Posted by: bburk2014 | October 14, 2014

Useless Gratification–a new look at U&G theory

Ruggiero’s paper, Uses and Gratifications Theory in the 21st Century, while written in the pre-9/11 media Dark Ages (2000), anticipates the advent of smartphones (already a term falling rapidly out of fashion) in its discussion of behavioral patterns in response to new technologies.

In fact, Ruggiero’s argument in favor of the revival of U&G theory was just a bit ahead of its time, because U&G provides an ideal means of studying the effects of the personally-curated media experience emblematic of the Device Age.

Through observation of my own behavior when it comes to media usage, I have come to see devices as paid message delivery systems, much as cigarettes are nicotine delivery systems for tobacco addicts. We scoff to read that North Korean citizens are required to have a government-controlled radio speaker in their homes, but just try prying the corporate-controlled Android from me.

The point is, as Shoemaker and Reese continually point out in Mediating the Message, the lines of influence in the Hierarchical Model are blurred and ill-defined. Institutions and individuals both have a role in shaping the media landscape, as one chases profit and the other chases gratification in a ceaseless transaction that appears either as a Möbius strip or a dog chasing its tail. But if you’ll excuse me, I’m late for my next info fix.

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