Authored by a group of eminent scholars, each chapter is a history and state-of-the-art description of the major issues in international communication theory.
While the book draws on an understanding of communication theory as a product of its socio-political and cultural context, and the challenges posed by that context, it also highlights each author’s lifetime effort to critique the existing trends in communication theory and bring out the very best in each multicultural context.
Table Of Contents
- About the author(s)
- About the book
- This eBook can be cited
- Preface: Toward a Better World
- Part One: Overview
- 1 Keeping the Public Sphere(s) Public
- A Son of Kansas Populism
- The Cultural Studies Approach in Britain and the United States
- People Must Shape the Flow of Information in the Public Sphere
- The Public in Development: Not the State But Indigenous Grassroots Initiatives
- The Political Economy Perspective
- The Public Sphere as the Space of Autonomy for Affirming Identity
- The Ecological Interrelatedness of Our Mediated Cultural Environment
- Reforming the Bankrupt Political Philosophy and Communication Ethics of Special Interest Democracy
- Alliance of Communication Researchers with Popular Classes Widens the Public Sphere
- Making Communication Theory a Dialogue
- Summing Up: Keeping the Public Sphere Public
- Part Two: General Theoretical Conditions
- 2 Talking Communicatively About Mass Communication in Communication Theories: Beyond Multiplicity, Toward Communicating
- Mass Communication Theories: In the Beginning
- More Than Misunderstanding, Less Than War: “Critical” Versus “Administrative” Theories
- Reframing the Debates: The (Im)Possibility of Interdisciplinary Dialogue
- An Example of Communicative Boundary Bridging
- Toward Public Presence and Utility
- 3 Social Scientific Theory of Communication Encounters Normativity: A Personal Memoir
- Early Beginnings
- Early Experience in the Field
- Further Emergence of the Communication Research Field
- History Takes a Hand
- Back to the Personal
- Change in the Wind
- Theoretical Deficit in Review
- Normative Theory to the Rescue
- Bringing Together the Strands
- 4 Understanding the Critical Political Economy of the Media
- Historical and Theoretical Foundations
- Historical Development and Definitions
- Debates and Variations
- Major Themes and Exemplars
- Relationships with Other Approaches
- 5 Power, Inequality, and Citizenship: The Enduring Importance of the Political Economy of Communications
- Studying Media and Communications: An Enduring Essential for Social Analysis
- Power: Of the Media and In the Media
- Inequality: The Reproduction of Division
- Power and Inequality in the Information Society
- 6 Cultural Studies: Dialogue, Continuity, and Change
- Three Key Texts
- Refinement and Debate
- Shifting from Its Beginnings
- Internationalizing Cultural Studies
- 7 A Mutually Radicalizing Relationship: Communication Theory and Cultural Studies in the United States
- The View from Livermore Labs: Positivism and Communication Research in 1969
- Rediscovering America: New Sources for Communication Thought After Positivism
- The Party Flourishes: Communication Theory Under the Influence of American Cultural Studies
- The Morning After: Three Reviews of the Current State of Cultural Studies
- The “Undiscipline” of Cultural Studies: Intellectual Formation and Institutional Reality
- The “Detour” Through Theory: Critical Practice and Professional Culture
- The “Phantom Limb” of Politics: Re-set and Realism
- A Radical Modesty: Or What Cultural Studies Can Learn from Communications
- 8 Thinking Communication in Latin America
- The 1960s–1970s: Constructing the Field of Study
- The 1980s–1990s: Investigating Communication in Cultural Terms
- At the Turn of the Century: Globalization and the Technocultural Transformation of Communication
- 9 Toward a Theory of African Communication
- In Search of a Research Tradition
- Interplay Between Culture and Communication
- African Cultures as a Template of African Communication
- The Nature of Communication in Communalistic Cultures of Africa
- 10 Theorizing About Communication in India: Sadharanikaran, Rasa, and Other Traditions in Rhetoric and Aesthetics
