Issues, Publics, Organizations, and Personal Networks: Toward an Integrated Issue Engagement Model

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This study examines publics’ issue engagement to extend theory building about publics regarding their sociological dynamics. Integrating the situational theories, the framework of engagement, organization–public relationships, and personal networks, this study constructs an issue engagement model consisting of cognitive and affective issue engagement, issue engagement with organizations, and intra–public issue engagement. We hypothesized and confirmed with a nationally representative sample that individuals’ perceptions, feelings, and communicative actions about an issue are positively associated with the communicative resources in their networks. Individuals’ substantive actions were mobilized by the norms and expectations perceived from their issue discussants (i.e., people who discuss an issue with them). These findings extend the situational theories by revealing the social forces shaping publics’ issue engagement in addition to the psychological and perceptual factors. Importantly, recognizing and accounting for these social forces can equip practitioners with ways to mobilize publics via their social ties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-235
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Public Relations Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Minnie S. & Eli A. Rubinstein Research Award and the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Egocentric network survey
  • issue engagement
  • personal network
  • social capital
  • social norms


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