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Old Wednesday, December 13, 2006
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Communication studies is the academic discipline that studies communication; subdisciplines include argumentation, speech communication, rhetoric, communication theory, performance studies, group communication, information theory, intercultural communication, interpersonal communication, intrapersonal communication, marketing, organizational communication, persuasion, propaganda, public affairs, public relations and telecommunication.
At many institutions, separate schools of Mass communication share an interest in communication theory, information theory and media effects research, but focus on the practice as well as effects of public relations, propaganda, journalism, publishing, broadcasting and advertising and international communication, leaving interpersonal, performance studies, group and organizational communication, speech, rhetoric, semiotics, and critical/cultural perspectives to the communication studies departments.
The European tradition of communication studies partly builds on the work of the Frankfurt School. The American tradition is better known for, but not limited to, Communication Sciences. In the United Kingdom the subject is often called media studies or media and communication studies.
History

Various aspects of communicating have long been the subject of human study. In ancient Greece, the study of rhetoric, the art of effective speaking and persuasion, was a vital subject for students. In the early 20th century, many specialists began to study communication as a specific part of their academic disciplines. Communication studies began to emerge as a distinct academic field in the early 20th century. In 1914 the National Association of Academic Teachers of Public Speaking, now called the National Communication Association, was founded. Herbert Wichelns was an early pioneer. Propaganda and media effects theorists, including Harold Lasswell, Kurt Lewin, and Paul Lazarsfeld also had an important impact on the field early on. Harold Innis and Marshall McLuhan developed influential analyses of communication and technology in the 1950s and 1960s. A critique of commodified communications emerged with the writings of Theodor W. Adorno and Guy Debord.
The main national professional organization for communication studies in the U.S. is the National Communication Association (NCA). The main European associations for communication studies are the European Consortium for Communications Research (ECCR) and the European Communication Association(ECA). The main international association for the communication studies discipline is the International Communication Association.
Criticism

Unlike other social sciences, communication is not linked to a specific profession. Psychology forms psychologists, sociology forms sociologists but there is no corresponding title for graduates of communication. Critics argue that the reason for that is that communication doesn't qualify students for any particular job. This state of affairs has been linked to the recency of the field and to the fact that communication is a pervasive phenomenon and that communication students can work in very diverse fields. Most students of communication however are able to find various jobs in a wide range of fields including university professors, marketing researchers, media editors and designers, event planners, organizational communication consultants and journalists.

3. Cultural studies:

Cultural studies combines sociology, social theory, literary theory, media theory, film/video studies, cultural anthropology and art history/criticism to study cultural phenomena in industrial societies. Cultural studies researchers often concentrate on how a particular phenomenon relates to matters of ideology, race, social class, and/or gender.
Cultural studies concerns itself with the meaning and practices of everyday life. Cultural practices comprise the ways people do particular things (such as watching television, or eating out) in a given culture. Particular meanings attach to the ways people in particular cultures do things.
In a loosely related but separate usage, the phrase cultural studies sometimes serves as a rough synonym for area studies, as a general term referring to the academic study of particular cultures in departments and programs such as Islamic studies, Asian studies, African American studies, African studies, German studies, et al..
Overview

In his book Introducing Cultural Studies, Ziauddin Sardar lists the following five main characteristics of cultural studies:
  • Cultural studies aims to examine its subject matter in terms of cultural practices and their relation to power.
  • It has the objective of understanding culture in all its complex forms and of analysing the social and political context in which culture manifests itself.
  • It is both the object of study and the location of political criticism and action.
  • It attempts to expose and reconcile the division of knowledge, to overcome the split between tacit (cultural knowledge) and objective (universal) forms of knowledge.
  • It has a commitment to an ethical evaluation of modern society and to a radical line of political action.
Approaches

