CHAPTER THREE THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
This chapter looks at the foundational theoretical frameworks that were used in the development of the proposed conceptual model for e-teens’ use and appropriation of new media technologies. Theory is used to establish the relationship between or among constructs that explain a phenomenon by going beyond a local event and trying to connect it with similar events (Mertens 2005:2). A study investigating the use of new media technologies has linkage with theories in the communication field that depict how new media technologies are used and appropriated and what factors account for that. The Uses and Gratifications (U&G) theory, Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) and Model of Technology Appropriation (MTA) formed the basis of the study. Each theory is extensively discussed below.
USES AND GRATIFICATIONS (U&G) THEORY
Before the Uses and Gratifications Theory, the reigning theory in mass media research was the Magic Bullet or Hypodermic Needle theory which considered the mass media as being all powerful and the audience being homogeneously helpless and susceptible to depictions in the media because they could not form their own opinions (McQuail & Windahl 1993). However, some researchers admit that the audience members have control over their media exposure and can therefore filter messages, thereby challenging the widely-held belief society had on the subject of the powerful effects of media messages (Ballard 2011:5). The U&G theory is one of the theories which was developed to challenge the notion researchers and theorists at the time held that the audience members were passive, uncritical and homogenous. The Uses and Gratifications Theory puts the audience at the centre of the media consumption equation and conceives them as rationale beings. As a result, users seek out media to meet specific needs and not the opposite which sees the media as a hypodermic needle, injecting its norms and depictions into audience who cannot make critical choices in relation to what the media depict. The theory assumes that audience members choose media to meet peculiar needs which are considered to be the motives for using media products and channels (Papacharissi & Mendelson 2007).
Core assumptions of U&G theory
The Uses and Gratifications Theory deals with the use of media instead of media’s impact on the audience. According to Blumler and Katz (1974) media audiences are active and their media use goal-oriented. People also choose a particular medium over others for their own gratification or satisfaction (Brandtzæg & Heim 2009). The basic assumptions of the theory are that audience members are conscious of their taste and preferences and can recognise and point out their reasons for media use; media use is, hence, goal-directed; media consumption can fulfil a wide range of needs; and the audience are active in selecting those which will fulfil particular needs. In a general sense, this theory identifies psychological orientation needs, motives and gratifications as the main reasons for media use and tries to make the attempt to explain how individuals, groups and the society use media and what functions the media performs in their lives (Severin & Tankard 2001).
In their initial statement, Blumler and Katz’s Uses and Gratifications Theory outlined five major values according to Cummings (2008):
a) The audience is an active user of mass media.
b) Each user must detect which medium best gratifies his or her needs for a specified use.
c) Media cannot satisfy all human needs; there is a competition with the other sources of gratification.
d) Empirical experience can help determine the goals of mass media consumers since users are self-aware enough to accurately describe their motivation.
e) Judgment about the cultural relevance of mass media must be withheld in order to avoid speculation on popular culture.
Blumler and Katz (1974) put emphasis on the important role played by the user of mass media in choosing the medium that fits his or her needs in order to be gratified. Therefore, Uses and Gratifications Theory is an audience-oriented theory. Secondly, the audience must be aware of and know the medium that best meets their needs. The fourth point talks about the need for research to find out from the audience what gratifications the media help them satisfy since it is the audience who actively seek out the media and even media content to meet unique gratification needs. The final point admits that culture matters in the consumption of media content and so studies should be placed in cultural contexts.
Primarily, the theory assuming that individual members of the audience actively seek out mass media to satisfy their needs makes the Uses and Gratifications Theory go beyond mere lists of what audience use the media for. It rather enquires from the audiences what gratifications they seek to meet in their choice of media. Matei (2010) says that Blumler and Katz, in the development of the original conceptualizations of the U&G theory, take a non-prescriptive and non-predictive perspective on media effects and suggest that people mix and match uses with goals in line with particular needs, context and social backgrounds. This makes the individual to be seen as an active media consumer. Matei (2010) quotes Derek Lane as affirming his opinion:
… uses and gratification theory suggests that media users play an active role in choosing and using the media. Users take an active part in the communication process and are goal oriented in their media use. The theorist says that a media user seeks out a media source that best fulfills the needs of the user. Uses and gratifications assume that the user has alternate choices to satisfy their needs.
