active audience theory

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The view (particularly associated with mass-media usage) that the audiences are not merely passive receptacles for imposed meanings (see hypodermic model) but rather individual audience members who are actively (albeit often unconsciously) involved—both cognitively and emotionally—in making sense of texts. This active involvement has several interrelated dimensions: perception, comprehension, interpretation, evaluation, and response. Proponents of active audience theory claim that scholars cannot assume that the meaning of a text is fixed in advance of its reception because meaning is the product of a negotiation between the audience and the text in a particular context of reception. They argue that people use the media for their own purposes (see uses and gratifications). See also beholder's share; constructivism; encoding/decoding model; reception model; compare cultural populism; effects tradition.

Subjects: Media Studies.

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