Join Doctoral Students in Examining the Intersections Among Media, Technology and Democracy

This semester I am teaching a doctoral seminar on the important questions and trends related to media, technology and democracy. In this post, I introduce several major topics and provide the reading list for the course, with links to where the articles are freely available online.

At Age of Engagement and Big Think, you will be reading insights and analysis from the 6 students in the seminar.  One of the goals of the course and the doctoral program in Communication at American University is to not only train a new generation of advanced researchers but also to train these scholars to work at the boundary between academia, government, the media, and civil society, examining the big questions and challenges in a way that informs debate, professional practice and decision-making.  All of the posts related to class and by students will be archived here.

Blogging is a vehicle for preparing young researchers to work at this nexus, giving them experience in translating complex ideas and research in a form that is compelling, relevant and accessible to a range of audiences.  Blogging also starts to build name recognition and visibility among a network of scholars and others examining the same questions.

Technological innovation and industry realignment are quickly altering the news, entertainment, advertising, and public relations industries. These changes have far-reaching impact on politics, government, business, the environment, health, the workplace, and almost all other aspects of contemporary society. They create extraordinary challenges and opportunities for scholars, professionals and policymakers. 

Consider just a few of these challenges:

  • Journalism is undergoing a remarkable crisis and rebirth as blogs, cell phones, and other digital media transform an entire industry. Whether these new forms of discourse will preserve the essential values of a democratic society remains unclear.
  • Government agencies, nonprofit institutions, and media companies are engaged in major debates over a host of interrelated public policy issues – including intellectual property, privacy, media ownership, and network neutrality – whose outcome will determine the nature of the emerging digital media environment and have profound implications for citizens and consumers. 
  • Digital media are also reshaping many aspects of civil society, public discourse, and the democratic process, fostering new forms of civic engagement and political activism.  Every major institution in our society – from newspapers to nonprofit organizations to businesses to government – is developing new strategies to navigate the rapidly changing political and media landscape, some successful and others limited or even backfiring in ways that might seed polarization, contribute to social dysfunction, and undermine an organization or movement's goals.
  • These themes and many others are addressed throughout the semester.  Different from traditional doctoral seminars, each week is not organized around a specific theoretical area but rather around a process, challenge, or topic related to media, technology and democracy.  Each week, an interdisciplinary mix of theories and strands of scholarship are included as part of the reading.

    The goal is for students to start to acquire an integrated understanding and expertise that enables them to build upon multiple disciplines in their investigation of how communication relates to the causes and solutions to public problems and policy debates.  In this course you will find research not only from the discipline of communication, but also from psychology, sociology and political science.

    I invite you to follow along each week with the course and with the ideas and analysis presented by the students.

    Communication Theory: History, Questions, Challenges

  • Delia, J. G. (1987). Communication research: A history. In C. R. Berger and S. H. Chaffee (Eds.), Handbook of communication science (pp. 20- 98). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
  • Zelizer, B. (2011). Journalism in the Service of Communication. Journal of Communication, 61(1), 1-21.
  • DiMaggio, P., Hargittai, E., Neuman, W. R., & Robinson, J. P. (2001). Social implications of the Internet. Annual review of sociology, 307-336. [PDF]
  • Selwyn, N. (2004). Reconsidering political and popular understandings of the digital divide. New Media & Society, 6(3), 341. [PDF]
  • Graber, D. A., & Smith, J. M. (2005). Political communication faces the 21st century. Journal of Communication, 55(3), 479. [PDF]
  • Bennett, W. L., & Iyengar, S. (2008). A new era of minimal effects? The changing foundations of political communication. Journal of Communication, 58(4), 707-731.
  • Holbert, R. L., Garrett, R. K., & Gleason, L. S. (2010). A new era of minimal effects? A response to Bennett and Iyengar. Journal of Communication, 60(1), 15-34.
  • Public Scholarship, Applied Research and Translation

