Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Analysis Question 1: Driving IC Research

The "political-economy" concerns that have driven the debate in IC research up to this point are still relevant but that does not mean that other types of concerns, such as educational, psychological, religious or other social factors, should not also be impetuses for new IC research. However, I do think that the driving force behind IC research will remain political and economic concerns mainly because these issues are of utmost importance to policy-makers. Thus, most funding for IC research will be channeled into projects that focus on these concerns.

If you consider how much social science research funding in the U.S. comes from U.S. government agencies, the logical next step is to think that most of this funding goes to research issues of importance to the U.S. government. As Thussu states, the role of communication in "the growth of capitalism and empire" has been at the core of communication's usefulness for Western governments since the Industrial Revolution (Approaches 40). Although these political and economic concerns have been emphasized in IC research, I think that within the U.S. government there has always been an understanding of IC's influence as a method for "creating and maintaining shared values and meanings," a more cultural application of IC (Approach 41).

The U.S. has always had a love-hate relationship with this application of IC. One could say that the cultural area of IC research can be viewed negatively as researching ways to impose American values, moral and ethics on non-American populations, even as a form of propaganda research. In a society based on democratic ideals, such as freedom of thought, this is a hard pill to swallow. Also, I think the main reason why the focus in the U.S. in IC research hasn't been on the cultural aspects is because Americans find it very difficult to define what culture is and how it can be defined in terms of an American culture. The fact that there is no consensus on what American culture is stems from the historical fact that the U.S. is made up of people with ethnically, religiously and culturally diverse backgrounds. In addition, one ideal that has permeated American society is the idea of independence, which I believe has attributed to a lack of common identity. Ironically, even though American culture is difficult for Americans to define, most Americans believe that the democratic, puritanical ideals on which the U.S. was founded speak for themselves and that other peoples and countries should just be able to plainly recognize how high-minded and altruistic America is.

In sum, I think that the political and economic concerns that have driven IC research up until this point, especially in the U.S., will continue to remain the focus of research in this area. However, with the growing understanding of current global issues and the forces that shape these issues, I think that more research will focus on the role of social factors in international communications. One of the strengths of the IC field has always been its interdisciplinary nature and its openness to using multiple research methods and often hybridizing and combining methods from many academic disciplines. I believe that this aspect of IC will serve to strengthen future research in the field.

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