New Research from Maryland

Newly published research from members of the Department of Communication:

Recently published in the Quarterly Journal of Speech: "Indeterminacy, Incipiency, and Attitudes: Materialist Oscillation in the 2012 Chicago Teachers’ Strike," by Ph.D. candidate Michael Steudeman.

Abstract: Teachers unions face a unique set of double-binds when defending their interests as workers and as advocates for students. In this essay, I argue that materialist approaches beginning from a concern for labor position deny potential to those laborers—teachers among them—who occupy an indeterminate relationship to capitalism. To describe these workers’ potential for agency, this essay examines the oscillatory movement that occurs between the conceptions of labor position theorized by Ronald Walter Greene and Dana Cloud. In shifting between these positions, I argue, educators can cultivate an incipient potential that nimbly negotiates double-binds while exacerbating the contradictions of neoliberal reform. I advance this argument through an analysis of three oscillations in the Chicago teachers’ strike of 2012: between conceptions of labor as part of a general or restricted economy; between projects of demystifying and upholding meritocracy; and between competing spatial configurations of the school and society. During these oscillations, I assert, the Chicago Teachers Union's labor action and rhetoric maintained its coherence through the formation of an attitudinal unity experienced in the immanent coalescence of contradictory movements.

Recently published in the Journal of Health Communication: International Perspectives: "Consideration of Future Consequences and HPV Vaccine Uptake Among Young Adults," by Ph.D. alumna Jarim Kim and Associate Professor Xiaoli Nan.

Abstract: The authors investigated the effect of individual difference in consideration of future consequences (CFC) on the uptake of the HPV vaccine among a group of young adults. A cross-sectional survey of 676 college students was conducted. Findings indicated that CFC had no direct effect on HPV vaccine uptake. However, CFC had significant effects on a number of HPV-related health beliefs in that greater CFC was associated with less perceived susceptibility to HPV, greater perceived severity of HPV, less perceived logistic/financial barriers, and higher perceived vaccine efficacy. CFC exerted a significant indirect effect on vaccine uptake through perceived vaccine efficacy. Implications of the findings for health communication are discussed.

Recently published in the Atlantic Journal of Communication: "Analysis of HPV Vaccine Information on Influential Blog Sites: A Snapshot Amid the 2011 Republican Presidential Primary Debates," by Ph.D. alumnae Kelly Madden Daily and Rowena Briones and Associate Professor Xiaoli Nan.

Abstract: The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. Two vaccines have been approved to protect against the virus. Politicians have pushed for legislation to increase HPV vaccination rates and stop the spread of this cancer-causing disease. During the Republican presidential primary of 2011, HPV vaccination mandates, which require young girls entering the 6th grade to receive the vaccine, became a controversial issue. This study examined 167 unique blog posts on influential blog sites, in the wake of increased political attention to the issue of HPV vaccination mandates, to determine how the HPV vaccine is discussed online. Our analysis revealed significant differences in presentation of health information and general tone toward the vaccine between blog entries posted on different types of sites. Blog posts on political and general news sites were more negative toward the HPV vaccine than posts on health and science sites. On the issue of HPV vaccination mandates, bloggers seemed deeply divided, no matter the type of site. However, political and general news sites were more likely to highlight conspiracies between the government and vaccine manufacturers. Results show there is a considerable amount of debate regarding the HPV vaccine and HPV vaccination mandates in the blogosphere. Implications of the findings for vaccine risk communication are discussed.

Recently published in in the Journal of Health Communication: International Perspectives: "The Mediating Role of Perceived Descriptive and Injunctive Norms in the Effects of Media Messages on Youth Smoking," by Associate Professor Xiaoli Nan and GMU faculty member Xiaoquan Zhao.

Abstract: This research advances and tests a normative mediation model of media effects on youth smoking. The model predicts that exposure to various types of smoking-related media messages, including anti-smoking ads, cigarette ads, and smoking scenes in movies and television shows, exerts indirect effects on youth smoking intentions through the mediation of perceived descriptive and injunctive norms. Analysis of the data from the 3rd Legacy Media Tracking Survey offers general support for the proposed model with some unexpected findings, revealing a complex picture of media influence on youth smoking via normative and non-normative mechanisms. Theoretical and practical implications of the findings are discussed.

Recently published in the Journal of Health Psychology: "Stigmatizing the Other: An Exploratory Study of Unintended Consequences of Eating Disorder Public Service Announcements," by Ph.D. student Irina Iles, Assistant ProfessorAnita Atwell Seate, and Professional Track Faculty/Director of Undergraduate Studies Leah Waks.

AbstractThis research explores the intended and unintended consequences of eating disorder public service announcements. We assessed participants’ attitudes toward eating disorders and people with eating disorders, willingness to interact with people with eating disorders, and experience with eating disorders (covariate) at Time 1. At Time 2, participants were randomly assigned to watch a stigmatizing or a nonstigmatizing eating disorder public service announcement. Exposure to the stigmatizing public service announcement resulted in more negative attitudes toward eating disorders and in less willingness to interactwith people with eating disorders, but not in significantly more negative attitudes toward people with eatingdisorders. The discussion highlights the practical implications for health communication campaigns.

Recently published in the Review of Communication: "Diffusing Controversial Technology: Barriers, Incentives, and Lessons Learned," by a team of researchers from the Risk and Resilience Program at START, including Ph.D. studentIrina Iles and Associate Professor Brooke Fisher Liu.

Abstract: Diffusion of Innovation (DOI) theory is a popular model used to explain the adoption of new technologies and to analyze the movement of innovations as they spread through a population. In the changed security environment since September 11th, 2001 (9/11), DOI becomes especially relevant. This systematic literature review offers synthesized findings on how controversy impacts the DOI process by looking to existing literature to discuss barriers, incentives, and lessons learned. Results demonstrated a diverse landscape of articles addressing controversial adoption; specifically, we see potential solutions; barriers, including a lack of transparency and limited accessibility for public assessment and dialogue before implementation; and incentives offered to adopters beyond benefits associated with the core function of the new technology itself. Finally, suggestions are provided in the area of future research, including the need for specific research to supplement and validate many of the findings from the larger field of DOI studies.

Recently published in the International Journal of Strategic Communication: "Civil Society, Networks, and Relationship Management: Beyond the Organization–Public Dyad," by Assistant Professor Erich Sommerfeldt and Tennessee faculty member Michael Kent.

Abstract: Given the importance of relationships to civil society, many scholars have positioned strategic communication as essential to the civil society process. Using social network analysis, this study extends relationship management theory into the civil society arena and offers implications on how network approaches to examining relationships may help to move the theory forward. Using data gathered from a network of Peruvian civil society organizations, the article theoretically and methodologically links relationship management theory with social network perspectives, and the results of the study are discussed in terms of their contributions to extending relationship management theory and civil society research. Critiques of social network analysis and implications for its use in strategic communication research and theory development are also explored.



From left to right: Iles, Liu, Nan, Seate, Sommerfeldt, Steudeman, & Waks

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