Sommerfeldt Authors Lead Essay in IJSC
Assistant professor Erich Sommerfeldt is the author of the lead essay in the most recent issue of the International Journal of Strategic Communication entitled "The Dynamics of Activist Power Relationships: A Structurationist Exploration of the Segmentation of Activist Publics."
Abstract: The segmentation of publics is acknowledged to be a central component of effective strategic communication practice. Although most research on segmentation has used Grunig's situational theory of publics—a functional theory created for profit-based organizations—little attention has been paid to the process or thought behind how activist group organizations may segment their own publics. As such, this article discusses why the situational theory of publics is an inappropriate perspective from which to examine activist publics, and offers Giddens' structuration theory as a viable theoretical alternative to understand activist group publics. Using this framework, the article presents the results of an exploratory study of activist communication practitioners aimed at identifying how activists conceptualize and communicate with their publics. The results indicate that activist publics can be described by the dynamics of the power relationship a certain public has with the activist organization, and labels five recognizable activist publics as mediators, moderators, interferers, targets, and bystanders. Finally, implications for the role of structuration theory in explaining purposeful communication between organizations and publics are offered.
Citation: Erich J. Sommerfeldt, "The Dynamics of Activist Power Relationships: A Structurationist Exploration of the Segmentation of Activist Publics," International Journal of Strategic Communication 6 (2012): 269-286. doi: 10.1080/1553118X.2012.686256