Historical approaches to communication studies

Authored by: Michael Schudson

A Handbook of Qualitative Methodologies for Mass Communication Research

Print publication date:  December  2015
Online publication date:  September  2002

Print ISBN: 9781138134867
eBook ISBN: 9780203409800
Adobe ISBN: 9781134938254


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“Communication systems have a history,” Robert Darnton has recently observed, “although historians have rarely studied it” (Darnton, 1990: xvii). This echoes Elizabeth Eisenstein’s complaint a decade earlier that, despite historians’ assertions about the power of the printing press, no systematic study of the impact of printing on culture had ever been undertaken (Eisenstein, 1979: 6). Even the concepts for doing such a study were lacking; major transformations in human communication - in this case, from “scribal” to print modes for publication and distribution of written things - were elided altogether in discussions of a general shift from oral to written cultures.

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