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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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Foreword (Peng Hwa Ang)


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One of the prerogatives of the ICA’s President-Elect in programming the Annual Conference is to choose a theme for the spotlight of rigorous academic research to focus on. I proposed the theme “Communicating with Power” because I truly believe that communication can be powerful and transformative. I tell high school students in career talks that if they want to save one life at a time, be a doctor; but if they want to save thousands of life at a time, be a communicator.

When I proposed the theme, some thought that I would be promoting my interest in law and policy. That misses the point. The eclectic collection within this volume shows how power in the field of communication can be looked at from multiple angles.

The collection has been ably edited by Cherian George. When I bounced my ideas about the theme off him, he suggested immediately that we should not leave out the powerless. As a researcher, one is always grateful that others point out blind spots so that one’s vision is now more complete.

Robin Mansell closed the Fukuoka Conference by talking about algorithms and computational power, another dimension that I was aware of but had not given much thought to. At the Conference and after, I have observed many other different, and sometimes surprising, treatments of this notion.

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