n Mousaion - Positioning audience research for public dialogue : a double-dialogical approach

Volume 31, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0027-2639



Public dialogue can widen the knowledge base for decision making to make public policy and programmes more effective and accountable, in line with citizens' priorities. Audience research can enhance the relevance of a communication strategy to its objectives and to participants' needs and communication preferences. Audience research designs based on diffusion models of communication are, however, inadequate for the participatory objectives of public dialogue. This article, based on a Master's study by Kruger (2012), supports the use of a "double-dialogical" approach for designing audience research for communication strategies that emphasise participation. This approach emphasises listening over telling, building relationships over interrogating targets, and optimising inclusivity in determining communication objectives, identifying participants, framing issues, and selecting channels for deliberative dialogue. A corresponding framework of guidelines is offered for design and evaluation purposes in scholarly and practitioner communities, and can be adapted for various contexts of application. The article notes how the guidelines can be applied to evaluate the public consultation process of the Library and Information Services Transformation Charter, implemented in South Africa in 2009.

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