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PRECONFERENCE: Embracing the Network Paradigm: New Directions in Strategic Communication Research

Thu, May 24, 8:30 to 12:00, Hilton Prague, L, Istanbul

Session Submission Type: Panel


Across the social sciences, scholars are increasingly applying a network perspective to examine a range of phenomena. A network perspective reasons that relationships are the basic building blocks of societies and it helps us to answer questions about the connections among individuals, groups, organizations, as well as nonhuman actors. Contemporary communication and media systems have amplified the significance of networks (van Dijk, 2006) and have led scholars to theorize how and why networks at the micro, meso and maco levels influence the processes of production, experience, power, and culture (Castells, 2009). Previous communication network research has predominantly focused on studying the structure or potential effects of networks. But few have treated networks as dependent variables that can be strategically shaped by communication practitioners. This existing gap is why strategic communication has considerable potential to advance network research. Likewise, the strategic communication fields stand to benefit from the innovative network theories and methodologies that can capture the complexities of modern communication phenomena. Strategic communication scholarship has witnessed considerable growth in the number of network-based studies over the past decade. Drawing from the management literature (Rowley, 1997), scholars have long called for strategic communication research to move away from a dyadic, organizational-centric orientation (Monge & Contractor, 2003; Yang & Taylor, 2015), to a network-based purview that encompasses the complexity and interconnectedness of communicators (Shumate & O'Connor, 2010; Taylor & Doerfel, 2005). We believe that the network perspective can offer a sophisticated theoretical explanation of how complex relationships affect many aspects of strategic communication. Therefore, we invite quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-method studies that use the range of network analytic techniques (i.e. whole and ego-network approaches). Studies may include, but are not limited to, data from hyperlinks, semantic texts, social media, big data, secondary sources, and offline interaction patterns among individuals, groups, and/or organizations. In an effort to advance the adoption and development of network theory and research in strategic communication scholarship and practice, we propose this preconference.

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