Brief historical background of the U&G theory
First described in an article he wrote in 1959 in reaction to a claim by Berrelson (1959) that the area of communication research seemed to be dead, the Uses and Gratifications Theory is attributed to Elihu Katz. Katz in 1959 put forward an argument that most communication research during that time concentrated more on what the media did to people and suggested turning to studying what people did with the media such as television, newspapers and radio (Severin & Tankard 2001).
In the 1930s and1940s, audiences at the time were very much interested in radio quiz shows. This made Herza Herzog question why such shows were popular among audiences and reasoned that there must be different reasons audiences listened to radio as compared to others (Miller 2002). This led researchers to begin looking into how to incorporate the needs of audiences into mass media programing. This is considered the early beginnings of the Uses and Gratifications Theory. But it was not until the mid-1960s and early 1970s that the Uses and Gratifications Theory was straightened up to become a coherent theoretical framework (Miller 2002). The original statement to explain the theory came from Katz, Blumler and Gurevitch in 1974 who enumerated basic points of the framework which is often quoted in most studies with grounding in the Uses and Gratifications Theory. According to Katz, Blumler and Gurevitch (1974:20):
… (1) the social and psychological origins of (2) needs, which generate (3) expectations of (4) the mass media or other sources, which lead to (5) differential patterns of media exposure (or engagement in other activities), resulting in (6) need gratifications and (7) other consequences, perhaps mostly unintended ones.
Two theoretical developments are note-worthy when looking at what uses the media serves its users or audience. It has been suggested that the lists can be categorised into different types of gratifications (Miller 2002:243). Cutler and Danowski (1980) identified content versus process gratifications, whereas Mcquail (1984) found cognitive versus affective or imagination gratifications, and instrumental versus ritual gratifications was identified by Rubin (1994). Swanson (1992) suggested that these distinctions reveal that there is pleasurable gratification which is realised during consumption and one that results from using information received from the media into practical use. Others, such as Rayburn (1996), have also called for the need to distinguish between gratifications sought (GS) and gratifications obtained (GO), which is considered another stage in the theory’s advancement.
West and Lynn (2010) regard the Uses and Gratifications Theory as trailblazing for the reason that the theory builds on Herzog’s research which resulted in a paradigm shift from how media influences people to how audiences use the media, weakening the argument that media had strong effects on its audience. McQuail (1984) said that the Uses and Gratifications Theory reverses the long-standing simplistic perception that the media always has strong effects on the audience to looking at it from the angle of how people are using the media. McQuail introduced the idea that users have “taste” based on which they selected media to meet those tastes, yearnings, desires or needs. Fiske (1989:172) argues that it is the audience, not the media that wields the most power. This could mean the media does not simply affect its audiences and, for that matter, should there be any effect of the media on its audience it is likely to be at the will of the latter. The U&G theory is considered one of the successful theoretical frameworks to provide an answer to the question of “how” and “why” individuals use media to satisfy particular needs (Karimi et al. 2014). Although U&G was originally developed at a time when traditional media such as newspaper, radio and TV were prevalent, contemporary research into new media have employed the U&G framework (Flanagin 2005; LaRose & Eastin 2004; Leung 2001).
Early applications of U & G theory
Early studies on Uses and Gratifications Theory were chiefly descriptive and sought to classify the data gathered from respondents into meaningful classes or categories. Herzog in 1940 suggested that there are four categories of appeals of radio quiz programmes – self-rating, educational, competitive and sporting – and in 1944 documented three types of gratifications in connection with listening to radio soap operas. These are wishful thinking, emotional release and gaining advice (Rubin 1981).
Berelson (1949) took the opportunity of a New York newspaper strike to ask readers why they read. The responses were broken into five key categories:
reading for information; reading for social prestige; reading for escape;
reading as a tool for daily living; and reading for a social context.
Mendelsohn in 1964 came up with six generalized functions of radio listening – companionship, bracketing the day, changing mood, counteracting loneliness or boredom, providing useful news and information, allowing participation in various events, and aiding social interaction (Rubin 1981:3).
