Author(s): Elihu Katz, Jay G Blumler, Michael Gurevitch
INTEREST IN THE GRATIFICATIONS that media provide their audiences goes back to the beginning of empirical mass communication research. Such studies were well represented in the Lazarsfeld-Stanton collections (1942, 1944, 1949): Her-zog (1942) on quiz programs and the gratifications derived from listen-ing to soap operas, Suchman (1942) on the motives for getting inter-ested in serious music on radio, Wolfe and Fiske (1949) on the development of children's interest in comics, Berelson (1949) on the functions of newspaper reading, and so on. Each of these in-vestigations came up with a list of functions served either by some specific contents or by the medium in question: to match one's wits against others, to get information or advice for daily living, to provide a framework for one's day, to prepare oneself culturally for the de-mands of upward mobility, or to be reassured about the dignity and usefulness of one's role. What these early studies had in common was, first, a basically sim-ilar methodological approach whereby statements about media func-tions were elicited from the respondents in an essentially open-ended way. Second, they shared a qualitative approach in their at-tempt to group gratification statements into labelled categories, largely ignoring the distribution of their frequency in the popula-tion. Third, they did not attempt to explore the links between the gratifications thus detected and the psychological or sociological origins of the needs that were so satisfied. Fourth, they failed to search for the interrelationships among the various media functions, either quantitatively or conceptually, in a manner that might have led to the detection of the latent structure of media gratifications.