Communicating with Power

by Cherian George (Volume editor)
©2017 Conference proceedings XX, 280 Pages


Communication is ubiquitous and information is abundant. Political and economic markets are more open than they have ever been. Yet, there is no escaping the fact that communication continues to flow across fields where power is distributed unevenly. This collection of articles analyzes and responds to asymmetries of power in a diversity of contexts. They are drawn from presentations at the 2016 Annual Conference of the International Communication Association, held in Fukuoka, Japan. The conference theme presented an opening for scholars from various disciplines and academic traditions to engage with the questions of power at different levels of analysis—from micro sites of power like a doctor’s consultation room, to the geopolitical arenas where nations wage war, make peace, and spy on one another. The resulting collection straddles different methodologies and styles, from survey research to essays. Leading scholars and junior researchers have combined to create a volume that reflects the breadth of communication scholarship and its contemporary concerns.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • The Contributors
  • Foreword (Peng Hwa Ang)
  • Editor’s Introduction (Cherian George)
  • Acknowledgements
  • Part One: War and Conflict
  • Chapter One: The Medium as Power: Information and Its Flows as Acts of War (Sandra Braman)
  • Communicating with Those in Power: Arms Control Treaties
  • A Brief History
  • Information Policy Provisions in Arms Control Treaties
  • Trends
  • Communication as Power: Cyberspace and Arms Control
  • Arms Control Issues in Cyberspace
  • Cybersecurity in the Tallinn Manual
  • Resonance between Cybersecurity and Other Cyberspace Issues
  • Arms Control for Kinetic and Cyberspace: A Comparison
  • Conclusions
  • Notes
  • References
  • Chapter Two: Pointless or Potent?: A Long View on Antiwar Movement Media (John D. H. Downing)
  • Defining Key Terms
  • Obstacles to Antiwar Movement Media
  • What Kind of Impact Are We Looking to See?
  • A Slowly Gathering Storm of Antiwar Media Activism?
  • Conclusions: Revising the Fragestellung, Challenging Researchers
  • References
  • Chapter Three: The Politics of Recognition and the Safety of Syrian Media Practitioners (Omar Al-Ghazzi)
  • Communicating with Power in Syria
  • Battling Global News Agenda-setting
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Chapter Four: Media, Parliaments and NGOs in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Marc Jungblut / Adolfo Carratalá / Beatriz Herrero)
  • The Role of (Foreign) Parliaments in Violent Conflicts
  • NGOs as Influential Actors in Violent Conflicts
  • Mediatization of Public Actors: From MPS to NGOs
  • Research Questions
  • Data and Method
  • Sample and Procedure
  • Measures and Analysis
  • Results
  • Discussion and Conclusions
  • Notes
  • References
  • Part Two: Power Imbalances
  • Chapter Five: The Rise of Computational Power: Accountability, Imagination and Choice (Robin Mansell)
  • Algorithmic Surveillance and Society
  • Computational Novelty in Context
  • The Governability of Emerging Societies
  • The Efficacy of Computational Theocracy
  • Conclusion
  • Acknowledgements
  • Notes
  • References
  • Chapter Six: Big Data and Information/Power Asymmetries: What Role for Scholars? (Jenifer Sunrise Winter)
  • The Internet of Things Ecosystem
  • Anonymity and Re-identification
  • Personal Data and Algorithmic Discrimination
  • The Role of Communication Scholarship
  • Engaged Scholarship on Big Data and the Internet of Things
  • Conclusion
  • Acknowledgements
  • References
  • Chapter Seven: Public Discourse on the Responsibility of Corporations: A Holistic Framework (Kerstin Thummes / Ulrike Röttger)
  • Framework: Corporate Responsibility Assessments in Public Discourse
  • Dimensions of the Assessment of Responsibility
  • Corporate Responsibility in Public Discourse
  • Erosion of Responsibility: An Example
  • Assumptions Regarding the Perspective of Media
  • Assumptions Regarding the Perspective of Corporations
  • Assumptions Regarding the Perspective of Citizens
  • Discussion and Conclusion
  • References