  • Posner, R. A. (2003). Public intellectuals: a study of decline: with a new preface and epilogue: Harvard Univ Pr. , pages 1-17 [PDF].
  • Boynton, Robert S. (2002, Jan. 20). "'Sounding Off,' a review of Richard Posner's Public Intellectuals," The Washington Post Book World. [HTML]
  • Menand, L. (2005). Everybody’s An Expert. New Yorker. [PDF]
  • Etzioni, A. (2010). Reflections of a Sometime-Public Intellectual.  PS: Political Science & Politics, 43(04), 651-655. [PDF]
  • Lowi, T. J. (2010). Public Intellectuals and the Public Interest: Toward a Politics of Political Science as a Calling. PS: Political Science & Politics, 43(04), 675-681.
  • Wartella, E. (1994). Challenge to the Profession. Communication Education, 43(1), 54-62.
  • Kreps, G. L., Frey, L. R., & O'Hair, D. (1991). Applied communication research: Scholarship that can make a difference. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 19(1-2), 71-87.
  • Petronio, S. (1999). “Translating scholarship into practice”: An alternative metaphor. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 27(2), 87-91.[PDF]
  • Morgan, M. (2002). On the Contributions of George Gerbner to Communication Theory. In M. Morgan (Ed), Against the Mainstream: The Selected Works of George Gerbner.  New York: Peter Lang.
  • The Public Sphere and Communication

  • Price, V. (2008). The public and public opinion in political theories. In W. Donsbach & M. Traugott (Eds). Sage Handbook of Public Opinion Research.  Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications. [PDF]
  • Noelle-Neumann, E. (1995). Public opinion and rationality. In T. L. Glasser & C. T. Salmon (Eds.), Public opinion and the communication of consent (pp. 33–54)
  • Dahlgren, P. (2002). The public sphere as historical narrative.  In D. McQuail (Ed), McQuail’s Reader in Mass Communication Theory. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.
  • ComGap (n.d.). The public sphere. Washington, D.C.: World Bank [PDF]
  • Ferree, M. M., Gamson, W. A., Gerhards, J., & Rucht, D. (2002). Four models of the public sphere in modern democracies. Theory and Society, 31(3), 289-324. [PDF]
  • Schudson, M. (1992). Was there ever a public sphere? If so, when?:  Reflections on the American Case. In C.J. Calhoun, (Eds), Habermas and the public sphere: The MIT Press. [PDF]
  • Carey, J. W. A cultural approach to communication. McQuail's reader in mass communication theory, 36-45.
  • Castells, M. (2008). The New Public Sphere: Global Civil Society, Communication Networks, and Global Governance. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 616(1): 79-93.
  • Freelon, D. G. (2010). Analyzing online political discussion using three models of democratic communication. New Media & Society, 12(7), 1172-1190. [pdf]
  • Media Institutions & Social Systems

  • Hallin, D.C. & Mancini (2008). Comparing Media Systems: Three Models of Media and Politics. New York: Cambridge University Press.**
  • Shudson, M. (2008). Why Democracies Need an Unloveable Press. New York: Polity.**
  • Knight Commission (2009). Informing Communities: Sustaining Democracy in the Digital Age.  [HTML]
  • Clark, J., & Aufderheide, P. (2009). Public media 2.0: Dynamic, engaged publics. Center for Social Media. [PDF]
  • Pew State of the Media 2011. Key Questions Facing Online News. [HTML]
  • Pew Excellence in Journalism (2011). Non-Profit News: Assessing the Landscape. [HTML]
  • Lewis, C. (2010). New journalism ecosystem thrives. Investigative Reporters Worskhop. [HTML]
  • Sociology of Journalism and News Decision-Making

