Research

Research in the Department of Communication

Here you will find areas of research and the projects in those areas in which our faculty members have been involved.

 

Research Areas

Communication and Technology
Rukhsana Ahmed

Refugee Telehealth Use during COVID-19: Feasibility, Preferences, and Recommendations

This collaborative project is funded by the President’s [UAlbany] COVID-19 and Minority Health Disparities Seed Funding Program. Employing survey research and working with community data collectors, the project team is assessing: (1) the knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP) towards COVID-19 and (2) the telehealth needs and preferences of the refugee and migrant communities in the Capitol Region. The KAP assessment will identify where there are gaps in COVID-19 prevention, and the telehealth needs analysis will inform how healthcare providers and public health care workers should most effectively communicate COVID-19 prevention information for vulnerable subgroup populations. Effective public health messaging, disseminated in preferred telehealth formats, is crucial in closing the gap of KAP towards COVID-19 among refugee and migrant populations. 

 

Annis Golden

My research focuses on how individuals negotiate their relationships with organizations, including both employee-employer relationships, and healthcare consumer-healthcare provider relationships. I am particularly interested in how these processes are shaped by new information and communication technologies.
 

Overcoming Barriers to African American Women’s Reproductive Healthcare Seeking

African American women suffer significant disparities in disease incidence and health outcomes in relation to reproductive health, including HIV/AIDS, STIs, breast and cervical cancer. Small towns and cities, home to increasing numbers of African American women, present unique contextual challenges for reproductive health promotion: limited numbers of reproductive healthcare providers, difficulty in traveling to and from providers’ locations, and privacy concerns, in addition to lack of knowledge about preventive reproductive healthcare, and fear of discovering a health problem, which are faced by low income African American women more generally. This study will evaluate the impact of community-based education and transportation interventions on healthcare seeking, with the goal of identifying effective health promotion strategies that can be reproduced in similar settings and improving women’s health.
 

Communication Among Healthcare Providers and Families of Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injuries in a Rehabilitation Setting

The project’s goal is to arrive at a better understanding of the range of problems that staff and families encounter in their interactions, and to identify interactional resources that might be useful in resolving them. The study will combine analysis of conversational interactions between staff and families with analysis of follow-up interviews.

Teresa M. Harrison

Communication Technologies and Democracy

My research and teaching interests focus on communication and technology, with a special emphasis on the relationship between new communication technologies and democratic processes and practices. For the last several years I have been involved in organizing several small conferences bringing together scholars sharing technology and democracy, understood from a variety of perspectives. 
 

Development of Community Information Systems

I am engaged in the design and development of a community information system in a project funded by the National Science Foundation, with Jim Zappen of the Department of Language, Literature, & Communication and Sibel Adali of the Computer Science Department, both at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. This interdisciplinary team is working with approximately 20 government and not-for-profit community organizations to design and develop a community information system devoted to services and resources for youth and to study its diffusion over time. We are addressing a variety of research questions focusing on the organizational and community considerations that are brought to bear in the development and evaluation of a community information system. Our research works with a numerous constituencies in the local community, including (a) representatives of government and not-for-profit organizations providing programs and resources for youth, (b) kids between the ages of 5 and 18, and (c) parents and other social support personnel, to explore how these diverse community actors view the uses and purposes of a community information system and what information needs and functionalities they would find useful in designing and developing this system. We will also soon be interested in exploring the factors associated with the adoption and use of such a system. 
 

Participatory Design in Software Development

Zappan, Adali, and I are also creating a model of processes and practices of participatory design in software system development. Our research is one of few projects that employs participatory design as a strategy for the development of a community information system. In doing so, we take seriously the challenge of determining what community actors want to do with community information. In order to address this issue, we are asking (a) what processes and practices can we use to determine users’ intentions and uses for community information systems, especially in communities of diverse and potentially competing interests and (b) how can we incorporate these interests into a system design that is necessarily complex and multipurpose rather than standardized and single-purpose?
 

Development of an Action Research Agenda

Zappan, Adali, and I are developing a model of specific steps and considerations in the development of an action research agenda in digital government projects. Increasingly, social scientists are working with computer scientists to develop software systems that constitute interventions in the social, cultural, political, and organizational dimensions of community life. Such interventions constitute new ways of information sharing, deliberation over policy options, collaboration on joint projects, or other aspects of governance. However, very little is known about how such interventions are designed, implemented, and sustained over time. We are attempting to consider this question somewhat systematically in reflecting on how our project has developed and the resources, commitments, and support required for sustainability beyond the period of our project’s funding.
 

Electronic Journal of Communication

I am currently editing one of the world’s first peer reviewed electronic scholarly journals, the Electronic Journal of Communication/La revue electronique de communication which is published by the Communication Institute for Online Scholarship. The table of contents for the journal can be perused at http://www.cios.org/www/ejcrec2.htm

Archana Krishnan

Online Person Perception and Impression Management

This body of work examines the influence of source and medium characteristics on online person perception and impression management. These studies are situated against the theoretical framework of Walther’s (1992, 1996) social information processing and hyperpersonal model, and Donath’s (2007) signaling theory. In one study, signaling theory is being used to show how sender-based “signals” can be manipulated on social media to influence attributions of credibility and likeability. In another study, the influence of online physicians reviews will be evaluated on perceptions of trustworthiness attributed to the message (review), source (reviewer) and subject (physician).
 

