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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 Six: Communication and Perceptions of the Quality of Life


← 80 | 81 → CHAPTER SIX

Communication and Perceptions of the Quality of Life



While the question of what constitutes “the good life” has long been a topic of controversy and discussion, its roots in empirical science have a long history that can be built upon in communication. In fact, while pundits and prognosticators can debate what people should do to live a good life, their prescriptions represent their values rather than a template for society at large. And that’s a worthy debate, but not the only place for contributions by scholars in communication.

This work has its origins in the 1960s, when governmental programs (e.g., the Great Society) attempted to improve the quality of people’s lives, particularly in urban areas to provide them something closer to “the good life” (Dye, 2010). Toward that end, social scientists began measuring people’s perceptions of the “quality of life” (QOL) and the objective and subjective influences on those perceptions (Campbell, Converse, & Rodgers, 1976). Largely limited to sociologists and then urban affairs scholars, this research stream has infrequently been visited by communication scholars to see how this discipline contributes to what can be learned. A casual review of a search for QOL studies today shows that the emphasis on urban programs has been exceeded by studies focusing on health and QOL issues, generally at the individual level (see Journal of...

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