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This article uses empirical research, with young (aged 16–21) advertising audiences, to build upon existing communication theory in a number of ways. First, it summarizes meaning-based models that have developed over time by increasing the importance of the audience's role. Second, it advances communication theory by introducing a new meaning-based model appropriate to the 21st century audience. The model is constructed from the theoretical concepts of personal self, social circle, popular culture, and inherited culture. The model provides a framework that industry practitioners and academic scholars can use to consider how anterior texts help young people decode meaning from advertisements.
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