Understanding Audiences: A Critical Review of Audience Research

  • Ben WalmsleyEmail author
Part of the New Directions in Cultural Policy Research book series (NDCPR)


This chapter provides a critical overview of the existing literature on audience research and audience engagement. It surveys the seminal contributions to the rapidly emerging field of audience studies and classifies its recurrent themes into the following categories: the pacification of audiences; power, elitism and class; cultural policy, participation and co-creation; immersive performance; performance venues, spaces and places; performance as ritual; reception theory and semiotics; research methodologies; the audience experience; value and impact research; young audiences; arts marketing and management; audience engagement and enrichment. The aim of this taxonomy is to inform a new paradigm for audience studies in the context of the performing arts.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School Performance Cultural IndustriesUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

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