Communication Faculty Book-Length Publications (selected works)
Creditworthy: A History of Consumer Surveillance and Financial Identity in America
by Josh Lauer
Columbia Studies in the History of U.S. Capitalism Columbia University Press (July 25, 2017)
The first consumer credit bureaus appeared in the 1870s and quickly amassed huge archives of deeply personal information. Today, the three leading credit bureaus are among the most powerful institutions in modern life — yet we know almost nothing about them. Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion are multi-billion-dollar corporations that track our movements, spending behavior, and financial status. This data is used to predict our riskiness as borrowers and to judge our trustworthiness and value in a broad array of contexts, from insurance and marketing to employment and housing.
In "Creditworthy," the first comprehensive history of this crucial American institution, Josh Lauer explores the evolution of credit reporting from its nineteenth-century origins to the rise of the modern consumer data industry. By revealing the sophistication of early credit reporting networks, "Creditworthy" highlights the leading role that commercial surveillance has played — ahead of state surveillance systems — in monitoring the economic lives of Americans. Lauer charts how credit reporting grew from an industry that relied on personal knowledge of consumers to one that employs sophisticated algorithms to determine a person's trustworthiness. Ultimately, Lauer argues that by converting individual reputations into brief written reports — and, later, credit ratings and credit scores—credit bureaus did something more profound: they invented the modern concept of financial identity. "Creditworthy" reminds us that creditworthiness is never just about economic "facts." It is fundamentally concerned with — and determines — our social standing as an honest, reliable, profit-generating person.
The Motherhood Business: Consumption, Communication & Privilege
edited by Anne Teresa Demo, Jennifer L. Borda and Charlotte Kroløkke
The University of Alabama Press (2015)
excerpt from book jacket:The Motherhood Business follows the harried mother’s path into the anxious maelstrom of intelligent toys, healthy foods and meals, and educational choices. It also traces how some enterprising mothers leverage cultural capital and rhetorical vision to create thriving baby- and child-based businesses of their own, as evidenced by the rise of mommy bloggers and “mompreneurs”over the last decade. Starting with the rapidly expanding global fertility market, The Motherhood Business explores the intersection of motherhood, consumption, and privilege in the context of fertility tourism, international adoption, and transnational surrogacy. The synergy between motherhood and the marketplace demonstrated across the essays affirms the stronghold of “intensive mothering ideology” in decisions over what mothers buy and how they brand their businesses even as that ideology evolves. Across diverse contexts, the volume also identifies how different forms or privilege shape how mothers construct their identities through their consumption and entrepreneurship.
The Coordinated Management of Meaning: A Festschrift in Honor of W. Barnett Pearce
Edited by Stephen W. Littlejohn and Sheila McNamee
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (November 2013)
This book honors the life and work of the late W. Barnett Pearce, a leading theorist in the communication field. The book is divided into four sections. The first section will lead with an essay by Barnett Pearce. This will be followed by sections on (1) practical theory, (2) dialogue, and (3) social transformation. In the broadest sense, these are probably the three general themes found in the work of Pearce and his colleagues. In another sense, these categories also identify three important dimensions of Pearce's major contribution, the theory of the Coordinated Management of Meaning.
Understanding Occupy from Wall Street to Portland: Applied Studies in Communication Theory
edited by Renee Guarriello Heath, Courtney Vail Fletcher, and Ricardo Munoz
Lexington Books (August 28, 2013)
Given the centrality of economics and communication in the Occupy movement, Understanding Occupy from Wall Street to Portland uses economic insights and contemporary theories of communication to better understand the movement at this current juncture in history. This collection is organized by complementary theoretical and methodological perspectives: the global—critical cultural and economic understandings of Occupy; the local—interpretive ethnographic examinations of a local site—Occupy Portland, Oregon; and mediated perspectives—analyses of the words of officials and media. The contributors also examine social movement phenomena by stepping outside of social movement theory to analyze the macro- and microprocesses of the Occupy movement, demonstrating the saliency of communication theory. Throughout the volume are in-depth case studies that examine universal narratives about Occupy. One of the challenges of studying Occupy is that members of this movement are committed to not allowing any one person (or entity) to define it. One way the editors acknowledge this and attempt to honor the individualism and postmodern fragmentation of this movement is to consider their findings in light of the three interpretive lenses of the romantic, functional, and critical. This informative and comprehensive text provides a critical lens on the constantly evolving Occupy movement.
Winner of the Outstanding Edited Book award from the International and Intercultural Communication Division of the National Communication Association
From editor's website: This book positions the "prophetic" as an organizing concept that can bridge religious and secular criticism of popular media. Drawing from philosophical ethics and moral psychology, the book argues that prophetic critique engages a complex set of universal human capabilities. Whether religious or secular in origin, prophetic critique requires developmentally complex modes of critical reflection, imagination, empathy, and communication. Although this book is diverse in perspective, each author seeks to expose how the content, institutions, and technologies of popular media alternately support – or undermine – the basic values of equality, human dignity, and social justice. By foregrounding such universal principles, the authors distinguish their arguments from critical/cultural scholarship that fails to acknowledge its own normative foundations and implicit theology of culture. The authors demonstrate the efficacy of this framework by applying it to specific case studies in popular media including theater, film, music, journalism, and digital culture. The book argues that the prophetic critique of mass media is essential to maintaining a productive tension between religious communities and the institutions of secular democracy. More broadly, in outlining an inclusive understanding of prophetic critique, this book builds bridges between religious and secular scholarship and generates a unique vision for a revitalized, mass-mediated public sphere.