Third-Person Perception of Compulsive Mobile Phone Use

This study seeks to assess third-person perceptions related to compulsive mobile phone use and perceived risks of use. Compulsive mobile phone use entails a set of behaviors that indicate psychological dependence on mobile phones. Perceived threat refers to the likelihood of certain threats that are associated with mobile phone use. What is novel in this proposed project is that the third-person effect (Davison, 1983) is being used to examine third-person perceptions of media use rather than media effects. We will also test the effect of the third-person perception on behavioral outcomes.

Oct. 1, 2021

Tim Stephen

Communication Institute for Online Scholarship (CIOS)

I am involved in the design and construction of information dissemination, analysis, and retrieval systems for scholarly research and education and in researching and building typological systems necessary for such information technologies to be effective.

With Teresa Harrison, I created the Comserve project, which has since grown into the Communication Institute for Online Scholarship (CIOS), an independent, Web-based not-for-profit scholarly association facilitating the use of information technologies in the service of communication education and research (see http://www.cios.org/). The scope of this project has expanded dramatically from a first-of-kind innovation in the use of IT to enhance an academic discipline’s scholarly communication to become a resource incorporated into the day-to-day process of inquiry and education at institutions throughout the field. The Comserve project was among the first efforts to create a set of online electronic services through which scholars could share resources for education and research, and it did so nearly 10 years before the World Wide Web.

I am the designer, editor, and principal author of an extensive suite of database and other software systems comprising the CIOS. These include: (1) the ComIndex database which indexes scholarship published in nearly 100 communication journals between the years 1970 - 2003 (in total more than 40,000 articles); (2) the ComAbstracts database, a full text database of article abstracts encompassing 65 journals between approximately 1960-2003 (in total more than 17,000 article abstracts); (3) The ComWeb archive indexing 80,000 web pages from 450 academic web sites in communication; (4) the full text of more than a ten year run of ten of the field’s professional journals.
 

Concept Analysis of the Field’s Scholarly Literature

My CIOS work has produced several important resource collections that have created an unusually rich research opportunity to study the evolution and interdependence of concepts in the communication field. Accordingly, I am now undertaking scientometric concept map analyses of the interrelationships among pivotal theoretical ideas extracted through statistical/linguistic analysis of the literature of the communication discipline gathered in CIOS databases. The project uses a suite of original software programs I’ve authored that parse the titles of the data records from the ComIndex database. The resulting dataset of approximately 200,000 unique words is sifted to eliminate junk terms (“and”, “but”, “anyway”, “those”, “who”, and many more) and to isolate core concepts, and normalized by converting British to U.S. spelling. My procedure then reduces the resulting set of normalized core concepts to their linguistic root forms. As well, the procedure lumps synonymous concepts (television, TV, tube), recognizes phrases of disciplinary relevance as singular concepts (e.g., “third person effect”, “spiral of silence”, “genre theory”, “social movements theory”, etc.) and appropriately splits divergent concepts that happen to have common linguistic roots (organic and organization).

I have been conducting statistical studies of the frequencies of co-occurrence within the resulting set of root key concepts and developing software systems that allow live exploration of the strength of these relationships (e.g., “gender” and “talk” co-occur with a particular frequency, “rhetoric” and “argument” co-occur with a particular frequency, etc.). I have also created a mapping process in which concepts are related to each other in a graphical display where distance indicates degree of relationship.


As the field approaches a future in which access to our literature becomes exclusively electronic, my work is discovering trends and regularities that will serve as the foundation for designing interfaces based on keywords and co-occurrence that will enable future generations of scholars and students to recover primary and associated texts, to explore and contact the often otherwise invisible networks of scholars who have contributed to theoretical and applied work in the field, and to view documents within the context of other contextualizing resources (web presentations, electronic discussions) that may help to situate them more precisely within the field’s system of knowledge.

This work, constituting a kind of theoretical data mining, has the potential to serve as a test-bed for examining hypotheses about conditions under which theoretical ideas rise and fall within the literature of our discipline. Further, it will be possible to construct in software an entirely new kind of educational experience for students of communication, a kind of virtual reality exploratorium of this mapped network of concepts, allowing students of communication to view and experience viscerally through the deployment of a 3D interface, the strength of interrelationship these concepts have acquired in the accumulated experience of the field.

Piotr Szpunar

My research combines communication, media, and political theory with qualitative political communication research. My work focuses on issues of media, conflict, and memory, with a particular focus on political violence/terrorism and collective memory/future thinking. 
 

Futural Sites 

I am preparing a monograph on “places of future,” the spaces created or altered to act as infrastructures for bringing about a positive envisioned future or helping to weather the arrival of a threatening one. The project builds on my interests in technology, the elemental turn in media studies, and the futural turn in memory studies. I specifically look at how “natural” landscapes are shaped in and by technology in the face of climate change and what this reveals about collective memory practices and future thinking. I am examining three sites: Mars, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, and the East River Shoreline in Manhattan. 

