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Argentina and a Racism Hidden in Plain Sight  

Sergio Caggiano

As part of a push to homogenize culture, the modern Argentine nation-state (1880–1930) did away with race as an explicit criterion of social classification, laying the foundations for the myth of White Argentina. Cultural productions and the mainstream media have fed that myth for a century. In recent decades (since the mid-1980s and the 1990s), however, community media outlets have drawn attention to racist practices against specific social groups, particularly Indigenous peoples, regional immigrants, and Black people. While working to forge ties with ancestors from the 19th century or even earlier, these alternative media outlets tend to overlook the 20th century entirely, as if to confirm how successfully Argentina rendered non-White people invisible during the nation’s modern history. Besides targeting minority groups, racism in modern Argentina was also directed at a large swath of the working class that embodies what shall be referred to here as negritud popular (low-class Blackness). What is the relationship between discrimination against specific groups, their responses to this discrimination, and a broader racism directed against working-class and popular sectors? Working through denial and drawing on appearance, Argentinian racism operates ambiguously and intersects with other forms of discrimination. By removing the racial dimension from racism, race could no longer be politicized, but “White” Argentines could still refuse to acknowledge others’ existence, shaping a racism through denial that is epitomized in the commonly heard “in Argentina there are no Blacks/Indians left.” Appearance proves key in this process: Although it alludes to the color of one’s skin and phenotype, it also encompasses a number of visible traits, such as clothing and accessories, gestures, and face and hair care, that, when taken together, convey a person’s social class and value. From this perspective, racism in Argentina targets two types of subjects (ethnic, national, and diasporic subjects, on the one hand, and negritud popular on the other), although certain individuals may fall into both categories. The spaces for racism in Argentina—and for combating racism—are difficult to locate with any precision.

Article

Conflict in Family Communication  

John P. Caughlin and Emily Gerlikovski

Conflict is a common experience in families. Although conflicts can be intense, most conflicts in families are about mundane issues such as housework, social life, schoolwork, or hygiene. Families’ negotiations over even such mundane topics, however, have important implications. Through conflicts with other family members, children typically first learn about managing difficulties with others, and the skills they learn in such conflicts are important to their social lives beyond their families. Yet poorly managed conflicts that become more intense or personal can undermine the well-being of families and family members. Family conflicts are extremely complex, and understanding them requires analysis at multiple levels, including examining the individual family members, dyads and larger groups within the family, and the sociocultural context in which families are embedded. At the individual level, family members’ conflict behaviors (e.g., exhibiting positive affect vs. negative affect), conflict skills (e.g., whether they are able to resolve problems), and cognitions (e.g., whether they make generous attributions about other family members' intent during disputes) all are important for understanding the impact of family conflicts. Examining conflict from the dyadic and polyadic levels recognizes that there are important features of conflict that are only apparent with a broader perspective. Dyadic and polyadic constructs include patterns of behavior, conflict outcomes that apply to all family members involved, and beliefs shared by family members. There are also particular types of relationships within families that have salient conflicts which have drawn considerable scholarly attention, such as parent–child or parent–adolescent conflicts, conflicts between siblings, marital conflicts, and conflicts between co-parents. In addition, families experience various transitions, and the life course of families influences conflict. Some key periods for conflict are the early years of marriage, the period of launching children and empty nest, and a family member navigating the end of life. Finally, family conflicts occur in a larger sociocultural context in which societal events and conditions affect family conflict. Such contextual factors include broad social structures (e.g., societal-level power dynamics between men and women), financial conditions, different co-cultural groups within a country, cross-cultural differences, and major events such as the COVID-19 pandemic that have direct effects on families and also elicit dramatic social responses that affect families. Despite the complexities, it is important to understand family conflict because of its implications for the health and well-being of families and family members.