  • Chapter Eight: Struggling to be Understood: Deaf Patients and the American Healthcare System (Min Liu / Valarie Shaw / Wai Hsien Cheah)
  • Literature Review
  • Information Access
  • Provider Patient Relationship and Communication
  • Use of Health Interpreters
  • Methods
  • Recruitment of Participants
  • Participants
  • Interview Guide
  • Data Transcribing and Analysis
  • Results
  • Role and Utility of Interpreters
  • Information Access
  • Provider-Patient Relationship
  • Deaf People as Caregivers
  • Deflated Sense of Self and Control
  • Discussion
  • References
  • Chapter Nine: Internet Workers’ Emerging Agency and New Political Dynamics in China (Bingqing Xia)
  • Methodology
  • Internet Workers and Agency
  • Workers Contributing to New Political Dynamics
  • Contributing to the Common Good
  • Agency Originating from Internet Idealism
  • Conclusion: Where Does Agency Come From?
  • Acknowledgements
  • References
  • Chapter Ten: Shifts in Communicative Power: Social Media and Elections in Singapore (Debbie Goh / Elmie Nekmat / Natalie Pang / Carol Soon / Weiyu Zhang)
  • Analyzing Evolving Communication
  • Personalized Communication and Campaign Knowledge
  • Evolving Technologies
  • Opinion Climates, Public Issues and Voting Patterns
  • Evolving Electorate and New Media
  • Discussion
  • References
  • Part Three: Academic Activism
  • Chapter Eleven: Academic-Community Collaboration through World Building (Nicholas Busalacchi / Sonia Jawaid Shaikh / François Bar / Ann Pendleton-Jullian)
  • Literature Review
  • The Academy and the Community
  • Defining World Building
  • World Building as a Methodology: Rationale and Comparatives
  • Case Study: The DTLA Imagination Corridor World Building Project
  • Geography
  • Workshop Themes
  • Participant Identification and Recruitment
  • Workshop Design and Participatory Framework
  • Variation and Adaptation
  • World Building Methodological Guide: Components and Application
  • Emergence of Future States
  • Discussion and Conclusion
  • Process
  • Product
  • References
  • Chapter Twelve: Breaching Sites of Power in Law and Policy Debates: Four Models (Sharon Strover)
  • The Locations of Power: Time and Scale
  • Four Models
  • Individual Model
  • The Think Tank
  • The Academic Institute or Center
  • The Network Approach
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • Chapter Thirteen: Dealing with Demagoguery and Hate Propaganda in an Age of Unreason (Cherian George)
  • Trump and Truth
  • The Political Appeal of Hate
  • Hate Spin in Open Societies
  • A Distorted Marketplace
  • Taking a Stand with Reason and Rights
  • References
  • Chapter Fourteen: We Know How to Communicate with Power: We Just Don’t Do It (Perry Parks)
  • Journalism and Shifting Normative Ideals
  • Fragmentation, Deinstitutionalization, and Unassembled Publics
  • The Fantasy of a Shared Reality
  • The Power of Affect and Non-representational Theory
  • Affective Examples
  • But What About “Objectivity”?
  • Toward More Generative Scholarship in Journalism and Communication
  • Embrace “Play and Experimentation”
  • Explore “Whitespace”
  • Apply Actor-Network Theory
  • Study Communicative Acts of Empathy, Compassion, and Peace
  • Spend More Time with Artists
  • References
  • Chapter Fifteen: Disinformation, Economic Fallacies and Environmental Catastrophe (John Gowdy)
  • A Long Run Perspective on Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss
  • Valuing Nature: The Economic World View
  • Markets and Actual Human Behavior
  • Demonstration Effects
  • Money May Crowd Out the Public Good
  • The Growth Dynamic of Markets
  • The Importance of Shaming in Promoting Ethical Behavior
  • Should WEIRD Values Dictate the Future of Homo Sapiens?
  • Final Thoughts
  • References
  • Index
  • Series index

| vii →

The Contributors

Omar Al-Ghazzi is Lecturer at the Department of Journalism Studies, the University of Sheffield. He will be joining the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science as an Assistant Professor in September 2017. A former Fulbright scholar, his research interests are in global communication, comparative journalism, activism and collective memory, with a focus on the Middle East. Omar’s work has appeared in journals such as Communication Theory, Media, Culture & Society, and Popular Communication.