 

Phatic Violence 

In continuing my work on political violence, I am preparing a monograph project on dispersed or stochastic terrorism against the backdrop of digital phatic culture. The project analyzes a variety of “lone wolf” incidents and focuses on the use and role of media therein as well as notions of connectivity. The project brings together Roman Jakobson’s notion of phatic communication and Hannah Arendt’s concept of the banality of evil, alongside media scholarship to rethink the communicative and functional nature of political violence in the digital age, reassess its disruptive nature as a media event, and challenge hypodermic models of radicalization. 

Masahiro Yamamoto

Social Media and Politics

One area of my research addresses the potential of digital media to encourage political participation. While social media present the unique opportunities for citizens to acquire information, express opinions, and experience politics, there are significant concerns about their role in the spread of misinformation and the formation of ideologically isolated communities. My research seeks to understand how varied communication activities and political messages on social media shape citizens’ knowledge about, and (un)willingness to participate in, politics. My recent work focuses on overestimation of political learning from social media-based news consumption.

Alan Zemel

Text-in-interaction

I am using my experience (a) working on a DARPA funded research project that developed computation al models of conversational strategies and moves aimed at eliciting information from other participants in multi-party online conversations and (b) conducting research on text-based communication in interaction between reference librarians and library patrons to investigate the social organization of text-based interactions. Texting and talking are not equivalent domains of social interaction. The ways we interact via text are quite different from the ways we interact face-to-face. These differences are consequential for the ways we conduct ourselves in social interaction based on the media we use to communicate. Using ethnomethodological and conversation analytic approaches, I look at emergent social orders constituted by text exchanges and investigate the consequences of text-exchange for how we interact. 

Health Communication
Rukhsana Ahmed

Sharing Health Research: The Circulation of Reliable Health Science in a Changing Media Landscape

Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Grant, this project is examining the role of media and social media in connecting publics with research-based health information to address and inform the SSHRC Challenge Area “Truth under Fire in a Post-Fact World.” In doing so, the interdisciplinary team of experts in scholarly communication and altmetrics, science communication, health communication, and health journalism, aims to highlight innovative research communication practices that will support the work of academics, journalists, and other science communicators by exploring public engagement online with reliable health information.

Innovative Health Communication Strategy to Combat COVID-19 Health Disparities

This collaborative project has been funded by the SUNY Prepare Innovation and Internship Seed Grant Program. The project team sought to analyze the effectiveness of Covid-19 prevention YouTube videos in educating Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals. By synthesizing survey and interview findings from this project, the team is working on producing evidence-based recommendations for effectively integrating videos into public health messaging to mitigate the inequalities highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities.  

Annis Golden

My research focuses on how individuals negotiate their relationships with organizations, including both employee-employer relationships, and healthcare consumer-healthcare provider relationships. I am particularly interested in how these processes are shaped by new information and communication technologies.
 

Overcoming Barriers to African American Women’s Reproductive Healthcare Seeking

African American women suffer significant disparities in disease incidence and health outcomes in relation to reproductive health, including HIV/AIDS, STIs, breast and cervical cancer. Small towns and cities, home to increasing numbers of African American women, present unique contextual challenges for reproductive health promotion: limited numbers of reproductive healthcare providers, difficulty in traveling to and from providers’ locations, and privacy concerns, in addition to lack of knowledge about preventive reproductive healthcare, and fear of discovering a health problem, which are faced by low income African American women more generally. This study will evaluate the impact of community-based education and transportation interventions on healthcare seeking, with the goal of identifying effective health promotion strategies that can be reproduced in similar settings and improving women’s health.
 

Communication Among Healthcare Providers and Families of Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injuries in a Rehabilitation Setting

The project’s goal is to arrive at a better understanding of the range of problems that staff and families encounter in their interactions, and to identify interactional resources that might be useful in resolving them. The study will combine analysis of conversational interactions between staff and families with analysis of follow-up interviews.

Archana Krishnan

Project SMART

This project was funded by a National Institute on Drug Abuse R21 grant (DA039842; PI: Frederick L. Altice, Co-I: Archana Krishnan). This is a randomized controlled trial designed to examine the feasibility and acceptability of mHealth tools (electronic pill boxes and smartphones) and communication feedback (no feedback, automated feedback, personalized feedback, clinician feedback) on medication adherence among people living with HIV (PLH) who use cocaine.
 

Health Predictors, Social Media, Exercise & Nutrition Study

Lack of physical activity and unhealthy eating behaviors are linked to higher incidence of chronic disease, increased risk of morbidity and mortality, and reduced quality of life This study examines the influence of health psychographic factors such as health consciousness, attitudes and intrinsic motivation, social media communication and online social support on physical activity and health eating.
 

HINTS Trends Study on Information-Seeking

This is a secondary analysis of HINTS data specifically examining patterns in tobacco and e-cigarette use, and the influence of health information-seeking behavior on perceptions of tobacco and nicotine. In addition to analyzing individual datasets, we seek to also conduct trend analysis of e-cigarette information-seeking behavior.

