ABSTRACT

T HE introduction ofinterpretive perspectives in the communicationsfield has prompted some to look anew at the relationship betweenthe practices of research methodology and the practices by which persons organize and account for their communicative activity. Not far from the surface of such discussions often lies the issue of the locus of control of behavior. With particular regard to the media audience, concerns are raised about seeming disjunctions between reception and usage, and behavior and meaning. It has become nearly axiomatic for mass communication scholars to assume an interpreting activity on the part of media users. The status of the literal expressions of that activity in theory development, however, remains a matter of some disagreement. In a similar vein, the typical practice ofstudying media audiences as aggregates of individual attributes may belie the socially contingent nature of much mediated communication activity. Finally, there exists ongoing dissidence as to whether it is possible (or desirable) to carry out media effects research without accounting for the ever expanding and interacting frames ofmeaning that "subjects" generate in their encounters with mediated content.