Peng Hwa Ang is Professor at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He is President of the International Communication Association from June 2016. His research interests lie in media law and policy and he has consulted on the subject for the governments of Singapore, Thailand and Bhutan. A lawyer by training, he is the author of Ordering Chaos: Regulating the Internet (Thomson, 2005).

François Bar is an Associate Professor of Communication and Spatial Sciences at the University of Southern California. His research and teaching explore the social and economic impacts of information technologies, with a specific focus on telecommunication policy, user-driven innovation and technology appropriation. His most recent work examines the potential of information technology for economic, social and cultural development, in places ranging from East Africa to Latin America and South Los Angeles. ← vii | viii →

Sandra Braman is Abbott Professor of Liberal Arts and Professor of Communication at Texas A&M University. Her book Change of State: Information, Policy, and Power (2006/2013) is widely regarded as having defined the field of information policy. She has also authored more than 100 refereed journal articles and book chapters and edited 4 books and 3 special journal issues. In 2014, Sandra Braman was inducted as a Fellow of the International Communication Association.

Nicholas Busalacchi is a doctoral student in the School for Communication and Journalism at USC Annenberg. He is an urban planner and avid student of the city. His current research focuses on urban communication and development, as well as innovative participatory models for shaping urban space. He earned his Master of Planning (Economic Development) from the University of Southern California and Bachelor of Business Administration (Marketing) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Adolfo Carratalá is an Assistant Professor of Journalism at the University of Valencia (UV). Member of the INFOCORE research project, funded by the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Commission. Former Associate Professor in the BA programme in Communication of the International University of La Rioja (UNIR) and postdoctoral fellow at the Rey Juan Carlos University (URJC). His main lines of research are communication and conflict, media and social movements, journalistic discourse and frame analysis.

Wai Hsien Cheah is an Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Communication Studies at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. His research focuses on testing the influence of personality factors and cultural orientation on the effects of fear appeal messages, and examining factors that influence Bosnian refugees’ cross-cultural adaptation in the St. Louis area. He teaches health communication courses at undergraduate and graduate levels as well as Communication Theory, Research Methods, Persuasion and Social Influence, Intercultural Communication. He earned his Ph.D., M.A. and B.A. in Communication from University of Kentucky.

John D. H. Downing is Professor Emeritus of International Communication and Founding Director of the Global Media Research Center, College of Mass Communication and Media Arts, Southern Illinois University. He is the author of Radical Media: Rebellious Communication and Social Movements (2001) and editor of the Encyclopedia of Social Movement Media (2011), among many other studies.

Cherian George is an Associate Professor at the School of Communication, Hong Kong Baptist University, where is also Director of the Centre for Media and ← viii | ix → Communication Research. He studies freedom of expression issues, including journalism in Asia, censorship, hate propaganda, and alternative media. He is the author of Hate Spin: The Manufacture of Religious Offense and its Threat to Democracy (MIT Press, 2016) and other books. He earned his PhD in Communication from Stanford University.

Debbie Goh is an Assistant Professor at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University. She received her PhD in mass communication from Indiana University Bloomington. Her research focuses on digital inequalities, media framing, and the processes that influence how marginalized communities engage with new media technologies.

John Gowdy is Professor of Economics and Professor of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. His research areas include biodiversity valuation and evolutionary models of economic change. He was a Fulbright scholar at the Economic University of Vienna and a Leverhulme Visiting Professor at Leeds University. He received the Herman Daly Award for his contributions to ecological economics. His current research includes a UNEP project on the value of the Sudd Wetland in South Sudan, and the global economy as an ultrasocial system. His latest paper is “The Economic Origins of Ultrasociality” published in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Summer 2016.