Oct. 1, 2021

 

Anita Pomerantz

Taking Issue

(Anita Pomerantz and Robert E. Sanders)

We are engaged in a collaborative research on the processes of deliberation. While we initially thought the framework of disagreement would be suitable for our study, we found that discussants engaged in a more complex activity than simply expressing disagreements. Our data consist of a jury deliberation in the death penalty phase of a murder trial that was recorded and transcribed by ABC news for a documentary series aired in 2004.  Our paper will be presented at The 2nd Meeting of the Language and Social Interaction Working Group (LANSI) at the Teachers College, Columbia University, in September 2012.
 

Native/non-native interaction

Istvan Kesckes, Robert E. Sanders, and Anita Pomerantz)

It is a commonplace in studies of interactions between non-native and native speakers to regard the non-native as the main source of understanding troubles, and as dependent on the native speaker for help in remedying them.  However, we are finding, to the contrary, that in interactions where the parties simply exchange ideas on a topic, NNSs are proactive about heading off possible understanding troubles, and, when they do occur, detect and undertake to remedy them. Indeed, it seems that it is NSs that sometimes produce understanding troubles in those interactions by interfering with the NNS’s turns at speaking, possibly because they have the stereotype of NNSs as disadvanged and in need of the NS’s help.  In this study, we examine naturally occurring interactions between moderately fluent NNS and NS. 
 

‘Not wanting to know’ as an account

(Annis Golden and Anita Pomerantz)

This project is based on a larger project funded by the NIH whose purpose is to identify effective community-based strategies for encouraging low income, African American women in a smaller urban setting to seek regular reproductive/sexual healthcare services. Drawing on interview data, we identified one prevalent account for their not seeking health screenings: “They/I don’t want to know.” We are analyzing the discourse used in articulating the account as well as the surrounding discourse as revealing interpretative repertoires of the women in the community.

Alan Zemel

Experience and recollection in interaction

This project, involving graduate students here at UAlbany, examines how actors engage in particular recall practices to formulate preservable features of their participation in what are purportedly prior occurrences. Most studies of recollection treat it as a psychological process. Other approaches consider how memory is a social and public matter in the ways that we constitute memorials, testimonial documents and the persistent materiality of our social world. The approach we take treats the formation of recollections as social actions performed by actors in the conduct of their lives. In our view, actors use particular embodied practices, including talk and engagement with documents, material and conceptual artifacts, the circumstances of interaction, etc., to display and account for their competencies and to account for and describe what their reported participation in what are represented as prior occurrences. Experience is thus (a) an achievement displayable in the competency to act in the moment and (b) the work of monitoring current participation in social action for its preservable, reportable, tellable features.

 

Psychological states as interactional phenomena

Discursive psychology examines psychological phenomena as publicly displayable psychological states. One area of interest we have pursued is how affect is displayed and what its interactional uses are. Based on this research, we use conversation analysis to examine psychological phenomena as actions. By displaying a psychological state to others in interaction, we are interested in specifying what responding actions such displays call for. We have seen that affect displays are one way of explicitly foregrounding misalignments regarding the moral organization of participation in social interaction. Additional work on memory and recall as interactional phenomena is underway.

Interpersonal and Intercultural Communication
Rukhsana Ahmed

Understanding the Experiences of Limited English Proficient Patients through the Perceptions of Healthcare Providers and Community Health Workers during COVID 19

This collaborative project has been funded by the University at Albany New York State COVID-19 Minority Health Disparities Initiative on behalf of the then Governor Andrew Cuomo. Differential Impacts of COVID-19 in New York State: Understanding and Eliminating Minority Health Disparities in a 21st-Century Pandemic. The project team sought to synthesize knowledge on strengths and resiliency-based approaches that focus on increasing community capacity to fight against COVID-19 health disparities, as well as evidence-based structural interventions to address low English proficiency and its ramifications to close the health disparities gap in immigrant communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The team also conducted cross-sectional surveys with frontline healthcare and social service providers to understand their experiences serving Limited English Proficient (LEP) patients during the pandemic.  

Patricia Gettings
The overarching aim of my research program is to explicate the ways in which individuals communicatively manage their relationships with organizations, and how these practices influence outcomes like identity, relationship quality, and organizational inclusiveness. Such issues are of particular importance given the centrality of work in many of our lives.
 

Retirement Processes: Examining the Transition Away from Employing Organizations

This line of inquiry explores retiring as a communicatively constructed career process that requires individuals to make sense of a change in relationship with an employer. Retirement in the U.S. (and beyond) is undergoing significant transformation due to factors such as shifting employer-employee contracts, dynamic economies, increasing life expectancies that can mean longer retirements, and more Americans reaching “traditional” retirement age than at any point in history. Given these changes, it is a critical moment to understand what retirement means, and how it is discussed and experienced. I have two current projects in this area. Utilizing a mixed methods approach, one study explores how young adults learn about and view retirement based on responses to an online survey. The goal of a second project is to examine the intersections of talk about aging and work-based phenomena such as retirement.
 

Military Family Communication: Exploring how Organizational Culture Shapes Talk

This area of research focuses on understanding how family members who have concerns about the post-deployment adjustment of their service-member (SM) loved ones talk about seeking behavioral health care and how Veterans perceive these conversations. Such investigations are important because some SMs/Veterans experience challenges reintegrating to civilian life—including mental health issues—but are reluctant to seek needed care, in part because of a military culture that emphasizes self-reliance and may stigmatize mental illness. Most recently, my research team conducted interviews with the partners/spouses of SMs who returned from deployment. We are integrating turning point analysis and accounts literature as a way to understand how post-deployment adjustment unfolds over time.
 

