Departmental Papers (ASC)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version


Publication Source

Journal of Communication





Start Page


Last Page





Communication research seems to be flourishing, as evident in the number of universities offering degrees in communication, number of students enrolled, number of journals, and so on. The field is interdisciplinary and embraces various combinations of former schools of journalism, schools of speech (Midwest for ‘‘rhetoric’’), and programs in sociology and political science. The field is linked to law, to schools of business and health, to cinema studies, and, increasingly, to humanistically oriented programs of so-called cultural studies. All this, in spite of having been prematurely pronounced dead, or bankrupt, by some of its founders. Sociologists once occupied a prominent place in the study of communication— both in pioneering departments of sociology and as founding members of the interdisciplinary teams that constituted departments and schools of communication. In the intervening years, we daresay that media research has attracted rather little attention in mainstream sociology and, as for departments of communication, a generation of scholars brought up on interdisciplinarity has lost touch with the disciplines from which their teachers were recruited. The object of this speculative article is to reflect on why mainstream sociology in the United States may be said to have abandoned media research early on in spite of the centrality it occupied in the pioneering departments.

Copyright/Permission Statement

This is the accepted version of the article which has been published in final form at

Included in

Communication Commons



Date Posted: 19 April 2011

This document has been peer reviewed.