Assignment First


英国论文之文献综述样本: A Sample of Literature Review Writing

Topic: Uses and Gratification Theory

  • Introduction

Individuals use the media for meeting some of their specific needs and the ‘Uses and Gratification Theory’ helps to understand how and why individuals seek out the media (Dolan et al., 2016; Katz & Foulkes, 1962). The “why” factor is understood through the different dimensions in gratification such as knowledge enhancement or some form of entertainment, social interaction benefit or a monetary award (Ko, Cho & Roberts, 2005). The “how” factor is understood through different media channels such as television programs, popular press, social media websites and more. Thus, Uses and Gratification Theory has a long history of application in communication research and mass communication (Weiyan, 2015). The aim of this literature review is to critically analyze Uses and Gratification Theory in three ways. The first is an investigation of the development of theory. The second is a critical analysis of the assumptions with respect to the theory and applications of the theory, and the third is a critical discussion on how the theory is criticized in contemporary practices.

  • Origin and Development of the Uses and Gratification Theory

The Uses and Gratifications Theory was first formulated by Katz (1959). Katz (1959)presents the Uses and Gratification Theory as a way to reverse the traditional way of looking at the media consumer was required. Instead of asking what the media does to people, it was necessary to identify what the people do with it. The magic bullet approach of the 1940s as proposed in the Frankfurt school presented the media as a very strong influence on the individual. It failed to account for individual differences and beliefs which could lead to selective perception and differentiation in what a user expects of the media (O’Donohoe, 1993). The Uses and Gratification Theory emerged as an antidote and as a response to the Frankfurt school, “the belief that an object is best defined by its use guided such research” (Rubin, 2009, p. 166). The theory understood a more active participation of the audience and over the years came to be applied for understanding how consumers response and interact with media genres such as radio music, radio operas and television etc.

  • Assumptions and Application of Theory

The Uses and Gratification principles applied in media research explain how there are psychological needs in people that help shape current media. Katz proposed the theory outlining the following assumptions (Katz, Haas&Gurevitch, 1973; Katz, Blumler & Gurevitch, 1974). The first assumption is that the audience is active and to engage the active audience, the mass media use must be goal-directed. The second assumption made is that it is the audience that will link gratification with media. The third assumption is that different media will compete with one another for the purpose of meeting the needs of the customer and finally, the gratification that a user seeks from the media can be of different types. The theory is hence based on many presuppositions and operates on the premise that better understanding of what motivates people and how they engage in media use behavior and derive gratifications can help understand how to better shape the media (Lin, 1999). The principles and assumptions seek to understand some limitations in applications. For instance, some individuals would vary when it comes to psychological dimensions. The variations would enable these individuals to actually make decisions that are comparatively different than others. As a result, even those individuals who are exposed to a set of media criteria based on some group generalized assumptions could end up responding differently.

This form of limited effects understanding on what the media instigates in the audience is both argued as a pro and a con of the theory. Unlike media theories that show the impact of media on the audience, this theory attempts to show how the audience interacts with the media. A more active audience is presented in this theory and researchers Katz, Blumler & Gurevitch (1974) attempt to present three tenets for interaction. Users in their interaction are very goal-directed, are active media users and are aware of their needs. They might have deficiency needs like the needs driven in internal dissatisfaction. Examples are the longing for love and security etc. Alternatively, the user can be driven by non-deficiency needs, meaning the need does not arise because of some internal deficiency but is the need to self-actualize and grow. Self-actualization needs are cognitive needs, affective needs, integrative needs and needs that help one release tension etc.

Uses and Gratification Theory is used as an analytical and applicative framework for studying media consumers motivations. Jere & Davis (2011) focused on how magazines and the Internet are used bywomen’s magazine readers in South Africa. The goal was to identify motivations which could be opportunities for improving online publishing. By applying a 21 item Likert survey instrument, the authors were able to identify many gratification types. Based on the percentage of participants, Jere & Davis (2011) identified that the internet as a medium was more preferred by the users, as it provided dominant gratification. Over the years, such studies in both academic and media research have led to a different typology of classifications with respect to gratification. Different gratification categories, levels of influence, different media materials with respect to different cultures such as in Finland, Japan, Sweden and more came to be assessed in research (Katz et al., 1973).

