Livingstone, Sonia, Allen, Jessica and Reiner, Robert
The audience for crime media 1946-91: a historical approach to reception studies.
Communication Review, 4
The present paper argues that audience reception studies have tended to be ahistorical, neglecting consideration of the ways in which audiences' orientation to media may have changed over the decades. The paper explores the potential of combining oral history methods with reception studies, and addresses some of the difficulties which arise. An apparently simple way to introduce a historical perspective is attempted by including audience age as a central part of an empirical research design. By analysing a series of focus group discussions in which people respond to crime media from different points over the postwar period, the concept of age is unpacked in terms of generation and life course factors, and these are shown to influence reception of crime media from both the present and the past. Generation and life course, together with gender, also affect people's positioning in society in relation to real-world crime, and this too affects the reception of crime media. The paper concludes by suggesting three ways in which audiences may have changed over the postwar period in terms of their interpretive frames for making sense of crime media, namely the frames of personal relevance, realism and moral relativism.
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