Audience Analysis


Denis McQuail

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  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
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  • Dedication

    Dedicated to the survivors of Com. 625 Audience Analysis at the A.S.C., University of Pennsylvania, 1971–72


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    This short book has been a long time in gestation. By one reckoning its origins lie in now long-forgotten Ph.D. research into the audience for television plays on British television in the early 1960s. But the topic has been a matter of continuous curiosity to me ever since. The audience currently appears to hold the key to several mysteries surrounding the way the mass media work and even to the very survival of “mass communication” as we know it. At the same time, the search for the key to the mystery of the audience itself is still under way and it has been hard to keep up with new developments in thinking since this particular book was conceived, at the start of the 1990s. I hope it helps to clear the ground for what is an important ongoing enterprise, especially at a time when new forms of audience are emerging which are challenging older theory.

    I am grateful to Jack McLeod and Steve Chaffee for inviting me to write the book originally and especially to the latter for his rigorous editing and advice. In thinking about this preface, I was reminded of the fact that studying the audience was also great fun, especially in the often zany company of Ray Brown and Jay Blumler. For us the personal human gratifications of studying the audience far outweighed the uses. I suspect the same applies to most audience behavior, although it is a hypothesis which remains to be tested. Finally, I am grateful for the very expeditious and helpful way in which the publisher has turned a manuscript into a printed book. In this particular case, I am expecting that audience utlility will exceed gratification.

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    About the Author

    Denis McQuail is now Professor Emeritus of Communication at the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and Visiting Professor at the University of Southampton, England. His teaching career was spent largely at these universities. His first degree was in history, at Oxford University, and his PhD is from Leeds University. He holds an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Ghent. He has held a number of visiting positions, including posts at the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, Harvard University, Moscow University, and Tampere University. His career has been spent in teaching and research in relation to mass media, with particular reference to the role of mass media in election campaigns, audience research, media policy, and mass communication theory. He has published a number of books, most recently Media Performance (1992), Communication Models (with Sven Windahl, revised edition, 1993), and a new (third) edition of Mass Communication Theory. These and earlier books have been translated into a number of languages and widely used in teaching.

    Denis McQuail is a member of the Euromedia Research Group and editor of the European Journal of Communication. He is a staff member of the Amsterdam School of Communication Research. His current research centers on comparative media policy and questions of media accountability.

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