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parasocial theory
parasocial relationships

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This article describes the actual functional potential of parasocial relationship in lives of modern media consumers. The author proposes the functional model of parasocial relationships based on the wide range of experimental studies of Western and Eastern colleagues. It was designed to explain the connection between human needs and their satisfaction through parasocial contacts. The author has summarized global researches, related to the functions of parasocial relations, compiling them into a model which is based on two theoretical concepts: “Uses and Gratifications” (U&G) and “Consumption-Creation”. The first one reveals how mass-media are used to satisfy the needs of media consumers, based on their goals that they set for themselves. The second one considers the interactions of mass-media consumers with the media through the cult of consumerism, either as thoughtless consumerism for the sake of pleasure, or as meaningful creative activities.

The author has identified six main functions which were divided in two groups according to the general idea of the “Consumption-Creation” concept. The consumer concept includes such functions as entertaining, compensating and replacement. The creative concept includes educational, media-creative and motivational-effective functions. The consumer concept serves exclusively to the needs of media consumers and affects mainly their emotional sphere. The creative concept can transform a media consumer’s personality in a certain way and have influence on his/her self-presentation in the world.

The article author describes each function in detail, correlates them with core personal needs, substantiates their foundations and manifestations, reviews some studies on these aspects and the possibilities to meet certain needs through the formation of both parasocial connections (contacts) and parasocial relationships.

The author names this model universal but does not exclude the possibility of further research that could describe new practices of parasocial interactions and expand or transform the potential of the parasocial functionality.
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