Denis McQuail's response to Jay G. Blumler's talk on the origins and sources of the appeal of the 'uses and gratifications' paradigm.
Is the active audience an article of faith or an empirical question? Empirical and quantifiable measurement of gratifications sought or obtained from consumption of a wide range of media materials proves to have been remarkably easy and productive when undertaken properly. After reviewing the principal conceptual framework of the 'uses and gratifications' paradigm, Jay will provide an overview of the prominent and to some extent recurrent typologies of gratifications sought (or obtained) that have emerged from research in the area. He will also review the social origins of gratifications, and the interplay of gratifications and effects. There has been some lessening of interest in the paradigm from approximately the 1990s, and the talk will end with a discussion of the main criticisms of the approach. Having flourished in a period of classic, limited-channel television, can the uses and gratifications approach be applied in today's very different communications system? If so, how? And what, if any, lessons can we take from its mainstream heyday?