- Indian Traditions in Public Communication
- Early Indian Reflections on Communication
- The Rasa Theory of Communication
- Language and the Sphota Theory of Meaning
- Sadharanikaran Theory of Communication
- Conclusion: Diversity in Indian Communication Theory
- Part Three: Thematic Approaches
- 11 Voice, Citizenship, and Civic Action: Challenges to Participatory Communication
- Participatory Communication: New Contexts, Stakeholders, and Dynamics
- Citizenship and Citizen Media
- Post-neoliberal Politics and the “New Technologies of Voice”
- The NGO-ification of Development and Politics
- Participatory Communication in the Post-Arab Spring Era
- 12 Media, Culture, and the Imagination of Religion
- Religion Emerging on the Agenda
- A Definitive Scholarly Voice: CRT
- A Legacy: The ISMRC
- 13 Theorizing Development, Communication, and Social Change
- An Impasse in Theorizing Development Communication
- The Critique of Participation
- The Basis for a Theory of Communication and Social Change
- Theory Building from Below: The Right to Information Movement in India
- Theorizing Voice
- Validating Theory from Below: The Jan Sunwai and Empowerment
- Conclusion: Fragments of Theory
- 14 Human Rights and Communication: Reflections on a Challenging Relationship
- The Beginning of a Relationship
- Communication Rights
- From a Right to Free Speech to a Right to Communicate
- The WSIS and Human Rights
- On Human Rights as Normative Theory
- Post-colonial Cosmopolitanism
- The Illustration of Internet Governance
- Abstractions Versus Realities
- Culture of Fear
- Towards a Participatory Human Rights Regime
- 15 Struggle, Vatican II, and Development Communication Practice
- Vatican II: The Origins of Social Communication
- Anachronistic Church Attitudes to the Media
- Vatican II, Communication for Social Justice
- Jesús Martin-Barbero and the Latin American Theology of Liberation
- Shifting Spaces
- 16 Media Ecology
- Antecedents and People Shaping Media Ecology
- Key Ideas
- Relationship with Broader Issues and Challenges
- 17 Journalism, Multiculturalism, and the Struggle for Solidarity
- The Claims of Multiculturalism
- Journalism and Multiculturalism
- Journalism Ethics in a Multicultural Society
- 18 Media Ethics in Transnational, Gender Inclusive, and Multicultural Terms
- Dialogic Ethics
- Social Justice
The intellectual history of this book has two roots: one general and one particular. The general leads us to view the field of communication research on a global scale and critically assess the Western domination of academic traditions (see Curran & Park, 2000; Thussu, 2009). The particular leads us to see individual scholars as carriers and change agents of research traditions. The two roots meet in the life story of Robert A. White, to whom this volume is dedicated.
Unlike usual Festschrifts, this book is done with active cooperation of the person in question. Bob’s chapter 1 provides a self-made profile of the “son of Kansas populism” whose life journey took him through the international Jesuit community to academic centers of formative importance. Moreover, his chapter provides an overview of the book’s essays that not only present communication theories in a multicultural world but also tell about life stories of several landmark scholars of the field. Accordingly, subjective narratives of individual scholars make a fascinating mix with objective development of communication research.
The general rationale of this volume takes us back to the reflections that followed the radical shift of research priorities in the 1970s (see Nordenstreng, 2004). A strategic element of these reflections was the question of textbooks used in the rapidly expanding field of journalism and mass communication. And a significant attempt to tackle this question was the textbook project of the International Association for Mass Communication Research (IAMCR), which serves as an essential background for this book. The following passage gives an account ← ix | x → of the project based on an earlier report by the present author and the late Michael Traber, at the time research director of the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) and editor of its journal Development Communication (Nordenstreng & Traber, 1991).
