Jenkins, H, et al. (2012) Spreadable Media.

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Analyzing the shifting relationships between producers and audiences, Jenkins, Ford and Green explore what constitute meaningful participation in a networked media environment where communication capacity has been expanded. What has changed and what has stayed the same in culture? They argue that many cultures are becoming more participatory than previous configurations of media power. Audience members and citizens have now more media power.

According to them audiences can participate in different ways such as evaluation, appraisal, critique, recirculation of material, and of course, media creation. Acts of debate and collective interpretation, of listening to and watching media produced by others are as important as technical acts of media production. As Jenkins et al. explain

"even those who are "just" reading, listening , or watching do so differently in a world where they recognize their potential to contribute to broader conversations about that content than in a world where they are locked our of meaningful participation." (154-155)

The authors understand audience participation as something that is fluid. A person cannot be described as active or passive across all domains. Activity and passivity are not permanent, and are not totalizing. Different frameworks have been developed in order to understand how audiences change in a networked communication environment:

  • audiences vs publics
  • hearing vs listening
  • consumers vs co-creators
  • participation vs collaboration

People participate in social collectivities and connectivities. (163) Institutions and practices of networked culture are giving people more opportunities of participation. New media participants have access to expanded communication capacity


Audiences vs publics

The oposition between audiences and publics situates the former as produced through acts of measurement and surveillance, as a aggregates of individuals or spectators. In contrast, publics are more than the sum of their parts, they are collectivities, ensembles characterized by shared sociability and shared identity.(Livingstone)

In order to illustrate the differences between audiences and publics, Jenkins et al. distinguish between individual "fans" and "fandoms" communities. Members of fandoms "consciously identify as part of a larger community to which they feel some degree of commitment and loyality" (166). According to them, the shared sociability and shared identity of fandoms are traits of publics. Fandoms act as communities instead as individiuals.