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Communication Across the Life Span


Edited By Jon F. Nussbaum

As we grow up and grow old, embrace new experiences, try new roles, and adopt new technologies, our senses of time, space, connection, and identity are fundamentally explored through communication. Why, how, with whom, and to what end humans communicate reflect and shape our ever-changing life span position. And while the «life span» can be conceived as a continuum, it is also one hinged by critical junctures and bound by cultural differences that can be better understood through communication.
The chapters in this collection, chosen from among the invited plenary speakers, top research papers, and ideas discussed in San Juan, explore the multiple ways communication affects, reflects, and directs our life transition. Capturing the richness and diversity of scholarship presented at the conference, chapters explore communication technologies that define a generation; communication and successful aging; stereotyping and family communication; sexual communication and physiological measurement; life span communication and the digital divide; and home-based care contexts across the world, among others.
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Chapter Three: Technologies, Generations, and Structures of Storytelling


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Technologies, Generations, and Structures of Storytelling


In line with the theme of the conference, “Communication Across the Lifespan,” ICA President Amy Jordan asked us to consider the contribution of communication technologies in defining generations. She asked us to think about generations quite broadly — including social constructions of age, but also the psychological, economic, and political movements that are both reflected and shaped by media use and contribute to the characterization of a generation. My own work focuses on the social and political consequences of the Net and the many platforms that it supports. Lately I have become interested in structures of feeling; soft structures of feeling and ensuing structures of storytelling as they unfold over digital media. This is my vantage point at the present time, and it shapes my analytical lens as I ponder these issues.

So, do technologies define a generation? I will begin on a personal note and gradually generalize as I move on. The word generation has always confused me, for a variety of reasons. I have never studied generations; I have enjoyed studying trends. Trends may characterize a generation, but they spread beyond a generational habitus to connect and differentiate a number of multigenerational groups. Generational monikers tend to monopolize certain behavioral trends and claim them as their own, and I do not find that to be the case. I believe, as many do, that history repeats itself, and,...

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