Active Audiences and the Construction of Meaning

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Active Audiences and the Construction of Meaning People in the media industry believe that the audience is a mass of passive readers who accept media messages uncritically. Nevertheless, audiences participate actively in constructing meaning of media texts because of their individual or collective interpretation of media messages, and their collective political action. The audiences actively take part in the interpretation of media texts- an essential process when media messages start meaning something to people who assign meaning to the texts. Sometimes audiences can interpret the message in the same way as intended by the producers, but sometimes they construct meaning that is very different. People interpret media texts in social settings. Therefore, media are significant part of the social life. Since audiences are active receivers of media texts, they can change media messages by collective action such as public demonstration, prohibition of certain media texts, campaigns that show audiences’ disapproval of media products, public writing of letters of complaint regarding media, foundation of independent media that criticize main media but also supply audiences with alternative perspectives. Audiences from different races, ethnicities, genders and social classes construct various interpretations of the same media message. So, media texts are characterized by polysemy, they have multiple meanings. According to John Fiske (1986) there is abundance of meaning embedded in the media texts. Therefore, media messages are structured in a way that enables people to make different readings and interpret them actively, not simply to accept the dominant interpretation. People have agency but there is no structure. However, people from different social backgrounds construct various interpretations of same media texts. Social statuses shape audience members’ viewpoints,

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