  • Criticism in Contemporary Practices

Uses in Gratification Theory is an old one and for decades, it has served its purpose as one of the main theories of communication. However, the theory is rejuvenated in current times because of the different modes of communication introduced through the internet. In specific, this theory has been useful for understanding consumer usage trends in social media (Dolan et al., 2016). Musa et al. (2015) place the argument that the “the emergence of social media breathes a new life into this aging theory” (Musa et al., 2015, p. 84). The research work analyzed information on mass communication students to identify why they seek social media, what their needs were with respect to the media and how they sought it. The work identified that the Uses and Gratification Theory was indeed useful to assess student motivations.

Gratification and motivation aspects like communication, collaboration, news sharing and more were identified. The theory helped identify the mode of connection that was sought out by the students. Most of the respondents identified Facebook and WhatsApp as the most preferred tool. Social media platforms and the growing applications on the internet hence give a new purpose of the Uses and Gratification Theory.

  • Critical Insights for Future Research

As proposed by Katz, the Uses and Gratifications Theory operates with some assumptions and has some limitations (Katz, Blumler & Gurevitch, 1974). It offered a newer approach towards understanding media and consumers. Instead of delegating consumers to a more passive role and media to a more powerful one, as proposed by the Frankfurt school, the Uses and Gratification Theory proposes a more active consumer. Although active for multiple decades, this theory still has used in contemporary times because of how social media competitors want to understand their consumers (Musa et al., 2015; Jere & Davis, 2011). In contemporary times, gratification theory is applied across multiple audience segments, to understand motivation aspects like communication, collaboration, news sharing and more.

  • Summary

In conclusion, the literature review focused on Uses and Gratification Theory and analyzed literature arguments showing the development of theory, analysis of assumptions and discussion of how the theory will be useful in contemporary times. The Uses and Gratification Theory in giving consumers of media a more active role has understood the role of the consumer as a co-producer of content. The theory is relevant to date because of the growing social media connections and messages.

  • References

Dolan, R., Conduit, J., Fahy, J. & Goodman, S. (2016). Social media engagement behaviour: a uses and gratifications perspective. Journal of Strategic Marketing24(3-4), 261-277.

Jere, M. G. & Davis, S. V. (2011). An application of uses and gratifications theory to compare consumer motivations for magazine and Internet usage among South African women’s magazine readers. Southern African Business Review15(1), 1-27.

Katz, E. & Foulkes, D. (1962). On the use of the mass media as ‘escape’: Clarification of a concept. The Public Opinion Quarterly, 26, 277-388.

Katz, E. (1959). Mass communications research and the study of popular culture: An editorial note on a possible future for this journal. Departmental Papers (ASC), 165.

Katz, E., Blumler, G. J. & Gurevitch, M. (1974). “Utilization of mass communication by the individual”, in jay G. Bumler& Elihu Katz, eds. The Use of Mass Communications: Current perspectives on Gratifications research. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage, p. 20

Katz, E., Blumler, J. G. & Gurevitch, M. (1973). Uses and gratifications research. The Public Opinion Quarterly37(4), 509-523.

Katz, E., Haas, H. & Gurevitch, M. (1973). On the use of the mass media for important things. American Sociological Review, 164-181.

Ko, H., Cho, C.-H. & Roberts, M. S. (2005). Internet uses and gratifications: A structural equation model of interactive advertising. Journal of Advertising, 34, 57-70.

Lin, C. A. (1999). Uses and Gratifications Audience uses and gratifications for mass media: A theoretical perspective. Cleveland State University.

Musa, A. S., Azmi, M. N. L. & Ismail, N. S. (2015). Exploring the Uses and Gratifications Theory in the Use of Social Media among the Students of Mass Communication in Nigeria. Malaysian Journal of Distance Education17(2), 83-95.

O’Donohoe, S. (1994). Advertising uses and gratifications. European Journal of Marketing28(8/9), 52-75.

Rubin, A. M. (2009). Uses-and-gratifications perspective on media effects. In Media effects (pp. 181-200). Routledge.

Weiyan, L. I. U. (2015). A historical overview of uses and gratifications theory. Cross-Cultural Communication11(9), 71-78.