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Communicating the City

Meanings, Practices, Interactions


Edited By Giorgia Aiello, Matteo Tarantino and Kate Oakley

How human meanings, practices and interactions produce and are produced by urban space is the focus of this timely and exciting addition to the study of urban communication.

Challenging notions of the ‘urban’ as physically, economically or technologically determined, this book explores key intersections of discourse, materiality, technology, mobility, identity and inequality in acts of communication across urban and urbanizing contexts. From leisure and media consumption among Chinese migrant workers in a Guangdong village to the diverse networks and communication infrastructures of global cities like London and Los Angeles, this collection combines a range of perspectives to ask fundamental questions about the significance and status of cities in times of intensified mediation and connectivity.

With case studies from Italy, Britain, Ireland, Russia, the United States and China, this international collection demonstrates that both empirical and critical knowledge on the relationship between communication and urban life has become vital across the humanities and social sciences.

Communicating the City will be essential reading for all scholars and students who desire to gain an in-depth understanding of the multiple roles that media and communication have in lived experiences of the city.

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Chapter Eight: The communication infrastructure that supports life in the city and enables urban community change (Matthew Matsaganis)


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The communication infrastructure THAT supports life IN THE city AND enables urban community change



In the United States, the Chicago School of the early twentieth century carved a path of research focused on understanding how geographically bounded communities impact the lives of their residents. This path of “neighbourhood effects” research, however, is marked by discontinuity—at least through the first half of the 1990s. The inconsistency in the development of the literature can be attributed to: (a) shifts in the perceived salience of the concept of neighbourhood, (b) methodological constraints, and (c) the general historical context (Sampson, Morenoff, & Gannon-Rowley, 2002). In the early 1990s, though, significant progress on the methodological front (e.g., the development of operational neighbourhood definitions that are closer to residents’ perceptions of their residential community’s boundaries) led to a resurgence of interest in this line of inquiry. In fact, from the mid-1990s to the year 2000, the number of academic studies on how the neighbourhoods people live in impact their lives rose to the level of about 100 papers per year (Sampson et al., 2002). Additionally, between 2003 and 2013, the number of publications on the role of place on health alone doubled compared to the previous decade rising to 100,000 (Matsaganis, 2015).

In the field of media and communication studies, interest in urban communities has been continuous, but it has waxed and waned just...

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