Background Report #2 — Contemporary Contexts

Judith N. Martin and Thomas K. Nakayama, in their textbook Intercultural Communication in Contexts (2009), suggest that when it comes to understanding culture and communication, context is everything. They write:

“Context typically is created by the physical or social aspects of the situation in which communication occurs. […] People communicate differently depending on the context. Context is neither static nor objective, and it can be multi-layered. Context may consist of the social, political, and historical structures in which the communication occurs. […] The political context in which communication occurs includes those forces that attempt to change or retain existing social structures or relations” (pp. 109-110).

Building on the first background report on the historical contexts of neighborhoods in the Twin Cities, this second background report seeks to present a discussion and analysis of the contemporary social and political contexts of these neighborhoods.

Through research in various media publications, as well as informal conversations with residents in neighborhoods throughout the Twin Cities, we will pursue questions such as:

  • What are the major issues or concerns that people in this neighborhood care about?
  • How is this neighborhood represented in the cities’ media?
  • Does the neighborhood or area have its own media (and if so, is the representation or focus different)?
  • What issues or stories get reported on in relation to this neighborhood?
  • How does this neighborhood see itself in relationship to the city/cities?
  • How is the relationship between this neighborhood and the city/cities represented in various media?

Our goal for this background report is to begin to craft a contextual lens through which to view and understand intercultural communication as it occurs within the Twin Cities.

These reports will be about 750-1,250 words in length, and will utilize a diverse range of print, online, and interview sources.

Expect these reports on or before Wednesday, May 30, 2012.

The instructor will evaluate these reports based on:

  • Sources (diversity, quantity, quality, credibility, etc.): 5 points
  • Comprehensiveness (of discussion/analysis of contemporary contextual information): 5 points
  • Complexity (of discussion/analysis/interpretation of contemporary contextual information): 10 points
  • Quality of writing/design (e.g. images, formatting, etc.): 5 points

Total: 25 points

Other forms of written evaluation and feedback is encouraged from classmates and those of you out there on the web that happen by our posts.


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