Audience research (or perhaps we should say audience studies) is inherently cross-disciplinary. What it needs to become is proudly inter-disciplinary. This distinction is significant in that whilst the cross-disciplinary research reflects an interest in a given research topic from a range of academic fields, inter-disciplinary research represents an ambition to breach intra-disciplinary thinking and forge new theories, models, frameworks, methodologies and ultimately new paradigms. What we have realised in the process of developing this double special issue, as we’re sure readers will notice too, is that scholars from different fields structure and write up their research in totally different ways. Whereas the cultural policy scholars and social scientists who usually publish in Cultural Trends tend to write in an objective tone and generally organise their research in a highly structured way, arts and humanities scholars often write in a more personal, narrative tone and adopt a more free-ranging structure. They tend to be as much concerned with reflecting on the impact of research processes on participants, stakeholders and the researchers themselves, as they are with the ostensible validity of those processes. Whilst this diversity lends a richness to audience studies, it can also lead to false hierarchies of epistemologies and methodologies, which mitigate against genuine interdisciplinarity and ultimately do a disservice to the field itself.
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