lunduniversity.lu.se

International Course on Media Audiences 15 credits

MKV N07 Media Audiences 15 credits

Course leader 

Professor Annette Hill

Course Outline 

This course introduces students to the core concepts and ideas related to media audiences. Media audiences refer to people and their media practices. We focus on studies within media and culture that define audiences not as spectators, or passive subjects, but rather as people engaged in dynamic and creative practices, such as political activism, citizen journalism, fan activities, or television participants.

The mantra on this course is 'assume less, investigate more.’ This means that empirical studies of audiences are significant for enhancing our understanding of what people do, or don’t do, with media in society and culture. We look at media audiences across various spaces, such as cross media content, hybrid genres, global and local audiences, and across various identity positions as viewers, readers, listeners, producers, participants, activists.

The intellectual architecture for the course is based on four areas: identities, engagement, contexts and methods. 

First, we consider theories of identities and subjectivities, including performance of selves, key concepts that are crucial to the study of individuals and social relations. The second concept relates to the study of media engagement, drawing on contemporary research on different stages of political and cultural engagement in social movements, news, or entertainment. Third, we examine the significance of situated audience research, where people’s practices are put into the context of fandom and intense kinds of engagement, or the context of everyday life and day to day routines. Finally, the course addresses qualitative methods used in audience research, specifically interviews.

Part of this course involves conducting interviews with audiences for a specially designed project, thus including empirical research in your learning experience. The overall aim of the course is to highlight how the study of audience engagement is crucial to understanding the changing nature of contemporary media in society and culture.

Teachers

Course leader Professor Annette Hill, guest lecturers Emeritus Professor Peter Dahlgren and Dr Tina Askanius.

Media Audiences Testimonials
2016

 

Lili Sapi (Hungarian female postgraduate student)

I really enjoyed this course. I learnt new skills which will be useful for any work I pursue in the future, but also useful on a personal level, since one of the main components of the course was the art of listening. In regards to media, habits and events, it is important to talk to the audience. We learnt to investigate how they perceive things so we can understand what impact it has on their life and identity.

As students we have got to step out of the analytical bubble and gather information through interviews and by giving voice to actual people, which resulted in exciting and meaningful research. It was a refreshing approach, in contrast to typical “elites discussing other elites” which we see too often in academia and traditional news media. 

Also, Annette Hill is a brilliant professor and person. At times it might feel hard to follow the heavy literature, but every lecture complemented the readings well, and often felt like eye-openers. Annette is helpful, kind, gives every student praise and attention, but also has high expectations on us – you truly feel like you’re a part of an advanced and intellectually challenging course.

You truly feel like you’re a part of an
advanced and intellectually challenging course.

Stella Zaryan (American female postgraduate student)

The Media Audiences course has been one of the most interesting and challenging courses in the Media and Communications Department. It was very beneficial to discuss the history of audience research and the different underpinnings and theoretical paradigms that audiences and studies about them have gone through. It became clear through this course how essential it is to study audiences and their relationship to different media texts in the rapidly shifting media environments we currently find ourselves.

Not only did we read, discuss, and analyse about audiences and how they are changing in our contemporary society, but Annette also created the opportunity for us to practice some qualitative methodologies, hands-on. In the context of both group and individual work, we were allowed to practice the method of one-on-one interviews. These interviews provided us the opportunity to create data and urged us to practice our coding and analysing skills. This method made clear the importance of speaking to audiences and how crucial that could be in finding out their opinions, viewpoints, and concerns. I am very happy we were provided the tools and setting to learning to use one-on-one interviewing as a method for qualitative research. I am confidant that it will be a useful skill to have for years to come, both inside and outside an academic setting.

The Media Audiences course has been one of the most interesting and challenging courses in the Media and Communications Department.

Anteneh T. Lemma (Ethiopian male postgraduate student)

The Media Audiences course helped me explore the multifaceted elements of comprehensive audience research. The lectures were interactive and the class was truly international which helped me hear different ideas and perspectives from my classmates who represent more than 10 nationalities. Professor Annette’s teaching method was liberating and enabling. It gave us a room to discuss and debate on issues we considered important. Seemingly 'common' or 'crazy' ideas were discussed in the class which helped us realize the convictions and beliefs we had can have a totally different meaning and importance through further investigation and analysis.

Given my professional experience in journalism and communication, it was a rather challenging but enlightening academic experience to situate myself on the audiences’ side and try to analyze the concepts of engagement, participation, identity, fandom and performance.   I had an opportunity to pick my own topic for my final essay. The qualitative research process helped me learn more about media audience research and postgraduate academic writing which will be of a great importance for my upcoming academic endeavors.