Journalism and mass communication is a relatively young area of study with a rapidly evolving body of knowledge (see Nordenstreng, 2011). The literature of the field is far from established, especially in languages other than English. The predominance of English language literature reflects the fact that the field was first introduced and is quantitatively most developed in the United States. Accordingly, in light of the general state of the art, it is obvious that Anglo-Saxon textbooks dominate. Likewise, it is obvious that part and parcel of the promotion of this field in any country is to bring about textbooks rooted in the national and regional realities.
In this respect the question of textbooks in communication education can be seen as an issue of cultural emancipation as understood in the debate around the New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO; see Nordenstreng, 2013). At the same time the textbook problem represents another element of this new order: the need for a better awareness of the cultural and socio-political diversity of the world, whereby communicators should be educated not only to share a national perspective but to pay due attention also to other peoples and ultimately to the international community at large. Thus, national and universal interests complement each other.
The first international forum that raised the issue of communication textbooks in such a global context was the IAMCR, which, at its meeting in Paris in 1982, drew attention to the lack of adequate textbooks for journalism education in Africa and other parts of the developing world. It was an open call for communication educators throughout the world to review various traditions and doctrines of professionalism and to promote textbook materials in line with the aspirations of NWICO. Actually soon after that, UNESCO held a meeting of experts on cooperation among regional communication training institutions and recommended that textbooks relevant to regional and national needs be produced and published, and “where such textbooks and manuals are already in existence, efforts should be made to disseminate them to other regions with a view to adapting these publications to suit local needs.”
These initiatives led to a workshop on the textbook problem by the IAMCR Professional Education Section in Prague in 1984 and two years later to a UNESCO-supported project on the promotion of textbooks for the training of journalists in Anglophone Africa, with extension to the Caribbean and Asia. This was followed by the African Council for Communication Education (ACCE), with support of the Swedish International Development Authority (SIDA), to prepare and evaluate a number of trial adaptations and new materials. ← x | xi →
By the late 1980s there was a growing recognition of the need for more systematic interregional contact and cooperation—in communication education in general and textbook promotion in particular. To this effect the IAMCR prepared in 1988 an interregional project for the funding from UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC). Those involved in the deliberations about the new project were relevant regional organizations in Africa (ACCE), Asia (AMIC), and Latin America (FELAFACS), as well as two European-based world associations: WACC and the International Organization of Journalists (IOJ).
Thus, the project proceeded to Phase II as a joint venture between several non-governmental organizations and institutions, with the IAMCR playing the role of catalyst and coordinator. Three distinguished professors were appointed by the IAMCR to serve as the project’s monitoring committee: Josiane Jouët (Paris), Manuel Parés i Maicas (Barcelona), and Robert White (Rome).
The motivation and objectives of the textbook project were summarized in its final report as follows:
While it was common knowledge that journalism and mass communication were fields with American domination, we wanted to know in detail how this domination manifested itself in different regions and across various topics. In other words, the disease was known, but there was a need for a proper diagnosis in order to identify the effective treatment. Thus from the beginning our textbook study was an action-orientated project to bring about change.
Specifically, we wanted to identify where and how to promote more socio-economically and culturally relevant educational materials, particularly textbooks in each region. Moreover, we wanted to promote South-South cooperation and to see whether something could be done by putting existing textbooks from other regions at the disposal of those who were under Western and Northern dominance. And this drive for Third World emancipation was far from a uniform, “totalitarian” approach painted by the opponents of NWICO in their propaganda in the 1980s. It was rather an ecumenical drive towards pluralism and global diversity in the sense of the MacBride Report. (Nordenstreng, Brown, & Traber, 1998)
The project was completed in 1998—after further funding from the Finnish Development Assistance Agency (FINNIDA)—with extensive regional surveys and several reports. Its central conclusions were as follows:
It is clear from the survey that the need to publish local textbooks with a regional orientation is very strong. While textbooks rooted in the local context are very important, the aim should not be to exclude all foreign books completely. It should be recognized that some communication approaches are universal and cannot be pinned down to any particular region. There will, therefore, be a need to have certain inter-regional textbooks. But for those materials that need localizing, some of which this study has identified, every effort should be made to encourage the writing and publishing of local textbooks. ← xi | xii →
Finally, this survey shows the urgency of theoretical work in the area of communication and culture. What are the paradigms of basic models of communication processes in, say, the Arab world or Africa or Asia? A critical mass needs to be developed, consisting of interdisciplinary studies, particularly from the field of anthropology, social psychology and culturally relevant epistemology. It is only on the basis of new theoretical insights on the relationship between culture and communication that significant progress in educational materials for communication studies can be made.