Article

Flow Experiences and Media  

Paula T. Wang, Kylie Woodman, and René Weber

“Flow” originated in the field of positive psychology and describes an optimal psychological state obtained when skilled individuals face challenges that leave them creatively stimulated, attentionally immersed, and flourishing. It was introduced into the communication literature at the turn of the 21st century, when media researchers began to revisit enduring questions surrounding media use, selection, and behavior. At the time, the established uses and gratifications (U&G) framework offered limited explanatory power to address newer questions arising from the emergence of interactive media such as the proliferation of video game consoles and advent of early social media. Flow has since become increasingly adopted within the field of media research as an alternate approach that addresses many of the criticisms of the U&G framework. Flow is characterized by a single key antecedent—that participants engage in an activity that maintains strict balance between task challenge and user skill. Video games in particular offer the ideal vessel for flow because they most easily fulfill the required challenge–skill balance due to their interactive and adaptable nature. Attempts to advance the development of the flow construct have faced challenges stemming from conceptual ambiguity and operational inconsistency, resulting in findings that are difficult to consolidate across studies. Despite these contentions, nascent research has been largely focused on identifying the correlates and predictors used to measure flow across new behavioral, psychophysiological, and neurological avenues. The development of more robust measures of flow will allow researchers to resolve lingering conceptual ambiguities and answer new and emerging questions, such as the length, depth, and stability of flow episodes and the role of flow in promoting problematic gaming behavior and behavioral addictions.

Article

The Knowledge Deficit Model and Science Communication  

W.J. Grant

The Knowledge Deficit Model represents a key boundary concept in the modern discussion of science communication. In essence, the model asserts an epistemic priority for science and scientific information: that scientific knowledge should be paramount in making decisions on science-related issues, that this knowledge should be communicated from scientists to audiences who do not have this knowledge, that scientists should be in control of this communication flow, that the nonscientific audiences receiving this knowledge will be grateful for this, and that they will make better decisions as a result. To state it simply, the model assumes that nonscientific audiences are in some senses empty vessels suffering from a deficit of scientific knowledge, waiting to be filled with the wisdom of science. Among science communication researchers and those concerned with the relationship between science and society, this model of communication is often considered essentially flawed, in that it affords politically problematic privileges to scientific knowledge and leaves scientists ignorant of the needs and knowledges their audiences, ignorant of the contexts in which decisions will be made, less likely to be viewed as trustworthy by those audiences, and less likely to do good science. The end result of such an approach is only likely to be a greater distrust between science and society, and flawed science. Yet despite these critiques—and a near total absence of evidence in its favor—the model perseveres. Many scientists and science organizations continue to communicate their work in a deficit model style. Understanding why it persists—and what to do about it—remains a key challenge in science communication research.

Article

Medical Tourism and Communication  

Alicia Mason

Medical tourism (MT), sometimes referred to as health tourism or medical travel, involves both the treatment of illness and the facilitation of wellness, with travel. Medical tourism is a multifaceted and multiphase process involving many agents and actors that requires careful planning and execution. The coordinated process involves the biomedical, transportation, tourism, and leisure industries. From the communication perspective, the process can be viewed as a 5-stage model consisting of the: (a) orientation, (b) preparation, (c) experiential and treatment, (d) convalescence, and (e) reflection phases. Medical tourism is uniquely situated in a nexus of academic literature related to communication, business and management, travel and tourism, policy and law, healthcare and health administration. Communication permeates and perpetuates the medical tourism process and does so at the levels of interpersonal interactions (provider-patient communication), small group (healthcare teams), organizational (between healthcare providers), and mass and computer-mediated communication (marketing, advertising, and patient social support). This process may, in some cases, involve high rates of international and intercultural variation. Further study of the MT process can help to gain a better understanding of how healthcare consumers evaluate information about medical procedures and possible risks, as well as the specific message features and effects associated with various communication channels and information delivery systems. Continuing scholarly efforts also should focus on the relationship between medical tourism and communication.