  • Zelizer, B. (2004). Taking journalism seriously: News and the academy: Sage Publications, Inc. (Chapters  3 and 6).
  • Schudson, M. (2002). The news media as political institutions. Annual Review of Political Science, 5(1), 249-269.
  • Patterson, T. E., & Donsbach, W. (1996). News decisions: Journalists as partisan actors. Political Communication, 13, 455-468. [PDF]
  • Donsbach, W. (2004). Psychology of news decisions. Journalism, 5(2), 131.
  • Mitchelstein, E., & Boczkowski, P. J. (2009). Between tradition and change. Journalism, 10(5), 562. [PDF]
  • Howard, P. N. (2002). Network ethnography and the hypermedia organization: new media, new organizations, new methods. New Media & Society, 4(4), 550.
  • Fahy, J. & Nisbet, M.C. (2011). The Science Journalist Online: Shifting Roles and Emerging Practices.  Journalism: Theory, Practice & Criticism.
  • Patterns of Societal and Media Attention to Social Problems

  • Hilgartner, S., & Bosk, C. L. (1988). The rise and fall of social problems: A public arenas model. American journal of Sociology, 94(7), 53-78. [PDF]
  • Nisbet, M.C. (2008). Agenda-Building. In W. Donsbach (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of
  • Communication. New York: Blackwell Publishing. [PDF]
  • McComas, K., & Shanahan, J. (1999). Telling stories about global climate change. Communication Research, 26(1), 30.
  • Nisbet, M., & Huge, M. (2007). Where do science debates come from? Understanding attention cycles and framing. The media, the public, and agricultural biotechnology, 193–230. [PDF]
  • Dudo, A. D., Dunwoody, S., & Scheufele, D. A. (2011). The emergence of nano news: Tracking thematic trends and changes in U.S. newspaper coverage of nanotechnology. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 88(1), 55-75.
  • Golan, G. (2006). Inter-media agenda setting and global news coverage. Journalism Studies, 7(2), 323-333.
  • Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism (2011). New Media, Old Media. [HTML]
  • Attention, Motivation and Use of Media

  • McCombs, M. (2005). A look at agenda-setting: Past, present and future. Journalism Studies, 6 (4), 543-557.
  • Slater, M. D. (2004). Operationalizing and analyzing exposure: The foundation of media effects research. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, 81(1), 168-184.
  • Althaus, S. L., & Tewksbury, D. H. Testing a New Generation of Media Use Measures for the ANES. Champlain, IL: University of Illinois. [PDF]
  • Slater, M. D., & Rasinski, K. A. (2005). Media exposure and attention as mediating variables influencing social risk judgments. Journal of Communication, 55(4), 810-827.
  • Stroud, N. J. (2008). Media use and political predispositions: Revisiting the concept of selective exposure. Political Behavior, 30(3), 341-366.[PDF]
  • Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism (2010). Understanding the Participatory News Consumer. [HTML]
  • Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism (2011). Navigating News Online. [HTML]
  • Messing, S., Westwood, S. J., & Lelkes, Y. (2011). Online media effects: Social, not political, reinforcement. Working Paper. Stanford University. [PDF]
  • Ophir, E., Nass, C., and Wagner, A. (2009). Cognitive control in media multitaskers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. [PDF]
  • Feldman, L., & Young, D. G. (2008). Late-night comedy as a gateway to traditional news: An analysis of time trends in news attention among late-night comedy viewers during the 2004 presidential primaries. Political Communication, 25(4), 401-422.
  • Watch Chapters 1,2, and 3 of PBS Frontline Digital Nation.  [Video]
  • Perception, Decision-Making and Persuasion

  • Kahneman, D. (2002). Maps of bounded rationality: A perspective on intuitive judgment and choice.  Nobel Prize Lecture, December, 8, 1449-1475. [PDF]
  • Mercier, H., & Sperber, D. (2011). Why do humans reason? Arguments for an argumentative theory.  Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 34(02), 57-74. [PDF]
  • Slovic, P., Finucane, M. L., Peters, E., & MacGregor, D. G. (2004). Risk as analysis and risk as feelings:  Some thoughts about affect, reason, risk, and rationality. Risk Analysis, 24(2), 311-322. [PDF]
  • Slovic, P. (2007). If I look at the mass I will never act: Psychic numbing and genocide. Judgment and Decision Making, 2(2), 79-95. [PDF]
  • Booth-Butterfield, S., & Welbourne, J. (2002). The elaboration likelihood model: Its impact on persuasion theory and research. In J. P. Dillard, & M. Pfau (Eds.), The persuasion handbook: Developments in theory and practice, (pp. 155-173). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  • Byrne, S., & Hart, P. S. (2009). The boomerang effect: A synthesis of findings and a preliminary theoretical framework. Communication yearbook, 33, 3–37.
  • O'Neill, S., & Nicholson-Cole, S. (2009). “Fear Won’t Do It”: Promoting Positive Engagement With Climate Change Through Visual and Iconic Representations. Science Communication. [PDF]
  • Media, Knowledge and Learning

