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The Communication Ecology of 21st Century Urban Communities

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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 Nine: The Engaged Communication Scholar: Designing CIT-Informed Engaged Research in Diverse Communities (George Villanueva / Andrea Wenzel)

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CHAPTER NINE

The Engaged Communication Scholar

Designing CIT-Informed Engaged Research in Diverse Communities

GEORGE VILLANUEVA

Assistant Professor, Loyola University Chicago

ANDREA WENZEL

Assistant Professor, Temple University



In 1952 Kurt Lewin wrote, “There is nothing more practical than a good theory” (as cited in Vansteenkiste & Sheldon, 2006, p. 63). According to Lewin, theorists and practitioners should be linked in a symbiotic cycle—theorists developing concepts to understand social problems, and practitioners providing grounded data to validate or rework theory. Such an ethos is relevant today with the revival of “engaged scholarship”—understood as the application of research to society’s most pressing problems (Boyer, 1996; Burawoy, 2005). “Good theory” is needed more than ever as scholars strategize how to engage with urban communities grappling with issues such as poverty, immigrant integration, and equitable urban development. Because the engagement of diverse urban communities is dependent on good communication acts, it is appropriate that engaged scholarship projects are grounded in communication theory that values the complex dynamics of local community actors and geographies.

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