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Challenging Communication Research


Edited By Leah A. Lievrouw

Communication scholarship has not enjoyed the same kind of theoretical cohesion or ontological security as some disciplines. The field’s intellectual «roving eye» and resistance to establishing a single core body of knowledge has inspired serial rounds of soul-searching and existential doubt among communication scholars, on one hand, and celebration and intellectual adventurism, on the other. The theme of the 2013 ICA annual conference thus raised an interesting question: For a field that is perpetually in flux and «decentered», what exactly is, or should be, challenged? How, and by whom?
The chapters in this collection, chosen from among the top papers presented in London, suggest that the challenges themselves are constantly being reinvented, broken down and reorganized. The communication discipline undergoes continuous change rather than following an orderly, stepwise path toward the neat, complete accumulation of knowledge. The chapters challenge familiar approaches, notions or assumptions in communication research and scholarship and reflect on the field’s multifaceted and increasingly open character in an era of shifting social relations, formations and technologies.
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The planning and editorial work on this volume went remarkably quickly and smoothly. I want to acknowledge my wonderful collaboration with François Heinderyckx, who conceived the theme for ICA 2013, and worked with me on the details of the call for papers. I appreciate the great support of all the ICA division and interest group chairs who responded to my own call for their very best papers, and their eagerness to have the work of their section members represented in the book. ICA Executive Director Michael Haley has provided outstanding and immediate administrative support for the project, including funding that allowed me to enlist the help of my colleague, student, and editorial assistant wunderkind, Diana Ascher. Michael also led the negotiations with Peter Lang Publishing, which takes over as publisher for the ICA Theme Books with this edition. And finally, many thanks to Mary Savigar, our commissioning editor at Peter Lang, for her enthusiasm for the Theme Book series and for this volume in particular—we all look forward to a productive and creative collaboration on the series in the future.

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