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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 Three: Communication Infrastructure Theory for Collective Problem Recognition and Problem-Solving in Urban Communities: Beliefs, Assumptions, and Propositions (Yong-Chan Kim)


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Communication Infrastructure Theory for Collective Problem Recognition and Problem-Solving in Urban Communities

Beliefs, Assumptions, and Propositions


Professor, Yonsei University

This chapter aims to identify and explain the beliefs, assumptions, and propositions of communication infrastructure theory (CIT). First developed by Sandra J. Ball-Rokeach and her associates through their work on the USC Metamorphosis Project, CIT has been applied to various communities in Los Angeles and other cities in the United States, as well as other countries (see Ball-Rokeach, Prologue). With well-defined boundaries of applicable areas and definitions of major terms, CIT provides a useful theoretical framework to enhance our knowledge about the role of communication in building and maintaining urban communities (see Introduction and Kim & Jung, Chapter 1). In this chapter, CIT is framed as a theory that highlights the importance of communication resources—defined here as physical, institutional, technological, social, and symbolic means for communicative actions in a specific socio-temporal context. These communication resources, often scarce and unevenly distributed, are critical for linking collective problem recognition (i.e., awareness, perceived ← 50 | 51 → relevance, and salience of community issues and problems) and collective problem solving in urban local community contexts.

Based on seminal works (Ball-Rokeach, Kim, & Matei, 2001; Kim & Ball-Rokeach, 2006a) and many CIT studies that have been published in the past 15 years, I will identify and explain four core beliefs, six axiomatic assumptions, and six propositions...

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