Audiences and fandoms
The last chapter introduced some of the basic ideas germane to cultural studies, including (historical) reception studies. This chapter will explore in further detail the idea of audiences and audience studies, and focus on the contemporary phenomenon of media fandoms, and especially how they relate to gender and other forms of social difference. Recall that reception studies and audience studies are similar and/or overlapping projects, but that reception studies tend to emphasize how a film or TV text is positioned by the media industries to be received by readers, while audience studies tend to emphasize the behaviors and actual responses of readers. Oftentimes audience studies are called reader-response studies or reader-response criticism, especially in literary fields, where people actually encounter texts quite literally through reading words on a page. Audience studies is the preferred term in media studies, however; for although we still use the terms “reader” and “reading,” reading media involves decoding complex audiovisual signals, and not just words on a page.