Audience

Meaning of Audience: A Type of Crowd

A gathering of individuals in a particular area to observe some event or activity is called an audience (or conventional crowd).

An Audience is a gathering of onlookers who observe some performance, event, or activity. Audiences tend to be conventional in behavior, and they disperse when the event they are watching concludes.

A crowd Opens in new window that deliberately gathers in a particular area to observe some event or activity is called an audience (or conventional crowd).

Unlike a crowd that forms spontaneously when some event creates a shared focus, individuals join audiences deliberately, and they are bound more tightly by social conventions that dictate their location and movements. They enter the focal area via aisles or pathways and occupy locations that are determined by seating arrangements or by custom. (Blumer, 1946).

While observing, members of audience may perform a variety of behaviors, including clapping, cheering, shouting, or questioning, but these actions are usually in accord with the norms of the particular setting. Moreover, when the event or performance has ended, the audience disperses in an orderly fashion (Hollingworth, 1935).

Audiences, although relatively staid collectives, nonetheless exert considerable social pressure on their members. Audience members expect each other to abide by the norms of the setting, and those who fail to do—say, by speaking too loudly, using a cell phone, or otherwise flaunting the unspoken rules of the situation—put themselves at risk for a social rebuke.

Audience members also tend to act in relatively synchronized fashion—clapping, laughing, and exiting the situation in unison. Laughter, for example, is highly contagious within an audience: People are thirty times more likely to laugh when with others than when alone (Province, 2017).