  • Eveland, W. P., & Scheufele, D. A. (2000). Connecting news media use with gaps in knowledge and participation. Political Communication, 17(3), 215-237.
  • Slater, M. D., Hayes, A. F., Reineke, J. B., Long, M., & Bettinghaus, E. P. (2009). Newspaper Coverage of  Cancer Prevention: Multilevel Evidence for Knowledge Gap Effects. Journal of Communication, 59(3), 514-533.
  • Nisbet, E.C. (2008). Media Use, Democratic Citizenship, and Communication Gaps in a Developing Democracy.  International Journal of Public Opinion Research 20(4), 454-482.
  • Prior, M. (2005). News v. Entertainment:  How Increasing Media Choice Widens Gaps in Political Knowledge and Turnout. American Journal of Political Science, 49 (3): 594-609.
  • Hindman, D. (2009). Mass media flow and the differential distribution of politically disputed beliefs: The belief gap hypothesis. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, 86, 790-808.
  • Nisbet, M.C. (2011). Death of a Norm? Evaluating False Balance in Media Coverage. Chapter 3 in Climate Shift: Clear Vision for the Next Decade of Public Debate. Washington, DC: American University (HTML).
  • Nisbet, E.C. & Garrett, K. (2010).  Fox News Contributes to Rumors About the NYC Mosque.  Columbus, OH: Report of the School of Communication at The Ohio State University [PDF]
  • Framing, Attributions and Problem Definition

  • Gamson, W. A., & Modigliani, A. (1987). The changing culture of affirmative action. Research in political sociology, 3(2), 137-177.
  • Gamson, W. A., & Modigliani, A. (1989). Media discourse and public opinion on nuclear power: A constructionist approach. American journal of Sociology, 1-37.
  • Entman, R.M. (1991) Framing U.S. Coverage of International News: Contrasts in Narratives of the KAL and Iran Air Incidents. Journal of Communication 41 (4): 6-27.
  • Scheufele, D. A. (2000). Agenda-setting, priming, and framing revisited: Another look at cognitive effects of political communication. Mass Communication & Society, 3 (2), 297-316.
  • Scheufele, D. A. (1999). Framing as a theory of media effects. Journal of Communication, 49(1), 103-122. [PDF]
  • Price, V., Nir, L., & Cappella, J. N. (2005). Framing public discussion of gay civil unions. Public Opinion Quarterly, 69(2), 179.
  • Scheufele, D.A. & Iyengar, S. (forthcoming). The State of Framing Research: A Call for New Directions. In The Oxford Handbook of Political Communication. New York: Oxford University Press. [PDF]
  • Nisbet, M.C. (2009). Knowledge into Action: Framing the Debates Over Climate Change and Poverty. In P. D’Angelo and J. Kuypers, Doing News Framing Analysis: Empirical, Theoretical, and Normative Perspectives. New York: Routledge.
  • Communication, Social Norms and Perceptions

