Uses and Gratifications Theory

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USES AND GRATIFICATIONS THEORYThe uses and gratification perspectives takes the view of the media consumer. It examines how peopleuse the media and the gratification they seek and receive from their media behaviors. Uses andgratification researchers assume that audience that audience members are aware of and can articulatetheir reasons for consuming various media content.HistoryThe uses and gratifications approach has its roots in the 1940s when researchers became interested inwhy people engaged in various forms of media behaviour, such as radio listening or newspaper reading.These early studies were primarily descriptive, seeking to classify the responses of audience membersinto meaningful categories. For example, Herzog in 1944 identified three types of gratificationassociated with listening to radio soap, operas: emotional release, wishful thinking and obtaining advice.Berelson in 1949 took advantage of a New York news paper strike to ask people why they read thepaper, the responses fell into five major categories: reading for information, reading for social prestige,reading for escape, reading as a tool for daily living, and reading for a social context. These earlystudies had little theoretical coherence; in fact many were inspired by the practical needs of newspaperpublishers and radio broadcasters to know the motivations of their audience in order to serve them moreefficiently.The next step in the development of this research began during the late 1950s and continued during intothe 1960s, in this phase the emphasis was on identifying and operationalizing the many social andpsychological variables that were presumed to the antecedents of different patterns of consumption andgratification.Wilbur Schramm in 1954 asked the question, `what determines which offerings of mass communicationwill be selected by a given individual?' the answer he offered is called the fraction of selection, and itlooks like
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