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Challenging Communication Research

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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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Foreword

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Challenging Communication Research

FRANÇOIS HEINDERYCKX, PRESIDENT OF INTERNATIONAL COMMUNICATION ASSOCIATION (ICA), (2013–2014)



Communication research traditions are recent, by scholarly standards, and in a perennial state of flux that can call the whole idea of “traditions” into question. It is fundamentally multifaceted and consistently receptive to a range of disciplines, methods, scholarly traditions, and epistemologies. This dynamic state is no transitional phase on the way to some definitive, ultimate form of the field. Rather, the morphing nature of media and communication research reflects the changing nature of communication itself and its participants, stakeholders, and contexts. Communication and media are multidimensional phenomena, open to the wider society beyond the research community; and communication research is a fundamentally dynamic space where disciplines meet, share, conflict, and engage. Communication scholars are destined continually to reinvent the field and its questions, interests, and methods.

These developments are generating a variety of challenges that both hinder and stimulate us as researchers, teachers, citizens, creative professionals, and cultural participants. These challenges can be identified at different levels: how research is conducted (approaches, perspectives, assumptions, and methods); how research identifies, classifies, and understands its objects of study; how research challenges society and public discourses that are increasingly dominated by powerful economic, political, and technical interests; how research challenges authority, privilege, and power in times of uncertainty and change; how research challenges common, taken-for-granted conceptions about the communication ← ix | x → process itself; how research itself is challenged...

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