The Reception Study, provides a means of understanding media texts by understanding how these texts are read by audiences. Theorists who research media through reception studies are concerned with the experience of cinema and television viewing for spectators, and how meaning is created through that experience. An important concept of reception theory is that the media text, the individual movie or television program has no inherent meaning in and of itself. Instead, meaning is created in the interaction between spectator and text; in other words, meaning is created as the viewer watches and processes the film. Reception theory argues that contextual factors, more than textual ones, influence the way the spectator views the film or television program. Other factors include elements of the viewer’s identity as well as circumstances of exhibition, the spectator’s preconceived ideas concerning the film or television program’s genre and production, and even broad social, historical, and political issues. In short, reception theory places the viewer in context, taking into account all of the various factors that might influence how she or he will read and create meaning from the text.
Dominant: [Hegemonic] – Where the leader recognises what a programmes preferred of offered meaning is and agrees with it.
Oppostional: [Counter Hegemonic] – Where the dominant meaning is recognised but rejected for cultural, political or ideological reasons.
Negotiated: Where the reader accepts, rejects or refines elements of the program in the light of previously held views.
The encoding/decoding model:
This is about extending the concept of an active audience further. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, the majority of the work was done on the way individuals received and interpreted a text, and how their individual circumstances including gender, class, age etc. Affected their readings. This particular work was based on Stuart Hail’s encoding & decoding model of the relationship between text and audience, this was a published paper in 1973. This has a major influence on cultural studies, and many of the terms it included remain influential in the media. The essay takes up and challenges long held assumptions on how media messages are produced, circulated and consumed; proposing a new theory of communication.
Halls essay impeached all three components of the mass communications model, it argued that meaning is not easily fixed or determined by the sender, the message is never transparent and the audience is not a passive recipient of meaning.