The relations between the productions of broadcasting organisations, the social experiences of audiences and the meaning attached to programmes, with particular reference to recent institutional and technical changes in mass communications
This thesis argues that by the late 1980s, investigations of relationships between the audiences and programmes of broadcasting had been flawed by one or more of the following weaknesses: a focus of inquiry which expressed an unresolved dualism between atomistic and deterministic models of society; assumptions about the relationships between knowledge and its circumstances of production which expressed an unresolved dualism between materialism and idealism; and a disregard for the particular significance of socio-historically-specific cultural forms and institutions. Consequently, it argues that for an investigation of audience-programme relationships to be judged satisfactory, it must meet these three aims: 1. Pose a clear, non-atomistic model of society and thus resolve the individual-society dualism into a new, historically-specific focus of inquiry; 2. Resolve the materialism-idealism dualism into a new model of knowledge-production; 3. Explain the roles of particular cultural forms and of particular cultural and ideological institutions in social change, especially their roles in the commodification of culture. The arguments are based on an examination of pre-1980 broadcasting research projects within the "Media and the Individual" and "Media and Society" traditions, which showed that none had satisfactorily related programmes, audiences' understandings of them and audiences' social-material circumstances. Some influential theories of culture and of ideology were also examined for a means of relating those three elements, but without success. The thesis includes a report on the author's 1981 research into audience-programme relationships, highlighting the practical and conceptual difficulties of meeting those three aims, and the final chapter argues that major 1980s broadcasting research projects also failed to meet the three aims. The thesis concludes by drawing on the lessons of the projects examined to outline a new programme of research explicitly oriented to those three aims, addressing broadcasting as a particular relationship between consciousness and circumstances.