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Communication Theories in a Multicultural World


Edited By Clifford G. Christians and Kaarle Nordenstreng

This volume is an up-to-date account of communication theories from around the world.
Authored by a group of eminent scholars, each chapter is a history and state-of-the-art description of the major issues in international communication theory.
While the book draws on an understanding of communication theory as a product of its socio-political and cultural context, and the challenges posed by that context, it also highlights each author’s lifetime effort to critique the existing trends in communication theory and bring out the very best in each multicultural context.
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Preface: Toward a Better World


The intellectual history of this book has two roots: one general and one particular. The general leads us to view the field of communication research on a global scale and critically assess the Western domination of academic traditions (see Curran & Park, 2000; Thussu, 2009). The particular leads us to see individual scholars as carriers and change agents of research traditions. The two roots meet in the life story of Robert A. White, to whom this volume is dedicated.

Unlike usual Festschrifts, this book is done with active cooperation of the person in question. Bob’s chapter 1 provides a self-made profile of the “son of Kansas populism” whose life journey took him through the international Jesuit community to academic centers of formative importance. Moreover, his chapter provides an overview of the book’s essays that not only present communication theories in a multicultural world but also tell about life stories of several landmark scholars of the field. Accordingly, subjective narratives of individual scholars make a fascinating mix with objective development of communication research.

The general rationale of this volume takes us back to the reflections that followed the radical shift of research priorities in the 1970s (see Nordenstreng, 2004). A strategic element of these reflections was the question of textbooks used in the rapidly expanding field of journalism and mass communication. And a significant attempt to tackle this question was the textbook project of the International Association for Mass Communication Research (IAMCR), which serves as an essential...

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