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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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Foreword (Susan Drucker / Gary Gumpert)


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The metamorphosis of the communication discipline parallels the transformation of the urban landscape. As a discipline, the morphing of speech, communication, sociology, psychology, computer science, and geography into a magnifying glass through which the large population centres of the globe could be examined is a late evolving perspective—albeit a vital one.

Communicating the City is an important and ambitious globe-trotting endeavour that juxtaposes contrasting and often antithetical strands of development, and delves into new and often surprising connections that reveal both the problems and promises of contemporary cities. “Communicating the city,” the apposition of process and location, is also a complex and interdisciplinary notion that is often difficult to define. From Jane Jacobs to William H. Whyte, from Sherry Turkle to Scott McQuire, from Paul Goldberger to Blair Kamin, scholars and critics have fought the beast. It has not been an easy task. The acceleration of technology and the transformation of community have pushed us into a simultaneous analytic and normative mode.

As a particular transformative gathering, “urban communication” began in Boston in 2003 when twenty likeminded scholars led by the late William Mitchell, Dean of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, pondered how to approach the complexity of the worldwide technologizing of increasingly dense cities amid both squalor and wealth. Asked at that time was whether the realm of crisis and development ought not be a...

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