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 relationship between sender and receiver is central to any consideration of the media audience concept. Unlike the case of face-to-face contact, mediated (and especially mass-mediated) communication always involves a spatial and social distance between the participants. The world of media production is typically far removed from the context of consumption. This distance has to be bridged in one way or another for communication processes to continue in a meaningful, effective, and satisfying manner.
In practice, such gaps are usually closed by a combination of organizational strategies, presentational devices, and a complex web of conventions and understandings that are shared between communicators and audiences. These understandings have grown up over time, and they define the legitimacy, normality, and boundaries of communicative ...