The participation paradigm in audience research

BY: Livingstone

As today’s media simultaneously converge and diverge, fusing and hybridizing across digital services and platforms, some researchers argue that audiences are dead-long live the user! But for others, it is the complex interweaving of continuities and changes that demands attention, especially now that audiencing has become a vital mode of engaging with all dimensions of daily life. This article asks how we should research audiences in a digital networked age. I argue that, while many avenues are being actively pursued, many researchers are concentrating on the notion of participation, asking, on the one hand, what modes of participation are afforded to people by the particular media and communication infrastructures which mediate social, cultural or political spheres of life? And, on the other hand, how do people engage with, accede to, negotiate or contest this as they explore and invent new ways of connecting with each other through and around media? The features of this emerging participation paradigm of audience research are examined in this article.

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