Digitisation's impacts on publics: Public knowledge and civic conversation

Alessandro Lovari, University of Siena
Soojin KIM, Purdue University
Kelly Vibber, Purdue University
Jeong-Nam Kim, Purdue University


This paper proposes a new way of classifying publics in terms of their adoption and use of digitalised communication technologies. A CATI (computer aided telephone interview) survey of 1,014 citizens revealed that people in Siena, Italy, show different patterns and gaps in adopting new media and technologies as well as in using them in their civic participation and engagement. Based on the survey results, four types of publics are suggested (inactive, analogical, hybrid, and digital publics) and a demographic profile of each public including age, gender, and education is provided. The relationships among public types, level of education, and gender on civic knowledge and civic conversation are examined. The implications for public relations scholarship, and practices are discussed. In addition, the possibility of an emerging social digital public is discussed.