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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 Twelve: Reimagining the Good Life with Disability: Communication, New Technology, and Humane Connections


← 196 | 197 → CHAPTER TWELVE

Reimagining the Good Life with Disability

Communication, New Technology, and Humane Connections


Many deeply cherished notions of “the good life” are based on limiting notions of humans, things, and their environment. In particular, “the good life” is often imagined as a realm beyond illness, impairment, and especially, disability. This view is informed by deficit models of disability, which individualize disability rather than explore the “socio-cultural conditions of disablism” (Goodley, 2011, p. 29). With contemporary communication and new media, disability is even more seen as an impediment, barrier, or tragedy, to be overcome with digital technology. Regrettably, the widely shared experience of disability and its complex relationships with communication are only rarely seen as a resource for how we achieve “the good life,” in our own lives and societies, now and in the future.

Indeed while the field of communication increasingly engages with questions concerning marginalized populations—including issues of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and diasporic populations—the study of disability and its relationship with social, cultural, and political life is stagnant. New media are often hailed as a great “equalizer” for people with disabilities. Such arguments though tend to obscure the complex ways in which disability and technology intersect for better and for worse in the lives of people with various disabilities from diverse backgrounds....

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