Uses and Gratification Theory

1974 – Jay Blumler & Elihu Katz

The Uses & Gratification Theory looks at how people use the media to gratify a range of needs – including the need for information, personal identity, integration, social interaction and entertainment.

The Uses and Gratification Theory takes the relationship between media texts and audiences a step further. Starting with the assumption that texts are open and audiences create their own meaning, the Uses and Gratification Theory proposes that audiences are active participants in the communication process. They choose the media texts to gratify their own needs – such as the need for information, personal identity, integration social interaction or entertainment. Indeed there is a great deal of research using this approach which seems to confirm the notion that audiences are active and important participants in the communication process. In a recent series of studies called, ‘Hanging Out, messing around and geeking out’, researchers found that young people use the media for a variety of purposes, actively engaging in games, social interaction, problem solving and diverse forms of learning. The findings of this report are in direct opposition to the notion that audiences are passive and susceptible to media influence.


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