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The Culture of Mean

Representing Bullies and Victims in Popular Culture

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Emily D. Ryalls

The Culture of Mean is the first book-length feminist critical exploration of representations of youth bullying in media. Bringing into conversation scholarship on feminism, media, new communication technologies, surveillance, gender, race, sexuality, and class, Ryalls critically examines the explosion of discourse about youth bullying that has occurred in the United States during the last two decades. Countering the monolithic and extreme cultural reaction to narratives about bullying, Ryalls argues that, while it seems common sense to view bullying as always wrong and dangerous, not all aggression is bullying and it is problematic to assume so, because it becomes very difficult to differentiate between healthy conflict and unhealthy (potentially violent) torment. Moreover, since the label "bullying" often does not differentiate between teasing, conflict, sexual harassment, and violence, increasingly the most common way to deal with young people accused of bullying is to criminalize their actions. Through an analysis of books, film, television, and journalistic accounts of bullying, The Culture of Mean shows how constructions of bullying in popular culture create an overly simplistic binary of good and bad people. This process individualizes the problem of bullying and disallows a more complex understanding of the structural issues at work by suggesting that putting an end to bullying simply requires incarcerating those evil teens who are prone to bullying behaviors. This critical perspective of bullying will be of interest to scholars and students interested in the fields of girls’ studies, cultural studies, communication, education, sociology, and media studies, as well as parents of school-aged children.

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Avatar, Assembled

The Social and Technical Anatomy of Digital Bodies

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Jaime Banks

Avatars, Assembled is a curated volume that unpacks videogame and virtual world avatars—not as a monolithic phenomenon (as they are usually framed) but as sociotechnical assemblages, pieced together from social (human-like) features like gender and clothing to logical (technology-like) features like code and statistics. Each chapter accounts for the empirical, theoretical, technical, and popular understandings of these avatar "components"—60 in total—altogether offering a nuanced explication of avatars-as-assemblages as they matter in contemporary society and in individual experience. The volume is a "crossover" piece in that, while it delves into complex ideas, it is written in a way that will be accessible and interesting to students, researchers, designers, and practitioners alike. Although, in this way, the book offers value to a broad audience, it would be useful to academic courses on online identities, digital embodiment, digital culture, or even as a supplement to technical game design courses focusing on character development.
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Networked Selves

Trajectories of Blogging in the United States and France

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Ignacio Siles

Networked Selves is an original analysis of one of the most defining cultural features of our time: how people turn to the Web to construct a public self. It examines the trajectory of a practice that embodies this sociocultural shift in fundamental ways: blogging. The book traces the evolution of the Web as a means to publicly perform a self through an analysis of the emergence, development, and transformation of blogging from the mid-1990s to the early years of the 2010s. It discusses processes that have shaped practices of subjectivity on the Web over two decades in two countries: the United States and France. Through this comparative analysis, the book shows that the cultural identity of blogging as a practice of subjectivity in these countries is neither inevitable nor neutral. Instead, it demonstrates that the development of the Web required the forging of various articulations between specific conceptions of self, publicness, and technology. These articulations were responses to both transformations in the daily life of actors and larger economic, political, and cultural processes—notably neoliberalization. The book also explains how the cultural imaginary around blogs came into being in the United States and how it has also functioned as a model for actors in other countries, such as France. Networked Selves discusses how and why actors in the technology field in France have gradually abandoned traditional makers of exceptionalism that were key in the development of the country’s national identity and favored notions that characterize the United States instead.

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James M. Honeycutt and Pavica Sheldon

The book is divided into five parts: (1) Emotions, Imagination, and Physiology of Relationships, (2) Bases of Relational Scripts, (3) Relational Escalation and Deescalation, (4) Relationship Scripts in Context, and (5) Cautions and Recommendations. The authors discuss the basis of relationship scripts, emotions, imagery, and physiology of relationships including romance, friendship, work associates, mentors, and Facebook friends. They argue that people’s expectations for relational development influence their communication, faith, and commitment in relationships. Misconstruing sexual or flirtatious intent, for example, is derived from having different scripts about attraction. They discuss abusive relationships including characteristics of abusers, stalking, and verbal and physical aggression.

Designed for classes in psychology, communication, sociology, family studies, and social work, this book provides a comprehensive overview of how scripts and communication are used in relationships. Guidelines based on developing and improving verbal and nonverbal communication competence are provided. A downloadable teacher’s guide is also available.

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Digital Orientations

Non-Media-Centric Media Studies and Non-Representational Theories of Practice

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Shaun Moores

Might it be possible to rearticulate the term digital in digital media, so that it refers at least as much to the deft movements or orientations of hands and fingers (of digits) as it does to the new media technologies themselves? What if digital media are understood as manual media?

