Denis McQuail provides a coherent and succinct account of the concept of ‘media audience’ in terms of its history and its place in present-day media theory and research. McQuail describes and explains the main types of audience and the main traditions and fields of audience research. Audience Analysis explains the contrast between social scientific and humanistic approaches and gives due weight to the view ‘from the audience’ as well as the view ‘from the media.’ McQuail summarizes key research findings and assesses the impact of new media developments, especially transnationalization and new interactive technology.
The Audience in Communication Theory and Research
Perceptions of the audience have often been influenced by negative views about mass media in general and have ranged from simple prejudice and snobbery to sophisticated exercises in media analysis. The first category is exemplified by the view that equates large media audiences with the “lowest common denominator” of taste and that assumes that “mass culture,” “low taste,” and “mass audience” are more or less synonymous. This way of thinking has been described as an “ideology of mass culture” (Ang, 1985), according to which much popular entertainment is automatically condemned as inferior, and those who like it as lacking in taste and discrimination.
A more sophisticated critique of mass culture was mounted ...