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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 17:49 08/13/2009
Journal Abstracts #327: August 13, 2009

Information, Communication & Society

Journal Name: Information, Communication & Society:
Volume 12, Issue 3, April 2009

Online ISSN: 1468-4462, Print ISSN: 1369-118X



Leah A. Lievrouw (Department of Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA)
The division of the communication discipline according to whether people communicate face-to-face or via a technological medium has shaped the field's development from the outset. The divide has been institutionalized over time in the structures of academic departments and schools, professional training and degrees, scholarly societies and publishing, and in the field's larger research agendas. However, critics inside and outside the field have long insisted that the differences between the two subfields actually obscure the shifting, contingent nature of communication in everyday experience, social formations, and culture. This paper traces efforts to theorize the intersection of interpersonal and media communication, and in particular the concept of mediation, from Lazarsfeld and Katz's two-step flow in the 1950s, to the challenge of digital media technologies in the 1970s and 1980s, to the rise of new media studies and digital culture scholarship from the 1990s onward.

Keywords: Mediation; communication theory; new media; media convergence; ICTs

Revisiting the role of geographical places in the formation of diasporic identity in the digital age
Tingyu Kang (School of Geography, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK)
This paper examines migrants' use of the Internet to re-territorialize homeland, exploring the resurgence of geographical places in making and maintaining identities in the digital age. Conducting semi-structured interviews and participant observation, this research focuses on the London-based Chinese population and demonstrates various ways in which the Internet plays a key role in reinforcing these migrants' territorial attachment. In so doing, I seek to revisit the popular theorization that the Internet has led to the detachment of cultures from geographic places. The findings suggest that migrants use a variety of Internet applications to reproduce their home territories and ethnic cultural practices in both their intimate, personal spaces and public spaces. The linguistic, cultural, and social environments in China are transmitted into migrants' living rooms, London's Chinatown, and other public urban places through P2P applications, high-speed video sharing sites, and social networking sites. This online consumption of visual and audio products is often transmitted live, through which migrants' temporal practices in London become parallel to those in China. Through these uses of the Internet, the boundary between home and abroad is challenged and the power dynamics of the majority and minority surrounding urban land use are destabilized.

Keywords: Migration; diasporas; internet; cities; re-territorialization; de-territorialization

Deconstructing race on the Internet
Andre Brock (University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA)
This paper focuses on the construction of racial identity online through the mediating influences of popular culture, old media, weblogs, and Internet users. This paper examines the production of race on the Internet by examining the elements that make up the weblog Freakonomics: the topic, the environment, the medium, and the users. Recent cyberculture research has called for Internet studies to integrate critical theories of race and culture into its analyses. The argument, which this paper seeks to extend, is for the increased recognition of the salience of race in understanding Web content and production. In examining the blog's structure, posts, and comments, I applied Omi and Winant's racial formation theory to the cultural representations and structural phenomena articulated with respect to themes of race, racial interactions, media, and geography. Omi and Winant argue that people interpret the meaning of race by framing it in social structures, and that conversely, recognizing the racial dimensions in social structures leads to interpretations of race. Accordingly, this paper examines interpretations of race in The Wire (a critically-acclaimed minority-led television show), the New York Times news website, the Freakonomics blog, and the Web-enabled audience of the three elements. The paper concludes by arguing for more use of critical race and theory in information studies research in order to understand how racial perspectives affect the presentation and interpretation of Internet content.

Keywords: Computer-mediated communication; identity; race; cyberculture; media studies

Powerless victims or resourceful participants?
Elisabeth Staksrud (Department of Media and Communication, Oslo, Norway); Sonia Livingstone (Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK)
Research on the risks associated with children's use of the internet often aims to inform policies of risk prevention. Yet paralleling the effort to map the nature and extent of online risk is a growing unease that the goal of risk prevention tends to support an over-protective, risk-averse culture that restricts the freedom of online exploration that society encourages for children in other spheres. It is central to adolescence that teenagers learn to anticipate and cope with risk - in short, to become resilient. In this article, we inquire into children and teenagers' responses after they have experienced online content or contact risks. Pan-European findings show that especially in Northern European countries with high internet access, parental perception of likelihood of online risk to their child is negatively associated with their perceived ability to cope. A comparison of representative surveys conducted among children in three relatively 'high risk' countries (Norway, Ireland and the United Kingdom) found that although the frequency of exposure to perceived online risks, especially content risks, is fairly high, most children adopt positive (e.g. seek help from friends) or, more commonly, neutral (e.g. ignoring the experience) strategies to cope, although a minority exacerbate the risks (e.g. passing risky content on to friends). Most strategies tend to exclude adult involvement. Significant differences in both risk and coping are found by gender and age across these countries, pointing to different styles of youthful risk management.

