CARE-CNM Research Series by Dr Gary L. Kreps

CARE-CNM is pleased to host Professor Gary L. Kreps for a one-day workshop followed by a research talk on “Translational Communication Scholarship”on the 19th January 17 (9am to 3pm) and 20th January 17 (3-4pm). Translational Communication Inquiry is designed to address important societal issues and improve quality of life. More information on this series can be found in the poster below. Register for this series by clicking on the poster below. Hope to see you there!

CARE-CNM Research Series by Dr Gary L. Kreps

CARE-CNM is pleased to host Professor Gary L. Kreps for a one-day workshop followed by a research talk on “Translational Communication Scholarship”on the 19th January 17 (9am to 3pm) and 20th January 17 (3-4pm). Translational Communication Inquiry is designed to address important societal issues and improve quality of life. More information on this series can be found in the poster below. Register for this series by clicking on the poster below. Hope to see you there!

The conservatism of behavior change: The limits of health communication as persuasion

The bulwark of health communication is built on the premise of communication as a tool of behavior change. Since the invention of film, communication scholars, practitioners, and policy makers have been obsessed with the power of media technologies to transform behaviors of audiences that can be targeted through messages. Mass media as tools of propaganda are invested with miraculous powers of transformation. The power of communication to bring about magical transformations in the behaviors of those it touches forms the mainspring of the lay obsession with magic bullet theories of the media. The media effects literature over the last four decades has robustly debunked the magic bullet ideology. These magic bullet theories have been witnessing a catalytic return since the advent of social media in the form of the renewed interest in behavior change theories, now packaged in big data analytics, nudge, and behavioral insights. What these renewed fascinations with media technologies (in this case, with the latest version, digital media) often overlook is the empirical evidence that aptly captures the limited effects of communication technologies in bringing about behavioral transformations. Why then this ongoing obsession with health communication as persuasion? Amid the large scale global inequalities and the effects of these inequalities on human health, policy makers and academics in the status quo find in the premise of behavior change the hope for improving health while keeping the status quo intact. As long as communication technologies can nudge individuals to change their behaviors, large scale inequities and the structures that constitute these inequities can be left intact. In other words, the system can be left to perpetuate itself, maintaining the status quo to the extent that health outcomes can be framed in the premises of behavior change. Hence, the growing interest in these age old communication-driven persuasive processes in economics and business schools. Essential to the logic of behavior change is an overarching conservatism that reproduces the inequities in existing structural configurations. The moral question of inequalities in health outcomes is shaped by an emphasis on individual responsibility, placing the onus of health on the individual. Behavior change reifies the neoliberal ideology of health, where policymakers and health communicators continue to see health as a product of individual behavior. The neoliberal ideology of health communication fundamentally limits conversations with empirical evidence, with the body of work on media effects that is humbling in terms of the degree of faith we ought to put on the promises of behavior change. Economists and business researchers jumping into behavioral insights and nudge theories with gusto would do well to begin with the vast body of media effects literature instead of clinging to the seductions of an ideology that has largely proven detrimental to human health and wellbeing. By Prof Mohan J. Dutta

Prof. Mohan J. Dutta presents at the National Communication Association 102nd Annual Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

NCA Opening Session: Putting Bodies on the Line and Words into Action – Celebrating the Joys of, Challenges in, and Opportunities for Civic Engagement

Sponsor: NCA First Vice President
Thu, 11/10: 5:00 PM  – 6:30 PM
Marriott Downtown
Room: Grand Salon E – Level 5
Dr. Bryant Keith Alexander has built a career thinking about and embracing queer black bodies moving through the vectors of racism and homophobia; Dr. Mohan Jyoti Dutta has spent the past decade advocating for health care justice in developing nations; Dr. Billie Murray has chronicled her participation in movements for social justice in the wake of Confederate memorializing and in the face of hate speech. A Dean, a Chair, and an Assistant Professor; a colleague from LA, another from Singapore, a third from Philadelphia. While our speakers embody diversity in terms of race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, and methodology and area expertise, they are united in their commitment to using communication activism for the common good. Come hear their stories from the front lines of change; listen as they engage in spirited dialogue about why communication matters, and how, and to whom; and please lend your voice to our collective celebration of those who put their bodies on the line and words into action. The NCA Opening Session is sponsored by Routledge, Taylor & Francis.