  • Moy, P. (2007). Pluralistic ignorance and non-attitudes. In W. Donsbach & M. Traugott (Eds.), Handbook of public opinion research (164-173). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publishing.
  • Noelle-Neumann & Peterson (2004).  The Spiral of Silence and the Social Nature of Man.  In Lynda Lee Kaid (Ed.), Handbook of Political Communication Research (pp. 339-356).  Mahweh, NJ:  Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Scheufele, D. A., Shanahan, J., & Lee, E. (2001). Real Talk. Communication Research, 28(3), 304.
  • Eveland, W. P., Jr., & Shah, D. V. (2003). The impact of individual and interpersonal factors on perceived news media bias. Political Psychology, 24, 101-117.
  • Feldman, L. Partisan Differences in Opinionated News Perceptions: A Test of the Hostile Media Effect. Political Behavior, 1-26.
  • Morgan, M., Shanahan, J., & Signorelli, N. (2009). Growing up with television: Cultivation processes. In J. Bryant & M. B. Oliver (Eds.), Media effects: Advances in theory and research (3rd ed., pp. 17-33). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Identity, Values and Perceptions of Problems

  • Kahan, D. M., Jenkins-Smith, H., & Braman, D. (2010). Cultural cognition of scientific consensus. Journal of Risk Research, 9 (1), 1-28.
  • Kahan, D., Wittlin, M., Peters, E., Slovic, P., Ouellette, L., Braman, D., et al. (2011). The Tragedy of the Risk-Perception Commons: Culture Conflict, Rationality Conflict, and Climate Change. Cultural Cognition Project Working Paper No. 89. [PDF]
  • Hart, P., & Nisbet, E. C. (2011). Boomerang Effects in Science Communication: How Motivated Reasoning and Identity Cues Amplify Opinion Polarization About Climate Mitigation Policies. Communication Research. [PDF]
  • Nisbet, M.C. (2011). Projections of Influence: How Ideology Shapes Our Perceptions. Chapter 4 in Climate Shift: Clear Vision for the Next Decade of Public Debate.  Washington, D.C.: American University. [HTML]
  • Mikulak, A. (2011). Mismatches between ‘Scientific’and ‘Non-Scientific’Ways of Knowing and Their Contributions to Public Understanding of Science. Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science, 1-15.
  • Nisbet, M.C. & Scheufele, D.A. (2009). What’s Next for Science Communication? Promising Directions and Lingering Distractions. American Journal of Botany, 96 (10), 1767-1778. (PDF).
  • Slater, M. D. (1996). Theory and method in health audience segmentation. Journal of health communication, 1(3), 267-284.
  • Maibach, E. W., Leiserowitz, A., Roser-Renouf, C., & Mertz, C. (2011). Identifying like-minded audiences for global warming public engagement campaigns: An audience segmentation analysis and tool development. PloS One, 6(3), e17571. [HTML]
  • Maibach, E., Nisbet, M.C. et al. (2010). Reframing Climate Change as a Public Health Issue: An Exploratory Study of Public Reactions. BMC Public Health 10: 299 (HTML).
  • Communication, Networks and Engagement

  • Lenart, S. (1994). Shaping political attitudes: The impact of interpersonal communication and mass media (pp. 1-46). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publishing.
  • Katz, E. (2006). Rediscovering Gabriel Tarde. Political Communication, 23(3), 263-270.
  • Nisbet, M.C. & Kotcher, J. (2009). A Two Step Flow of Influence? Opinion-Leader Campaigns on Climate Change.  Science Communication, 30, 328-358. (PDF).
  • Maibach EW, Roser-Renouf C, Leiserowitz A (2008). Communication and Marketing as Climate Change Intervention Assets: A Public Health Perspective. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 35(5), 488-500. [HTML]
  • Friedland, L. & Shah, D.V. (2005). Communication and Community.  In Sharon Dunwoody, Lee Becker, Gerald Kosicki, and Douglas McLeod (Eds.), The Evolution of Key Mass Communication Concepts: Honoring Jack M. McLeod, Cresskill, N.J.: Hampton Press, 2005.
  • de Zúñiga, H. G., Veenstra, A., Vraga, E., & Shah, D. (2010). Digital democracy: Reimagining pathways to political participation. Journal of Information Technology & Politics, 7(1), 36-51.
  • Campbell, S. W. and Kwak, N. (2010), Mobile Communication and Civic Life: Linking Patterns of Use to Civic and Political Engagement. Journal of Communication, 60: 536–555.
  • Finkel, S. E., & Smith, A. E. (2010). Civic Education, Political Discussion, and the Social Transmission of Democratic Knowledge and Values in a New Democracy: Kenya 2002. American Journal of Political Science. [PDF]
  • Media, Activism, and Protest

