Communication As A Spatial Problem


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space, communication, research, network analysis, sorin adam matei, purdue

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  • Up to this point I told you about my interest in understanding space as shaper of social interactions. Yet, space does not only shape, it is also itself shaped by social and cultural forces. My understanding of space is multidimensional. Perception of space starts with our physical proximities and with the surfaces and bodies we can touch, see, or survey with our senses. However, we conceive of space as slipping through and melting into areas well beyond our immediate reach. In addition, human space is affectively charged. Space is in part stored in our heads as a component of various “imagined communities” conceived in a “good” vs. bad terms. Towns are divided, in our minds, into desirable or “to be avoided at all cost” areas. Nations are described to us as uneven spaces of excellence or nothingness – a vision that changes with one’s perspective. The world itself is stored in our minds as a collection of mental maps: Glamorous Paris, hip Amsterdam, dangerous Middle East, tidy Germany, uncomprehesible Balkans etc. Space is thus continuously idealized and simplified. This process takes place mostly in our heads. However, the images affecting it do not spontaneously originate in our minds. We are being fed a continuous stream of information coming from our surroundings or, most importantly, from communication channels.
  • Communication As A Spatial Problem

    1. 1. <ul><ul><li>Sorin A. Matei </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Purdue University </li></ul></ul>Communication as a Spatial Problem: Methods and Theories
    2. 2. One spring day…. <ul><li>A long time ago, too long to mention… </li></ul><ul><li>I receive a letter </li></ul><ul><li>From USC </li></ul><ul><li>Dear Mr. Matei </li></ul><ul><li>We are glad to announce you that you have been accepted…. </li></ul>
    3. 3. Three months later, I am on the road…
    4. 4. Philosophical assumptions <ul><li>Space is constructed </li></ul><ul><li>Space is social </li></ul><ul><li>Space is a set of relationally defined locations </li></ul><ul><li>Space is about vicinities and the communication processes they enable </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Vicinity is that space defined by our communication practices </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. Space is of two kinds
    6. 6. Space is of two kinds… Space is everywhere
    7. 7. Space is connections <ul><li>Space is intangible </li></ul><ul><li>Space is a set of network relationships </li></ul><ul><li>Space is want we imagine space to be </li></ul><ul><li>Space is social and communicative </li></ul>
    8. 8. Looking at space from a meso- perspective <ul><li>How to (relatively) small scale communities exist in space? </li></ul><ul><li>What kind of space? </li></ul><ul><li>How does communication intersect with space? </li></ul><ul><li>How does this intersection matter? </li></ul>
    9. 9. <ul><li>Integrity and viability of social spaces depends on communication infrastructures </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Institutional: Media Channels </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Content: Group narratives, self-image, identity, perception of others, perception of space </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Communication infrastructure </li></ul><ul><ul><li>fosters a storytelling environment and a mental imagery of a place that encourages residents to image themselves as a cohesive group </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The communication infrastructure ceases to have a positive effect (integration) when it fosters fear and distrust – when it generates mental maps of fear especially during and after urban conflicts </li></ul>Thematic assumptions. Three propositions
    10. 10. <ul><li>How do you capture affective mental imagery (geographies of fear)? </li></ul><ul><li>How do you assess the spatial goodness of fit between mental maps of fear and objective spatial reality? </li></ul><ul><li>How do you detect the role of the communication infrastructure in constructing spatial images of fear? </li></ul>Measuring communicative construction of space and fear
    11. 11. Multilingual Telephone Surveys 1812 Households LA 801 Lexington 699 Brasov Communication Behavior Media Connections Belonging Index Avoidance/Desirability Demographics LA Focus Groups Community Issues Brasov/Lexington mail-out Sociospatial Mapping Of fear/Comfort RESEARCH DESIGN
    13. 13. Paper and pencil map Mental mapping Methodology
    14. 14. Westside Sample COLOR KEY Feared Unknown Cautious Comfortable Affective Maps of Los Angeles example
    15. 15. COLOR KEY Very feared = -2 Feared =- 1 Unknown = 0 Cautious = 1 Comfortable = 2 ArcView Map digitization 1 -1 2 0 Constructing a mental map Note: Lexington & Brasov, added one color to balance scale Average the maps using their similar pixel structure
    16. 16. Los Angeles comfort composite map
    17. 17. Lexington avoidance vs. desirability maps
    18. 18. Brasov center-periphery geography of fear with focus on Gypsy/migrant worker area
    19. 19. Research questions <ul><li>Spatial Fear: Perceptions and Reality </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>General </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Is likelihood of crime victimization correctly represented in people's geographic mental maps? </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Are social indicators of area desirability associated with fear? </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>How do communication channels match avoidance/preference goals and feelings in mapping avoidance/desirability? </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>LA Specific </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Are comfort and fear color-coded? </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>What is the epicenter of fear in Los Angeles? </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>What shaped the epicenter of fear in LA? (conflict related) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    20. 20. LA findings: TV and interpersonal connector maps Suggest that strong connection to the communication infrastructure increases fear Fear greatest of Hispanic/Black populations
    21. 21. LA violence and fear: The fear epicenter is situated in the 1965 riot hotspot
    22. 22. LA: TV instills greater fear of Watts Dependent on television Dependent on newspapers People with strongest connections to television fear Watts the most