Lisa A. Flores, University of Colorado, Boulder  – Contact Me


Bryant Keith Alexander, Loyola Marymount University  – Contact Me Mohan Dutta, National University of Singapore  – Contact Me Billie Murray, Villanova University  – Contact Me


Activism and Social Justice Division
La Raza Caucus
NCA First Vice President


The nuts-and-bolts of building cultural resources for health in a Santali village, West Bengal

In 2008, the village of Piyalgeria in Jhargram, like many other villages in the area at the time, had erupted in protests against the extreme marginalization, poverty, and police harassment experienced by the Santali community in the region. Attacks on dignity of the Santali life were often voiced by community members as the underlying causes of the protests. When the CARE research team led by Prof. Mohan Dutta started working in the villages, one of the key questions guiding the culture-centered projects was: What, according to community members, is the source of health? Drawing then on this fundamental question, the CARE team collaborated with community members in identifying the challenges to health they experienced, and the potential solutions they envisioned. In the voices of community members, the dignity of Santali cultural life held the threads to good health. Thus started our collaborative journey in building a community cultural center as a health resource. This health center would serve as a space where the young and old participate in songs and dances. These songs and dances, in community voices, are repositories of health, healing and wellbeing.

Listening to voices of the poor: Academic freedom and policy making

The work of the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE) has applied the tenets of the CCA to work in communities across the global margins. The poverty and communicative inequalities projects that are carried out by CARE reflect the overarching theme of the CCA, theorizing the communicative constructions of poverty in the global mainstream, and creating spaces for the voices of the poor in these mainstream and elite platforms through collaborations in solidarity with the poor. Comparing the discourses of poverty in mainstream  and elite networks with discourses of poverty as voiced by those living in poverty across countries offers a conceptual framework for examining the ways in which communication of/about poverty works in mainstream/elite constructions, the gaps in these constructions, as well as the possibilities of transformative change when  these stories are grounded in the accounts of the poor about their lived experiences. Essential to this work then is a commitment to empirically work in contexts of poverty. The CARE team and I spend countless hours conducting participant observations, in-depth interviews, focus groups, surveys etc. to arrive at the empirical constructions of experiences of poverty. A CARE project is minimally a product of two to three years of rigorous, field-based empirical work, with strong CARE projects spanning over a decade. However, more importantly, the communicative turn of actually listening to the voices of the poor ensures that we spend many hours collaborating with advisory board members, shaping our research instruments, reflecting on them, and most importantly, undoing and redoing them when and where necessary. The actual lived experiences of collaboration in academic-community partnerships teach us about the mechanisms of communication that work toward generative frameworks that address the needs of the poor as envisioned by them. In this sense, a well conceived culture-centered project becomes one of the poor, turning the tools of research into the hands of the poor, and working through these tools to challenge the misconceptions around poverty that circulate in the mainstream. Reflecting this overarching tenet, the “Voices of Hunger” projects that have been carried across seven countries spanning North America and Asia reflect the value of stories from the margins as shared by the poor in challenging the overarching stereotypes about the poor that are often misguided and factually incorrect. Of course, the sanctity of culture-centered projects rests on the pillar of academic freedom. Moreover, the usefulness of the projects depend upon their ability to engage with policy making. The voices of the poor often offer vital lessons that policy makers ought to pay attention to. Take for instance the narratives of the poor in our fieldwork in India that point to ways in which the Aadhar card, an ID system implemented across India to supposedly streamline the delivery of public services actually fails to deliver these services because of faulty technologies, inaccess to technologies, and the interplays of poverty and technology inacess. As a result, those who are the poorest are often the ones that are being unserved. This narrative emerging from the grassroots not only interrogates the power of a monolithic story, but more importantly, offers a framework for redoing policy. Such lessons are only enabled by a sufficient commitment to academic freedom. Academic freedom enables the inconvenient but empirically grounded stories to emerge. Academic freedom offers in this sense of the CCA an opportunity for thus ultimately developing policy frameworks grounded in the lived experiences and struggles of the poor. Because the narratives of and by the poor fundamentally disrupt the dominant assumptions held by elites, the power of the work of culture-centered approach lies first and foremost in keeping intact these spaces of academic research that are anchored in a steady commitment to authenticity and truth. Rather than telling stories of and by the structure, framing these stories in symbolic artifacts that appeal to the elite, culture-centered stories engage empirically the very bases of these dominant narratives. The CCA has worked, however contingently, across global spaces because the tenets of academic freedom retain the spaces in academe where this work has been carried out and where it continues to be carried out. It is after all, an overarching commitment to the broad ideas of academic freedom that makes possible the continuous search for truth, grounded in the lived experiences of the have-nots in a highly unequal world.

