Programme: "Communication"
Type: Core course
Curriculum: Communication
Campaigns & Public and
Audience Research
Semester: A


The course examines theories, surveys, and empirical research on the public and audiences. It emphasizes those theories and surveys that take into account the unprecedented fragmentation of the audiences and analyze their preferences and the reception of cultural and other content.

The course examines the factors influencing preferences and reception, beyond the basic socio-demographic data. It focuses in particular on the theories and research, developed since the 1980s and 1990s in the context of cultural studies and sociological analysis, on how different fragments of the audience perceive and interpret messages in the field of public communication, and how they use them to shape the ideas, the values, and the beliefs they internalize.

Students are actively involved in presenting, discussing, and analyzing a variety of theories, and in particular a variety of empirical research that supports or tests theoretical assumptions. This way, they develop a better understanding of the underlying theoretical constructs and the process of their operationalization for the needs of surveys on media audiences, as well as on the audiences of cultural organizations and the cultural industries. Students are engaged in the development of empirically observable and measurable indicators, used to identify and investigate the underlying concepts of the various theoretical and research approaches of the public. At the same time, they are trained in audience segmentation for communication campaigns, public relations, and audience development plans.


Syllabus (indicative)

  1. Audience surveying, operationalization, and segmentation (week 1)
  2. Theory of homology and distinction (weeks 2 & 3)
  3. The cultural omnivores (weeks 4 & 5)
  4. Coding / decoding (weeks 6, 7 & 8)
  5. The public as a commodity, as a consumer, and as a producer (weeks 9 & 10)
  6. From citizens to consumers: segmentation and targeting (weeks 11 & 12)
  7. Presentation-discussion of processed indicators and complete research plans (week 13)



The course aims to develop in students the ability to:

  • Identify various theoretical and research approaches to audiences
  • Operationalize theoretical constructs to better understand their target audiences
  • Perform effective audience segmentation
  • Identify the objectives of communication campaigns and other communication actions, depending on the target audience
  • Design surveys and studies tailored to the target audiences and the approaches they choose


Readings / supportive material

Some texts are accessible through the campus net, while others are available either in the School library or in other Departamental libraries of the Aristotle University. Articles appear in the order discussed in the course. Additional readings are suggested, depending on the essays.

