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Emancipation, the Media, and ModernityArguments about the Media and Social Theory$
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Nicholas Garnham

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198742258

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198742258.001.0001

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Audiences: Interpretation and Consumption

Audiences: Interpretation and Consumption

(p.109) 6 Audiences: Interpretation and Consumption
Emancipation, the Media, and Modernity

Nicholas Garnham

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents a discussion of the audience or consumers of symbolic forms. It argues the underlying current debate about the audience and the effects of the media are debates, stemming from the Enlightenment, concerning the relationship between learning, identity formation, and action. What is at stake is the relation between individual autonomy, and thus freedom and rational action, on the one hand and the social construction of identity and behaviour on the other. In particular, the argument rises against the current vogue for ethnographic studies of everyday life and the extreme particularism that results, and for the centrality of statistics and measurements of probability for producing real knowledge of the audience. At the same time, the counter-posing of an active audience to a passive audience is not the issue, but rather what, given a general social constructive approach, are the emancipatory consequences of different instances of audience- media interaction.

Keywords:   audience, consumers, individual autonomy, social construction, ethnographic studies, interpretation, consumption

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