Reception Theory

Authored by: Gretchen Barbatsis

Handbook of Visual Communication

Print publication date:  November  2004
Online publication date:  December  2004

Print ISBN: 9780805841787
eBook ISBN: 9781410611581
Adobe ISBN: 9781135636531

10.4324/9781410611581.ch18

 Download Chapter

 

Abstract

Reception theorists direct attention to the interaction that takes place in what they call a text-reader or medium-audience nexus. For our purposes, it is a picture-viewer engagement that creates this nexus. This space, which is marked by the hyphen, is considered a site of meaning production and it is the process that occurs here that reception theorists mark out as their object of study. With philosophical underpinnings in phenomenology, a reception perspective asks “how” rather than “what” something like a painting or a photograph or a film “means.” In focusing on the meaning-making process, this approach to understanding mediated communication works with the notion that a text—such as a picture—does not live in isolation from a context of “reading” and “response” (Freund, 1987). Accordingly, a reception perspective conceptualizes audiences as active and texts as indeterminate, and meaning is viewed as belonging to neither a text nor a reader. The notion that meaning is something that is made—or constituted—in a text-reader (picture-viewer) interaction has important implications for how we conceptualize visuals and visual communication as well as how we study them.

 Cite
Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.