The Uses and Gratifications Theory (UGT) postulates that “media users play an active role in choosing and using the media” (Lane, 2001) and that “media consumers are actively choosing specific media content according to their needs” (Matei, 2010). In other words, users discern between various forms of media and select one that serves their intended purpose, thus fulfilling their needs.
Read more about it here: http://matei.org/ithink/2010/07/29/what-can-uses-and-gratifications-theory-tell-us-about-social-media/ .
An example of UGT in action is when the ‘Rosie the Riveter’ image was used by the United States Government to motivate millions of women to join the workforce due to a shortage of labour when men were enlisted for WWII. This poster of a woman wearing a distinctive bandana, flexing her muscles and proclaiming, “We Can Do It!” was used to boost the morale of female workers. This is a prime example of how a group of people, in this case the U.S. Government, actively made use of an image to make a stand that women should serve the country by entering the workforce, thus fulfilling the workforce’s need for labour.
More information: http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/rosie-the-riveter .
Another example is the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) using powerful images to make a stand about our need to stop harmful actions towards nature and wildlife. The above image depicts men standing in the shape of a pyramid, with consumers of the fur trade standing at the top and animal hunters at the bottom. The caption of “Stop one. Stop them all.” serves to remind us that consumers are also perpetrators of this trade, as they provide incentive (monetary returns) for hunters to kill the animals. By stopping any one of the participants (not necessarily the hunters), the pyramid would fall apart, a metaphorical representation of this trade ceasing to exist.
As one of the main tools of advertising and propaganda, the UGT permeates more aspects of our lives than we consciously realise. People are constantly making use of media to make an argument or stand.