By looking at the media theories discussed before 1840s, it is obvious to find these theories tend to look at media effects from the standpoint of the media, while the power of audience in the media consumption process has been overlooked. With the development in effects research, scholars became more and more aware of the role that audience members play in mass communication. Uses and gratifications (U&G) altered the typical logic of media impact and moved the research focus from media-centered effects on people to the ways people use media to meet their needs. Some scholars even believe that the most prominent of the recent advances in media theory today has come from research in the U&G approach. In this explication paper, we firstly introduced the theory by looking at its historical development and key components, then further discussed of the importance of this theory and its implications for further development in mass communication research.
Development of U&G Theory
By the end of 18th century, the development of society had a profound influence on social relationships, material culture, social norms and the thinking of individuals. Therefore, contemporary society could also be recognized as “Mass Society”, which emphasizes the increase in social differentiation and psychological isolation. The term of “mass audience” actually derived from the “Mass Society” concept. Earlier characteristics of mass audiences were: isolated, naïve, passive, and homogeneous, which suggested that mass audiences could be manipulated directly by the mass media under the control of the elite class. This was the basic assumption of Magic Bullet Theory, which was challenged by a series of subsequent researches, especially by uses and gratifications studies. U&G theory arose in the 1940s and underwent a revival in the 1970s and 1980s. Herta Herzog (1941) researched on females listening to daytime radio serials and found the uses these females made of the