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Instrumental and Normative Influences on Users' Media Repertoires

The next ECREA 2014 speaker is Dennis Reineck, whose interest is in distinguishing instrumental and normative approaches to news consumption. Tabloids are a great deal more popular than broadsheets in most countries, for example, but such actual media consumption is at odds with social norms, as people nonetheless agree with standard criteria for what constitutes quality journalism.

Instrumental theory suggests that quality expectations and judgments lead to what news media users choose; normative theory, on the other hand, distinguishes functional-systemic, normative-democratic, and audience-action levels and takes a more social responsibility-centric view of journalism.

But reality is constructed by the social choices of individuals, and knowledge is created as individuals engage with institutions; what emerges from this is a sociocultural lifeworld that determins through socialisation the individual's wants and needs as well as their perception of social norms, which respectively create instrumental and normative expectations and lead to a choice of media types.

Dennis conducted a survey of news users in Germany to explore this further, and this supported the view that the individual's lifeworld impacted considerably on their news consumption repertoire. Individual wants and needs impact on media use more than social norms for usage purposes, and less for valuational purposes.