Scholars in the United Kingdom and the United States developed somewhat different versions of cultural studies after the field's inception in the late 1970s. The British version of cultural studies was developed in the 1960s mainly under the influence of Richard Hoggart and Stuart Hall at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at the University of Birmingham. This included overtly political, left-wing views, and criticisms of popular culture as 'capitalist' mass culture; it absorbed some of the ideas of the Frankfurt School critique of the "culture industry" (i.e. mass culture). This emerges in the writings of early British cultural-studies scholars and their influences: see the work of (for example) Raymond Williams, Stuart Hall, Paul Willis and Paul Gilroy.
In contrast, the American version of cultural studies initially concerned itself more with understanding the subjective and appropriative side of audience reactions to, and uses of, mass culture; American cultural-studies advocates wrote about the liberatory aspects of fandom. See the writings of critics such as John Guillory. The distinction between American and British strands, however, has faded.
Some scholars, especially in early British cultural studies, apply a Marxist model to the field. The main focus of an orthodox Marxist approach concentrates on the production of meaning. This model assumes a mass production of culture and identifies power as residing with those producing cultural artifacts. In a Marxist view, those who control the means of production (the economic base) essentially control a culture.
Other approaches to cultural studies, such as feminist cultural studies and later American developments of the field, distance themselves from this view. They criticise the Marxist assumption of a single, dominant meaning, shared by all, for any cultural product. The non-Marxist approaches suggest that different ways of consuming cultural artifacts affect the meaning of the product.
Another major point of criticism involved the traditional view assuming a passive consumer. Other views challenge this, particularly by underlining the different ways people read, receive, and interpret cultural texts. On this view, a consumer can appropriate, actively reject, or challenge the meaning of a product. These different approaches have shifted the focus away from the production of items. Instead, they argue that consumption plays an equally important role, since the way consumers consume a product gives meaning to an item. Some closely link the act of consuming with cultural identity. Stuart Hall has become influential in these developments. Some commentators have described the shift towards meaning as the cultural turn.
In the context of cultural studies, the idea of a text not only includes written language, but also films, photographs, fashion or hairstyles: the texts of cultural studies comprise all the meaningful artifacts of culture. Similarly, the discipline widens the concept of "culture". "Culture" for a cultural studies researcher not only includes traditional high culture and popular culture, but also everyday meanings and practices. The last two, in fact, have become the main focus of cultural studies. A further and recent approach is comparative cultural studies, based on the discipline of comparative literature and cultural studies.
Critical views

Cultural studies is not a unified theory but a diverse field of study encompassing many different approaches, methods, and academic perspectives; as in any academic discipline, cultural studies academics frequently debate among themselves. However, some academics from other fields have criticised the discipline as a whole. It has been popular to dismiss cultural studies as an academic fad. Yale literature professor Harold Bloom has been an outspoken critic of the cultural studies model of literary studies. Critics such as Bloom see cultural studies as it applies to literary scholarship as a vehicle of careerism by academics, as opposed to promoting the public interest by studying what makes beautiful literary works beautiful.
Bloom stated his position during the 3 September 2000 episode of C-SPAN's "Booknotes":
"[...T]here are two enemies of reading now in the world, not just in the English-speaking world. One [...is...] the lunatic destruction of literary studies [...] and its replacement by what is called cultural studies in all of the universities and colleges in the English-speaking world, and everyone knows what that phenomenon is.
I mean, the [...] now-weary phrase 'political correctness' remains a perfectly good descriptive phrase for what has gone on and is, alas, still going on almost everywhere and which dominates, I would say, rather more than three-fifths of the tenured faculties in the English-speaking world, who really do represent a treason of the intellectuals, I think, a 'betrayal of the clerks'."
Literary critic Terry Eagleton is not wholly opposed to cultural studies theory like Bloom, but has criticised certain aspects of it, highlighting what he sees as its strengths and weaknesses in books such as After Theory (2003). For Eagleton, literary and cultural theory have the potential to say important things about the "fundamental questions" in life, but theorists have rarely realized this potential.
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Culture, cultural history, cultural identity, culture theory, cultural critic, Area studies
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