|Title of host publication||The International Encyclopedia of Strategic Communication|
|Editors||Robert L. Heath, Winni Johansen|
|Place of Publication||Boston|
|Publication status||Published - 2018|
The entry defines audiences in a digital, mediatized society as the people who, in their capacity of social actors, are attending to, negotiating the meaning of, and sometimes participating in the multimodal processes initiated or carried by institutional media. The first part of the entry discusses the concept audience in relation to a number of competing theoretical concepts such as ‘publics’, ‘users’, and ‘participants’. The second part outlines the historical development of audience research through three consecutive and now co-existing paradigms: the behavioural paradigm, the reception paradigm, and the participation paradigm. The third part discusses the ways in which the audience perspective has been handled in the field of strategic communication, noting for instance how the concept of stakeholders has developed as an alternative to, or refinement of, the traditional understanding of an audience as a static and coherent group of organisational outsiders. Also in many cases there is no ‘the audience’, but instead, multiple actors who listen to, and participate, in the organisation’s strategic communication.