Beyond voice: Audience-making and the work and architecture of listening as new media literacies

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Continuum, 2013, 27 (1), pp. 160 - 175
Issue Date:
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Considerable attention in communication, media and social science scholarship is focused on voice, which is considered as an important form of social capital and necessary for social equity. Studies have extensively examined access to communication technologies and various forums such as the public sphere, as well as media literacy required to have a voice. Despite continuing concern over a 'digital divide', the emergence of Web 2.0-based 'new media', also referred to as 'social media', is seen as an empowering development contributing to the democratization of voice. However, based on two studies of online public consultation and critical analysis of the literature on voice and listening, this article argues that two important corollaries of voice, as it is commonly conceptualized, are overlooked. To matter, as Nick Couldry says it should, voice needs to have an audience and, second, audiences must listen. While considerable attention is paid by mass media to creating, maintaining and engaging audiences, comparatively little attention is paid to audiences and listening in discussions of new media and social media. In an environment of proliferating channels for speaking coinciding with demassification and 'fragmentation' of audiences, engaging audiences and the work of listening have become problematic and are important media literacies required to make voice matter. © 2013 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
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