Revisiting the ‘fallacy of meaningfulness’

Soort object
In media audience research we tend to assume that media are engaged with when they are used, however ‘light’ such engagement might be. Once ‘passive media use’ was banned as a reference to media use, being a media audience member became synonymous with being a meaning producer. In audience research however I find that media are not always the object of meaning making in daily life and that media texts can be hardly meaningful. Thinking about media and engagement, there is a threefold challenge in relation to audience research. The coming into being of platform media and hence of new forms of media production on a micro level that come out of and are woven into practices of media use, suggests that we need to redraft the repertoire of terms used in audience research (and maybe start calling it something else). Material and immaterial media production, the unpaid labour on the part of otherwise audience members should for instance be taken into account. Then, secondly, there is the continuing challenge to further develop heuristically strong ways of linking media use and meaning making, and most of all to do justice, thirdly, to those moments and ways in which audiences truly engage with media texts without identifying them with those texts.