Beatriz Herrero is a post-doctoral researcher at the University Rey Juan Carlos (URJC) in Madrid, Spain. She is member of the INFOCORE research project, funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission. Prior to this she was Visiting Professor of Journalism and Films Studies at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Tarragona, Spain. Her primary research interests are media discourses, communication and conflict and gender studies.

Marc Jungblut is a researcher, lecturer and doctoral student at Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich. He is a member of the INFOCORE research project, funded by the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Commission. His main research interests are political communication, journalism, war and violent conflicts, framing, news production processes and methodology.

Min Liu is an Associate Professor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. After receiving an MA in Shanghai, she earned her Ph.D. in Communication Studies from North Dakota State University in 2006 and her MPH from Washington University at St Louis in 2013. She teaches Communication Theory, Research Methods, Intercultural Communication, and a variety of ← ix | x → health communication courses. Her recent publications include publications in Asian Journal of Communication, Journal of Interprofessional Care, Sexuality & Culture, and a textbook in patient communication for pharmacy professionals.

Robin Mansell is Professor of New Media and the Internet in the Department of Media and Communication at London School of Economics and Political Science. She focuses on media and communications governance and social, economic and policy issues arising from innovations in digital technologies. She was the President of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) 2004 to 2008. She is author of numerous papers and books including Imagining the Internet: Communication, Innovation and Governance, OUP 2012.

Elmie Nekmat is an Assistant Professor in Communications and New Media, National University of Singapore, joining the faculty from a one-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2014. He obtained his Ph.D. in communication and information sciences with an interdisciplinary minor in educational and social psychology from the University of Alabama, where he received the 2013 Knox Hagood Doctoral Student Award. Elmie studies media effects and the social-psychological processes and effects of online communication on public opinion, collective action and strategic communication.

Natalie Pang is an Assistant Professor in the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), and Principal Investigator at the Centre of Social Media Innovations for Communities (COSMIC) at NTU. Her teaching and research interest is in the area of social informatics, focusing on basic and applied research of social media, information behavior in contexts of uncertainty and crises, and structurational models of technology in marginalized communities.

Perry Parks is a doctoral student in journalism at Michigan State University. A former news reporter and editor, he is interested in news values, public affairs journalism, pedagogy, and science communication. He has published research in Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, and Science Communication. He is the author of Making Important News Interesting: Reporting Public Affairs in the 21st Century.

Ann Pendleton-Jullian is an architect, writer, and educator whose work explores the interchange between culture, environment, and technology. She is currently Distinguished Visiting Professor at Georgetown University, and professor at Ohio State University where she served as Director of the School of Architecture. Prior to Ohio State she was a tenured professor at MIT for 14 ← x | xi → years. She is also a core member of a cross-disciplinary network of global leaders established by the Secretary of Defense to examine questions of emerging interest.

Ulrike Röttger is Professor for strategic communication at the University of Münster, Germany. She has been the president of the German Communication Association (DGPuK), the professional organization of scholars and researchers in communication science, and member of the association’s executive board for several years. She holds a graduate degree in journalism from the University of Dortmund, Germany, and a doctorate in communication science from the University of Zurich, Switzerland. Her research fields include public relations theory, CSR, trust and public relations consulting.

Sonia Jawaid Shaikh is a doctoral student in the School for Communication and Journalism at USC Annenberg. Her research interests are in decision making, resources, information processing, and research methods. She has been a COMPASS fellow at the World Bank and was a Fulbright student at Michigan State University where she did an M.A in Communication. Prior to her graduate studies, she worked at an NGO that builds and operates schools across Pakistan.

Valarie Shaw received her MA in Communication from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and teaches in the English-American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter preparation program at John A. Logan College. She has been an ASL interpreter for years and is involved in advocacy for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing community.