However, a start has been made, and the process so far has been very encouraging. It not only created awareness of the situation, in most cases dismal, but actually prompted institutions and individual researchers to develop plans for the creation of new manuscripts. In addition, it has brought together communication educators and researchers from most regions of the South. These contacts have laid the foundation for South-South cooperation in what have been, hitherto, uncharted waters.
After completing Phase II of the project, and gaining seven years of additional experience, we recognize that all this and more still needs to be done. However, the project has helped to make a start. We can proudly point to the fact that a new cross-cultural text, Communication Ethics and Universal Values (Christians & Traber, 1997), resulted from regional seminars organized by WACC, and as a response to the textbook project. We can also refer to two global textbooks which were initiated by the project and which will soon be completed—one on environmental reporting and another on multicultural theories.…
However, despite these examples and many optimistic plans, the main problems have not yet been solved. One may even say that on a global scale there has not been real follow-up nor implementations—though the diagnosis is complete, the patient still awaits treatment. Such a gloomy conclusion is inescapable considering the enormous growth of media research and publishing in Europe and the USA, especially on the information society and other policy issues of the North. (Nordenstreng, Brown, & Traber, 1998)
Accordingly, the first blueprint for the present book grew out of the textbook project in the mid-1990s, and it was expected to be edited by Aggrey Brown (for Latin America and the Caribbean), Anura Goonasekera (for Asia), and Michael Traber (for Africa). However, the materialization was slow and was finally suspended by the demise of the editors.
Meanwhile, the rationale did not fade away. On the contrary, globalization in the new millennium made it ever more topical. In 2009 Cliff Christians, Bob White, and the present author discussed the matter under a tree at St. Augustine University of Tanzania and decided to move ahead with the added impetus of honoring Bob’s lifelong contribution to the cause of communication theories in a multicultural world. The title is born out of the realization that most original and significant theoretical development is stimulated by attempts to challenge the structures of power, injustice, and de-humanization. Though not a textbook as envisioned by the IAMCR, this volume fulfills its goal of advancing the field by cultivating theory on a worldwide scale.
While the book draws on an understanding of communication theory as a product of its socio-political and cultural context, and the challenges posed by ← xii | xiii → that context, it also highlights each author’s lifetime effort to both critique the existing trends in communication theory and bring out the very best in each cultural context. The selection of authors and their angles can naturally provide just a small sample of multiculturalism. Thus, the book demonstrates the richness of variety in terms of regions and topics rather than a full panorama of the world. In this respect it joins the row of contemporary contributions, such as De-Westernizing Communication Research, put together by Georgette Wang (2011).
On the other hand, the book does not suggest multiculturalism to be an easy solution to get rid of the ethnocentric burdens of the past. As Raka Shome (2012) has pointed out, the multiple drives away from modernities in Asia and elsewhere are vulnerable to superficial scholarship—also in cultural studies. Therefore, multiculturalism is invited to build on the solid grounds of the postcolonial tradition. In this sense the book has a humble approach to the way we study the world. At the same time it has a straight normative approach in that it wishes to promote a better world.
Christians, C., & M. Traber. (Eds.). (1997). Communication Ethics and Universal Values. Thousand Oaks/London/Delhi: Sage.
