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The Influence of "Personal Influence" on the Study of Audiences

Sonia Livingstone
The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Vol. 608, Politics, Social Networks, and the History of Mass Communications Research: Rereading Personal Influence (Nov., 2006), pp. 233-250
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25097864
Page Count: 18
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The Influence of
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Abstract

This article looks back at the publication of Personal Influence (Katz and Lazarsfeld 1955) to bring into focus the multistranded history of discussion and debate over the mass media audience during the twentieth century. In contrast with the heroic narrative, constructed retrospectively, that prioritizes cultural studies' approaches to audiences, the author suggests that this rich and interdisciplinary history offers many fruitful ways forward as the agenda shifts from mass media to new media audiences. Although audience research has long been characterized by struggles between critical and administrative schools of communication, and between opposed perspectives on the relation of the individual to society, Katz and Lazarsfeld's work, and subsequent work by Katz and his collaborators, suggests possibilities for convergence, or at least productive dialogue, across hitherto polarized perspectives as researchers collectively seek to understand how, in their everyday lives, people can, and could, engage with media to further democratic participation in the public sphere.

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