No offerings have been identified for this subject in 2016

COM216 Media Audiences & Public Opinion (8)


The subject examines contemporary theoretical approaches to media audiences research, and public opinion research, and traces their historical roots. Audience and public opinion research methods, including survey research designs, quasi-experimental design, focus groups, ethnography, and interviewing techniques are examined in terms of their underlying assumptions about audiences and public opinion.

+ Subject Availability Modes and Location

Continuing students should consult the SAL for current offering details prior to contacting their course coordinator: COM216
Where differences exist between the handbook and the SAL, the SAL should be taken as containing the correct subject offering details.

Subject information

Duration Grading System School:
One sessionHD/FLSchool of Communication and Creative Industries

Assumed Knowledge


Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:
Demonstrate an understanding of historical approaches to media audiences and public opinion research;
Identify contemporary approaches to media audience theory, recption theory, and to public opinion research;
Understand the critical differences and debates about differing approaches and methods;
Have a beginning understanding of the limitations of a variety of methods appropriate to media audiences research, reception theory, and to public opinion research.


The subject will cover the following topics:
Nature of theory, and method, in approaching 'audiences' and 'public opinion'; classical notions of 'mass'; urban audiences, newspapers and radio in the pre World War II period. Propaganda and mass opinion. American and British 'effects' research. Voting: methods; issue salience and social class. 'Uses and gratifications' research in the 1950's. Institutional radio research. Critical theory critiques. Contemporary approaches: uses and gratifications; knowledge -gap research; cultivation analyses. Ideology, subjectivity and decoding: 'Screen theory' and critque; Hall's encoding/decoding model. 'British' media studies and contemporary debates and approaches. Text/Reader relationships: Nationwide; the 'public knowledge' strand. Gendered viewing; family routines. 'New' Audience Research, and critique. Media in daily lives: The 'social uses' of media. Content and ethnographic practice. Case studies: public health campaigns; music and popular culture; romance novels; youth magazines; cultural indicators projects. Cognitive and information processing approaches: Contemporary agenda-setting; spiral of silence theory; news framing; priming; macro third-person effects. Case studies: declining newspaper readership; television violence; WEB violence and pornography; political campaigns and advertising; media diversity and audiences. Institutional audience research, and public opinion research. Methods critique. Notions of 'audience' and 'opinion'; underlying theoretical frameworks; infrastructure, rationality and control. News and public opinion: mass media polling and 'framing'; advertising, and public relations, and public opinion; critique of methods; the researcher's position. Re-examining the 'public sphere'; cognitive approaches. 'Manufacturing consent' and public mediated discourse. 'Civic' community journalism. Alternative pathways to public opinion research.


The information contained in the 2016 CSU Handbook was accurate at the date of publication: 06 September 2016. The University reserves the right to vary the information at any time without notice.