Article

Virtual Reality Horror Games and Fear in Gaming  

Tammy Jin-Hsuan Lin

Fear is a basic human emotion important for survival and for staying alert to potential danger. In psychology, fear is defined as a discrete emotion to help humans adapt to the environment and serves as a signal for potential danger to help humans avoid or prepare for such threats. While fear is typically experienced through real-world threats as a natural response for survival, modern society also exposes us to fear through mediated content like movies and news. Interactive media, such as video games and virtual reality (VR), have emerged as new ways to experience fear because of their immersive environments. Researchers have discovered that people have similar reactions to both real-life and mediated threats. Previous studies have explored the reasons and methods behind how people experience fear through media. With advancements in technology, researchers have also examined the emotional impact of interactive media, such as video games and VR. This article examines fear elements, fear reactions, and coping reactions in video games and VR. Results indicate that horror games are the most likely to elicit fear responses in video games, and participants often experience greater cognitive than physical reactions. In VR, research has shown that elements that make players feel realistic inside the games, termed plausibility illusion elements, are most effective in eliciting fear. Players’ reactions toward the VR horror games include active approach strategies, or a constant reminder that the VR events are not real; directly disengaging physically and mentally; and other self-help coping strategies. In addition to immediate fear during VR-horror gameplay, some players showed residual fear on the day after they finished playing the game, indicating that the Tetris effect is strong in VR-horror games. Overall, the empirical evidence in existing gaming literature show that emotional responses are greater in VR than in non-VR video games. The literature also explores the appeal of horror games, and their mechanisms are reviewed. By understanding the fear responses of audiences in video games and VR, researchers and the industry can design effective intervention and training materials. Media-elicited fear, mediated fright, is reviewed, followed by the appeal of horror games. Game elements from the design perspective to discuss various elements in horror games that may elicit fear are also reviewed. Fear reactions, negative emotions experienced in horror games and other game-related elements such as music and soundtrack, virtual environment, game characters’ appearance, and their facial expressions, all contributed to the fear emotion among players. The discussion of unique affordances and traits of VR and its implications conclude the article.

Article

Cognitive and Interactive Mechanisms for Mutual Understanding in Conversation  

Ashley Micklos and Marieke Woensdregt

Everyday conversation is, as the term suggests, a frequent and seemingly effortless phenomenon. However, when closely examined, it is seen that the process of achieving mutual understanding in conversation involves both complex social reasoning and finely tuned interactive mechanisms. Referential communication provides an excellent case study for what makes everyday language interactions complex: people recruit an intricate web of cognitive capacities and interactive resources in order to get their message across. In terms of cognitive capacities, reaching mutual understanding in conversation involves social reasoning in order to establish common ground and take into account one’s conversational partner when producing and interpreting utterances. Specifically, people continuously adapt to their conversational partner by keeping track of what information is or is not shared (based on the situational context, preceding discourse, and general knowledge) and adjusting their utterances and interpretations accordingly. In terms of interactive resources, mechanisms that allow us to keep a conversation on track (e.g., backchannels) and the mechanisms that allow us to recover from breakdowns in communication (i.e., repair) contribute to mutual understanding. Specifically, other-initiated repair, a conversational phenomenon that has been documented cross-linguistically and observed in experimental settings, is an interactional resource for (re)establishing intersubjectivity between interlocutors. The historic separation between cognitive capacities on the one hand and interactive resources on the other hand has created an artificial divide, when in fact both mechanisms interact with, and even presuppose, one another. This article puts forward a unified perspective on the cognitive and interactive mechanisms for mutual understanding, moving towards better understanding of the complementary roles of these mechanisms in interaction.

Article

The Ethnic Heritage of Party Politics and Political Communication in Lusophone African Countries  

Susana Salgado and Afonso Biscaia

The processes through which ethnicity becomes visible are varied, and its impacts have not always been the same throughout history. Investigating the roles ethnicity played in Angolan, Mozambican, Cape Verdean, and São Tomé and Principean histories makes clear that colonizers themselves placed different emphases on the relevance and the role of ethnicity in these countries. Currently, partly due to the traumas engendered by decades of conflict in Angola and Mozambique, ethnicity is mostly a silent factor, operating in the ways people interact with one another but not overtly mentioned by politicians. The insular nations’ (Cape Verde and São Tomé and Príncipe) history with ethnicity is different from that of their continental counterparts, – partly due to the influence of Creoleness – but is not devoid of tensions; nevertheless, politicians from both archipelagic countries tend to downplay the influence of ethnicity, even if its effects can also be occasionally but subtly felt. More recently, mainstream political discourses focused on the idea of the “unitary nation” are being paired with those of spontaneous movements advocating the valorization of local cultures and languages, which are being boosted by the use of social media.

