Listening to Audiences: A Brief Rationale and History of Audience Research in Popular Media Studies
Popular media may be described as television, film, radio, and print media primarily offered for the purpose of entertainment. Such popular media have been the object of critical analysis for decades, both for academic scholars and popular pundits. Our focus is not on quantitative or experimental research concerning popular media effects, but instead on qualitative scholarship that seeks to interpret and critically engage such media. For the past several decades, scholarship informed only by the critic's analysis of the so-called texts of popular media has been augmented by scholarship that recognizes the need to listen to audience members. The point of this article is to provide a brief rationale and history of such audience research.