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Exploring the Shifting Contours of Communication


Edited By Patricia Moy and Donald Matheson

This edited volume on voices arose from the 2018 International Communication Association conference in Prague, Czech Republic. The contributions examine the conference’s central theme from multiple epistemological approaches, a host of methodologies, and numerous levels of analysis. They reveal how studying voice—or the plurality of voices—illuminates the process by which it is fostered and/or constrained as well as the conditions under which it is expressed and/or stifled. More important, the study of voice sheds light on the process by which it impacts behaviors, defines relationships, influences policies, and shapes the world in which we live. In other words, studies of voice are not relegated to a few domains, but interface with myriad discourses, actors, processes, and outcomes.

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13. His Master’s Voice (Elihu Katz)


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13. His Master’s Voice1


The first part of this talk is a rehash of several talks I’ve given before. It takes advantage of one of the (few) privileges of age in allowing one to feel that one is still the same somebody and that nobody in the audience has heard it before. Its subject is Paul Lazarsfeld, my master, and me. It is an effort to reiterate the credit Lazarsfeld deserves for restoring interpersonal influence to our understanding of collective behavior and the process of diffusion. It stakes a claim for his pioneering role in the current preoccupation with social networks.

Lest this seem obvious, let me refer to Duncan Watts’ (2003) authoritative Six Degrees. As is well known, the book follows Watts to his chair at Columbia, situated next to Lazarsfeld’s old office. It tells of Watts’ attempt to cope with the social networks that make up Small Worlds (2003). He gives a lot of credit to students of this tradition, including our own Ithiel Pool and Everett Rogers, but none to his (late) next door neighbor. Watts and I talked about this, and he was regretful.

So, yet again, let me restate my argument that Lazarsfeld may rightfully include the study of social networks on the roster of his achievements. To do so, I will remind us, in Part One, of Lazarsfeld’s voting studies and their spinoffs. In Part Two, I...

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