During the 1970s, U&G researchers carefully studied the motivations of audience members, and with that information, came up with further categories of the uses, audiences put media to in order to gratify social and psychological needs. This is thought to have partially been in reaction to the barrage of criticisms from other mass communication scholars (Ruggiero 2000). According to West and Turner (2010), McQuail, Blumler and Brown in 1972 proposed that regarding the uses of different types of media, four categorisations can be developed: surveillance, diversion, personal identity and personal relationship. Katz, Gurevitch and Haas (1973) developed five categories which were grounded in works on the social and psychological functions of the mass media: cognitive needs, affective needs, personal integrative needs, social integrative needs and tension release needs. Greenberg (1974) identified seven categories of child and adolescent television viewing motivations – learning, habit, escape, relaxation, companionship, passing time and arousal and while Rubin (1977) and Rubin (1979) identified six child and adolescent television viewing motivations as habit, learning, passing time, companionship, escape, relaxation and arousal.
In recent times researchers have used U&G in the study of new media technologies. In the context of e-teens it is even more critical as they are appropriating new media technologies at an exponential rate. Considering the fact that new media technologies are highly interactive convergent platforms, it is easy for one to selectively give audience one content and ignore the other. It is being argued in this study that the motivations for e-teens’ new media use are different and exact, with the gratifications sought leaning towards social connectivity and companionship as Quans-Haase & Young (2010) similarly discuss. This is because at this stage of their lives e-teens tend to want to have a sense of belonging as it is a time of self-discovery. The nature of new media technologies makes it easy for e-teens to select content that will help them meet this peculiar need on a platform which is the convergence of print, radio/audio and TV/visuals. It is also relatively possible to predict the exact uses to which e-teens put new media technologies since new media technologies provide numerous options to teens out of which they select the ones that afford them the opportunity to meet their unique gratification need of belongingness. Thus, the hypothesis of this study that “there is a relationship between e-teens’ use of new media technologies and social inclusion, educational and sociability gratification”.
Modern applications of U&G theory
Although, the Uses and Gratifications Theory is old, it has become a significant framework which serves as the basis for looking into trends in usage for Internet-based media [new media technologies] (Stafford & Schkade 2004). Ruggerio (2000:27) asserts that the U&G theory has provided “a cutting-edge approach in the initial stages of each new communication medium: newspaper, radio, television, and now the Internet”. The arrival of new media technologies has brought about deep interest in the research into the use of such technologies from the U&G perspective (Ruggiero 2000). Different forms of media continue to emerge as technologies evolve, a trend that is challenging researchers’ understanding of mass communication and the Uses and Gratifications Theory (Ballard 2011). Chua, Goh and Lee (2012) state that the uses and gratifications for mobile content contribution contrast with U& G for mobile content retrieval. They identified uses and gratifications for contributing content are easy access, leisure, passing time and entertainment, while the gratifications for retrieval were identified as efficient access to information resources/services and the need for high quality information. Stassen (2010) indicates that social media could gratify the need for a place for information distribution, an avenue for feedback, a platform to promote organisations or even an opportunity to participate in a community of connected individuals. Moody (2010) believes social media can be powerful tools for engaging, teaching and learning. Leung (2013) has found forums to be the leading media for expressing negative feelings. Raacke & Bonds-Raacke (2008:171) realised that very prevalent uses and gratifications for having an account on MySpace or Facebook (in order of highest choice) were: “to keep in touch with old friends, to keep in touch with current friends, to post/look at pictures, to make new friends and to locate old friends”. Gratifications obtained from Facebook usage included: killing time, affection, fashion, sharing problems, sociability and social information (Quan-Haase & Young 2010).
On why people accessed political websites based on gratifications obtained from visiting political websites, Ancu and Cozmo (2009) concluded that the gratifications sought were 1) a desire for social interaction, 2) information seeking and 3) entertainment. A similar study completed by Park, Kee, and Valenzuela (2009) found socialization, entertainment, information seeking, and status seeking behaviour as gratifications obtained by joining a Facebook group.
A lot of studies have delved into the new media technology use under the microscope of the Uses and Gratifications Theory (LaRose et al. 2001; Lee 2008; Papacharissi & Rubin 2000; Stafford, Stafford, & Schkade 2004). This study looks at it from the angle of the e-teen users of new media technologies with the unique attribute of being “digital natives” and high appropriators of the technologies in order to predict and describe their motivations and uses of such technologies through the proposal of a conceptual model.