In countries like Ethiopia where the primary focus is on media access and coverage, the concepts of identity, participation and engagement are usually overlooked. This course was an eye opener in this regard as it helped me realize how the interplay of these forces within the existing media space can be tools to drive social and political change. The course not only helped me challenge the ideas and convictions I had but also gave me alternative ways to look at and better understand media audiences.

The course not only helped me challenge the ideas and convictions I had but also gave me alternative ways to look at and better understand media audiences.

Qimei Chen (Chinese female postgraduate student)

I had a wonderful experience on this course. We studied media audiences under the umbrella of different overlapping theories, including psychological, sociological, and cultural theories. The professor encouraged us to reflect on the key concepts in our empirical data analysis and she always emphasized that we have to conduct the research in a serious and precise way. The course is not only a good choice to know more about contemporary media audiences, such as popular culture, transnational audiences and fandom but also an excellent chance to carry out qualitative methods.

The audience course is definitely worth taking because its core teaching relates to many brilliant concepts and ideas that you might learn in other media studies courses. Throughout the course you will meet the authors who bring marvellous insights to communication and media studies.

I had a wonderful experience on this course

Austin Shilstone (American male postgraduate student)

Media Audiences made for a fantastic start to my postgraduate career. The course is designed to challenge you, and the result is a sincere understanding of the complex dynamic between media and its consumers. The combination of lectures, discussions, projects, and the final essay is an efficient and effective teaching model, making for a truly enjoyable and productive learning experience. The professor, Annette, has an extensive background in audience research, and she is very skilled in passing her knowledge onto her students. She's kind, helpful, and makes the course sincerely enjoyable.

To sum it up: the course content and concepts provoke critical analysis, in turn enhancing critical thinking skills; the way the course is modelled aids in the digestion of the complex yet intriguing and essential ideas and theories; Annette is a wonderful professor who skillfully guides her students through the journey that is Media Audiences.

Media Audiences made for a fantastic start to my postgraduate career

Alicja Mielczarek (American female postgraduate student)

During the course we discussed various types of media audiences such as sports enthusiasts, politically engaged publics, and popular culture fans. I think learning about the different media audiences and beginning to understand them gave me a better world view and insight into how media is received by people. I enjoyed exploring those topics and questioning them.

I liked that we were given an opportunity to really go in depth into what interested us during the group project and essay assignment. The assignments for this course really prepared us to not only be successful in this subject, but gave us tools to use in the future for thesis writing. I think the topic of media audiences is crucial when studying media and having an understanding of it would benefit anyone in further study or future career.

I think the topic of media audiences is crucial when studying media and having an understanding of it would benefit anyone in further study or future career.

Philipp Seuferling (German male postgraduate student)

On the Media Audiences course we got the chance to indulge both into the theory and practice of audience studies. Through interesting and inspiring lectures by Annette Hill, Peter Dahlgren and Tina Askanius we students could develop our understanding of media audiences and how to study them appropriately. The committed and highly experienced teachers featured exciting case studies of people’s engagement with all kinds of media – from reality TV shows to right-wing populism and Donald Trump.

The biggest learning outcome for me was to learn how to conduct interviews with audiences. First in a group project and later in the individual assignment we properly trained and learned how to include the audiences’ own voice by making them talk and listen to them in semi-structured interviews. This practical training proved highly useful for later projects, like the thesis.

Annette Hill constantly helped realize and improve these projects with her outstanding experience in the field. A well-chosen and helpful reading list alongside the course could be applied to the individual case studies, which ranged from news over TV shows to mobile applications. I warmly recommend this course for attaining a critical understanding of audiences in contemporary media environments. And interviewing is a lot of fun!

The committed and highly experienced teachers featured exciting case studies of people’s engagement with all kinds of media – from reality TV shows to right-wing populism and Donald Trump.

Agnė Raščiūtė (Lithuanian female postgraduate student)

The Media Audiences course was very eye opening and mind-expanding; we got an opportunity to apply various theories in action through the use of qualitative research. Extensive literature on the theories surrounding the concepts of identity, cultural and  political engagement, fans and everyday life, are of crucial importance in the field of media and communication. These concepts guide us throughout the majority of the research we do. Identities, subject positions, comprehensive understanding what makes us audiences and publics aids critical knowledge of media and communication. For example, the concept of ‘performance of the self’ can be one of the ways to be reflexive about your own position in doing the research.

Thus, even though the course is just one month long I feel that I got the most important tools and directions to navigate through the variety of applicable literature, concepts and theories regarding not only media audiences, but also qualitative research. The opportunity to try constructing and applying the method in researching audiences was very useful. In this way we got to see how theory actually ‘works’, and ask what are the limitations and strengths of this kind of research. Most importantly, this kind of exercise lets us have better knowledge about methodology and qualitative research.

