The marketplace of interpretations: a method to trace diversity in digital interpretive traces

Lillian Boxman-Shabtai*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Over the past half century, qualitative reception studies have provided powerful in-depth accounts of the interpretive diversity of media audiences. However, despite the growing availability of digital reception traces, the field still lacks systematic tools to examine the distribution of interpretation, a lacuna which hinders theory development. This paper argues that a comparative approach to polysemy, namely–the diversity of interpretations to a media text, could increase the generalizability of reception studies. Drawing on the concept of framing and on the marketplace metaphor, it offers the Marketplace of Interpretation (MoI), a method combining qualitative and quantitative analysis to quantify and compare polysemy without sacrificing its complexity and nuance. The paper walks readers through the method and demonstrates it on a study that compared the polysemy of Facebook comment threads responding to different news stories about the same event. Potential future applications within and across audience analyses are discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalInformation Communication and Society
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Audience
  • Facebook
  • Herfindahl–Hirschmann Index
  • framing
  • interpretation
  • polysemy


Dive into the research topics of 'The marketplace of interpretations: a method to trace diversity in digital interpretive traces'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this