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Reimagining Communication | Meaning

From popular texts and public discourses to scholarship and research, the use of the word “communication” has been on the rise in academic, professional, and everyday contexts. But what exactly is “communication”? Is it possible to not communicate? How does communication work? What are the disciplinary boundaries of communication studies and what is its object of investigation?

Reimagining Communication: Meaning addresses these questions by presenting a survey of the foundational theoretical and methodological approaches in communication studies. As the field has been continuously growing and reaching new horizons, this volume specifically synthesizes major trends within the trajectory of fundamental ideas that have served as its base and continue shaping its sub-branches, covering topics related to the production of meaning in communication. By presenting perspectives illustrated by concrete examples on the topics of Semiotics, Hermeneutics, Paralanguage, Corpus Analysis, Critical Theory, Intercultural Communication, Global Culture, Cultural Hybridity, Postcolonialism, Feminism, Political Economy, Propaganda, Cultural Capital, Media Literacy, Media Ecology, and Media Psychology, this volume synthesizes the complex relationship of communication to meaning making in a uniquely accessible and engaging way.

Chapter 1

Paul Cobley’s ‘Reimagining Semiotics in Communication’ begins the volume by presenting a new approach to sign relations within the light of suprasubjectivity, interpretation, and continuously changing contexts. As contemporary communication practices reach beyond human-to-human interactions, the chapter suggests that semiotics can be central to new developments in communication studies that transcend the limits of anthropocentrism.

Chapter 2

‘Hermeneutics’ by Johan Fornäs presents a detailed exploration of the notion of interpretation and its relation to meaning, culture, and communication. To better contextualize hermeneutics, the chapter surveys essential assumptions and themes of interpretation theory together with a brief historical overview of key contributions that have marked the developmental trajectory of the field.

Chapter 3

‘Paralanguage (The Cracked Lookingglass of a Servant, or the Uses, Virtues, and Value of Liminality)’ — a chapter by Michael Schandorf — explores the importance of paralinguistic phenomena in human communication, especially succeeding the rise of digitally mediated communication and various forms of human-computer interactions. It considers the ways in which paralanguage can be used as a potent tool for unmasking hidden or unacknowledged theoretical assumptions about language, communication, interaction, and information.

Chapter 4

‘Corpus-methodology and Discursive Conceptualizations of Depression’ by Kim Ebensgaard Jensen presents the basics of corpus-linguistic methods by providing an investigative case study of blog posts about depression. While surveying ways of identifying salient topics, discursive strategies, and underlying conceptualizations within narratives, the chapter also introduces the reader to the world of depression and its linguistic encodings used by the individuals experiencing it.

Chapter 5

‘Communication in Critical Theory (Frankfurt School)’ by Olivier Voirol introduces the reader to the foundational stones of Critical Theory as part of the late philosophical legacy of German idealism and its materialist critique. The chapter also looks at how different approaches and practices — such as psychoanalysis, cultural criticism, and social research among others — have influenced and altered the ways of thinking within Critical Theory.

Chapter 6

Usha Harris’ chapter entitled ‘Reimagining Communication in Mediated Participatory Culture: An Emerging Framework’ explores the possibilities and challenges of communication in the global, digital environment together with the associated intercultural experiences. The chapter proposes a framework which actively tries to integrate diversity in all forms.

Chapter 7

‘Global Culture’ by Tanner Mirrlees unpacks the complex notion of global culture by contextualizing, summarizing, and critically evaluating three narrower articulations of the concept: as a whole way of life, as a universalization of a particular way of life, and as the existence of cultural works beyond national borders.

Chapter 8

‘ Cultural Hybridity, or Hyperreality in K-pop Female Idols?: Toward Critical, Explanatory Approaches to Cultural Assemblage in Neoliberal Culture Industry’ by Gooyong Kim presents a critical reevaluation of discourses surrounding cultural hybridity. Situated in the context of South Korean popular culture, the chapter suggests an innovative perspective grounded in Baudrillard’s notion of hyperreality, while also considering the political economy of hybridization in South Korea’s recent popular culture boom.

Chapter 9

‘Postcolonial Scholarship and Communication: Applications for Understanding Conceptions of the Immigrant Today’ by Adina Schneeweis explores the increasingly divisive discourses and actions that parallel the process of diversification of societies. The author proposes an alternative approach informed by postcolonial and anti-colonial scholarship which situates contemporary discrimination practices within the construction and perpetual discursive justification of otherness.

Chapter 10

‘Cyberhate, Communication, And Transdisciplinarity’ by Emma Jane and Nicole Vincent explores the notion and acts of gendered cyberhate — the harassment and abuse of women and girls within online environments. The authors suggest that pervasive features of academic scholarship may be partially responsible for these dynamics, and propose corrective measures that communications scholars can employ to help alleviate the situation.

Chapter 11

‘Political Economy of Communication: The Critical Analysis of the Media’s Economic Structures’ by Christophe Magis investigates media structures and their development from an economic perspective within the specific critical tradition of Political Economy of Communication (PEC). Drawing on the concept of commodity, it focuses on the ways in which communications extend the practices of commodification to previously non-economic realms.

Chapter 12

Sara Monaci’s ‘The Propaganda Machine: Social Media Bias and the Future of Democracy’ presents an innovative re-conceptualization of propaganda grounded in a mix of classical approaches to the concept and ideas borrowed from Critical Internet Studies. It emphasizes the manipulative potential of social media and information-sharing practices which can produce new forms of the propaganda machine.

Chapter 13

‘From Fans to Followers to Anti-Fans: Young Online Audiences of Microcelebrities’ authored by Maria Murumaa-Mengel and Andra Siibak, extends on the notion of Internet-celebrity/microcelebrity to categorize three types of young audiences: fans, followers, and anti-fans. This perspective enables the exploration of young audiences’ engagement with the microcelebrity-generated content and its omnipresence in contemporary youth’s media routines.

Chapter 14

Anne-Sophie Letellier and Normand Landry’s ‘Reimagining Media Education: Technology Education as a Key Component of Critical Media Education in the Digital Era’ considers how the proliferation of digital technologies initiates a need to reconsider the theoretical foundations and practical modalities of media education. The authors reevaluate the field in an attempt to systematize the development of knowledge and skills related to the usage, functioning, and governance of digital technologies.

Chapter 15

‘From Media Ecology to Media Evolution: Towards a Long-Term Theory of Media Change’ by Carlos A. Scolari introduces the basics of media ecology and considers the possibilities for the emergence of a new discipline — media evolution — which considers past, current, and future transformations of the media ecosystem.

Chapter 16

Emma Rodero’s ‘Media Psychology’ looks at the relationship between media consumption and people’s behavior, perception, feelings, and thoughts from the perspective of Media Psychology — a field which deals with the application of psychology theories and methods to the study of individuals’ interactions with media and technology. It presents an interesting paradigm for conceptualizing the influence of communication processes on humans at individual or group levels. In light of this context, the chapter analyzes central concepts, theories, applications, and methods of media psychology.

Other Volumes in the Series

  • Reimagining Communication: Experience
  • Reimagining Communication: Action
  • Reimagining Communication: Mediation

Michael Filimowicz, PhD (Simon Fraser University) & Veronika Tzankova (Columbia College Vancouver)


The chapter summaries here have in places drawn from the authors’ chapter abstracts, the full versions of which can be found in Routledge’s online reference for the volume.



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