understanding media

Week 6

Vehicle Strand: From 'Audience' to 'Users'
In this first part of the class we look at two different approaches to the question of audiences and the media: we discuss the 'effects' model (also known as the 'hypodermic' model) which considers the impact that media texts have on audiences, as well as the 'uses' model (also known as the 'gratifications' model) which considers the ways in which media texts are used by audiences. We look briefly at the treatment of these approaches in the film Videodrome before debating the issues raised by the two approaches.
Required Reading: Branston and Stafford (2010), Ch. 14: 'From 'Audience' to 'User''.

Environment Strand: Participating in the Global Village
In this second part of the class we look at McLuhan's understanding of the global village. We consider the ways in which the simultaneous and participatory aspects of public communication within village life are retrieved on a global scale by contemporary electronic media, particularly the internet. We also examine the ethical and political implications of this new 'human tribe'. We close with a look at the global, collaborative project that is Wikipedia.
Optional Reading: McLuhan and Fiore, 1967, pp. 16, 22, 24, 53, 61, 63, 67-69, 114, 122, 131.
Optional Reading: Levinson, 1999, Ch. 6.

Module Forum
Topics under discussion in the Module Forum this week include the relationship between media and their audiences, Videodrome, and McLuhan's notion of the global village.
For more information on the Module Forum see the section on Assessment in the Module Handbook.

Case Studies
If you choose to write a Case Study using the concepts drawn from this week's vehicle strand you will need to concentrate on some aspect of the relationship between audiences and the media. You might look, for instance, at how certain consumers are reported to have been affected by products such as Marilyn Manson's music, so-called video nasties like Child's Play 3, or computer games such as Manhunt. Alternatively you might undertake research into how different audiences make use of these or other texts: do seven-year-old children enjoy The Simpsons and South Park in the same way as fourty-year-old Media Studies lecturers?
Useful Reading: Branston and Stafford, 2010, Ch. 14; Berger, 1995, pp. 60-74, 77-80, Ch. 4; O'Sullivan, Dutton and Rayner, 2003, Ch. 5; O'Sullivan and Jewkes, 1997; O’Shaughnessy and Stadler, 2008, pp. 26-29, 56-61; Watson, 2003, Ch 3; Gauntlett, 1998; Dickinson et al., 1998; Gauntlett, 1995; Gauntlett, 1997; Gauntlett and Hill, 1999; Jenkins, 1992; McQuail and Windahl, 1993; Economist, 1994; Lewis, 1992.
If you would rather look into McLuhan's discussion of the 'global village' you might choose to examine how certain technologies - the telephone, television, or a variety of methods of online communication - turn audiences into active participants. What are the ethical and political implications of these new media? Do they really create a 'global human tribe'? What are the advantages and disadvantages of life in this 21st century village?
Useful Reading: Levinson, 1999, Ch. 6; Rae, no date, 'Global Village'; Gordon and Willmarth, 1997, pp. 90, 103-06; Gordon, 2010, pp. 24-25; McLuhan, E. (no date).
Whatever you choose, you will probably want to arrange a tutorial with the Module Tutor. For more information on the Case Study see the section on Assessment in the Module Handbook.

For Next Week You Need To...
(1) Complete your contributions to the Module Forum (see the Module Handbook for details of this assignment).

If you're stuck or confused, post your problem on the Module Forum or .