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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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Chapter Four: Meaningfulness and Entertainment:Fiction and Reality in the Land of Evolving Technologies


← 44 | 45 → CHAPTER FOUR

Meaningfulness and Entertainment

Fiction and Reality in the Land of Evolving Technologies



Foundational research in entertainment psychology has tended to focus its attention on fictional, narrative content. With some notable exceptions such as studies of sporting events, most entertainment scholarship has examined various types of stories, including comedy, mystery, horror, and tragedy, among many others (for overviews, see Klimmt & Vorderer, 2009; Oliver, 2009; Zillmann & Vorderer, 2000). Understandably, this research has also tended to examine entertainment appearing in more traditional media, including television, literature, and film. Finally, entertainment scholarship has been heavily influenced by theories making assumptions about individuals’ selection and enjoyment of content, placing an emphasis on hedonic considerations and on the importance of beloved characters being portrayed as triumphant or antagonists as defeated (Raney, 2006; Zillmann, 2000).

With this background in mind, more recent scholarship has begun to broaden the conceptualization of entertainment, noting that in addition to giving rise to pleasures akin to hedonic gratifications, it may also provide individuals with meaningful and often deeply enriching experiences, akin to eudaimonic experiences (Oliver & Raney, 2014). This growing scholarship has employed a variety of perspectives to examine broadened notions of entertainment gratifications and processes. However, with a few exceptions discussed below, studies in this growing area have generally continued to employ fictional narratives in traditional...

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