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An ecological psychology approach to the study of audiences
Unformatted Document Text:  ecological theory...11 the rules of the game, the outcome of the game, and sub-narratives surrounding rule- based incidents, become meaningless and can play little part in the interaction. If the viewer – like my student’s interviewee – chooses to focus on the player’s legs, neither layer of narrative will be influential, although commentary may supply other relevant details (e.g., close-ups of the player’s romantic partner in the crowd, or comments about her physique). In either case, the available affordances for the audience-medium encounter depend on the textual features that are most salient for the viewer. In the interviewee’s case, as a lovelorn single man, Steffi Graf’s status as a physically attractive young woman was a more important feature of his encounters with her in the media than any of the broader narratives surrounding her role in professional sport. The affordances available to young children in their encounters with media are also a mixture of textual features and audience characteristics. The somewhat limited literature on children’s understanding of television narratives has focused on the gradual awareness of television narratives as being qualitatively distinct from everyday narratives; hence Watkins (1988) found older children introducing three times as much violence into their ‘stories-for-TV’ than was found in their ‘real-life stories’. Similarly, Wolf (1987) found that children as young as four would draw heavily from TV narratives in their own creations for television. However, for understanding television in the first instance, a child needs to observe some degree of concordance between the televised narrative and their own social experience, and the success of children’s television very often depends on the producers’ ability to draw upon familiar narratives in producing plausible scenarios for the characters involved.

Authors: Giles, David.
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ecological theory...11
the rules of the game, the outcome of the game, and sub-narratives surrounding rule-
based incidents, become meaningless and can play little part in the interaction. If the
viewer – like my student’s interviewee – chooses to focus on the player’s legs, neither
layer of narrative will be influential, although commentary may supply other relevant
details (e.g., close-ups of the player’s romantic partner in the crowd, or comments
about her physique). In either case, the available affordances for the audience-medium
encounter depend on the textual features that are most salient for the viewer. In the
interviewee’s case, as a lovelorn single man, Steffi Graf’s status as a physically
attractive young woman was a more important feature of his encounters with her in
the media than any of the broader narratives surrounding her role in professional
sport.
The affordances available to young children in their encounters with media are also a
mixture of textual features and audience characteristics. The somewhat limited
literature on children’s understanding of television narratives has focused on the
gradual awareness of television narratives as being qualitatively distinct from
everyday narratives; hence Watkins (1988) found older children introducing three
times as much violence into their ‘stories-for-TV’ than was found in their ‘real-life
stories’. Similarly, Wolf (1987) found that children as young as four would draw
heavily from TV narratives in their own creations for television. However, for
understanding television in the first instance, a child needs to observe some degree of
concordance between the televised narrative and their own social experience, and the
success of children’s television very often depends on the producers’ ability to draw
upon familiar narratives in producing plausible scenarios for the characters involved.


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