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Communication Theories in a Multicultural World

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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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2 Talking Communicatively About Mass Communication in Communication Theories: Beyond Multiplicity, Toward Communicating

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The purpose of this book implies an acceptance of two central ideas: (1) there exists a multiplicity of mass communication theories; and (2) proponents of each have rights of presentation—to speak of their theories—where they came from and why; what they aim to accomplish with what struggles and successes; and where their agendas now stand. These are noble and noteworthy ideas. They imply a kind of desirable journalistic neutrality—each viewpoint is offered its own uncontested platform. There is no mandate for the theories to cohere.

This acceptance of multiplicity has its own tensions. On the one hand, it is acknowledged that theories emerge and grow in struggle as developers aim to include ideas that were missing from, overlooked, or even rejected by prior theories. Yet, at the same time because it seems impossible to proceed otherwise, each of the theories emerges with its own independent existence—premises, vocabulary, and explanations. To even trained observers, results look like a supermarket of theories for which we must establish brand preferences for the theories that best suit our circumstances.

In this chapter, we accept this situation as given while at the same time proposing that our communicating about our communication theorizing needs to be itself an object of communication. In short, we call for implementing systematic ← 25 | 26 → procedures for dialogue across communication theories, not to homogenize them but to enable enrichment and growth. This seems an especially fitting purpose for honoring Robert White...

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