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Challenging Communication Research

by Leah A. Lievrouw (Volume editor)
Monographs XI, 244 Pages

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Acknowledgements
  • Foreword
  • Editor’s Introduction: Challenge and Change in Communication Research
  • Editorial Process
  • Overview and Themes
  • Part I Challenging Core Concepts
  • Chapter One: The Ironic Incongruity of Canonical Common Sense in Critical Communication: The Case of Stuart Hall’s “Encoding/Decoding” Model
  • What Does It Mean to Be Critical?
  • Hall’s Encoding/Decoding Model
  • Historical Context and Reception of Encoding/Decoding
  • Evaluating Applications of Encoding/Decoding
  • Remaining Critical of Critical Models
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Chapter Two: Critiquing “Neoliberalism”: Three Interrogations and a Defense
  • The Critique of Critique
  • Defending Creative Industries
  • Neoliberalism-as-Hegemony and Neoliberalism-as-Governmentality
  • Letting Us off the Hook?
  • Recuperating Neoliberalism as an Object of Critique
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Chapter Three: A New Era of Field Research in Political Communication?
  • The Field as We Know It—and What Went Before
  • The Forgotten Role of Fieldwork in the 1940s and 1950s
  • A New Era of Field Research in Political Communication?
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Part II Challenging Discourses, Public and Personal
  • Chapter Four: Normative Europe and the Roma Issue in the Romanian and Bulgarian Press
  • The Roma and Europe: A Brief History
  • France, the “Roma Affair,” and The EU as Defender of European Norms
  • Case Studies: Bulgaria and Romania
  • Bulgaria: Schengen at All Costs
  • Romania: European, Rather than National, Problem
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Chapter Five: Would Jürgen Habermas Enjoy The Daily Show? Entertainment Media and the Normative Presuppositions of the Political Public Sphere
  • The Hybridization of Entertainment Media and Politics
  • The Contribution of Entertainment Media to the Public Sphere
  • The Daily Show—Findings and Normative Implications
  • News and Entertainment—Is There Still a Need for This Distinction?
  • Are Social Strata a Predictor for Interest in Entertainment Media and Politics?
  • Good News, Good Entertainment, Good Politics?
  • Bibliography
  • Chapter Six: Beyond the Corporate Lens: The Use of Humor in Activist Communication
  • Literature Review
  • Methodology
  • About the WA Anm
  • Community-Building Characteristics of Humor
  • Humor as Educational Tool
  • Humor as a Sustainability Tool
  • The Role of Humor in Creating a Collective Identity
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Chapter Seven: Representation Matters(?): When, How and If Representation Matters to Marginalized Game Audiences
  • To Whom It Matters
  • Identity Matters
  • Textual Matters
  • Context Matters
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Part III Challenging Communicative Action and Agency
  • Chapter Eight: Uncommon Knowledge: Testing Persistent Beliefs about Configurable Culture and Society
  • Methodology
  • Results
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Chapter Nine: iAuthor: The Fluid State of Creativity Rights and the Vanishing Author
  • Copyright, The “Mechanical” Reproduction of Content, and The Multidimensional Author
  • The Author in Law
  • The Vanishing Author
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Chapter Ten: The New Reputation Custodians: Examining the Industrialization of Visibility in the Reputation Society
  • Digital Visibility: Reputation, Privacy, and Identity Online
  • In the Eyes of the Law: Legal Approaches to Digital Reputation
  • Online Reputation Management: The Industrialization of Visibility
  • Industry Logic
  • Industry Tools
  • Is ORM a Viable Solution?
  • ORM Is Invisible but Slow, Uncertain, and Costly
  • ORM Does Not Need the Cooperation of Host Website or Original Poster
  • ORM Techniques Avoid Due Process
  • ORM Industry Lacks Regulation or Ethical Oversight
  • ORM Relies on and Supports Powerful Media Agents
  • ORM Supports a Culture of Visibility
  • Governing a Reputation Society: A Mixed Approach
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Part IV Challenging the Record: Documents, Evidence, Materiality
  • Chapter Eleven: Possibilities for Queering Surveillance Infrastructure: The Case of the Quantified Self
  • Practices and Tools
  • Data Creation
  • Automated Sensing: Rich Data with Minimal User Intervention
  • Self-Reflection
  • Found Data
  • Data Storage and Access
  • Sense Making
  • Statistical Description
  • Statistical Comparisons to Self and Others
  • Nonstatistical Visuals and Graphs
  • Discussions at Meet-ups
  • Goals and Purposes
  • Reflective Self-Knowledge
  • Self-Improvement
  • Citizen Science
  • Public Visibility
  • Why Not?
  • Institutionalization: Seeking Infrastructural Stability
  • Hacking
  • Integrated Proprietary Services
  • The Web 2.0 Model
  • The Health Insurance Nexus
  • Institutional Research
  • Discussion
  • The Commodity Self
  • The Disciplined Self, the Corporate Self
  • The Atomic Self
  • The Ineffable Self, the Queer Self
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Chapter Twelve: The Unobserved Observer: Humphrey Spender’s Hidden Camera and the Politics of Visibility in Interwar Britain
  • Against the Picturesque: Spender Before Mass Observation
  • “The Drama of the Doorstep”: British Documentary and the Everyday
  • “Problems of Artificiality” and the Limits of Observation
  • The Politics of Visibility
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Chapter Thirteen: Materiality: Challenges and Opportunities for Communication Theory
  • A Typology of Documents’ Roles
  • Documenting Organizational Decisions
  • Defining Organizational Circulation
  • Establishing Sites for Conversation
  • Tensions Among Document Routines and Organizational Needs
  • Discussion
  • Roles and Fixity
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Contributors
  • Index
  • Subject Headings
  • Name Headings
  • Series Index

