The interpretative positions of the audience and the invitations of television drama
The purpose of this study was to explore different acts of interpretation in the interaction between text (television drama) and audience. This study proposed a new theoretical and methodological problematics for audience studies, which is called 'empirical reception aesthetics', challenging for taken-for-granted terms such as audience activity, interpretative communities and the openness of text. It brought out three areas of interest in empirical reception aesthetics; the audience's horizons of expectations, the interpretative positions and textual invitations. In order to investigate these areas, this study emphasised methodological convergence, employing both survey research and the focused family interview. Concerning the audience's horizons of expectation about television drama, the Korean audience saw it as 'emotional escapism', 'distanceship', 'naturalistic realism', and 'imaginative realism', which set limits on divergence in interpretations and reading pleasure. This implies that a range of foreknowledge is an integral part, as a mediated factor, in the interaction between text and audience. It found that there were four interpretative positions; 'the escapist', 'the habitual', 'the ironic' and 'the non-engaged'. Though the individual viewer tends to take a dominant position, this is closely influenced by the other positions on the ground that interpretative positions are correlated with each other. This implies that the audience's interpretative position is not fixed in relation to class or gender. By using the term 'interpretative positions', we are able to avoid a simplistic distinction of oppositional reading and dominant reading and the mechanical application of the audience's interpretation to social backgrounds. Moreover, audience activity can be better understood when focused on a negotiated position.