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Rethinking a Curricular Icon: The Institutional and Ideological Foundations of Walter Lippmann

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This essay explores the use of Walter Lippmann's ideas in three areas of mass communications research: message-driven media effects research and related studies of agenda setting, priming, and framing; social histories of U.S. journalism, advertising, and public relations; and interpretive accounts of the field's genesis. It offers a new understanding of the role Lippmann played in yoking together a range of communication-related issues under a single problematic. In the process it exposes a critical lacunae stretching across (and beyond) scholarship in communications research: a lack of attention to the rhetorical deployment of Lippmann, characterized by an inclination to endow this figure's political philosophy with the power to stand in for a range of developments occurring across an emerging communications field. This essay addresses the implications of being positioned to speak not only for a field of research but for history as well, being able to so perfectly mirror shifts in cultural attitudes and emerging institutional practices.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Center for the Study of Communication and Society, University of Chicago

Publication date: July 1, 2005


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