usefulness.
- 4.2: Researching Audiences
- Audience studies have been around as long as there has been commercial mass media – producers needed to prove to potential advertisers that their message was received by a certain number (and later on, a certain type) of people. As such, audience research has ties to ideas about consumer culture. But as metrics and other ways of gathering information grew more sophisticated the demographics continued to be refined.
- 4.3: Consumer Cultures
- The term consumer cultures refers to a theory according to which modern human society is strongly subjected to consumerism and stresses the centrality of purchasing commodities and services (and along with them power) as a cultural practice that fosters social behaviors.
- 4.4: Consumerism and Subjectivity
- To achieve an appropriate understanding of the processes of consumption, it is essential to consider and analyze the activity of the subjects who practice them. Moreover, it is essential to contextualize the activity of the subjects who perform their choices and behaviors inside a net of power relations that control and organize the availability of goods in the marketplace. Therefore, it is important to consider consumer practices and subjectivities as an autonomous social sphere.
- 4.5: Identity and Fan Cultures
- Communication isn’t purely about transmission. It is also about the ritual of communication, about the ongoing socio-cultural interactions that form a core part of the communicative process. So this section looks at questions of identity performance between users in interactions, and starts to explore more deeply how we make and receive messages as social creatures.
- 4.6: Impressions Management
- Impressions management refers to the overt and the unconscious strategies we, as social individuals, deploy to try and influence how others perceive us. Impressions management can explain our clothes, our gestures, the ways we speak, the twitter username we choose, or the Facebook picture we pick for our profile. In deciding on which outwards signs to convey, we try to imagine how others would decode and relate to those signs, and thus choose signs which would generate the desired decoding.
- 4.7: Looking-Glass Self
- The looking-glass-self draws more deeply on psychological rather than sociological models of the self in society, but like impressions management, it approaches the dynamic self through that self’s place in a social context, surrounded by other selves, other identities.
- 4.8: Dramaturgy
- Dramaturgy is a sociological perspective on identity that employs a theatrical metaphor to explore issues of identity formation and reformation. As such, dramaturgy assumes a place, a moment, and an audience to whom the identity is being presented. This places identity formation both in a social context (such as a classroom, a chatroom, a family, etc) as well as at a particular point in time. This implies that identities can shift with varying contexts and moments.
- 4.9: Fandom
- Fans are those who identify with the enthusiastic engagement with a text. This text might be a book series, a tv show, a sporting team, or a fashion label. If we think about ways of theorizing identity, we can start to see that “fan” is an identity option that an individual can choose to deploy based on actual or perceived feedback from others. Fandom is often a shared identity performance.
- 4.10: Postcolonialism Race and Ethnicity
- 4.11: Gender
- Gender refers to socio-cultural constructs that lead us to think of men and women in a particular way. Gender not only defines people by their biological sex, but it consequently influences our behaviour regarding what is expected of us. Judith Butler, in particular, placed emphasis on gender as a social construction of behaviours determined by culture rather than by biological differences between sexes.
- 4.12: A History of Modern Political Economy
- The history of modern political economy traces back to the works of Adam Smith and Dave Ricardo, who writing in the 18th and 19th Century outlined a model which was broadly supportive of the developments of economic markets and free trade, and was based upon a labor theory of value, which suggested that the value of the goods and commodities produced is directly related to the amount of labor which goes into making that product.