Place, Elective Belonging,
and the Diffused Audience
Brian Longhurst, Gaynor Bagnall, and Mike Savage
The changing nature of social and cultural life requires a new understanding of interconnections among types of audience experience, simple, mass, and diffused.1 In turn, this necessitates attention to relationships among narcissism, spectacle, performance, and imagination in the flow of everyday life in a media-saturated world. This is encapsulated in the idea of a spectacle/performance paradigm (SPP).
This is not the place to outline in detail the argument for this approach.2 However, to contextualize, we introduce key points, which provide our starting ground in this paper. Audience research should begin from the localities where people live. Such “roots” are important despite the ways people travel for various reasons. Further, many media-based experiences are still dependent on place, despite new worlds opened by broadcast, cable, and satellite television. Research could develop ideas of scene (see Bennett & Peterson 2004) to examine the interaction around a range of media conditioned by the experience of particular localities. Furthermore, this focus entails attention to the role of media in the constitution and reconstitution of identity in everyday life. This point has been made in the study of media, but often in generalist and generalizing terms. More attention to ordinary identity processes, as parents, neighbors, workers, and so on, should benefit the understanding of social life and audience processes (see also Lembo 2000). Debates on trust and social capital are important to those writing on the media in the context of globalizing social change. Again, somewhat paradoxically, large claims for the significance of media are often made by such writers (e.g. Putnam 2000) without attention to the specific points made by those who research the media (Savage, Bagnall, &