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Acknowledgements

The planning and editorial work on this volume went remarkably quickly and smoothly. I want to acknowledge my wonderful collaboration with François Heinderyckx, who conceived the theme for ICA 2013, and worked with me on the details of the call for papers. I appreciate the great support of all the ICA division and interest group chairs who responded to my own call for their very best papers, and their eagerness to have the work of their section members represented in the book. ICA Executive Director Michael Haley has provided outstanding and immediate administrative support for the project, including funding that allowed me to enlist the help of my colleague, student, and editorial assistant wunderkind, Diana Ascher. Michael also led the negotiations with Peter Lang Publishing, which takes over as publisher for the ICA Theme Books with this edition. And finally, many thanks to Mary Savigar, our commissioning editor at Peter Lang, for her enthusiasm for the Theme Book series and for this volume in particular—we all look forward to a productive and creative collaboration on the series in the future.

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Foreword

Challenging Communication Research

FRANÇOIS HEINDERYCKX, PRESIDENT OF INTERNATIONAL COMMUNICATION ASSOCIATION (ICA), (2013–2014)

Communication research traditions are recent, by scholarly standards, and in a perennial state of flux that can call the whole idea of “traditions” into question. It is fundamentally multifaceted and consistently receptive to a range of disciplines, methods, scholarly traditions, and epistemologies. This dynamic state is no transitional phase on the way to some definitive, ultimate form of the field. Rather, the morphing nature of media and communication research reflects the changing nature of communication itself and its participants, stakeholders, and contexts. Communication and media are multidimensional phenomena, open to the wider society beyond the research community; and communication research is a fundamentally dynamic space where disciplines meet, share, conflict, and engage. Communication scholars are destined continually to reinvent the field and its questions, interests, and methods.

These developments are generating a variety of challenges that both hinder and stimulate us as researchers, teachers, citizens, creative professionals, and cultural participants. These challenges can be identified at different levels: how research is conducted (approaches, perspectives, assumptions, and methods); how research identifies, classifies, and understands its objects of study; how research challenges society and public discourses that are increasingly dominated by powerful economic, political, and technical interests; how research challenges authority, privilege, and power in times of uncertainty and change; how research challenges common, taken-for-granted conceptions about the communication ← ix | x → process itself; how research itself is challenged by financial pressures, by political and power shifts, by technological change and the reconfiguration and control of communication infrastructures and systems, and by cultural debates and conflicts.

The complexity of these challenges, their implications, and their evolution cannot be catalogued, let alone modeled in any integrated form. Instead, we offer to illustrate the diversity underlying the notion of challenge is this particular context. This volume draws from the work presented during the 63rd annual conference of the International Communication Association (ICA) that took place in London in June 2013. The chapters explore a broad range of topics from a diversity of perspectives to provide a rich set of thought-provoking considerations about not just the challenges that we face as communication scholars but also the challenges that we prompt and carry along. Challenging is in the DNA of scholarship, and this volume is intended to spur that particular characteristic.

| 1 →

 

Editor’s Introduction

Challenge and Change in Communication Research

LEAH L. LIEVROUW

From the start, communication scholarship has not enjoyed the same kind of theoretical cohesion or ontological security as some other disciplines. Its origin stories feature disciplinary crossovers, reinventions, and hybrid projects, ranging from Chicago School pragmatism and ethnomethods, to the experiments and surveys of Columbia’s Bureau of Applied Social Research, to the disciplinary heteroglossia of cybernetics and the Macy Conferences. Its early adherents left the certainties of a dozen established fields, ranging from rhetoric, theater, literary criticism, and philosophy, to social psychology, engineering, speech therapy, political science, sociology, and anthropology. They ventured into a barely defined but apparently irresistible arena of research, scholarship, practice, and critique dedicated to understanding just how, under what circumstances, and with what tools people make, share, and unmake meaning.