  • Bennett, L.W., Breunig, C., & Givens, T. (2008). Communication and political mobilization: digital media and the organization of anti-Iraq war demonstrations in the US. Political Communication, 25(3), 269-289.
  • Fisher, D., & Boekkooi, M. (2010). Mobilizing Friends and Strangers. Information, Communication and Society, 13(2), 193-208.
  • Van Laer, J., & Van Aelst, P. (2010). Internet and Social Movement Repetoires. Information, Communication & Society, 13(8), 1146-1171. [PDF]
  • McLeod, D. M., & Hertog, J. K. (1992). The Manufacture ofPublic Opinion'by Reporters: Informal Cues for Public Perceptions of Protest Groups. Discourse & Society, 3(3), 259. [PDF]
  • Cottle, S. (2008). Reporting demonstrations: The changing media politics of dissent. Media, Culture & Society, 30(6), 853.
  • Andrews, K. T., & Caren, N. (2010). Making the News. American Sociological Review, 75(6), 841.
  • Gladwell, M. (2010). Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted.  New Yorker. [HTML]
  • Communication, Media and Polarization

  • Quirk, P. J. (2011). A House Dividing: Understanding Polarization.  The Forum. [PDF]
  • Shapiro, R. Y., & Bloch-Elkon, Y. (2008). Do the facts speak for themselves? Partisan disagreement as a challenge to democratic competence. Critical Review, 20(1), 115-139.
  • Mutz, D. (2006). How the mass media divide us. In P. Nivola & D.W. Brady (eds.), Red and Blue Nation? Vol. 1. (pp. 223-263). The Brookings Institution, Washington, DC.
  • Sunstein, C. (2007). 2.0. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, pp 1-18; 46-96, & 138-150
  • Stroud, N. J. (2010). Polarization and Partisan Selective Exposure. Journal of Communication, 60(3), 556-576.
  • Feldman, L. (2011). The Opinion Factor: The Effects of Opinionated News on Information Processing and Attitude Change. Political Communication, 28(2), 163-181.
  • Guggenheim, L., Kwak, N., & Campbell, S. W. (2011). Nontraditional News Negativity: The Relationship of Entertaining Political News Use to Political Cynicism and Mistrust. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 23(3), 287-314.
  • Nisbet, M.C. & Scheufele, D.A. (2011). The Roots of Polarization and What Can Be Done.  Working Paper. American University, Washington D.C.
  • Organized Deliberation and Decision-Making

  • Carpini, M. X. D., Cook, F. L., & Jacobs, L. R. (2004). Public deliberation, discursive participation, and citizen engagement: A review of the empirical literature. Annu. Rev. Polit. Sci., 7, 315-344.
  • Jacobs, L. R., Cook, F. L., & Carpini, M. X. D. (2009). Talking together: Public deliberation and political participation in America: University of Chicago Press.**
  • Schudson, M. (1997). Why conversation is not the soul of democracy. Critical Studies in Mass Communication, 14, 297-309. [PDF]
  • World Wide Views on Global Warming. Review web site and read policy report. [Web site] [PDF of Report]
  • Talpin, J. and Wojcik, S. (2010) Deliberating Environmental Policy Issues: Comparing the Learning Potential of Online and Face-To-Face Discussions on Climate Change, Policy & Internet: Vol. 2: Iss. 2, Article 4.
  • Irwin, A. (2008). Risk, science and public communication: Third-order thinking about scientific culture. In M. Bucchi & B. Trench (Eds.), Handbook of Public Communication on Science and Technology (pp.111-130). London: Routledge.
  • Scheufele, D. A. (2011). Modern citizenship or policy dead end? Evaluating the need for public participation in science policy making, and why public meetings may not be the answer. Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy Research Paper Series. Harvard University. Cambridge, MA. [PDF]
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    Internet Politics Scholars Join American University's School of Communication

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