Keywords: Children; internet; risk; parenting; coping; resilience

Qualitative research on US teens and their parents
Lynn Schofield Clark (University of Denver, Mass Communications & Journalism Studies, Denver, CO, USA)
In many parts of the developed world, families engage with a wide range of communication media as a part of their daily lives. Parents often express mixed feelings about this engagement on the part of young people, however. Employing Baumberg's narrative-in-interaction analysis to interviews with 55 parents and 125 young people, this article explores both the discursive strategies parents employ when discussing their rules and regulations regarding digital technologies, and the strategies employed by their teenage young people in response. It considers how parents attempt to articulate authority in relation to digital media use among their teenage children, and how the ways in which teens interpret those parental attempts to express authority influence the strategies they themselves embrace regarding digital media. The article argues that although economically disadvantaged families experience the digital generation gap with particular intensity, their strategies reveal that they and their teenage children are able to deal with these challenges in creative and effective ways.

Keywords: Young people; sociology; digital divide; domestication of ICTs; parents; qualitative research

Predicting friendship strength in a music-based social network
Nancy K. Baym (Department of Communication Studies, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, USA), Andrew Ledbetter (School of Communication Studies, Ohio University, Athens, OH, USA)
Despite the popularity of social network sites based on common interests, the association between these shared interests and relational development is not well understood. This manuscript reports results of an empirical investigation of interpersonal relationships on, a music-based social network site with a multinational user base. In addition to baseline descriptors of relational behavior, the chief goals of this study were to examine the degree to which relationships are characterized by homophily (and particularly by shared musical taste), the extent to which communication via is associated with other forms of communication (both offline and online), how such communication behavior is associated with demographic and relational characteristics, and whether these variables predict strength of relational development. Results indicate that although relational partners exhibit shared musical taste, this shared taste is not associated with relational development. Rather, following media multiplexity theory, relational development is strongly and uniquely associated with communication behavior across almost all forms of communication (including These results suggest that shared interests may foster the creation of weak ties, but conversion of these connections to strong ties is relatively rare.

Keywords: Communication studies; computer-mediated-communication; media studies; Web 2.0; social networking; popular culture

Negotiating personal music archives
Marjorie Kibby (University of Newcastle, Humanities and Social Science, University Drive, Newcastle, Australia)
Despite the importance of digital music in most young people's lives, there has been little academic research into the meanings attached to these acquisitions and the patterns of organization of and access to them. This study reviewed the existing research into music collections, and interviewed 35 young people whose first music acquisitions were music files or whose current collections consisted predominantly of music files. The results suggest that many young people have acquired a large amount of music in file formats, and relate to their music in ways that show their music functions as a 'collection.' The examination of personal archives of music primarily existing as music files suggests that the process of classifying, organizing and accessing music that has no physical or material presence gives it a materiality.

Keywords: Cyberculture; media studies; young people

Feedback as motivation in collaborative moderation systems
Alexander Halavais (Quinnipiac University, Interactive Communication, Hamden, USA)
The commenting patterns of a sample of 6,468 users on demonstrate that feedback from other users affects participation in three ways. First, the more explicit feedback a user receives, in the form of moderation votes on their comment or responses to their comment, the sooner they contribute again. Second, commenters generally become more able to generate feedback as they become more experienced contributors to the site. Third, there are some common features of comments that receive more feedback, and the feedback system reinforces these standards. By making the process of community feedback relatively accessible and measurable, Digg provides an opportunity to observe the process of socialization into a community and inculcation of community standards.

Keywords: Computer-mediated communication; interactivity; Web 2.0

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