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On the communicative constitution of risk objects in mediated times

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This article provides an introduction to, and some motivation for, the themes addressed in the following collection of papers. This special issue was initially conceived as a kind of open-ended dialogue between communication studies and sociology, with the central focus being the conceptualization and practical understanding of the nature of risk communication. In the contemporary world, a technical discourse on risk has, in recent years, assumed the status of a universal basis for governance and administrative practice in both public and private sector spheres. This reframing of pre-existing organizational concerns in terms of risk categories reflects an underlying bureaucratic concern with the formally accountable, controllable and cost-effective management of contingency. During this period, the use of risk communication as a regulatory, policy and operational tool has become increasingly important for institutional attempts to optimize resource allocation, and to inform and influence the behaviour of target audiences. The emergence of this risk management society has occurred during a period of enormous growth in the density and complexity of global media communications, and the saturation of everyday life in an extraordinary diversity of mediated knowledge. Now is the time, we suggest, to re-examine risk communication from the point of view of its reflexive and constitutive dynamics. What are the implications for the nature and characteristics of risk objects and discourses in mediated, twenty-first-century, times? In what ways do the specific properties of risk objects and discourses come to shape the form of communication processes and practices? The following papers attempt to make some progress in responding to these important questions.

Keywords: communication; communicative turn; constitutive processes; discourse; practical reasoning; reflexivity; risk

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Cardiff School of Social Sciences. 2: Universitat Rovira i Virgili.

Publication date: November 1, 2010

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  • The Catalan Journal of Communication and Cultural Studies (CJCS) is committed to publishing research and theoretical articles in the fields of media studies, popular culture and cinema, public relations and advertising studies, social communication, new media, language uses in the media, communication and cultural policies, social and national identities, gender studies, sports and leisure, tourism and heritage, among other related issues. CJCS publishes double blind peer-reviewed articles and its aims and scope cover not only Catalan media and cultural systems but also other social contexts.
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