Participatory Media and Discourse in Heritage Museums: Co-constructing the Public Sphere?

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This article examines public discourse that visitors produce as part of their visit to a heritage museum. With the turn to the “new museum” of the 21st century, with its extensive reliance on new media, mediation, and an interactive-participatory agenda, museums are community generators that invite and display public participation. The article inquires ethnographically into the settings offered by a new and large Jewish heritage museum in Philadelphia, for the pursuit of “ordinary” people's participatory discursive practices. The article then asks how visitors actually pursue their participation discursively, in the form of texts written on notes in response to the museum's questions. Finally, visitors' inscriptional activities are theorized in terms of current views of participation and the public sphere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-301
Number of pages22
JournalCommunication, Culture and Critique
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 International Communication Association


  • Discourse
  • Ethnography of Communication
  • Heritage
  • Media Ethnography
  • Museums
  • Participatory Media
  • Public Sphere
  • Writing


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