From Lurkers to Listeners: Introducing the Concept of Online Listening into Political Communication Studies

Rocío Galarza Molina


This essay argues that the practice of reading others’ discussions, comments, posts or tweets - which I call online listening - is meaningful for the listener as a standalone activity, and as part of the interaction between speakers and listeners. Thus, Internet and social media’s democratic value is not limited to the opportunity for self and collective expression, but also derives from the possibilities they provide for online listening, both for our communication with political elites, and in our mutual interactions as members of society. Political communication would benefit from doing research using this concept to have a better discernment of how digital communication processes have altered how humans acquire information, consolidate their opinions, can be exposed to other perspectives, and can enhance their tolerance toward others. 

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