Curran, J., & M.-J. Park. (Eds.). (2000). De-Westernizing Media Studies. London: Routledge.
Nordenstreng, K. (2004). “Ferment in the Field of Communication Studies.” Javnost—The Public, 11(3), 5–18. Available at http://javnost-thepublic.org/article/pdf/2004/3/1/
Nordenstreng, K. (2011). “Lost in Abundance? Reflections on Disciplinarity.” In B. Zelizer (Ed.), Making the University Matter (pp. 194–205). Milton Park, UK, & New York: Routledge.
Nordenstreng, K. (2013). “The New World Information and Communication Order: An Idea That Refuses to Die.” In J. Nerone (Ed.), Media History and the Foundations of Media Studies. (pp. 477–99). Chichester, West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell. Vol. 1, The International Encyclopedia of Media Studies.
Nordenstreng, K., A. Brown, & M. Traber. (1998). “Overview.” In K. Nordenstreng (Ed.), Inventory of Textbooks in Communication Studies Around the World. Tampere, Finland: University of Tampere, Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, Reports C 26/1998. Online http://www.uta.fi/cmt/textbooks/ Also in Javnost—The Public, 5(1), 79–89. Available at http://javnost-thepublic.org/article/pdf/1998/1/5/
Nordenstreng, K., & M. Traber. (Eds.). (1991). Promotion of Educational Materials for Communication Studies: Report of Phase I of a UNESCO/IPDC Interregional Project by IAMCR/AIERI. Tampere, Finland: University of Tampere, Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, Reports B 34/1991. Available at http://www.uta.fi/cmt/textbooks/
Shome, R. (2012). “Mapping the Limits of Multiculturalism in the Context of Globalization.” International Journal of Communication, 6, 144–165. Available at http://www.ijoc.org/
Thussu, D. (Ed.). (2009). Internationalizing Media Studies. New York: Routledge.
Wang, G. (Ed.). (2011). De-Westernizing Communication Research. Altering Questions and Changing Frameworks. London & New York: Routledge. ← xiii | xiv → ← xiv | 1 →
← 1 | 2 → ← 2 | 3 →
Virtually all of the contributors to this volume, in presenting a theoretical stance, have also told something of their personal life journey. At some point all have taken a strong value stand. I have always been grateful for the events that took me out of the functionalist sociology of the 1950s and into an area of the field of communication that demanded a value stand. The sociology of the 1940s, 1950s, and into the 1960s was struggling to get legitimacy in universities and had to declare its allegiance to the value-free objective scientific orthodoxy of the time. Talcott Parson’s functionalism, presenting social systems as self-adapting with no human or social intervention, seemed to fit the demands of a value-free, naturalistic science. This theoretical stance, I am increasingly convinced, isolated functionalist sociology from professional and societal significance—even from a social engineering perspective. It took a new generation of social theorists, such as Anthony Giddens, to open sociological theory to the objectives of societal construction.
Communication sciences, on the other hand, grew out of the realization that newspapers and public speaking were important for giving the public more control over elected political leaders and to provide the upwardly mobile working and middle classes the information they needed about socio-economic opportunities (Dicken-Garcia, 1989; Marzolf, 1991). Denis McQuail, in his essay in this volume, sums up the centrality of the normative in the field of communication, with telling insight: “It is tempting to suppose that what has saved the ‘field’ from ← 3 | 4 → evolutionary extinction has been precisely its openness to reliance on normative impulses of a compelling kind.” The chapter by McQuail is a notable analysis of the role of the normative in the development of the field of communication. Historically, the contrast of the demands placed on the press and the continued irresponsibility of the press led the Pulitzers and other reformers to look for ways to build social responsibility into the media. The solution that began in America and then spread around the world was to provide professional training for journalists and other communication roles. The goal of pioneers such as Walter Williams, who founded the first journalism school at the University of Missouri, was to build into job-oriented training the ideal of opening and expanding the democratic public sphere (Marzolf, 1991, pp. 55–56). As universities around the world have introduced professional communication degree programs, the theory-building process has also grown with advanced degrees, academic associations, research programs, and publications. With this has come a progressively clearer idea of the relation of how the media contribute to building and strengthening the public sphere.
