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Media Consumption and Public Connection: Toward a Typology of the Dispersed Citizen

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Abstract:

This paper explores the nature and extent of citizens' connection to public space through media consumption. It reports on a study of data from two qualitative sources: panel responses and individual in-depth interviews. The authors' findings are, first, that people's media consumption and forms of public connection may be significantly constrained by limitations on their time—not just objectively, but also subjectively (their sense of lacking time to use media or pursue information). Second, such is the complexity of how people think about their public connection that research methodologies must be sensitive to the details of people's reflexivity, while enabling effective typologies of the positions people take up in thought and practice. Third, such research may reveal not a consensus, but instead a range of incompatible framings of whether public connection matters and how it can be achieved. Research should aim, therefore, not at a redefinition of something as unified as “civic culture,” but rather at tracking the hetereogeneity of the “dispersed citizen.”

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10714420590953325

Affiliations: Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics and Political Science

Publication date: April 1, 2005

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