You are here

Media Audiences

Media Audiences
Effects, Users, Institutions, and Power

October 2012 | 280 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Whether we are watching TV, surfing the Internet, listening to our iPods, or reading a novel, we are all engaged with media as a member of an audience. Despite the widespread use of this term in our popular culture, the meaning of "audience" is complex, and it has undergone significant historical shifts as new forms of mediated communication have developed from print, telegraphy, and radio to film, television, and the Internet. Media Audiences explores the concept of media audiences from four broad perspectives: as "victims" of mass media, as market constructions and commodities, as users of media, and as producers and subcultures of mass media. The goal of the text is for students to be able to think critically about the role and status of media audiences in contemporary society, reflecting on their relative power in relation to institutional media producers.

1. History and Concept of the Audience
2. Effects of Media Messages
3. Public Opinion and Audience Citizenship
4. Media Ratings and Target Marketing
5. Uses and Gratifications
6. Interpreting and Decoding Mass Media Texts
7. Reception Contexts & Media Rituals
8. Media Fandom and Audience Subcultures
9. Online, Interactive Audiences in a Digital Media World
10. Conclusion: Audience Agency in New Contexts

One of the subjects I teach addresses Media and Public Opinion, a field in which I found this book to be of instrumental use.

Professor Pedro Pereira Neto
School of Sociology and Public Policies, ISCTE - Inst of Soc Sci & Bus Studies
January 31, 2016

This is a very useful and relevant textbook which incisively covers old and current topics on the complicated relationship between media texts and audiences. The book also traces the continuum of media texts and audiences theories, from the media effects paradigm to the reception paradigm. Critical in this book are insights on the political economic approach to communication. Sections on public opinion and audience citizenship, and media fandom and audience subcultures contain current scholarly views on the manufacture of public opinion, opinion polling, fan cultures, fan stereotypes, fans and textual production, and fans and cultural hierarchy. This book therefore provides interesting theories and concepts that we found useful in reception studies that we are currently carrying out in Zimbabwe. It offered me an opportunity to include contemporary debates in media and audiences and/or media texts and reception courses that I teach at both masters and undergraduate levels. It is a must read for our students and lecturers in the Journalism and Media Studies Department. I have recommended the book to our University Library.

Mr Thabani Mpofu
Journalism and Media Studies, National University of Science and Tec
September 30, 2015

Interesting book, aimed at the student age we teach at the college where I work and which covers some very useful areas (I particularly like the chapter on media fandom as it's something not often covered at this level). There are, however, several things which mean it's not really as useful for UK based A level Media Studies as I'd like.

(1) It teaches Uses and Gratifications in a different way to the way we do. This could be confusing for our students.

(2) A lot of the texts used (and the ideas mentioned) have a very american slant. Not very helpful for UK students.

(3) It has very densely packed text with few sub-headings which makes it difficult to find the information you need. There are other books which do this better, e.g. James Watson's Media Communication.

Miss Ruth Kenyon
LRC, Lowes
June 17, 2015

Good coverage of major issues in audience research.

Nancy Worthington
Communications Dept, Quinnipiac University
June 16, 2015

Excellent book. It has helped me restructure my course.

Dr Bevelyn Dube
Mass Communications , University of Venda
February 18, 2015

This is a well written book, which gives a good overview to central questions evolving around the concept of audiences. A do always add this to the reading list for my first students although there is a myriad of german texts available.

Mr Sebastian Koch
Department for Communication and Media Studies, Universität Leipzig
June 4, 2014

A good, sufficiently detailed introduction to audience studies.

Mr Jason Griffiths
Fac of Media, Art & Communications, Gloucestershire University
January 20, 2014

A comprehensive overview of media audience research which covers key theoretical perspectives.

Mr Mark Flippance
Department of Health & Social Studies, Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education
January 2, 2014

A great resource for introducing audience research to media and communications students. This is also a good primer on the relevant theories and concepts necessary in order to get started.

Dr Gauti Sigthorsson
Communication and Creative Arts, Greenwich University
October 21, 2013

A very clearly written and presented text. This book will prove to be an invaluable resource in enabling students understand the link between theories of audience reception to practice.

Ms Maria Feeney
Social Sciences (Hamilton), University of the West of Scotland
October 21, 2013
Key features

Key Features

· A wide range of audience theories and issues covered in the text provides a central location where students can discover an overview of audience theories, explore the field, and find specific topics that are of interest to them to utilize for essays or for other out-of-class work.

· Media case studies help illustrate concepts, facilitate a deeper understanding of the theories by relating them to concrete examples, aid in classroom discussion, and encourage students to immediately apply the theories that they have just read.

· Coverage of media communities of fans and of new media audiences, including World of Warcraft gamers and YouTube users, offers inclusive and up-to-date information about audiences which will resonate with students in today's media-saturated culture.

· Classroom discussion questions and activities, links to relevant Internet resources, and numerous examples facilitate students' understanding of the material and provide excellent ideas for classroom activities to allow students' further exploration of concepts in the chapter.

· Lists of recommended readings for each chapter are incredibly valuable because they direct students to relevant and accessible scholarly writings that can be used as an initial point for longer essays on audience theories.

· Clear and consistent writing style in every chapter enhances student understanding.

Sample Materials & Chapters


CH 4

CH 8

Preview this book

For instructors

Review and Desk copies for this title are available digitally via VitalSource.

Request e-review copy

If you require a print review copy, please call: (800) 818-7243 ext. 6140 or email

Select a Purchasing Option

Electronic version
Prices from
*180 day rental

This title is also available on SAGE Knowledge, the ultimate social sciences online library. If your library doesn’t have access, ask your librarian to start a trial.