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Research

Faculty members and graduate students in the Department pursue and produce research that spans a wide range of the Communication discipline. 

Research within the department is generally focused in three broad curriculum areas:

  • Communication Science & Social Cognition,
  • Public Relations & Strategic Communication, and
  • Rhetoric & Political Culture

The Department of Communication is also home to the Mark and Heather Rosenker Center for Political Communication & Civic Leadership and the Center for Health and Risk Communication

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“It gives you a better chance of getting a good job”: Memorable messages, anticipatory socialization, and first-year college students’ understandings of the purpose of college.

Article finds that the memorable messages students received from their family, peers, and high school teachers reinforce the dominant neoliberal, job-centered understanding of college’s purpose.

Communication

Author/Lead: Drew Ashby-King
Contributor(s): Lindsey Anderson
Dates:
Cover picture of the journal Communication Education.

Higher education has been commodified as neoliberal ideology is reflected in and perpetuated through social discourses, such as memorable messages. These discourses socialize young adults to college and shape their understanding about the purpose of higher education. Through in-depth interviews with 20 first-year college students, Ashby-King and Anderson found that the memorable messages students received from their family, peers, and high school teachers reinforce the dominant neoliberal, job-centered understanding of college’s purpose. In turn, they suggest critical communication pedagogy as a form of resistance instructors and institutions can use to promote a more expansive view of higher education and teaching/learning.

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When the Black lives that matter are not our own: digital Black feminism and a dialectic of self and community

A new urgency has emerged within Black feminist writing online, advocating for a dialectic of self and community interests.

Communication

Author/Lead: Catherine Knight Steele
Dates:
Cover of the journal Feminist Media Studies.

Black women and Black feminist scholars have always pointed out the hypocrisy of advocating for civil rights and freedoms that do not extend to them. However, with the rise of digital culture and tools as the primary space and mechanism whereby Black feminists crafted arguments, a new urgency has emerged within Black feminist writing online, advocating for a dialectic of self and community interests. Black feminist writers have created a new rhetorical principle central to the #BlackLiveMatter movement, which began in the blogosphere with longform writing and enclaved communities. Before the hashtag or activism on Twitter or Instagram, the blogosphere provided a space for Black women to craft new arguments that centralized Black cis and trans women in the fight for justice. Black feminist writers insist that caring for themselves is integral to Black feminist praxis and social justice. Retracing this work from the blogosphere to social media reminds us of the importance of centralizing Black women in our discussion of digital culture and activism and the lessons this may provide in crafting a more just future.

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COMM Profs Author New Book on PR and Feminism

Aldoory and Toth publish The Future of Feminism in Public Relations and Strategic Communication.

Communication

Author/Lead: Linda Aldoory
Contributor(s): Elizabeth L. Toth
Dates:
A cover from new book by Linda Aldoory and Elizabeth Toth.

Professor Linda Aldoory and Professor Emerita Elizabeth Toth present a socio-ecological model for understanding and building a feminist future for public relations. Their approach acknowledges previous gaps in scholarship and practice caused by ideological, societal, mediated, and organizational factors constructing norms and expectations for gender and race. The book, entitled The Future of Feminism in Public Relations and Strategic Communication: A Socio-Ecological Model of Influences, was recently published by Rowman & Littlefield.

"Two of the field’s top feminist scholars have provided us with an ambitious and comprehensive assessment of gender in public relations. They have taken a wide lens, showing the interplay across levels of context. The volume provides a starting point for those new to the topic and a jumping off point for those eager to press forward."--Lana F. Rakow, University of North Dakota, Ph.D., professor emerita, Communication

"This book moves away from traditional liberal feminist inquiry into the pay gap and the glass ceiling and introduces a socio-ecological framework into PR scholarship. Drawing from sociology, cultural studies and environmental science, as well as international scholarship, the authors create a compelling case for studying women in PR and provide a thoughtful and reflective account of decades of scholarship and activism for equality of women in the PR industry."--Dr. Martina Topić, Leeds Business School, Leeds Beckett University, United Kingdom

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Debunking Misinformation About Genetically Modified Food Safety on Social Media: Can Heuristic Cues Mitigate Biased Assimilation?