Moreover, the longstanding disconnect between the field’s dramatic institutional success after the Second World War (the global proliferation of schools, degree programs, academic departments, journals, academic and professional societies and conferences), and its intellectual “roving eye” and resistance to establishing a single core body of knowledge, has inspired serial rounds of soul-searching and existential doubt among communication scholars, on one hand, and celebration and intellectual adventurism, on the other. As new modes of mediation and interaction have emerged, the field has adapted its agendas and methods accordingly. Younger scholars often lead the way. ← 1 | 2 →

So the theme of the 2013 annual conference of the International Communication Association, “Challenging Communication Research,” begs an interesting question. For a field that is perpetually in flux and “decentered,” what exactly is, or should be, challenged? How and by whom?

The chapters in this collection, chosen from among the top papers presented in London in June 2013, suggest that in communication research and scholarship, the challenges themselves are multifaceted. Indeed, challenge may be part of something more like the continuous process of reinvention, breakdown, and reorganization posited by the early systems theorists. The communication discipline can be seen as emergent, in an ongoing state of change, rather than as an orderly, stepwise path toward the neat, complete accumulation of knowledge.

Of course, not everything changes at once. Some benchmarks in communication scholarship have endured because they remain persuasive and useful, fostering a sort of Kuhnian “normal” scholarship. Here, we might include nuanced media effects theories like uses and gratifications; the insights into human language and culture offered by linguistics and semiotics; the lattices of microstructures and practices that comprise conversation; the networks of relations that form the social and cultural architecture of communities; the skills that endow people with communicative competence and effectiveness; and, of course, a deep skepticism toward the power of the state or private sector to shape public discourse and politics.

Still, communication researchers are just as likely to treat these ideas as useful constraints to spur creativity, something to test and push against, as they are to be considered unimpeachable “classics” enshrined in master texts or handed down through generations of comprehensive exams. Communication—as a phenomenon, an object of study, a field, an intellectual tradition, or principles for practice and intervention—is a moving target. Scholars seeking intellectual stability, respectability, or, indeed, ontological security should probably look elsewhere.

In that spirit, the chapters here all challenge familiar approaches, notions, or assumptions in communication research and scholarship. In the 2013 conference call for papers, ICA President Elect-Select François Heinderyckx and I asked contributors to “reflect on the field’s multifaceted and increasingly open character in an era of shifting social relations, formations and technologies.” In particular, we asked colleagues to consider:

 How communication research is conducted: its approaches, perspectives, assumptions, and methods

 How communication research identifies, classifies, and understands its objects of study

 How communication research challenges society and public discourses that are increasingly dominated by powerful economic, political, and technical interests ← 2 | 3 →

 How communication research challenges authority, privilege, and power in times of uncertainty and change

 How communication research challenges common, taken-for-granted conceptions about the communication process itself

Summary

Communication scholarship has not enjoyed the same kind of theoretical cohesion or ontological security as some disciplines. The field’s intellectual «roving eye» and resistance to establishing a single core body of knowledge has inspired serial rounds of soul-searching and existential doubt among communication scholars, on one hand, and celebration and intellectual adventurism, on the other. The theme of the 2013 ICA annual conference thus raised an interesting question: For a field that is perpetually in flux and «decentered», what exactly is, or should be, challenged? How, and by whom?
The chapters in this collection, chosen from among the top papers presented in London, suggest that the challenges themselves are constantly being reinvented, broken down and reorganized. The communication discipline undergoes continuous change rather than following an orderly, stepwise path toward the neat, complete accumulation of knowledge. The chapters challenge familiar approaches, notions or assumptions in communication research and scholarship and reflect on the field’s multifaceted and increasingly open character in an era of shifting social relations, formations and technologies.

Details

Pages
XI, 244
ISBN (PDF)
9781453912737
ISBN (ePUB)
9781454196402
ISBN (MOBI)
9781454196396
ISBN (Book)
9781433125355
Language
English
Publication date
2014 (January)
Published
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 244 pp., num. ill.

Biographical notes

Leah A. Lievrouw (Volume editor)

Leah A. Lievrouw (PhD, the University of Southern California) is a professor in the Department of Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is author of Alternative and Activist New Media (2011), which received the 2011 best book award from the Communication and Information Technology section of the American Sociological Association. She is co-editor with Sonia Livingstone of the four-volume Benchmarks in Communication: New Media (2009), and The Handbook of New Media (2006).

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