entertainment function

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A function of both interpersonal and mass communication in which the sender seeks to please and the receiver is expected to enjoy. For Schramm, entertainment is one of the key functions of communication from the point of view of the individual (others call this a diversion function), and also viewed socially (see also social functions). In relation to mass communication, entertainment can be seen as a function of media use (see also media functions): it is widely listed as one of the uses and gratifications of media use for users. One of the objectives of the mass media is to entertain, while the related objectives of the individual include enjoyment, relaxation (see also catharsis), and escape. Unlike other functions, Schramm notes, entertainment requires a certain ‘willing suspension of disbelief’. For the Frankfurt school, this was akin to political passivity, and Adorno argued that the real function of mass-media entertainment was to subdue the working-class. From another perspective, the entertainment function can be seen to be analogous to the aesthetic function (see aesthetic codes) featured in other framings of communicative functions, an analogy which flouts the distinction between high culture and popular culture.

Subjects: Media Studies.

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