Study examines whether source cues and social endorsement cues interact with individuals’ preexisting beliefs about genetically modified food safety in influencing misinformation correction effectiveness.

Communication

Author/Lead: Yuan Wang
Dates:
Cover of the journal Science Communication

Focusing on debunking misinformation about genetically modified (GM) food safety in a social media context, this study examines whether source cues and social endorsement cues interact with individuals’ preexisting beliefs about GM food safety in influencing misinformation correction effectiveness. Using an experimental design, this study finds that providing corrective messages can effectively counteract the influence of misinformation, especially when the message is from an expert source and receives high social endorsements. Participants evaluate misinformation and corrective messages in a biased way that confirms their preexisting beliefs about GM food safety. However, their initial misperceptions can be reduced when receiving corrective messages.

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A New Doll in Texas: A Feminist Media Analysis of Senator Wendy Davis’s Rhetorical Framing as “Abortion Barbie”

Essay examines the media frames that helped characterize Davis as Abortion Barbie to chart how they functioned during and after the Texas HB2 debate.

Communication

Author/Lead: Skye de Saint Felix
Non-ARHU Contributor(s): Lisa M. Corrigan
Dates:
Cover of the journal Feminist Media Studies.

After Senator Wendy Davis’s epic filibuster of Texas’s House Bill 2 in 2013, she was vilified in the media as “Abortion Barbie.” As a term, “Abortion Barbie” was circulated in conservative and liberal press, from blogs to traditional media outlets. This essay examines the media frames that helped characterize Davis as Abortion Barbie to chart how they functioned during and after the Texas HB2 debate. By making female bodies inert, sexualizing them, and describing women as criminal, we argue that the visual rhetoric of Abortion Barbie damaged Davis’s political career and circulated this negative image to the public as a rationale for sexist policies that undermine access to reproductive health care.

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COMM Presents 2021 Departmental Awards

Faculty and graduate students receive awards for research, teaching, and service.

Communication

Dates:
A collage of 2021 Award Winners.

To see a full list of 2021 award recipients, visit https://communication.umd.edu/about/awards-honors

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The Influence of Stigmatizing Messages on Danger Appraisal: Examining the Model of Stigma Communication for Opioid-Related Stigma, Policy Support, and Related Outcomes

This study used the model of stigma communication in two online factorial experiments.

Communication

Author/Lead: Victoria Ledford
Contributor(s): JungKyu Lim, Kang Namkoong, Junhan Chen, Yan Qin
Dates:

Drug overdose is a leading cause of injury and death in the United States, and opioids are among the most significant of causes. For people with opioid use disorders (OUDs), opioid stigma can lead to devastating consequences, including anxiety and depression. Still, mass media may stigmatize people with OUDs by ascribing stigmatizing labels (e.g., “opioid addict”) and other stigma features to those individuals. However, it is unclear how these stigmatizing messages influence public perceptions of people with OUDs and public support for rehabilitation and Naloxone administration policies. The model of stigma communication (MSC) provides a framework for understanding these relationships. This study used the MSC in two online factorial experiments, the first among college undergraduates (N = 231) and the second among Amazon Mechanical Turk workers (N = 245), to examine how stigmatizing messages about people with OUDs influence stigma-related outcomes. Results reveal that opioid stigma messages influence different outcomes depending on the content of those messages. Classification messages with a stigmatizing mark (e.g., “Alex appears unkempt”) and label (e.g., “opioid addict”) led to greater perceptions of dangerousness and threat in both studies. High stigma classification messages also led to an increased desire for behavioral regulation and social distance in Study 2. Structural equation modeling in Study 1 also supported the applicability of the MSC in the opioid context. Implications for health communication theory development and practice are discussed.

