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Obstinate Audience Theory

In his influential reflections on the role of audiences in the communication process in the late 1950s and 1960s, social psychologist Raymond A. Bauer criticized the then popular idea of message receivers being merely passive victims of media influences. He proposed the obstinate audience theory, that is, an understanding of communication as a transactional process in which both sides, communicators and audiences, influence each other and in which audience members are capable of resisting manipulation. His view of audience members as active and independent individuals stimulated the development of receiver-oriented communication models such as the uses and gratifications approach. This entry provides an overview of the obstinate audience theory, exploring the relationship between powerful media and powerful audiences, Bauer’s criticism of lab experiments used in ...

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