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The Strength of Peripheral Networks

Updated: Oct 2, 2019

Negotiating attention and meaning in complex media ecologies

With Lance Bennett and Alexandra Segerberg, Journal of Communication,68(4), 659-684

Networked content flows that focus or fragment public attention are key communication processes in multimedia ecologies. Understandings of events may differ widely, as networked attention and framing processes move from core participants to more distant spectator publics. In the case of the Occupy Wall Street protests, peripheral social media networks of public figures and media organizations focused public attention on economic inequality. Although inequality was among many issues discussed by the acti- vists, it was far less central to the protest core than problems with banks or democracy. Results showed how public attention to inequality was constructed through pulling and pushing interpretive frames between the core and periphery of dense communication networks. Various indicators ofpublic attention—such as search trends, Wikipedia article edits, and legacy media coverage—all credited the protests with raising public awareness ofinequality, even as attention to problems with banks grew at the protest core.


Bennett, W. L., Segerberg, A. & Yang, Y., (2018), The strength of peripheral networks, Negotiating attention and meaning in complex media ecologies, Journal of Communication, 68(4), 659-684.

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