Ironically and interestingly, the theoretical perspectives that have developed in the global south—Latin America, Africa, and Asia—and in the post–World War II social movements in Europe have returned to the United States to help restore the sense of the public in American media. This, the contributors to this volume, speaking from their own cultural experiences, have pointed out well.
The central idea of the public sphere, I would argue, is precisely that it is public. It is (1) open to all to speak their opinion, information, objections, and rhetorical arguments regardless of their social status, education, communication skills, rightness or wrongness, or any other form of communicative power. This is the significance of the thinking of authors such as Clemencia Rodriguez (2001, 2011) in affirming the importance of citizen media, the direct entry into the public sphere to exercise the right to communicate. (2) No part of the public sphere can be private property excluding the views of others. Private media must be subordinate to the public good (Curran, 1991). The rules that govern the public sphere must be set and applied by participatory, democratic processes that allow all the citizenry to govern the public sphere. The democratization of communication means precisely that all citizens participate in its governance. (3) It is dialogical in that it is constituted by interchange in which all are listening to what pertains to them, are challenged, and must respond (Cissna & Anderson, 1994). (4) The language of the public sphere is understandable to all who are part of the culture. Specialist languages at some point must be put into the popular culture language. (5) The public sphere must be based on a common normative discourse and common theoretical discourse of democratic governance. The powerful and the powerless must share a common language and set of values, otherwise there can be no basis for debate about power allocation. (6) The public sphere is contestable ← 4 | 5 → with every proposal being challenged, in terms of its validity, to the rest of the public. The public sphere, as Habermas would argue, must withstand the test of “rationality,” namely, that the proposal supports the common good.
But why is keeping the public sphere public so important? Every reader could think of a reason. I would start with the defense of our humanity. We are born with the capacity for humanity, but it is only through communication with those around us that we become human, and the richer the communication environment the more our humanity is likely to develop. We are communitarian in that we cannot survive outside of community. The dialogical dimension brings in a communication that enables every person to take possession of one’s identity and become truly creative in building our human cultures. The public-ness challenges each person to open our identities to social and physical environments to build a deeper integrating relationship with the environment. The life of the public sphere cultivates a respect and reverence for the community as a whole, in the lives of all members of the community and in the universe of existence of which we are a part.
Keeping the public sphere public is, of course, a struggle. The old distinction between administrative and critical research is one pointer to this fact. But underlying this is the perception that the tendency toward the concentration of power in the public sphere is continual and continually fabricates its own ideological reasons as to why monopoly is the best way to achieve the common good. The contributors to this volume have a wide variety of interests, but I would suggest that a common denominator is that each has invented or developed an insight into the public sphere that, on the one hand, reveals the falsity of the monopoly argument and, on the other hand, invents a new way of understanding and defending how to keep the public sphere public.
When the editors proposed that this collection of essays might be in some way a recognition of my own efforts, my immediate response was to protest the thinness of my own bibliographical record, as Michael Real notes with congeniality in his essay. My second thought was that this is a “we” book. That is, these chapters represent a common effort toward an ideal, and I would like to argue that this common effort is best summed up as “keeping the public sphere truly public.” My own efforts have been more as “convener,” “editor,” “facilitator,” and “moderator.” Some of the contributors have been part of a broader school of thought, but all, individually or as part of a larger group, have made significant contributions to our contemporary thinking on how to keep the public sphere public. I see my own description of the public sphere above as only an opener. What I would like to do in this chapter is to reflect on the contribution of each of the authors to the way we can think of the role of communication in defending the public-ness of the public sphere.← 5 | 6 →
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- New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 325 pp., num. ill.