Opinion Leadership| Editorial Introduction | Opinion Leadership Revisited: A Classical Concept in a Changing Media Environment

Mike S. Schäfer


Along with the media landscape, the patterns of opinion leadership have changed profoundly. The concept of opinion leadership, which was established in the 1940s and has been used in numerous studies since, has been challenged by the intermingling of old and new media. This special section of the International Journal of Communication analyzes what kinds of opinion leadership can be found in contemporary media environments and to what extent extensions or adaptations of the original concept might be necessary. The special section presents three empirical studies focusing on different facets of opinion leadership—on the opinion leaders themselves, on opinion leadership in parasocial relations, and on influence and selection processes in adolescent networks—as well as a commentary by Elihu Katz.


opinion leadership, communication theory, mass media, social media, media change

Full Text: