Audiences are problematic and, as such, the study of audiences has represented a key site of activity in the social sciences and humanities. In Audiences, the authors offer a timely review of the past 50 years of theoretical and methodological debate to argue the case for a paradigmatic shift in audience research.
This shift, they argue, is necessitated by the emergence of the "diffused audience." Audience experience can no longer be simply classified as "simple" or "mass," for in modern, advanced capitalist societies, people are members of an audience all the time. Being a member of an audience is no longer an exceptional event, nor even an everyday event. Rather, it is constitutive of everyday life. That this is the case is attributable to the fact that our relationship with events and objects in the social world has changed. If the world is increasingly conceived as a spectacle, then so are the people within it, and we become both simultaneously performers and audience.
This book offers an invaluable review of the literature and a new point of departure for audience research, and will be welcomed by all students of sociology, media, communication, and cultural studies.