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Communication: A Post-Discipline

Silvio Waisbord

ISBN: 978-1-509-52008-4 March 2019 Polity 176 Pages


Communication studies is a fragmented field. As a result of its roots in various disciplinary traditions, it is built on fluid intellectual boundaries with no theoretical or analytical center. Should we worry about this state of dispersion or be concerned that the discipline does not meet the basic conditions that define an academic field of inquiry?

Silvio Waisbord argues that communication studies is a post-discipline and that it is impossible to transcend fragmentation and specialization through a single project of intellectual unity. What brings communication studies together is an institutional architecture of academic units, professional associations, and journals, rather than a shared commitment to a common body of knowledge, questions, and debates. This should not, Waisbord argues, be a matter of concern. Communication studies is better served by recognizing dispersion, embracing pluralism, fostering cross-cutting lines of inquiry, and tackling real-world problems, rather than hoping to meet conditions which would qualify it as a discipline.

Communication: A Post-Discipline is important reading for scholars and advanced students of communication studies, as well as anyone interested in the state of this fascinating and vital academic field.



Chapter 1: Fragmentation and Hyper-Specialization

Chapter 2: The Patchwork of Communication Studies

Chapter 3: The “Digital Communication” Turn

Chapter 4: What has Globalization Wrought?

Chapter 5: A Post-Discipline



“Silvio Waisbord’s journey across communication yields insights that are both contemplative, generative and bold. Making an impassioned call for recognition of the field’s post-disciplinary status, Communication: A Post-Discipline should end up in the collections of all those who care about the discipline of communication moving forward.”
Barbie Zelizer, University of Pennsylvania

“This magnificent book traces the history and continuing transformation of the communication field and suggests ways to find perspective in a post-discipline era. This is a must-read for all communication scholars.”
Lance Bennett, University of Washington