Article

Cognitive Skills Acquired From Video Games  

Emma G. Cunningham and C. Shawn Green

Due to the massive engagement with video games worldwide in innumerable forms and iterations, researchers have sought to understand the impact playing video games might have on the human brain and behavior. Although research on video games resides in a vast array of disciplines, including social, developmental, clinical, and educational psychology, this work focuses on research specifically in the cognitive sphere. From early research providing sound evidence for the positive impacts of action games on perceptual cognitive skills, to recent work refining methodologies for differentiating the effects of a wide range of embedded mechanics within broader game genres, the field has addressed a number of increasingly complex and critical questions. Research in the field has explored the effects of many game genres’ unique mechanics and in-game goals. Specifically, studies have found that action games positively impact perceptual skills as well as higher-order attentional control and executive function skills, while game genres that utilize action-oriented mechanics including Action-Role Playing Games and Real Time Strategy games also induce similar effects, if to a lesser extent. These results have been observed both through correlational studies, where player status is an existing characteristic of participants, and through intervention studies, where novice participants are trained on a specific game to establish causality between game play and cognitive performance. Although less research has been dedicated to the effects of puzzle games, playing such games has been found to impact higher cognitive skills such as problem-solving and fluid intelligence. Building upon this body of work, future research should explore the cognitive impacts of a more diverse set of game types, in-game experiences, and cognitive constructs as well as the mechanisms through which they are impacted. This should include work dedicated to the effects of puzzle and mini games, and the impact of games on higher cognitive skills including planning, problem-solving, and fluid intelligence, where relatively little research has been dedicated in the past. Further, research should explore the differences in training outcomes from games, between immediate transfer of skills from training to test and the enhancement of the meta-skill of “learning to learn.” Together, such work will allow game play to continue to evolve from pure entertainment to a force for good.

Article

The Hierarchy of “Othering”: Belarusian Media Practitioners’ Accounts  

Galina Miazhevich

Belarus—a western periphery of the former Soviet Union—remains overlooked by the scholarly research. Regarded as the periphery to an integral Russian imperial state, rather than a colony proper, Belarus remains a blind spot in post-Soviet identity studies. Generally overlooked or overshadowed by the two larger neighboring states of Ukraine and, especially, Russia it attracts attention for the type of governance established by its current president, Lukashenka, or its “undeveloped” national identity. However, this article goes beyond this formulation of Belarusian identity in negative terms, which views the country as a “denationalized nation” or emphasizes its anachronistic “Sovietization” or Sovietness . It advocates repositioning “Belarusianness” at the core of the post-Soviet experience as a unique case illuminating the dilemmas of post-Soviet nationhood and the enduring legacies of Soviet multiculturalism. Belarusian multiculturalism is a complicated notion because it largely draws on the imperial/Soviet legacy of a multipeopled state (mnogonarodnoe) in a relatively homogenous Belarusian society and “a tolerant nation” mythology, devoid of links to western liberalism. Consequently, it is expected that the “hierarchy of othering” will include prejudices toward prime “post-imperial targets” such as Roma and Caucasians (in contrast to more distant foreigners). Pro-Western sentiment will be primarily associated with homosexuality. There will be a complex relationship with a “significant” other—Russia—which has more pronounced grassroots ethnic tensions. The tension between the state’s nation-building project and Belarusian revivalism (frequently treated as oppositional nationalism) will contribute to auto-xenophobia or “othering” of a (part of) titular Belarusian nation. The country’s particular multicultural context informed by the Soviet legacy and its current nation-building strategies can (a) illuminate broader trends also applicable to other neighboring states such as Russia, as well as (b) inform a wider discussion on the mediated populist othering in the post-Soviet region. By drawing on 15 interviews with the sub/editors of the key Belarusian state and independent media outlets, the article introduces an original “hierarchy of othering”—a distinct order of mediated populist othering where certain groups or differences are seen as more or less acceptable. The high level of the state’s involvement in media and the establishment’s mantra of “tolerant” Belarus make the mediation of populist othering problematic. In a situation of “weak hegemony”, the Belarusian establishment had to artificially instill a consensual power balance from above. As a result, media practitioners’ narratives combine a rigid reiteration of the establishment’s line of multicultural “tolerance” together with the contradictions and inconsistencies that expose grassroots xenophobia.