Women in “Traditionally Male” Careers: Understanding how Gender Identity Shapes Organizational Communication

This area of inquiry considers the experiences of women in the early stages of “traditionally male” careers (TMCs) who must negotiate their own identities in light of masculine organizational norms and expectations. This line of study is needed because gender (along with other forms of difference) continues to be associated with inequality in many American workplaces in terms of respect, advancement, compensation and so on. Based on survey data from participants who identified as women in the early stages of TMCs, a current project seeks to draw connections among experiences of workplace marginalization, communicative resilience processes, and individual/organizational outcomes (e.g., job satisfaction).
Tim Stephen

Communication Institute for Online Scholarship (CIOS)

I am involved in the design and construction of information dissemination, analysis, and retrieval systems for scholarly research and education and in researching and building typological systems necessary for such information technologies to be effective.

With Teresa Harrison, I created the Comserve project, which has since grown into the Communication Institute for Online Scholarship (CIOS), an independent, Web-based not-for-profit scholarly association facilitating the use of information technologies in the service of communication education and research (see http://www.cios.org/). The scope of this project has expanded dramatically from a first-of-kind innovation in the use of IT to enhance an academic discipline’s scholarly communication to become a resource incorporated into the day-to-day process of inquiry and education at institutions throughout the field. The Comserve project was among the first efforts to create a set of online electronic services through which scholars could share resources for education and research, and it did so nearly 10 years before the World Wide Web.

I am the designer, editor, and principal author of an extensive suite of database and other software systems comprising the CIOS. These include: (1) the ComIndex database which indexes scholarship published in nearly 100 communication journals between the years 1970 - 2003 (in total more than 40,000 articles); (2) the ComAbstracts database, a full text database of article abstracts encompassing 65 journals between approximately 1960-2003 (in total more than 17,000 article abstracts); (3) The ComWeb archive indexing 80,000 web pages from 450 academic web sites in communication; (4) the full text of more than a ten year run of ten of the field’s professional journals.
 

Concept Analysis of the Field’s Scholarly Literature

My CIOS work has produced several important resource collections that have created an unusually rich research opportunity to study the evolution and interdependence of concepts in the communication field. Accordingly, I am now undertaking scientometric concept map analyses of the interrelationships among pivotal theoretical ideas extracted through statistical/linguistic analysis of the literature of the communication discipline gathered in CIOS databases. The project uses a suite of original software programs I’ve authored that parse the titles of the data records from the ComIndex database. The resulting dataset of approximately 200,000 unique words is sifted to eliminate junk terms (“and”, “but”, “anyway”, “those”, “who”, and many more) and to isolate core concepts, and normalized by converting British to U.S. spelling. My procedure then reduces the resulting set of normalized core concepts to their linguistic root forms. As well, the procedure lumps synonymous concepts (television, TV, tube), recognizes phrases of disciplinary relevance as singular concepts (e.g., “third person effect”, “spiral of silence”, “genre theory”, “social movements theory”, etc.) and appropriately splits divergent concepts that happen to have common linguistic roots (organic and organization).

I have been conducting statistical studies of the frequencies of co-occurrence within the resulting set of root key concepts and developing software systems that allow live exploration of the strength of these relationships (e.g., “gender” and “talk” co-occur with a particular frequency, “rhetoric” and “argument” co-occur with a particular frequency, etc.). I have also created a mapping process in which concepts are related to each other in a graphical display where distance indicates degree of relationship.


As the field approaches a future in which access to our literature becomes exclusively electronic, my work is discovering trends and regularities that will serve as the foundation for designing interfaces based on keywords and co-occurrence that will enable future generations of scholars and students to recover primary and associated texts, to explore and contact the often otherwise invisible networks of scholars who have contributed to theoretical and applied work in the field, and to view documents within the context of other contextualizing resources (web presentations, electronic discussions) that may help to situate them more precisely within the field’s system of knowledge.

This work, constituting a kind of theoretical data mining, has the potential to serve as a test-bed for examining hypotheses about conditions under which theoretical ideas rise and fall within the literature of our discipline. Further, it will be possible to construct in software an entirely new kind of educational experience for students of communication, a kind of virtual reality exploratorium of this mapped network of concepts, allowing students of communication to view and experience viscerally through the deployment of a 3D interface, the strength of interrelationship these concepts have acquired in the accumulated experience of the field.

Alan Zemel

Instructed action and Lebenswelt pairs in instructional interactions

This project explores the basic question: How do actors come to know that which they do not yet know? Extending the ethnomethodological and conversation analytic work of Charles Goodwin (2018) and Douglas Macbeth (2011), I work together with scholars from the University of Stockholm and Southern Illinois University School of Medicine to explore the profoundly reflexive nature of action and the ways that instructional interactions are accomplished. A wide ranging collection of data, ranging from psychotherapy sessions, surgical training in the operating room and music lessons, is used to investigate the mutually informing nature of the interaction between instructors and instructees over the course of what they treat as a “lesson.” Instructees are not treated as passive recipients of knowledge but display themselves to be active participants in the formation of the lesson as it occurs. Thus, we examine in close detail the interactional work that occurs between instructors and instructors who mutually monitor, track, and adjust their participation in instructional interactions. In other words, by attending to the fact that lessons in face-to-face encounters are produced by both instructor and instructee on a moment-by-moment basis, we can locate how both instructors and instructees participate in and contribute to the instructional work underway. Preliminary results confirm that instructees do their lessons before they understand them and that understanding is an emergent accomplishment of ongoing participation in and performance of ‘learned’ matters.

