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Communicating with Power


Edited By Cherian George

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.

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Chapter Two: Pointless or Potent?: A Long View on Antiwar Movement Media (John D. H. Downing)


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Pointless OR Potent?

A Long View on Antiwar Movement Media


Small-scale social movement media (Atton 2015; Downing 2011; Wilkins, Tufte, and Obregón 2014, Part III)—notwithstanding a brief upsurge in research interest following the Arab region 2011 uprisings—have typically been thought trivial, ephemeral, utterly marginal to serious Media Studies. Antiwar movement media in particular, given the blood-drenched 20th and 21st centuries, might be thought instances of the very nadir of communicative potency. So maybe the question in this chapter’s title is itself pointless?

The trouble is that these seemingly self-evident assumptions are significantly flawed and their definitions fuzzy. The argument here, then, is a fundamental critique of this Fragestellung (posing of the question), and a conceptual ground-clearing exercise for this crucial global issue: what are the roles of antiwar movement media?

The discussion will open by clarifying three key terms. Next, seven all-too-real obstacles to antiwar movement media impact are pinpointed (one of them especially tangible in the United States). Thirdly, readers are alerted to some complexities in defining antiwar movement media impact. The fourth and largest segment of the discussion will critically synthesize evidence from secondary data regarding the growth and expansion of antiwar media, from the beginning of the 20th century to the present. The data drawn upon are mostly from European and US sources (hopefully future studies will remedy this imbalance). In...

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