Has the academic field of media studies tended to focus too much on media, and not enough on the practices and experiences of daily living that help to give media their meaningfulness? What if media researchers were to pay more attention to knowledge-in-movement or to matters of orientation and habitation, and rather less to those of symbolic representation and cognitive interpretation?

Digital Orientations is a bold call for non-media-centric media studies (and ultimately for everyday-life studies) with a non-representational theoretical emphasis. The author engages here with a broad range of work from across the humanities and social sciences, drawing on Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological philosophy, Ingold’s anthropology, the geographies of Massey, Seamon and Thrift, and the sociologies of Bourdieu, Sudnow and Urry.

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Patienthood and Communication

A Personal Narrative of Eye Disease and Vision Loss

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Peter M. Kellett

Patienthood and Communication is an engagingly personal narrative detailing the author’s experience living with, and adapting to, a degenerative and incurable eye disease (MacTel). Beyond the personal, this poignant story more broadly illustrates the ways in which communication enables individuals to adjust to serious health threats.

Author and subject Peter Kellett highlights his important interactions with health care providers, family members, friends, colleagues, students, and others that provide shape to his journey. Kellett displays a compelling capacity for self-reflection in his descriptions of the life changes his vision loss imposes upon him, among them changes to his identity, in relationships and life plans. Adaptation and flexibility reveal themselves as central tenets of his learning to become a self-empowered patient. Perhaps the most crucial element to his adjustment is, however, positive communication, which is depicted throughout the book as the driving force in Kellett’s journey into patienthood.

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Reconsidering Obama

Reflections on Rhetoric

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Robert E. Terrill

Perhaps no other presidential candidate or sitting president has attracted as much attention from rhetorical critics as Barack Obama. Much of this work was conceived and written during Obama’s initial presidential campaign, or relatively early in his two terms in office. This book provides rhetorical critics an opportunity to revisit their published work on Obama in light of events that have occurred since its publication. In each chapter, these eminent critics begin by summarizing the analysis and conclusions in their original essays on Obama, and then reflect on their previous conclusions, revising or extending them in response to developments since the publication of the original work. The chapters provide a glimpse into the inventional strategies of practicing critics and into some of the ways that that critical insights may evolve over time. Scholars rarely have an opportunity to publish essays that reflect on their own previous work, even though few resources can be of greater use to both beginning critics and to established scholars seeking to continue to hone and reflect on their critical practice. This book, then, makes an important contribution not only to the existing literature on the 44th president of the United States, but also and perhaps most significantly to the study of the art and craft of rhetorical criticism.

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What Is Sustainable Journalism?

Integrating the Environmental, Social, and Economic Challenges of Journalism

Peter Berglez, Ulrika Olausson and Mart Ots

This edited volume, which elaborates on the idea and concept of sustainable journalism, is the result of a perceived lack of integral research approaches to journalism and sustainable development. Thirty years ago, in 1987, the Brundtland Report pointed out economic growth, social equality and environmental protection as the three main pillars of a sustainable development. These pillars are intertwined, interdependent, and need to be reconciled. However, usually, scholars interested in the business crisis of the media industry tend to leave the social and environmental dimensions of journalism aside, and vice versa. What Is Sustainable Journalism? is the first book that discusses and examines the economic, social and environmental challenges of professional journalism simultaneously. This unique book and fresh contribution to the discussion of the future of journalism assembles international expertise in all three fields, arguing for the necessity of integral research perspectives and for sustainable journalism as the key to long-term survival of professional journalism. The book is relevant for scholars and master’s students in media economy, media and communication, and environmental communication.

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Judy VanSlyke Turk and Jean Valin

The case studies in this book, many of which have won national or international awards, represent an impressive scope of public relations practice—from public diplomacy to corporate social responsibility to crisis communications to social justice issues and special events. These chapters take a significant step toward overcoming the dearth of published case studies in public relations beyond North America. Written by established scholars and professionals who had access to some of the world’s most intriguing and influential cases of organizational communication, these studies will be of tremendous interest to all who teach, study, and practice public relations around the world.

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Florian Zollmann

Prominent media scholars have argued that the dissemination of propaganda is an important function of the news media. Yet, despite public controversies about ‘fake news’ and ‘misinformation’, there has been very little discussion on techniques of propaganda. Building on critical theory, most notably Herman and Chomsky’s Propaganda Model, Florian Zollmann’s pioneering study brings propaganda back to the forefront of the debate. On the basis of a forensic examination of 1,911 newspaper articles, Zollmann investigates US, UK and German media reporting of the military operations in Kosovo, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Egypt. The book demonstrates how ‘humanitarian intervention’ and ‘R2P’ are only evoked in the news media if so called ‘enemy’ countries of Western states are the perpetrators of human rights violations. Zollmann’s work evidences that the news media plays a crucial propaganda role in facilitating a selective process of shaming during the build-up towards military interventions. This process has led to an erosion of internationally agreed norms of non-intervention, as enshrined in the UN Charter.