A cover from the journal Health Communication

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Facebook Ads Manager as a Recruitment Tool for a Health and Safety Survey of Farm Mothers: Pilot Study

A pilot study to explore the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of Facebook advertisements for the recruitment of an online agricultural health and safety survey.

Communication

Author/Lead: Kang Namkoong
Non-ARHU Contributor(s): Richard R. Burke & Bryan P. Weichelt
Dates:

Social media platforms have experienced unprecedented levels of growth and usage over the past decade, with Facebook hosting 2.7 billion active users worldwide, including over 200 million users in the United States. Facebook users have been underutilized and understudied by the academic community as a resource for participant recruitment. We performed a pilot study to explore the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of Facebook advertisements for the recruitment of an online agricultural health and safety survey. We undertook a 1-week advertising campaign utilizing the integrated, targeted advertising platform of Facebook Ads Manager with a target-spending limit of US $294. We created and posted three advertisements depicting varying levels of agricultural safety adoption leading to a brief survey on farm demographics and safety attitudes. We targeted our advertisements toward farm mothers aged 21-50 years in the United States and determined cost-effectiveness and potential biases. No participant incentive was offered. We reached 40,024 users and gathered 318 advertisement clicks. Twenty-nine participants consented to the survey with 24 completions. Including personnel costs, the cost per completed survey was US $17.42. Compared to the distribution of female producers in the United States, our advertisements were unexpectedly overrepresented in the eastern United States and were underrepresented in the western United States. Facebook Ads Manager represents a potentially cost-effective and timely method to recruit participants for online health and safety research when targeting a specific population. However, social media recruitment mirrors traditional recruitment methods in its limitations, exhibiting geographic, response, and self-selection biases that need to be addressed.

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“I’ll See You on Zoom!” International Educators’ Perceptions of Online Teaching Amid, and Beyond, Covid-19

This exploratory qualitative research study investigates the critical and timely topic of the sudden transition to online teaching amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Communication

Author/Lead: Sahar Mohamed Khamis
Non-ARHU Contributor(s): Adity Saxena
Dates:
Logo of Arab Media & Society

When the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world in 2020, it affected every aspect of life, including education. The spread of this pandemic compelled the world to shift from traditional classroom education to online learning. This exploratory qualitative research study investigates the critical and timely topic of the sudden transition to online teaching amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It studies its multiple implications through in-depth interviews with a diverse group of international educators from different higher education institutions, representing different nationalities, ethnicities, genders, ranks, and generations. The findings reflect an early snapshot of the continuous teaching and learning development efforts on a large scale, across different regions of the world, and provide insights for future research and practice in the field of international education. The results also reveal some areas of concern in the educational digital environment, requiring further investigation moving forward, such as the digital divide, the gender gap, especially the gender digital gap, and the importance of meeting the needs of students with various physical and mental disabilities. The study offers suggestions to improve online education strategies, both amid the pandemic and in the post-pandemic era.

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The co-creation of social value: what matters for public participation in corporate social responsibility campaigns

This study explores the impact of organization–public relationships (OPRs) and issue-related situational factors on publics’ intention to participate in CSR campaigns, based on relationship management theory and the situational theory of problem-solving.

Communication

Author/Lead: Sun Young Lee
Non-ARHU Contributor(s): Young Kim & Yeuseung Kim
Dates:

This study explores the impact of organization–public relationships (OPRs) and issue-related situational factors on publics’ intention to participate in CSR campaigns, based on relationship management theory and the situational theory of problem-solving (STOPS). We surveyed 698 respondents living in the United States about two CSR campaigns, one focused on girls’ empowerment and one on deforestation. The results showed that situational motivation and OPRs were strongly and directly related to publics’ participation intention for both CSR campaigns. Only two situational perceptions – constraint recognition and involvement recognition – were indirectly related to publics’ participation. We discuss the theoretical implications of these findings.

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