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Communication Theories in a Multicultural World


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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12 Media, Culture, and the Imagination of Religion



Rooted mainly in the social sciences, the study of mass communication has moved through a number of paradigms, from an early concern about instrumental effects to thinking about “the media” as a larger social and cultural category. This was part of an interdisciplinary shift, with mass communication scholars—now thinking of themselves increasingly as “media scholars”—turning more toward the humanities and to qualitative and interpretive social sciences. Other significant discourses, such as feminist scholarship, also pushed these things ahead as it became clear that to understand this broader framing of the question of mass communication, the whole range of human experience needed to be brought to bear in understanding the mediation of experience across time, space, and technology.

This shift can be seen in a number of places, not least in the increasing attention paid to media by other disciplines. In the field of mass communication—now “media”—studies itself, this was notably present in the major new emphases, first on “critical” and later on “culturalist” scholarships. What the object is that is at the core—this thing “media”—remains somewhat elusive.

The instrumentalism that continues to vex scholarship about media, which is also present as other disciplines attempt studies of media, stems from a historical fact. From at least the development of moveable-type printing onward, processes and practices of mediation have been conditioned and framed by changes in communication technology. Deep readings of cultural history have helped us ← 197 | 198 → to understand...

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