Edited By Jon F. Nussbaum
Chapter Two: Lifespan Communication Methodology
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MARGARET J. PITTS AND MARY LEE HUMMERT
As early as the mid-1970s, researchers began to note both the potential for and naissance of a lifespan perspective in social sciences and especially lamented the insufficiency of methods developed to investigate continuity and change (Baltes, Reese, & Nesselroade, 1977). More than two decades later, Bronfenbrenner (1999) referred to the “evolution” of the lifespan approach as it developed within disciplines, especially with regard to psychology, that begins with the recognition and scholarly curiosity of a lifespan perspective and then moves to the evolution of the scientific models and measures used to explore developmental phenomena. In this way, the communication discipline follows suit. What communication lacks is a systematic way of thinking about and measuring communication as a developmental process. This is perhaps because of the relative newness of the scientific study of communication in comparison to its more established sister fields of psychology and sociology, for example, which have developed measurement tools and techniques for the study of lifespan processes. In writing this chapter, we borrow some methods and analytical tools from psychology, sociology, and other fields, but propose that the process of communication must be uniquely studied. Indeed, with the National Communication Association having reached its centennial year in 2014 and Eastern Communication Association (our oldest professional association) having reached the centennial milestone in 2010, it is time for those of us in the field to place human development at the foreground of our studies.
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