Methods are a crucial part of research because without it everything that we do might be discarded as our assumptions. As this course teaches us, we must ‘assume less and investigate more.’ In order to investigate with confidence what we need is good knowledge and experience in methods. We come from various backgrounds and our levels of methods skills varies, with a lack of knowledge and experience, or lack of confidence in the craft. Most importantly, it was useful to have a group project before dwelling on the method on our own in individual essays. Constructive critique and suggestions by the course leader and other students broadened the understanding of how a method should actually work. Honestly, it is an amazing feeling to go out and really find a research topic, recruit people, interview them, listen and hear amazing stuff, especially if it contradicts or re-enforces the things you read in theory, AMAZING. It is really unrepeatable experience. And it is applicable not only in academia, but in real life too.

The Media Audiences course was very eye opening and mind-expanding; we got an opportunity to apply various theories in action through the use of qualitative research.

Kevin Witzenberger (German male postgraduate student)

This course combines a theoretical part about a research field (in this case media audiences), simultaneously included a critical reflection about methods within this research discipline, and obliged the students to implement a method (in this case semi-structured interviews).

The media audience course has been important to me. First of all, I learned about the theoretical foundations within a research field of media audiences. Secondly, I learned about a method and the advantages and disadvantages of using the method of semi-structured interviews within a set of ontological and epistemological views. Finally, this course ended with the requirement to implement the method, including a critical reflection. This has made me leave the course with a very important feeling – a feeling that tells me not only this kind of research matters  but also that I have a set of skills I can actually present and that not only the research itself matters but also I as a part of this research field.

Learning about methods on theoretical courses gives students various options regarding their master thesis and subsequently could result in the students having the advantage to write better theses within a wider scope of a mixed methods approach. Each individual course within the department has showed me new perspectives I sometimes could not even have imagined – but the media audience course also offered me some more practical research knowledge. I did not even realise I was missing this before I took this course, implemented my own research design and presented it within an essay.

The media audience course has been important to me

Jonathan Zaccarini (American male postgraduate student)

A thought provoking course, that exposes you to different constructions of audiences and media users. You will learn about political and cultural engagement within media, how media is used in everyday life, and how audiences construct their identities. Annette Hill professionally and competently lectures on this material, and provides deep insight into the importance of these media theories. While this course is beneficial for beginning graduate work in media studies, the material is helpful for making sense of life outside of the classroom. We live in a heavily media saturated environment, and it is imperative that we pay attention to it.

While this course is beneficial for beginning graduate work in media studies, the material is helpful for making sense of life outside of the classroom

Salome Kobalava (Georgian female postgraduate student)

Media Audiences was a course that challenged my assumptions about media content recipients. It taught me to think more about the importance of researching people whom the media perceives as audiences. In my opinion, this is vital to better understand and improve communication process, especially in contemporary context where interactivity is imperative for audience engagement. Another invaluable takeaway from the course was a qualitative research method which we were taught in order to use it for our final project. Mastering this tool made the whole learning process exploratory and exciting. If you want to gain understanding of conceptual building blocks upon which contemporary media industry is built and how audience analysis should be approached from multiple perspectives, then this course is for you.

If you want to gain understanding of conceptual building blocks upon which contemporary media industry is built and how audience analysis should be approached from multiple perspectives, then this course is for you.

Jiang Zhiduan (Chinese female postgraduate student)

I personally am very interested in audience studies, therefore, I was looking for this course to dig deeper into it. The lectures provided me with interesting information and knowledge, while the group work was a fun experience. This course is organised in very good structure. It covers various areas of media audiences, for example, the media use of everyday life, self- performance, political engagement and fans research. Every lecture has relevant works of literature that help me to understand the ideas and studies more. The books written by Goffman and Hill about self-performance and reality TV research are my favourites. The key concepts and points, for example, identities and engagement, are important in media studies.

It is inspiring to listen to other students' opinions that can make you understand one issue from different angles. The lectures, including the guest lectures, were fascinating. And finally, the individual course assignment is challenging but really good because I had the chance to practice the research method of qualitative interviews and coding.

It is inspiring to listen to other students' opinions that can make you understand one issue from different angles.