Mass Communication
William Husson

My research interests fall within the area of visual communication. One project I am currently working on involves exploring Erving Goffman's ideas about the use of interaction displays in advertising photographs. I am critically evaluating how such displays communicate information about the relationship between the social actors depicted in these photographs. I am also working on two projects related to film. In one project, I am examining the relationship between face work and interpersonal conflict as these phenomena are depicted in a documentary film by Frederick Wiseman. In another project, I am investigating narrative reflexivity (i.e., a film's calling attention to the fact that it is telling a story) in movie westerns and crime films. I am specifically interested in how narrative reflexitivity is used to render moral judgments about gun violence in these genres.

Alyssa Morey

Psychophysiology in Mass Communication Research

Grounded in the assumption that higher-order emotional and cognitive mechanisms (psychological variables) are associated with responses, processes, and functioning of the body’s biological systems (physiological measures), psychophysiological research both capitalizes on the observation of such relationships and aspires to strengthen, deepen, and expand understanding of these links. Focused on the thematic division of psychophysiological media effects or media psychophysiology research, this project reviews the primary psychological variables covered in this subfield of communication research and the various physiological measures used to assess them.

Nancy L. Roberts

My research focuses on the history of journalism and communication, with two foci:

  • The history of alternative U.S. periodicals, particularly those advocating social justice, including  those of the Catholic Worker Movement and the Oneida Community
  • Literary  journalism, particularly as practiced by social justice advocates such as Dorothy Day, Meridel LeSueur, Jacob Riis, and others.

Literary Journalism Studies

I am the book review editor for this journal, the first established to support scholarship on the literary aspects of journalism.  It is published by the International Association for Literary Journalism Studies. https://ialjs.org/publications/

 

Organizational Communication
Rukhsana Ahmed

Integrating Prenatal Environmental Health Education into Clinical Care in Canada: The PEHE Study        

Funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) Project Grant, this project is studying the factors promoting and inhibiting uptake of prenatal environmental health preventive care activities across diverse prenatal care, community, occupational and environmental health contexts in Canada. The multidisciplinary team of experts in reproductive health, clinical care, environmental health, health education, and health communication in partnership with key prenatal care and environmental health organizations, specifically aim to: (1) identify opportunities to integrate environmental health education into perinatal care in Canada; and, (2) advance educational strategies encouraging protective behaviors.

Patricia Gettings
The overarching aim of my research program is to explicate the ways in which individuals communicatively manage their relationships with organizations, and how these practices influence outcomes like identity, relationship quality, and organizational inclusiveness. Such issues are of particular importance given the centrality of work in many of our lives.
 

Retirement Processes: Examining the Transition Away from Employing Organizations

This line of inquiry explores retiring as a communicatively constructed career process that requires individuals to make sense of a change in relationship with an employer. Retirement in the U.S. (and beyond) is undergoing significant transformation due to factors such as shifting employer-employee contracts, dynamic economies, increasing life expectancies that can mean longer retirements, and more Americans reaching “traditional” retirement age than at any point in history. Given these changes, it is a critical moment to understand what retirement means, and how it is discussed and experienced. I have two current projects in this area. Utilizing a mixed methods approach, one study explores how young adults learn about and view retirement based on responses to an online survey. The goal of a second project is to examine the intersections of talk about aging and work-based phenomena such as retirement.
 

Military Family Communication: Exploring how Organizational Culture Shapes Talk

This area of research focuses on understanding how family members who have concerns about the post-deployment adjustment of their service-member (SM) loved ones talk about seeking behavioral health care and how Veterans perceive these conversations. Such investigations are important because some SMs/Veterans experience challenges reintegrating to civilian life—including mental health issues—but are reluctant to seek needed care, in part because of a military culture that emphasizes self-reliance and may stigmatize mental illness. Most recently, my research team conducted interviews with the partners/spouses of SMs who returned from deployment. We are integrating turning point analysis and accounts literature as a way to understand how post-deployment adjustment unfolds over time.
 

Women in “Traditionally Male” Careers: Understanding how Gender Identity Shapes Organizational Communication

This area of inquiry considers the experiences of women in the early stages of “traditionally male” careers (TMCs) who must negotiate their own identities in light of masculine organizational norms and expectations. This line of study is needed because gender (along with other forms of difference) continues to be associated with inequality in many American workplaces in terms of respect, advancement, compensation and so on. Based on survey data from participants who identified as women in the early stages of TMCs, a current project seeks to draw connections among experiences of workplace marginalization, communicative resilience processes, and individual/organizational outcomes (e.g., job satisfaction).
Annis Golden

My research focuses on how individuals negotiate their relationships with organizations, including both employee-employer relationships, and healthcare consumer-healthcare provider relationships. I am particularly interested in how these processes are shaped by new information and communication technologies.
 

