This report produced by CEDAR - a consortium of emerging, European early career audience researchers funded by AHRC - identifies a number of trends in the changing media landscape:
1) Media is becoming more intrusive and as a result audiences are needing to develop coping strategies. More needs to be known about these developing audience resistance cultures.
2) Simultaneously, audiences are increasingly participating in small-scale acts of engagement online (one-click, commenting, sharing, debating..and also producing small stories). These acts have potentially profound consequences en masse, creating complex negotiations between audiences and traditional media.
3) Audience participations have economic implications and as a result, are increasingly managed and co-opted by global players. Related to this, there is growing distrust between audiences and media platforms.
4) Audience engagements are also increasingly datafied, with new business models emerging around the largely unregulated metrification of audience activity. Nevertheless, that knowledge is a 'one-way street' so that the insights are not generally shared with audiences in turn. The algorithmic functions of interfaces are also not transparent.
Media intrusion is linked to 4 characteristics:
1) The exploitation of audience labour (and the need to bridge previous cultural studies and political economy analysis) - as well as audience engagement with this practice, including perceptions of rewards
2) Formativity - the way that audiences agency and expectations are pre-configured by system and interaction design.
3) Pervasiveness - the increasing embeddedness, ubiquity and importance of digital media
4) Exclusion - the power imbalance between media and audiences, so that audiences do not participate in discussions about media formativity.
Small audience engagement studies need to take account of
- temporal, spatial and technical affordances (possibilities)
- the social position of the producer e.g. altruism, social and cultural capital
- the levels of productivity and effort involved
- as well as intended and unintended effects (which include the possibility that micro-engagement can encourage extended, or deeper participation over time)
- Since the use of technology does not always equate to participation, the potential bridges and disconnections between micro (and fun e.g. the ice bucket challenge?) and macro forms of engagement also need to be considered
The increasing centrality of emotions in political participation is also noted, with reference to previous studies on tweets showing that facts, feelings, opinions and affective sentences are often blended and shape emotive stories at times of political upheaval. In addition, this emotionality can foster a sense of belonging, or community identity.
Related to this, the report assets that media literacy increasingly requires the ability to reflect and question.
The report recommends the development of more meaningful and nuanced choices for audience agency - so that audiences are not simply faced with the choice to participate, or not with the situation as it is and can respond with more than resignation.
Related to this, clearer analysis of the fragmented, individualised and hyper-connected audience experience of the developing internet of things media-scape (predicted to be normalised by 2030) is encouraged.
A shift away from the perception of media intrusion as a self-management concern, towards a more socially engaged discussion of potential regulation and design response is urged. At present, it is pointed out, the burden of regulation often falls heavily on the individual.
The increasing prevalence of academic/non-academic collaboration in this research is also noted, along with expectations that these collaboration can be potentially influential for future policy making.
Das, R. and Ytre-Arne, B., 2017. Audiences, towards 2030 Priorities for audience analysis.
The USW Audience of the Future research team is compiling a summary collection of recent research in the field of immersive, and enhanced reality media