Krisztina Orban (Hungarian female postgraduate student)

Media Audiences was the first course in the Master's programme for me and such a well-placed introduction it was. Not only was it interesting as I haven't learnt audience studies before but the course also illustrated the department's research spirit and its approach to media, just as it introduced other teachers from the department as guest lecturers. It is a course that truly provides graduate level quality. Professor Annette Hill has a strong sense of pedagogy and actively led us through the whole course. I enjoyed that different kind of tasks were included like workshops, reading groups and own research, and that we were encouraged to not only read but interpret the literature, as well as to see the assignment a way to explore a case we were interested in.

It is a course that truly provides graduate level quality

Christine Sandal (Swedish female postgraduate student)

The course “Media Audiences“ has been rewarding in many ways and I highly recommend it. The lectures very clearly guided us through and connected the concepts in the literature with each other and concrete cases. Additionally there was always enough time for discussion and own thoughts. And this time was well spent because the literature was really interesting, with eye-opening concepts and perspectives which you wanted to become deeper involved with.

The best part was probably that we conducted real interviews which we used for our essays. For the interviews themselves it was exceptionally helpful to first do a “trial” within a group work. Group work can feel a bit burdening or random sometimes, but this project really fulfilled a purpose and I felt we learnt so much from each other in the process. Afterwards you could go confidently into doing your own interview guide and interviews for the individual essay. And although it can become quite stressful to find participants and get the interviews done in time it is a wonderful opportunity to actually try out a method for real and then analyze the gathered material with the concepts from the course and get a deepened understanding for a phenomenon you’re interested in. Personally, I was especially intrigued by the concepts of subjectivity and identity-work. All in all it’s a stimulating and challenging course that gives you wonderful insight into the truly fascinating world of media audiences!

It’s a stimulating and challenging course that gives you wonderful insight into the truly fascinating world of media audiences!

Libin Yao (Chinese female postgraduate student)

During the course, I really benefited a lot from the workshops and the lectures with your patience and kindness, although I was shy and nervous sometimes. It was a fabulous experience, sharing ideas, discussing, criticising, struggling, with people from various cultural backgrounds. I have never before made so much improvement with my work. The group project helped me understand more about the methodology and methods while doing the interview and analyzing data with others. What is more, the advice you gave us always guides the way and goes deeper into the issues. What an amazing thing taking Media Audiences as the first course in Lund!

It was a fabulous experience, sharing ideas, discussing, criticising, struggling, with people from various cultural backgrounds.

Una Čilić (Bosnia and Herzegovina female postgraduate student)

Apart from the challenging theoretical concepts I had opportunity to learn during Media Audiences course, I believe that the strongest point of the course was a research every student had to create, perform and write analysis on. By using qualitative interviews methods we learned and practiced in the course through the group work, I was able to work on my own essay topic with an already tested method.

This is particularly valuable having in mind that I am a second year student and preparing to do individual master thesis research and writing, and now with the knowledge I gained during Media Audiences course I know how to write an interview guide, how to perform semi structured qualitative interviews, and more importantly, I know how to do coding of obtained data, and how to connect all of that with the key concepts I'm going to explore. Overall, since the audience is inevitable part of any media related studies, this course helped me to get deeper insight into the theoretical concepts which could be used when inspecting media audience related research.

Since the audience is inevitable part of any media related studies, this course helped me to get deeper insight into the theoretical concepts which could be used when inspecting media audience related research.

2014

The Media and Communication studies course Media Audiences hosted by Professor Annette Hill has been an enriching experience.

Steven Koener

When studying media and communication, the focus of analysis is generally directed at the producers, oftentimes neglecting the role and impact of the audience. The course on Media Audiences, a crucial element of my Master Programme in Media and Communication Studies, gives an interesting insight to what extent audiences are linked with each other as well as with media producers. The world is nowadays more connected than ever: therefore making audience research a field with fragmented ever changing definitions of itself.

Annette Hill manages to illustrate how liminal the concepts of 'user' and producer' in audience research have become with an academic approach based on multidisciplinary research, building a course both diverse and stimulating... A great experience for any student interested in media studies!

Lisa Jalakas

I took this course as part of my MA in Media and Communication. It provided me with a variety of different perspectives on how to look at audiences, and has helped me to better understand and analyse viewers, readers, listeners, fans and consumers.

The audience is a complex concept! This course helped me appreciate that, and encouraged me to explore it. I have learnt that it is not possible to study media without considering its audiences, at least if you strive for a full understanding of media's influence on society.

Stefania Cicolini

The course Media Audiences exceeded my expectations, it offered a great overview of the relationship between audiences and the different types of mass media. “Assume less, investigate more” (Corner, 2011:87) was the first thing and the most important one I learnt during the course. If you want to understand how audiences engage with the media and how they respond to the changing nature of contemporary media, you should constantly investigate using multiple methods, which include critical as well as quantitative and qualitative analysis.

