7. Theoretical Approach: Uses and Gratifications
The uses and gratification theory was first coined by an Israeli Psychologist, Elihu Katz in 1959, reacting to a research that answered the question “what do the media do to people?” He led the argument that there should be less attention paid to what the media do to people and more attention on what people do with the media; which this paper seeks to define. Mass media audiences are assumed to be active participants in the interaction between the mass medium and the audience. This implies that uses and gratifications research focuses on audiences’ motives for selecting certain media and media content and their perceived gratifications derived from such mass communication Du Plooy (2006:282).
Kazt supported the idea of studies which sought to find out what people do with the media. He cited a 1949 Berelson study conducted by interviewing people during a newspaper strike about what they missed in the newspaper. Many read because they felt it was the socially acceptable thing to do, and some felt that the newspaper was indispensable in finding out about world affairs. Many however, sought escape, relaxation, entertainment, and social prestige. These people recognized that awareness of public affairs was value in conversations. Some wanted help in their daily lives by reading material about fashion, recipes, weather forecasts and other useful information. Severin and Tankard Jr. (1992:270)
Davidson in Severin and Tankard Jr. (1992:269) argues that the communicator’s audience is not a passive recipient; it cannot be regarded as a lump of clay to be molded by the master propagandist. Rather the audience is made up of individuals who demand something from communications to which they are exposed, and who select those that are likely to be useful to them. In other words, they must get something from the manipulator is he is to get something from them. A bargain is involved. The uses and gratifications approach...