• The Declining Significance of Disciplinary Memory: The Case of Communication Research

    Jefferson Pooley (see profile)
    Cultural Studies, Science Studies and the History of Science
    History of social science, History of media studies, Sociology of knowledge, Memory studies, Memory, Media studies
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    communication and media, History of Humanities, History of sociology
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    The chapter argues that disciplinary memory claims in US American communication research have become smaller, more parochial, and less potent, as their underlying referent—the discipline—has splintered in the wake of the digital in the mid-1990s. For decades after its institutionalization in the 1950s, US communication research had relied on grand narratives, like Wilbur Schramm’s “four founders” myth, to bind together a heterogeneous field. But the would-be discipline’s already porous borders have, since the mid-1990s arrival of the World Wide Web, given way to an onrush of interest from scholars housed in neighboring disciplines. The upshot of this new, cross-disciplinary trading zone of digital scholarship, which has only swelled in the twenty-first century, is that very little shared knowledge could be assumed. A half-legitimate postwar newcomer in need of mnemonic glue had, by the turn of the millennium, given way to a poly-disciplinary free-for-all. Memory claims have narrowed as a result, localized to multi-disciplinary subfields in shifting configurations. The old shorthands and storylines—the discipline-spanning type—are no longer legible. An analysis of memory claims in two special issues of the flagship Journal of Communication, in 1983 and 2018, supports the chapter's conclusion that disciplinary history has a waning hold on US American communication research.
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    9 months ago
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