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 Flux
The mass media audience continually changes, as new media are added to the spectrum of possibilities and old ones adapt. Before newspaper reading had reached its peak in North America and Europe, film and then radio began to offer alternatives to reading. In the 1960s, both cinema and radio audiences declined substantially in response to the new mass medium of television. None of the “pre-television” media can yet be considered defunct, yet we continually hear proclamations of a revolution that will sweep away much of the flora and fauna of the old media landscape, and along with it the audience as we used to know it.
The proclamation of the “end of the audience” is, ...