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Communication and «The Good Life»


Edited By Hua Wang

What is a «good life» and how can it be achieved? In this volume, communication scholars and media experts explore these fundamental questions about human existence and aspiration in terms of what a «good life» might look like in a contemporary, mediatized society. While in many ways a mediatized society brings us closer to some version of the «good life», it also leads us away from it. The affordances of new technologies seem to have shifted, for many, from an opportunity to an obligation. Rather than choosing when and where to be connected to these larger networks of information and acquaintances, we feel we must be permanently available, thus losing the luxury of controlling our time and attention.
This volume illuminates the complexity of our modern era, exploring how society can leverage exciting new opportunities whilst recognizing the complex challenges we face in a time of constant change. It helps us understand how we have come to this point and where we may be going so that we may study the opportunities and the dangers, the chances and the risks, that digital media pose in our quest for some version of «the good life».
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The ways in which we communicate have been evolving significantly in recent years, in part due to the rapid advancement of technologies. These developments present us new opportunities as well as challenges. As we embrace and celebrate the changes in our environment and our own practice, we also need to reflect on how such changes serve our individual well-being as well as the communities, organizations, and societies we belong to.

The 2014 ICA conference theme—Communication and “The Good Life”—was provocative, as the president had envisioned. In the call for papers, we asked: What might a “good life” look like in a contemporary, digital, network society? How might we strike the balance and accomplish that? We received an enthusiastic response from the ICA community with a phenomenal number of submissions and organized theme sessions. Scholars from both social scientific and humanistic traditions participated in stimulating discussions, shared diverse perspectives, and wove together different threads of communication scholarship in our field to better understand this critical moment in human history.

The conference took place in Seattle, a location that fits the theme perfectly. Sitting on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, Seattle has been known for its force of energy through technological and social innovations literally exploding in the city. From coffee shops, edgy restaurants, to sustainable fisheries, urban greening initiatives, and the public art movement, the...

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