Department of Communication, UCB 270
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309-0270
Office: 84 Hellems
Office Hours, Spring, 2014: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3:00 - 4;45 PM
My teaching and research interests are interdisciplinary, and span five areas. While these areas are diverse, I typically combine them in specific projects, seeking to develop innovative questions, research strategies, and theoretical arguments.
1) Security and Communication: How can communicative explanations help us to better understand security-related phenomena? I have recently become interested in this question after 25 years of studying communication about nuclear weapons. Those projects have examined nuclear weapons as a site of struggle in the Cold War and post-Cold War eras over both official policy and cultural memory. This struggle unfolds as different groups promote competing narratives about the legitimacy and necessity of nuclear weapons as a military technology, and about the consequences of their development for public health, worker safety, and the natural environment. My principal research site has involved the domestic complex of organizations and communities engaged in the production of U.S. nuclear weapons. I am subsequently concerned with the quest by post-9/11 security actors to develop a shared story in which their legitimate desires for security may be reconciled with the demonstrable risks posed by nuclear weapons to the cherished ideals of democratic governance and continued human existence. More broadly, I'm interested in security-related projects adopting communication-friendly perspectives such as public argument, discourse analysis, strategic communication, rhetorical criticism, and critical-cultural communication studies.
2) Organizational Culture and Symbolism: How does communication work to create, maintain, and transform the "cultural" dimensions of organizational life? Here, I am interested in four area of organizational life: (a) the distinctive norms, values, and beliefs that are shared by organizational members; (b) the material artifacts they develop which express these beliefs; (c) the everyday interactions through which they articulate their experience of work life, and create shared meanings; and finally, (d) their ongoing sense-making of these artifacts and interactions. Theoretically, I am interested in responding to recent criticisms of this tradition by scholars associated with the "Communicative Constitution of Organization" paradigm. I am also interested in critiquing media representations of organizational life as normative pedagogy for participation in postindustrial and neoliberal society. Finally, I am interested in how discourses of ethics and power shape the ongoing development of specific organizational cultures,
3) Qualitative Research Methods: What are the key assumptions which underlie our use of methods such as participant observation, interviewing, discourse analysis, and artifact analysis? How can these methods best serve the development of communication theory? What are the best practices associated with collecting and analyzing qualitative data in communication research? Thomas Lindlof and I have explored these and other questions in our leading textbook series, Qualitative Communication Research Methods (Sage). Currently, we are expanding our focus to include the globalization of qualitative communication research methods. We are trying to better explain how the forces of disciplinary identity, national culture, and methodological tradition circulate and interact to create distinctive communication research programs, and research methods curricula, within international institutions of higher education.
4) Critical and Cultural Communication Studies. How do ideologies shape the identities of cultural members, and orient them to preferred forms of relationship and community? How do media texts and systems contribute to the circulation of meanings which maintain historical relations of power within and between groups? How might these relations be transformed? These questions exemplify the commitments of this perspective, and I am principally interested in using post-structuralist and postmodernist theory to examine the ongoing, discursive productions of subjectivity, affect, and place.
5) Technology Studies. How do political-economy and globalization shape the development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT)? How do humans utilize ICT to develop shared meanings with each other? How do those shared meanings implicate the ongoing cultivation of identities, relationships and communities in contemporary culture? How is contemporary ICT influencing popular understanding of key concepts such as time, space, the body, gender, race, ethnicity and sexuality? This interdisciplinary field of study is extremely broad; I am particularly interested in applying its critical and cultural traditions to study the ethics and politics of security technologies. I am particularly interested in projects seeking to create a more just and accountable national security apparatus, and to cultivate informed, reflective and passionate forms citizenship required for democratic deliberation surrounding the development of security technologies.