Overcoming Barriers to African American Women’s Reproductive Healthcare Seeking

African American women suffer significant disparities in disease incidence and health outcomes in relation to reproductive health, including HIV/AIDS, STIs, breast and cervical cancer. Small towns and cities, home to increasing numbers of African American women, present unique contextual challenges for reproductive health promotion: limited numbers of reproductive healthcare providers, difficulty in traveling to and from providers’ locations, and privacy concerns, in addition to lack of knowledge about preventive reproductive healthcare, and fear of discovering a health problem, which are faced by low income African American women more generally. This study will evaluate the impact of community-based education and transportation interventions on healthcare seeking, with the goal of identifying effective health promotion strategies that can be reproduced in similar settings and improving women’s health.
 

Communication Among Healthcare Providers and Families of Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injuries in a Rehabilitation Setting

The project’s goal is to arrive at a better understanding of the range of problems that staff and families encounter in their interactions, and to identify interactional resources that might be useful in resolving them. The study will combine analysis of conversational interactions between staff and families with analysis of follow-up interviews.

Teresa M. Harrison

Communication Technologies and Democracy

My research and teaching interests focus on communication and technology, with a special emphasis on the relationship between new communication technologies and democratic processes and practices. For the last several years I have been involved in organizing several small conferences bringing together scholars sharing technology and democracy, understood from a variety of perspectives. 
 

Development of Community Information Systems

I am engaged in the design and development of a community information system in a project funded by the National Science Foundation, with Jim Zappen of the Department of Language, Literature, & Communication and Sibel Adali of the Computer Science Department, both at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. This interdisciplinary team is working with approximately 20 government and not-for-profit community organizations to design and develop a community information system devoted to services and resources for youth and to study its diffusion over time. We are addressing a variety of research questions focusing on the organizational and community considerations that are brought to bear in the development and evaluation of a community information system. Our research works with a numerous constituencies in the local community, including (a) representatives of government and not-for-profit organizations providing programs and resources for youth, (b) kids between the ages of 5 and 18, and (c) parents and other social support personnel, to explore how these diverse community actors view the uses and purposes of a community information system and what information needs and functionalities they would find useful in designing and developing this system. We will also soon be interested in exploring the factors associated with the adoption and use of such a system. 
 

Participatory Design in Software Development

Zappan, Adali, and I are also creating a model of processes and practices of participatory design in software system development. Our research is one of few projects that employs participatory design as a strategy for the development of a community information system. In doing so, we take seriously the challenge of determining what community actors want to do with community information. In order to address this issue, we are asking (a) what processes and practices can we use to determine users’ intentions and uses for community information systems, especially in communities of diverse and potentially competing interests and (b) how can we incorporate these interests into a system design that is necessarily complex and multipurpose rather than standardized and single-purpose?
 

Development of an Action Research Agenda

Zappan, Adali, and I are developing a model of specific steps and considerations in the development of an action research agenda in digital government projects. Increasingly, social scientists are working with computer scientists to develop software systems that constitute interventions in the social, cultural, political, and organizational dimensions of community life. Such interventions constitute new ways of information sharing, deliberation over policy options, collaboration on joint projects, or other aspects of governance. However, very little is known about how such interventions are designed, implemented, and sustained over time. We are attempting to consider this question somewhat systematically in reflecting on how our project has developed and the resources, commitments, and support required for sustainability beyond the period of our project’s funding.
 

Electronic Journal of Communication

I am currently editing one of the world’s first peer reviewed electronic scholarly journals, the Electronic Journal of Communication/La revue electronique de communication which is published by the Communication Institute for Online Scholarship. The table of contents for the journal can be perused at http://www.cios.org/www/ejcrec2.htm

Political Communication
Teresa M. Harrison

Communication Technologies and Democracy

My research and teaching interests focus on communication and technology, with a special emphasis on the relationship between new communication technologies and democratic processes and practices. For the last several years I have been involved in organizing several small conferences bringing together scholars sharing technology and democracy, understood from a variety of perspectives. 
 

Development of Community Information Systems

I am engaged in the design and development of a community information system in a project funded by the National Science Foundation, with Jim Zappen of the Department of Language, Literature, & Communication and Sibel Adali of the Computer Science Department, both at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. This interdisciplinary team is working with approximately 20 government and not-for-profit community organizations to design and develop a community information system devoted to services and resources for youth and to study its diffusion over time. We are addressing a variety of research questions focusing on the organizational and community considerations that are brought to bear in the development and evaluation of a community information system. Our research works with a numerous constituencies in the local community, including (a) representatives of government and not-for-profit organizations providing programs and resources for youth, (b) kids between the ages of 5 and 18, and (c) parents and other social support personnel, to explore how these diverse community actors view the uses and purposes of a community information system and what information needs and functionalities they would find useful in designing and developing this system. We will also soon be interested in exploring the factors associated with the adoption and use of such a system. 