I am really satisfied with the course in particular because it gives special attention to “us” as viewers, listeners, readers and users of television, radio, print media and Internet. In the future, I hope to have the opportunity to deepen my knowledge in this field and to focus on the audiences of comedy TV series. 

Doudou Yi

The Media and Communication studies course Media Audiences hosted by Professor Annette Hill has been an enriching experience. With Media business seeing the rising trend of interaction, looking into the recipients of media output becomes ever more significant. For the master’s degree program in media and communication, this course constitutes an essential part.

The course has been taught with emphases on both theoretical and practical knowledge, as well as insight towards the dynamic interaction between presenters and audiences across various media platforms. With the reading materials even beyond there is always abundant support for those who look into continuing the audience research. I was able to acquire and use much specific knowledge towards media audiences even though this is a new field in my academic life. The essay tutorial designed by Professor Hill has further clarified the course and reading content individually for me in addition to giving a structural guidance regarding the final draft.

Even for newcomers to media audiences research this course excels with its thorough contemplation on the field combined with Professor Hill’s profuse insight from numerous research experiences.

Esteban Rahal

First of all, I took the Media Audiences course because I though it was helpful to understand all the ratings measurements, that in the end are the only tools that media companies and its products actually have for surviving as businesses. But what I found, thanks to the lectures and the literature suggested, was that there are more analytical aspects in the communication process that exists between the media and the receivers of the messages (everybody) that also affect decisions taken by producers and societies as well.

The course is helpful because allows the students to go beyond clichés about audiences, by analyzing their critical understandings and participative skills in a mediatized world. But also, the good thing about the course was realizing that audiences are not passive things controlled by media, but participative, emotional and influential.

Antony Lee

I took Media and Audiences as one of my elective courses within Master of Sciences in Global Studies at Lund University. My reason to take this course was pragmatic since I want to get both theoretical and practical knowledge on how to understand audiences – who they are, how to approach them, what tools could be used to analyze them – which will be very beneficial for my work in media sector.

I was surprised – in a positive way – by how the course was conducted. Each lecture was divided into two parts. The first part was designed as a theoretical discussion on certain topics, for example audiences in documentary movie, drama, or roaming audiences. Then, the second part of the lecture gave students chance to discuss the theories in a small group by using a selected case. This process “forced” students to be critical. Moreover, I also liked the topic of “roaming audiences” in which trying to illuminate multi-platforms audiences, something that is unavoidable in the digital era.  

Soon after I finished my master study at Lund University, I will return to Indonesia and then continue my work at a media house I have been working with since 2006. I hope I could make use knowledge from the course to contribute on my company´s effort to strengthen the company triple-M programs, which are multi-platform, multi-channel, and multi-media. Put it in another words, I want to contribute on how to manage a suitable and most effective ways of collaborating print, online, and TV products. In that sense, understanding audiences plays an important role.

Alfonso Forssell

I took the course because media audiences represented a big void in my studies on media, one that spells out as essential for almost obvious reasons but, as it happens, historically it wasn´t always the case. The cultural theory studies have been shifting for some time now, assuming less about audiences and actually focusing on understanding their relationship to media and their vital role within the equation. In my interest for multi-method research, I realized that to fully grasp the complexities of audiences one needs both qualitative and quantitative methods, so to me this course had many areas of interest as formative academic.

My experience of the course made this last point very clear. I was initially stunned by the different possible theoretical approaches to audiences, and how demanding it can be. Among the vast production of theory, I finally arrived at one that ignited particular interest: the studies of fandom. I developed my research particularly around Lord of the Rings fan communities and found, armed with a theoretical and methodological framework, an intensely passionate and tumultuous form of audience participation, which moves away from the paradigm of passive viewers and turns the fan into an active, engaged producer.

Now armed with this acquired knowledge on fandom studies, I´m interested in visiting other fan communities to see if this model of resistance is replicated throughout other arenas and how fandom is conceived.

Louise Bazz

The Media Audiences course gives some great insights in audience studies and deals with audiences of different genres such as drama and documentary film. I’ve only had occasional lectures on the topic before, so to have a whole course dedicated to this gave me a lot of new perspectives on how to think of audiences, on fans and fan culture and how the media affects the audience.
Both lectures and discussions deals with the concept of audiences and how this concept changes along with the media landscape, where new screens compete for the audiences’ attention and where digital, spreadable media opens up new possibilities for an active and engaged audience.

In media studies as well as in the media industry there tend to be a focus on effect, but instead this course deals with affect and practices - how people actually interact with media material from different genres and with different purposes. This course was truly inspiring and opened my eyes for new approaches on media audiences studies.