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The Communication Ecology of 21st Century Urban Communities


Edited By Yong-Chan Kim, Matthew D. Matsaganis, Holley A. Wilkin and Joo-Young Jung

The Communication Ecology of 21st Century Urban Communities addresses the questions of whether it (still) matters what neighborhood individuals live in and if it is still necessary and possible for city dwellers to build and maintain place-based communities.

The book’s contributors address how urban communities are formed, reformed, and transformed from a communication infrastructure theory perspective. Through the lens of this theory, communication is defined as a fundamental social process by which cities are sustained and changed over time. The chapters in this book elaborate the theoretical and methodological frameworks of the communication infrastructure theory approach; articulate theory-driven and multi-method frameworks for the study of the city; and speak to pressing, contemporary, research- and policy-related challenges (or questions).

The broad array of issues addressed within this volume is expected to draw the interest not only of communication researchers and professionals, but also of students, scholars, practitioners, and policymakers from a variety of backgrounds and with an interest in different aspects of life in the city, including: public health, technology, civic engagement, and urban planning and design.

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Chapter One: Communication Infrastructure Theory as an Ecological Theory: Theoretical Framework and Key Concepts (Yong-Chan Kim / Joo-Young Jung)


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Communication Infrastructure Theory as an Ecological Theory

Theoretical Framework and Key Concepts1


Professor, Yonsei University


Senior Associate Professor, International Christian University

Communication infrastructure theory (CIT) is a product of 20 years of research that started in the late 1990s and that has been conducted by several generations of the Metamorphosis Project research team. The team was established by Sandra Ball-Rokeach at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. CIT introduces a unique approach to examining the viability of community in 21st-century cities. The Metamorphosis research team started its work across multiple Los Angeles communities at a time when two opposite trends dominated thinking around community. On one hand, there were those who claimed that structures, attitudes and behaviors that we associate with urban dwellers’ sense of community were fading away (Putnam, 2000). On the other hand, others argued the civil society was just being rebuilt and transformed (Paxton, 1999; Skocpol, 1993; Verba, Schlozman, & Brady, 1995). Questioning both these popular positions, Metamorphosis researchers took a different approach. They investigated and sought to reveal, through extensive fieldwork, the resources that urban neighborhood residents have and that can be activated to construct community, thereby enabling collective action for common ← 9 | 10 → purpose. Simultaneously, the research team examined the particular communication resource factors that stymie these processes in urban neighborhoods. A critical...

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