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Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences
The article outlines the results of a sociological study dedicated to television content consumption among the youth of Saratov. The media is often referred to as the fourth branch of government. The mechanism which the media employ to influence the public opinion comprises several elements, such as targeted search and selection of information; the extent to which this information reflects real facts; the means of preparing, interpreting, and distributing information; and the meaningful sequences of visual images and codes. At the same time, the media’s audience is also a relatively independent social entity in its own right, with a number of specific features and its own way of perceiving information. This is especially apparent in the case of young adults, which is why a sociological survey among this group was carried out in Saratov in 2014. The survey’s results facilitated a detailed description of the young adult television audience, while also allowing to reveal the peculiar features of television content consumption among the urban youth and to evaluate the significance of television media as a societal institute. A large share of the Saratov youth regularly spends their free time watching television; the content, however, is mostly selected at random. Most young adult viewers from Saratov regard television as their main source of entertainment, education, and information. They also believe that the media is a highly significant social institute and socialization agent. In terms of the factors that drive the Saratov youth’s opinion of television’s significance as a social institute, the study revealed several key variables: the viewer’s age, the number of times the viewer watches television, and the average duration of a television session. The study’s results indicate that the importance of television as a means of recreation is steadily decreasing, with fewer television sessions per week. Television as a means of entertainment is more important to those who watch television more often, and barely matters to those who hardly ever watch television. Such patterns are fairly relative, but they still should be taken into account while analyzing the way television functions; they will also help shed more light on the social mechanisms behind the media’s interaction with the public.
television consumption, television session, the youth, television media, social functions of television.