Gratifications sought versus gratifications obtained
The understanding of the U&G theory has been made richer as researchers began making expansions to the concept of gratifications by making a distinction between gratifications obtained
(GO) and gratifications sought [GS] (Kink & Hess 2008). The gratifications that audience 78
experiences after using a specific medium is known as gratifications obtained (GO). By contrast, gratifications sought (also often referred to as “needs” or “motives”) “refer to those gratifications that audience members expect to obtain from a medium before they have actually come into contact with it” (Danesi 2013:690). Palmgreen and Rayburn (1979) suggested that in order to better predict media use, attention must be given to gratifications obtained and that, if a medium is able to meet or surpass gratifications sought by a user, there will be recurrent usage. Researchers have posited that appreciating the gap between these two types of gratifications is essential for investigating how different audience groups use different media and media products, their expectations before media use and the gratifications they in reality obtain from coming using different types of media products (Palmgreen & Rayburn 1979).
CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
1.2 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
1.3 RESEARCH PROBLEM FOR THE STUDY
1.3.1 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
1.4 AIMS AND PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
1.5 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
1.6 RESEARCH QUESTIONS.
1.8 JUSTIFICATION OF STUDY
1.9 OPERATIONAL DEFINITIONS OF KEY TERMS/ CONCEPTS
1.10 STRUCTURE OF THESIS
CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW
2.2 CHARACTERISTICS OF E-TEENS
2.3 TECHNOLOGY APPROPRIATION PATTERNS AMONG E-TEENS
2.4 A CASE OF DIGITAL INEQUALITIES AMONG DIGITAL NATIVES (E-TEENS)
2.5 NEW MEDIA TECHNOLOGIES USED BY E-TEENS
2.6 TECHNOLOGY USAGE PATTERNS AMONG E-TEENS
2.7 TIME E-TEENS SPEND ON NEW MEDIA TECHNOLOGY
2.8 REASONS/MOTIVES FOR TECHNOLOGY USE BY E-TEENS
2.9 OVERVIEW OF REVIEWED LITERURE
CHAPTER THREE THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
3.2 USES AND GRATIFICATIONS (U&G) THEORY
3.3 THE RELEVANCY OF U&G THEORY IN THE STUDY
3.4 THE TECHNOLOGY ACCEPTANCE MODEL (TAM)
3.5 THE RELEVANCY OF TAM TO THE STUDY
3.6 MODEL OF TECHNOLOGY APPROPRIATION (MTA)
3.7 RELEVANCY OF MTA TO THE STUDY
3.8. CRITICAL SUMMARY OF U & G, TAM AND MTA AND RELATIONSHIP WITH PROPOSED E-TEEN MODEL
CHAPTER FOUR PROPOSED CONCEPTUAL MODEL
4.2 WHAT IS A CONCEPTUAL MODEL?
4.3 EMPIRICAL AND THEORETICAL FOUNDATIONS FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE E-TEEN MODEL
4.4 A CONCEPTUAL MODEL FOR USE AND APPROPRIATION OF NEW MEDIA TECHNOLOGIES BY E-TEENS
5.2 RESEARCH DESIGN
5.3 RESEARCH METHODS
5.4 PILOT STUDY
5.5 DATA ANALYSIS
5.6 VALIDITY, RELIABILITY AND ERRORS OF THE STUDY
5.7 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
6.2 RESPONSE RATE
6.3 DEMOGRAPHIC PROFILE OF RESPONDENTS
6.4 EXTENT OF EXPOSURE TO NEW MEDIA TECHNOLOGIES
6.5 FREQUENCY OF USE OF NEW MEDIA TECHNOLOGIES
6.6 E-TEENS AND NEW MEDIA USE RESTRICTIONS
6.7 EXTENT OF THE USE OF NEW MEDIA TECHNOLOGIES
6.8 NEW MEDIA TECHNOLOGIES FOR ACCESSING INFORMATION FROM THE INTERNET
6.9 USES OF NEW MEDIA TECHNOLOGIES
6.10 TOP APPS USED BY E-TEENS
6.11 GRATIFICATIONS E-TEENS SEEK FROM NEW MEDIA TECHNOLOGIES
6.12 GRATIFICATIONS SOUGHT VS. GRATIFICATIONS OBTAINED
6.13 RESPONDENTS’ PARTICIPATION WITH NEW MEDIA CONTENT
6.14 NEW MEDIA USAGE ABILITIES (LEVEL OF APPROPRIATION)
6.15 KEY FEATURES OF NEW MEDIA APPROPRIATION AND EXPERIENCE AMONG E-TEENS
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