[CNM-CARE Workshop] Professor Teresa Thompson

Professor Teresa Thompson from the University of Dayton will be joining us for a week and she will be conducting a 3-day workshop on Health Communication. You can find out more about Prof. Teresa through her bio here. More information about the workshop can be found in the poster below. Should you be interested to participate in this exciting workshop, please register your attendance through this form. See you there!

Call for Papers!

Call for Papers!

Mobility, Mobile Media, and Health in Asia: Culture, structure, agency Editor: Mohan J. Dutta, Provost’s Chair Professor, Department of Communications and New Media, National University of Singapore Book Series: Mobile Communication in Asia: Local Insights, Global Implications Series Editor: Sun Sun Lim, Associate Professor, Department of Communications and New Media, National University of Singapore


In the proposed book, we examine the nature of mobility in mobile health, exploring the ways in which Asian mobilities configure into mobile media and health. The overarching framework of the book explores the intersections between mobile media and health, contextually situated in Asia and theoretically informed by Asia-centric conceptual maps for engaging with the linkages between mobile media and health. In one segment of the book, we examine mHealth projects across Asia, examining the overarching frameworks that constitute these projects, the underlying assumptions, the articulations of culture, and the expressions of agency as communities negotiate their access to and experiences with mHealth solutions. Drawing upon the overarching framework of the culture-centered approach, the book examines the flows of material, labor, and participation in mobile health interventions. Attention is paid to the ways in which mHealth interventions are conceptualized in community contexts, the role of these interventions in engaging with communities, and the constitution of community agency in mHealth interventions. In another segment of the book, we explore the ways in which health is constituted in Asia in the uses of mobile devices. Attention is paid to the vulnerabilities and risks to health constituted by mobile media, and the ways in which communities at the margins negotiate these health risks. The Chapters in this section will explore the health consequences of mobile media uses, and how mobile media products and artifacts are negotiated in the overarching context of health. First, this edited book calls for scholarship across Asia that explores critically the interplays of power and control in mHealth interventions, addresses cultural context, and/or pays attention to the ways in which community agency is conceptualized in the ambits of mHealth Interventions. Based on the cases explored in the book, the overarching framework will examine Asia-centric concepts of health, culture, and technology as conceptualized in the ambits of mHealth Interventions. The book will provide an overarching structure for comparing mHealth cases across Asia, thus developing key theoretical anchors for exploring the linkages between mobility, culture, and structures as communities enact their agency in negotiating mHealth. Second, the book calls for scholarship in Asia that explores the intersections of mobile media and health, and the juxtaposition of mobilities in/through mobile media in the backdrop of health outcomes. Chapters may explore the health outcomes attached to the manufacturing/production/disposal of mobile media, the health outcomes of mobile media uses, and the ways in which health risks/vulnerabilities are negotiated through mobilities afforded by mobile media in Asia. Based on the conceptual anchors offered by Chapters covering Asia, this section of the book will offer comparative conceptual nodes for theorizing health, mobility, and mobile media located in Asia.

Call for abstracts: 

Please submit abstracts outlining the paper. Papers submitted for the book may be theoretical pieces, empirically based pieces, or case studies comparing multiple cases. The important thing is that the Chapters be grounded in the context of Asia and seriously attend to the ways in which context configures in the theorizing of mobility, mobile media, and health. The abstract should spell out how the chapter contributes to the theorizing of mobility and health centered in Asia, drawing on culturally situated concepts that originate from and situate themselves in the Asian context. Abstracts should be no more than 1000 words long. Abstracts selected for submission will be invited to be developed into full papers (between 8000 and 10,000 words in length).


Call for Abstracts Issued: September 22, 2016 Abstract Submission Deadline: October 30, 2016 Authors Notified: November 15, 2016 Chapters Due: April, 2017 Revisions Requested: May 2017 Final Versions Due: July 2017