Active audience theory argues that media audiences do not just receive information passively but are actively involved, often unconsciously, in making sense of the message within their personal and social contexts. Decoding of a media message may therefore be influenced by such things as family background, beliefs, values, culture, interests, education and experiences.
Other theories and models are compatible with active audience theory, including the Encoding/Decoding model and the Uses and gratifications theory, which states that audiences are actively involved in determining what media they engage with and how, in order to gratify specific needs or desires. The Mass media article refers to a Culturalist theory, however there is little evidence of its use in relation to (mass) media.
Active audience theory is seen as a direct contrast to the Effects traditions, however Jenny Kitzinger argues against discounting the effect or influence media can have on an audience, acknowledging that an active audience does not mean that media effect or influence is not possible. Supporting this view, other theories combine the concepts of active audience theory and the effects model, such as the two step flow theory where Katz and Lazarsfeld argue that persuasive media texts are filtered through opinion leaders who are in a position to ‘influence’ the targeted audience through social networks and peer groups.
When you decode a message, you extract the meaning of that message in ways that make sense to you. Decoding has both verbal and non-verbal forms of communication: Decoding behavior without using words means observing body language and its associated emotions. For example, some body language signs for when someone is upset, angry, or stressed would be a use of excessive hand/arm movements, red in the face, crying, and even sometimes silence. Sometimes when someone is trying to get a message across to someone, the message can be interpreted differently from person to person. Decoding is all about the understanding of what someone already knows, based on the information given throughout the message being received. Whether there is a large audience or exchanging a message to one person, decoding is the process of obtaining, absorbing, understanding, and sometimes using the information that was given throughout a verbal or non-verbal message.
For example, since advertisements can have multiple layers of meaning, they can be decoded in various ways and can mean something different to different people. Hall claims that the decoding subject can assume three different positions: Dominant/hegemonic position, negotiated position, and oppositional position.
In the process of encoding, the sender (i.e. encoder) uses verbal (e.g. words, signs, images, video) and non-verbal (e.g. body language, hand gestures, face expressions) symbols for which he or she believes the receiver (that is, the decoder) will understand. The symbols can be words and numbers, images, face expressions, signals and/or actions. It is very important how a message will be encoded; it partially depends on the purpose of the message.
Meaning of verbal communication
When messages or information is exchanged or communicated through words is called verbal communication. Verbal communication may be two types: written and oral communication. Verbal communication takes place through face-to-face conversations, group discussions, counseling, interview, radio, television, calls, memos, letters, reports, notes, email etc.
- Meaning of non-verbal communication
When messages or information is exchanged or communicated without using any spoken or written word is known as nonverbal communication. Non-verbal communication (NVC) is usually understood as the process of communication through sending and receiving wordless messages.
Non-verbal communication is a powerful arsenal in the face-to-face communication encounters, expressed consciously in the presence of others and perceived either consciously or unconsciously. Much of non-verbal communication is unintentional people are not even aware that they are sending messages. Non-verbal communication takes place though gestures, facial expressions, eye contact, physical proximity, touching etc.
So, non-verbal communication is the exchanged of information or message between two or more persons through gestures, facial expressions eye contact, proximity, touching etc. and without using any spoken or written word.