Throwing out the baby: populism and active audience theory

Cobley, Paul ORCID logoORCID: (1994) Throwing out the baby: populism and active audience theory. Media, Culture and Society, 16 (4) . pp. 677-687. ISSN 0163-4437 [Article] (doi:10.1177/016344379401600409)


During the last ten years, active audience theory has taken a central place in cultural studies. In Media, Culture and Society alone there have been at least five major articles’ addressing methodological issues associated with audience theory. The most concerted critique so far is that of Seaman (1992), who puts to the test what he sees as some of the claims regarding the activity of media audiences. Focusing on British reception theorists, he challenges those features of their work which purportedly demonstrate the limited effects of the media and, in particular, the possibility that audiences produce ‘resistant’ readings which subvert the media’s power to control by imposing meaning. It seems that, for Seaman, research centred on the examination of readers’ meanings is almost wholly pointless. However, this is not the case for all critics of audience theory. Arguing against the tendency to isolate the study of media audiences from the study of media institutions, John Comer notes that the crucial problem is that media power as a political issue ‘has slipped almost entirely off the main research agenda’ (1991: 267).

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Media and Performing Arts > Media
Item ID: 29621
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Paul Cobley
Date Deposited: 09 Apr 2020 13:31
Last Modified: 20 Apr 2020 10:01

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Activity Overview
6 month trend
6 month trend

Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.