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Assignment on ‘Introduction to mass communication’.


What is reception analysis

Reception theory is a ‘readers response literary theory’ that means readers understanding of a literary text. It is generally called audience reception analysis of communication. Reception theory means reader or viewers reception (understanding) of a particular text or a media. A text may be book, movie, or any other creative idea. These type of texts are not mutually understood by the reader or viewer, but that the reader interprets the meaning of a text based on their individual cultural background and their life experience.

 Reception analysis also known as, audience reception theory has come to be widely used as a way of characterizing the wave of audience research which occurred within communications.

This approach to textual analysis focuses on the scope for negotiation and opposition on the part of the audience. This means that a “text”—be it a book, movie, or other creative work—is not simply passively accepted by the audience, but that the reader / viewer interprets the meanings of the text based on their individual cultural background and life experiences. In essence, the meaning of a text is not inherent within the text itself, but is created within the relationship between the text and the reader. (


Meaning of reception

The reception is media audience studies indicates that we are interested in the way of readers interpret media texts, in other words, when we use reception theory to investigate reader, we investigate theorically and imperically the process of interpretation. Against this background, we can define interpretation as the result of the process of negotiation between texts (TV) and readers (viewers) situated within specific social and cultural contexts. When apply reception theory to the mass media, substitute the concept “reader” for “user”, audience “viewer” while texts refer to “news paper, TV programs, radio or any other mass medium”.                                                                                         -Media Studies volum 2: context, audiences and production page-224

In practice, the term “reception analysis”, has come to be widely used as a way of characterising the wave of audience research which occurred within communications and cultural studies during the 1980s and 1990s. On the whole, this work has adopted a “culturalist” perspective, has tended to use qualitative (and often ethnographic) methods of research and has tended to be concerned, one way or another, with exploring the active choices, uses and interpretations made of media materials, by their consumers


Audience Analysis

Audiences can be groups or individuals targeted by and often built by media industries. Audience can be active  or passive.

      Audience reception studies focus on the interpretative relation between audience and medium, where this relation is understood within a broadly ethnographic context

Audience analysis emphasizes the diversity of responses to a given popular culture artifact by examining as directly as possible how given audiences actually understand and use popular culture texts. Three kinds of research make up most audience research: 1) broad surveys and opinion polls. 2) small, representative focus groups brought in to react to and discuss a pop culture text. 3) in-depth ethnographic participant observation of a given audience, in which, for example, a researcher actually lives with and observes the TV viewing habits of a household over a substantial period of time, or travels on the road with a rock band. Each approach has strengths and weaknesses, and sometimes more than one approach is used as a check on the others. Audience analysis tries to isolate variables like region, race, ethnicity, age, gender, and income in an effort to see how different social groups tend to construct different meanings for the same text.





How audience reception is conducted

In media studies, there are two models used to conduct audience reception. These models are defined as (1) The effects model (Hypodermic Model) and (2) The uses and gratification model.

The effects model focuses on what the media does to audiences, influences is based on the message conveyed within the media. The uses and gratification model emphasizes what the audience does with the media presented to them, here influence lies with the consumer.

  1. 1.      Models of reading

Dominant reading: The reader fully shares the texts code and accepts and reproduces the preferred reading. A reading which may not have been the result of any conscious intention on the part of the  authers. In such a stance the code seems ‘natural’ and transperant’.

  1. 2.      Negotiated reading:

The reader partly shares the texts code and broadly accepts the preferred reading, but sometimes resists and modifies it in a way which reflects their own position, experience and interests (local and personal condition may be seen as exeptions to the general rule) this position involves contradiction.

  1. 3.      Opportunity reading:  

The reader, whose understands the preferred reading but does not share the texts code and rejects this reading.






Audience reception theory can be traced back to work done by British Sociologist Stuart Hall and his communication model first revealed in an essay titled “Encoding/Decoding.” Hall proposed a new model of mass communication which highlighted the importance of active interpretation within relevant codes. Hall’s Theory moved away from the view that the media had the power to directly cause a certain behavior in an individual, while at the same time holding onto the role of media as an agenda-setting function.

 Hall’s model put forward three central premises:

1) The same event can be encoded in more than one way;

2) The message contains more than one possible reading; and

 3) Understanding the message can be a problematic process, regardless of how natural it may seem.


In “Encoding/Decoding”, Hall addressed the issue of how people make sense of media texts, and presented three hypothetical methods of decoding. Hall often used examples involving televised media to explain his ideas. Hall argued that the dominant ideology is typically inscribed as the ‘preferred reading’ in a media text, but that this is not automatically adopted by readers. The social situations of readers/viewers/listeners may lead them to adopt different stances. ‘Dominant’ readings are produced by those whose social situation favours the preferred reading; ‘negotiated’ readings are produced by those who inflect the preferred reading to take account of their social position; and ‘oppositional’ readings are produced by those whose social position puts them into direct conflict with the preferred reading.








  1. Hall, Stuart (1980): ‘Encoding/decoding’. In Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (Ed.): Culture, Media, Language. London: Hutchinson.
  3. 3.
  5. Media Studies volum 2: content, audience and production.



















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