 

Participatory Design in Software Development

Zappan, Adali, and I are also creating a model of processes and practices of participatory design in software system development. Our research is one of few projects that employs participatory design as a strategy for the development of a community information system. In doing so, we take seriously the challenge of determining what community actors want to do with community information. In order to address this issue, we are asking (a) what processes and practices can we use to determine users’ intentions and uses for community information systems, especially in communities of diverse and potentially competing interests and (b) how can we incorporate these interests into a system design that is necessarily complex and multipurpose rather than standardized and single-purpose?
 

Development of an Action Research Agenda

Zappan, Adali, and I are developing a model of specific steps and considerations in the development of an action research agenda in digital government projects. Increasingly, social scientists are working with computer scientists to develop software systems that constitute interventions in the social, cultural, political, and organizational dimensions of community life. Such interventions constitute new ways of information sharing, deliberation over policy options, collaboration on joint projects, or other aspects of governance. However, very little is known about how such interventions are designed, implemented, and sustained over time. We are attempting to consider this question somewhat systematically in reflecting on how our project has developed and the resources, commitments, and support required for sustainability beyond the period of our project’s funding.
 

Electronic Journal of Communication

I am currently editing one of the world’s first peer reviewed electronic scholarly journals, the Electronic Journal of Communication/La revue electronique de communication which is published by the Communication Institute for Online Scholarship. The table of contents for the journal can be perused at http://www.cios.org/www/ejcrec2.htm

Alyssa Morey

The Brain’s Responses to Interpersonal Political Opinion Disagreement

This event-related potential (ERP) project contributes to the political discussion literature by examining the brain’s responses to (ostensible) political discussion partners whose political opinions are similar to or different from one’s own. Using a more complex experimental design than has been employed in extant social conflict feedback-related negativity (FRN) research, this project also contributes to the social cognitive neuroscience literature by examining three proposed—but heretofore untested—mechanisms underlying the social disagreement FRN response (Expectation Deviation, Conflict-as-Error, Motivational Significance).

 

Motivations for Interpersonal Political Discussion

This projects expands political discussion scholarship by examining the relationship between six motivations for political discussion (i.e., educate oneself, learn about others, influence others, be social, and build relationships) and five forms of political talk (i.e., overall discussion frequency, discussion involving agreement, disagreement, strong ties, and weak ties). Survey results demonstrate that different motivations are associated with different forms of political talk. These findings suggest that motivations offer significant potential for advancing understanding of what drives the most common manifestations (agreement, strong-tie discussion) and the most deliberative and democratically beneficial (disagreement, weak-tie discussion) forms of political discussion.

Piotr Szpunar

My research combines communication, media, and political theory with qualitative political communication research. My work focuses on issues of media, conflict, and memory, with a particular focus on political violence/terrorism and collective memory/future thinking. 
 

Futural Sites 

I am preparing a monograph on “places of future,” the spaces created or altered to act as infrastructures for bringing about a positive envisioned future or helping to weather the arrival of a threatening one. The project builds on my interests in technology, the elemental turn in media studies, and the futural turn in memory studies. I specifically look at how “natural” landscapes are shaped in and by technology in the face of climate change and what this reveals about collective memory practices and future thinking. I am examining three sites: Mars, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, and the East River Shoreline in Manhattan. 

 

Phatic Violence 

In continuing my work on political violence, I am preparing a monograph project on dispersed or stochastic terrorism against the backdrop of digital phatic culture. The project analyzes a variety of “lone wolf” incidents and focuses on the use and role of media therein as well as notions of connectivity. The project brings together Roman Jakobson’s notion of phatic communication and Hannah Arendt’s concept of the banality of evil, alongside media scholarship to rethink the communicative and functional nature of political violence in the digital age, reassess its disruptive nature as a media event, and challenge hypodermic models of radicalization. 

Masahiro Yamamoto

My research focuses on understanding the role of communication and media in fostering civic action. I am particularly interested in how citizen-to-citizen communication and use of digital, social, and mobile media mobilize citizens’ participation in civic and political activities both at local and national levels.
 

Social Media and Politics

One area of my research addresses the potential of digital media to encourage political participation. While social media present the unique opportunities for citizens to acquire information, express opinions, and experience politics, there are significant concerns about their role in the spread of misinformation and the formation of ideologically isolated communities. My research seeks to understand how varied communication activities and political messages on social media shape citizens’ knowledge about, and (un)willingness to participate in, politics. My recent work focuses on overestimation of political learning from social media-based news consumption.
 

In another line of research, I address the role of communication in community social control. Research has long documented non-negligible variations in crime and disorder across geographic communities. What roles do social actors, including residents, neighborhood groups, and local news organizations, play in the community’s efforts to develop shared expectations, trust, and voluntary action that are necessary for realization of the common good? To answer this question, I theorize everyday communicative activities with neighbors and consumption of local news as the central mechanisms of the community social control process.

Strategic Communication
Masahiro Yamamoto

Social Media and Politics

One area of my research addresses the potential of digital media to encourage political participation. While social media present the unique opportunities for citizens to acquire information, express opinions, and experience politics, there are significant concerns about their role in the spread of misinformation and the formation of ideologically isolated communities. My research seeks to understand how varied communication activities and political messages on social media shape citizens’ knowledge about, and (un)willingness to participate in, politics. My recent work focuses on overestimation of political learning from social media-based news consumption.