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The Individual in Communication Research: Part V

This is the fifth and final part of a series tracing the history of how the idea of the "individual" has been understood in the history of media research. In this part, I discuss the advent of the digital age, and how it subsequently resulted in a theoretical crisis - as scholars struggled to understand the new connections being forged between the people and disruptive technologies.

Read part 1 here.
Read part 2 here.
Read part 3 here.
Read part 4 here.


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 A Brave New World: The “Individual” and the Digital

The digital revolution and the rise of the internet towards the end of the 20th century provides us with the next big setting to debate the lingering “problem of the individual”, and its relationship with new media technologies.

One tangible effect that the irruption of the internet has had is the proliferation of information outlets and the rise of new actors. Despite the skepticism of some commentators (Hindman, 2009; Hindman, Tsioutsiouliklis, & Johnson, 2003), thi…

The Individual in Communication Research: Part IV

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This is the fourth part of a series that traces the history of how the idea of the "individual" has been understood in the history of media research. In a way, this part recounts American social science reaching some form of theoretical climax. The theories born in this particularly fecund period of positivist social science research, have grown to become some of the best known and established theories in the literature, with an enduring legacy of widespread application.

Read part 1 here.
Read part 2 here.
Read part 3 here.


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The Individual in Dominant Media Theories

Following the criticisms raised against the “minimal effects” era, there was renewed enthusiasm about finding “not so minimal effects” of media. Shanto Iyengar and colleagues for example, did precisely that. They conducted experimental studies to assess the impact of television programs on individuals and found evidence of how “profoundly” individuals were affected by what they saw (Iyengar, Peters, & Kinder…

The Individual in Communication Research: Part III

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This is the third part of a series I'm writing, tracing the history of how the idea of the "individual" has been understood in the history of media research. The first two parts dealt with how the conception of the individual moved from one that assumed passive acceptance of media messages, to one that more deeply considered the role of human agency in how they interpreted the message. In this part, I trace how the thinking continued along those lines and how the period following the active audience era  became synonymous with the future positivism of American social science research.

Read part 1 here.
Read part 2 here.

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More Power to the Individual

Joseph Klapper (1960) sums up the problem of the individual in communication research by highlighting the hitherto lack of social context. He writes, that “if the influence of mass communication is to be described in socially meaningful terms, research must […] inquire into the relative prevalence of the conditions u…

The Individual in Communication Research: Part II

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This is the second part of a series I'm writing, tracing the history of how the idea of the "individual" has been understood in the history of media research. The first part dealt with how the "individual" was theorized in the very early days of social science research, and how it evolved with the socio-political changes that occurred during the between the world wars. This section highlights the paradigmatic changes that followed in the scholarship after the second world war.

Read part 1 here.

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The Active Audience

The role of the individual in media effects research became more prominent as the field of communication progressed. The persuasion theories of propaganda research, the “magic bullet” model, though fanciful, failed to live up to the empirical evidence that social science research continued to uncover.

In a seminal albeit controversial work, Angus Campbell, Philip Converse, and others in the University of Michigan wrote a book called The American …

The "Individual" in Communication Research: Part I

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This is the first part of a series I'm writing, tracing the history of how the idea of the "individual" has been understood in the history of media research. The primary reason why I'm doing it is personal: that tracing the history of a scientific discipline, is to me is an important, if often overlooked aspect of studying that discipline, because it helps consolidate the various ways in which researchers and theorists have thought about something in the past. However, if you do chance upon this series online, and find it relevant for your needs, I hope it'll help you to understand the field better as well.

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In the fourth century BC, the “newest” technology of communication was not very new. It was that of the written word, and it had been “invented” nearly three millennia ago. And much like how scholars today debate the manner in which communication technologies affect us and shape our lives, Socrates was engaging in a similar debate with the Athenian aristo…

Presentation and Poster at Ic2s2 2018 at Northwestern University, July 2018

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I presented our published research at the 4th Annual International Conference on Computational Social Science, held at the Kellog School of Business at Northwestern University at Evanston, IL. I also presented a poster of a previously presented research on comparing thresholding techniques of weighted networks (high res version here).

Presentations and Poster at PolNet, George Mason University, June 2018

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I had two presentations at the 11th Annual Political Networks Conference at the Arlington campus of George Mason University. (I was also awarded a travel scholarship by the NSF to attend this conference so thanks to the NSF for that!).

The first was our published research in the Journal of Communication. The slide deck can be accessed here.


The second was some preliminary findings for my dissertation research on online news consumption patterns in India (slides here). I also presented a poster for the same (high res here).