Carol Soon is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies. She leads the Arts, Culture and Media research cluster which studies the implications of trends and policies on Singapore’s arts, cultural and media landscape. Carol’s research interests include social media and politics, digital engagement, digital technologies and advocacy, and surveillance. She led the study on media and Internet use during General Election 2015. Carol received the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy’s Research Excellence Award in 2015 and was a recipient of the Australian Endeavour Award in 2012.

Sharon Strover is Philip G. Warner Regents Professor in Communication at the University of Texas where she is the director of Technology & Information Policy Institute and teaches communications and technology courses. Some of her recent research projects examine broadband services and network deployment, especially in rural regions; the role of poverty and affordability in Internet services; and relationship between economic outcomes and broadband. ← xi | xii →

Kerstin Thummes is an Assistant Professor for strategic communication at the University of Münster, Germany and vice chair of the Public Relations Division of the German Communication Association (DGPuK). She has worked as a researcher and lecturer at the University of Fribourg and the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. Her research interests cover the fields of deception and credibility in strategic communication, dialogic theory and social media, corporate responsibility communication and communication controlling.

Jenifer Sunrise Winter is an Associate Professor in the School of Communications at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and Co-Director of the Pacific Information and Communication Technology for Development Collaborative. Her research examines digital inequalities and privacy in the context of big data and the Internet of Things, as well as the Internet as a support for democratic institutions and publics. She co-edited The Future Internet: Alternative Visions and has authored dozens of works addressing emerging information policy issues.

Bingqing Xia is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Humanities and Arts at Macau University of Science and Technology, Macao. Her research focuses on digital labor and the quality of working life in the Chinese internet industries. Bingqing’s background is in history and new media studies. She has presented her work at a range of international, annual and biannual conferences such as the International Communication Association, as well as published her work in peer reviewed journals and books.

Weiyu Zhang is an Associate Professor at the Department of Communications and New Media, National University of Singapore. She holds a PhD in Communication from Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on civic engagement and ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies), with an emphasis on Asia. Her published works have appeared in Journal of Communication; Communication Theory; Communication Research; Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication; Information, Communication & Society; International Communication Gazette; Computers & Education; Computers in Human Behavior, and many others.

| xiii →



One of the prerogatives of the ICA’s President-Elect in programming the Annual Conference is to choose a theme for the spotlight of rigorous academic research to focus on. I proposed the theme “Communicating with Power” because I truly believe that communication can be powerful and transformative. I tell high school students in career talks that if they want to save one life at a time, be a doctor; but if they want to save thousands of life at a time, be a communicator.

When I proposed the theme, some thought that I would be promoting my interest in law and policy. That misses the point. The eclectic collection within this volume shows how power in the field of communication can be looked at from multiple angles.

The collection has been ably edited by Cherian George. When I bounced my ideas about the theme off him, he suggested immediately that we should not leave out the powerless. As a researcher, one is always grateful that others point out blind spots so that one’s vision is now more complete.

Robin Mansell closed the Fukuoka Conference by talking about algorithms and computational power, another dimension that I was aware of but had not given much thought to. At the Conference and after, I have observed many other different, and sometimes surprising, treatments of this notion.

I am delighted to see in this collection the writings of senior communication scholars such as Sandra Braman, Sharon Strover, John Downing, and Francois Bar, as well as leading environmental economist John Gowdy, one of Opening Plenary speakers. Just as importantly, there are also junior scholars in the mix, which augurs well for the advancement of thought in the future.

I hope this collection stimulates further interest and inquiry in all corners of our diverse field called communication.


XX, 280
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2017 (June)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2017. XX, 280 pp.

Biographical notes

Cherian George (Volume editor)

Cherian George (Ph.D., Stanford University) is Associate Professor in the Department of Journalism at Hong Kong Baptist University. His latest monograph is Hate Spin: The Manufacture of Religious Offense and Its Threat to Democracy (2016).


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