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The Handbook of Lifespan Communication


Edited By Jon F. Nussbaum

The Handbook of Lifespan Communication is the foundational scholarly text that offers readers a state of the art view of the varied and rich areas of lifespan communication research. The fundamental assumptions of lifespan communication are that the very nature of human communication is developmental, and, to truly understand communication, change across time must be incorporated into existing theory and research. Beginning with chapters on lifespan communication theory and methodologies, chapters are then organized into the various phases of life: early childhood, adolescence, emerging adulthood, middle adulthood, and older adulthood. Top scholars across several disciplines have contributed to chapters within their domains of expertise, highlighting significant horizons that will guide researchers for years to come.
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The lifespan communication perspective evolved from the fundamental notion that a true understanding of human communication can only be realized by investigating communication throughout the entire lifespan. Communication scholars began to adopt a lifespan perspective that recognizes the dynamic and evolving nature of communication within their theories and methodologies during the last few decades of the 20th century. Termed “developmental” or “lifespan” communication, this approach mirrors the lifespan perspective movements within the sister disciplines of psychology and sociology, which focus on the study of behavioral change across time. Communication scholars publically showed their interest in a lifespan perspective by organizing a caucus on communication and aging during the 1979 National Communication Association convention (Nussbaum & Friedrich, 2005). Just over 10 years later, notable Communication scholars including Nikolas and Justine Coupland, Howard Giles, John Wiemann, Gary Kreps, Mary Ann Fitzpatrick, Lynne Webb, Mark Knapp, Jon Nussbaum, and numerous others responded to this surge of interest in a lifespan communication perspective with a summer conference, a Fulbright International Colloquium, and several books and articles. These not only showcased a developmental approach to communication scholarship but also illuminated the need to appreciate more fully the communication changes that occur as a function of a developmental process over the entirety of the lifespan (Nussbaum et al., 2002; Nussbaum & Friedrich, 2005). It should be noted that mass communication scholars have investigated the usage and effects of media ← 1 | 2 → consumption by children, adolescents, and older...

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