  1. Abercrombie, N., & Longhurst, B. (1998). Audiences: A sociological theory of performance and imagination. London, Thousand Oaks, New Delhi: SAGE Publications.
  2. Bantimaroudis, F. (2011). Cultural communication: Organizations, theories, media [in Greek]. Athens: Kritiki Publishers.
  3. Bourdieu, Pierre (2002): Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste. Athens: Patakis Publications.
  4. Butsch, R. (2001). Class and audience effects: A history of research on movies, radio, and television. Journal of Popular Film and Television, 29(3), 112–120.
  5. Butsch, R., & Livingstone, S. (2014). Meanings of audiences. Comparative discourses. London, New York: Routledge.
  6. Corner, J. (2001). Reappraising reception: Aims, concepts and methods. In J. Curran, & M. Gurevitch (Eds.), Mass Media and Society (2nd edition, pp. 280–303). London: Arnold.
  7. Cover, R. (2006). Audience inter/active: Interactive media, narrative control and reconceiving audience history. New Media and Society, 8(1), 139–158.
  8. Emmanuel, D. (2016). Patterns of cultural consumption and social stratification in Athens: Some general remarks on the Greek case [in Greek]. The Greek Review of Social Research, 146, 189–228.
  9. Emmanuel, D., Kaftantzoglou, R., & Souliotis, N. (2016). Introduction: Social classes and cultural consumption – a highly contested relationship [in Greek]. The Greek Review of Social Research, 146, 3–37.
  10. Fiske, J., & Dawson, R. (2018). Audiencing violence: Watching homeless men watch Die Hard. In J. Hay, L. Grossberg, & E. Wartella (Eds.), The Audience and its Landscape (pp. 297–316). New York, London: Routledge.
  11. Garnham, N. (2000). Audiences: Interpretation and consumption. In N. Garnham, Emancipation, the media, and modernity: Arguments about the media and social theory (pp. 109–137, chapter 6). Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.
  12. Hall, S. (1980). Encoding/decoding. In S. Hall, S. Hall, D. Hobson, A. Lowe, & P. Willis (Eds.), Culture, Media, Language: Working Papers in Cultural Studies, 1972-79 (pp. 117–127). London, New York: Routledge, Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies.
  13. Hay, J., Grossberg, L., & Wartella, E. (2018). The audience and its landscape. New York, London: Routledge.
  14. Hill, L., O’Sullivan, C., O’Sullivan, T., & Whitehead, B. (2018). Developing audiences. In L. Hill, C. O’Sullivan, T. O’Sullivan, & B. Whitehead, Creative arts marketing (3rd edition, pp. 28–55, chapter 2). London, New York: Routledge.
  15. Hornik, R. C. (2013). Why can’t we sell human rights like we sell soap? In R. E. Rice, & C. K. Atkin (Eds.), Public Communication Campaigns (4th edition, pp. 34–49). London: SAGE.
  16. Katz-Gerro, T. (2004). Cultural consumption research: Review of methodology, theory, and consequence. International Review of Sociology, 14(1), 11–29.
  17. Kemp, E., & Poole, S. M. (2016). Arts audiences: Establishing a gateway to audience development and engagement. Journal of Arts Management Law and Society, 46(2), 53–62.
  18. Livingstone, S. (1998). Audience research at the crossroads: The ‘implied audience’ in media and cultural theory. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 1(2), 193–217.
  19. Livingstone, S. (2004). The challenge of changing audiences: Or, what is the audience researcher to do in the age of the Internet? European Journal of Communication, 19(1), 75–86.
  20. Livingstone, S. (Επιμ.). (2005). Audiences and publics: When cultural engagement matters for the public sphere. Bristol (UK), Portland (OR, USA): Intellect Books.
  21. Livingstone, S. (2013). The participation paradigm in audience research. Communication Review, 16(1-2), 21–30.
  22. McQuail, D. (2013). The media audience: A brief biography – stages of growth or paradigm change? The Communication Review, 16(1-2), 9–20.
  23. Morley, D. (2006). Unanswered questions in audience research. The Communication Review, 9(2), 101–121.
  24. Napoli, P. M. (2016). The audience as product, consumer, and producer in the contemporary media marketplace. In G. F. Lowe, & C. Brown (Eds.), Managing media firms and industries: What’s so special about media management? (pp. 261–275). Cham, Heidelberg, New York, Dordrecht, London: Springer International Publishing.
  25. Nightingale, V. (Ed.). (2011). The handbook of media audiences. Oxford (UK): Wiley-Blackwell.
  26. Panayotopoulos, N. & Vidali, M. (2012). The world of performances: The social space of theatre audiences [in Greek]. Social Sciences. Annual Trilingual Review of Social Research, 1, 65–94.
  27. Panayotopoulos, N. & Vidali, M. (2015). The world of performances: The social space of dance audiences [in Greek]. Social Sciences. Annual Trilingual Review of Social Research, 6, 82–123.
  28. Peterson, R. A. (1992). Understanding audience segmentation: From elite and mass to omnivore and univore. Poetics, 21(4), 243–258.
  29. Seaman, W. R. (1992). Active audience theory: Pointless populism. Media, Culture & Society, 14(2), 301–311.
  30. Vidali, M. (2012). The art of being an art lover [in Greek]. Social Sciences. Annual Trilingual Review of Social Research, 1, 19–63.


Course procedures / evaluation

A major part of the course is carried out in the form of seminars including discussions upon the required readings. Apart from the analysis of the texts and the systematic approach of the theories and research on audiences and the public, the discussions aim at operationalizing the concepts that might be used in relevant empirical studies, to enable the elaboration of research plans. The course includes also at least one open discussion with professionals on audience segmentation. Performance is evaluated according to:

  • Participation in the discussions and in-class activities (20%)
  • Mid-term essay (2.500-3.000 words) developing a literature review related to a research plan and submitted until the 10th or 11th week (30%)
  • Final essay (5.000-6.000 words without references) developing a research plan relevant to the course and on specific research questions and hypotheses (50%)

Information about the next exam session and the final essay due date can be found in the announcements page (provided that the exam dates have been announced).