    23. 23. Brasov vs. Lexington goals, avoidance, desirability, media <ul><li>Americans > Romanians fear areas due to safety concerns </li></ul><ul><li>Romanians > Americans prefer areas due to their perceived qualities (urban architecture, resources, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Romanians > Americans fear neighborhoods due to ethnic/cultural/social reasons </li></ul><ul><li>Americans > Romanians prefer areas due to the quality of their people. </li></ul><ul><li>Television affects the most perception of safety in both groups (as do newspapers and other people, but not significant under log linear testing) </li></ul>43 44 8 17 4 11 15 3 Lexington 50 53 0 20 25 23 1 10 Braşov                 People related 37 37 7 15 4 12 25 13 Lexington 29 33 12 17 10 15 27 30 Braşov                 Instrumental reasons 39 45 8 19 5 11 53 19 Lexington 33 40 10 14 11 13 69 15 Braşov                 Perceived place qualities 49 54 16 39 2 31 6 64 Lexington 27 43 17 25 22 31 3 45 Braşov Prefer Avoid Prefer Avoid Prefer Avoid Prefer Avoid Safety related Other People Newspapers Television Overall Percent  
    24. 24. Conclusions/recommendations <ul><li>Perceptual redlining (LA, but NOT ONLY) </li></ul><ul><li>Television creates and maintains image of fear </li></ul><ul><li>Combination TV/interpersonal effect on maps of fear </li></ul><ul><li>Television involved in proroguing images of past conflict </li></ul><ul><li>Interpersonal communication heightens media effects </li></ul><ul><li>Recommendation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It the TV, stupid! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Education of television producers/station managers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>TV constructs space </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>TV dramatic coverage during urban conflict constructs fear </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>TV constructs stereotyping even when it uses spatial labeling </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Public/audience education </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Watch out what you are fearing! It might come true! </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>http:// </li></ul></ul></ul>
    25. 25. Looking at space from a macro-perspective <ul><li>What kind of spaces do telecommunication ties describe? </li></ul><ul><li>How do nations bunch together in this space? </li></ul><ul><li>Over time, do we see a process of uniformization or of fragmentation? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Heterogenization vs. Homogenization? </li></ul></ul>
    26. 26. Research question <ul><li>Three ways of asking the same question: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If we analyze flows of exchanges between nations, should we expect an increasing alignment of nations that share same cultural/civilizational characteristics? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do nations that speak the same language or have the same beliefs send more information to one another? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is there evidence of a “heterogenization” effect in technoscape? </li></ul></ul>
    27. 27. Data <ul><li>2 who-to-whom matrices—networks—of international telephony ties between 107/110 nations (80% world population) – 1989 – 1999 </li></ul><ul><li>Matrices define “telecommunicative neighbors” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Countries are neighbors of each other if they send at least 5% of their traffic to each other </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>5% threshold is based on analysis of tie distribution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Logarithmic </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A nation typically sends 80% of its outgoing traffic to 4 nations </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>These nations typically absorb between 5 to 90% of the traffic (average 35%), each </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>All the other nations (109) absorb under 5% </li></ul></ul></ul>
    28. 28. Data cntd. <ul><li>Node attributes: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>cultural afilliation (linguistic): rated </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>civilizational affiliation (religious): percentage </li></ul></ul><ul><li>4 linguistic and 4 civilizational areals </li></ul><ul><ul><li>English </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>French </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Arabic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Spanish </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Protestant </li></ul><ul><li>Catholic </li></ul><ul><li>Islamic </li></ul><ul><li>Buddhist-Hindu </li></ul>
    29. 29. Statistical Analysis <ul><li>Spatial correlation (Moran’s I) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Measures likelihood of countries that have high values on certain attributes to be surrounded by nations that are like them </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Global and Local Versions </li></ul></ul>
    30. 30. Global Moran’s I <ul><li>Global version: what is the magnitude of spatial association in the entire dataset? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>0 - 1: Countries are systematically surrounded by nations with similar values on the key attribute </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>-1 - 0: Countries are systematically surrounded by nations with dissimilar values on the key attribute </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>0: No association </li></ul></ul>
    31. 31. Local Moran’s I <ul><li>Magnitude of spatial association between each observation and its immediate neighbors </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Values range between larger values </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Compares the value of each observation with the average of the observations considered to be its neighbor </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Produces cluster of “highest correlated” nations </li></ul></ul>
    32. 32. Results: Global values <ul><li>Global Moran’s I values increase for all, except one areal, Arabic </li></ul><ul><li>Value increases are significant (t-test for paired samples), except for the Islamic areal </li></ul><ul><li>There is an increasing tendency of countries that are similar culturally or civilizationally to cluster together in telecommunicative space </li></ul>
    33. 33. Results: local values <ul><li>Clusters are generally bigger in 1999; Overall more countries are + highly correlated with their neighbors in 1999 (9 join, 4 drop) </li></ul><ul><li>Average values for cluster-level local correlations generally increase in 1999 (exception, English areal) </li></ul><ul><li>Supporting evidence, the burden of the proof is on the global analysis </li></ul>Clusters= Local moran value > 0 and significant
    34. 34. Discussion <ul><li>Evidence for heterogenization </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Countries of common cultural and civilizational heritage more likely to be surrounded by their peers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Small decline in English cluster size a fortiori evidence </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Exception to the rule: Islamic & Arabic areals </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Arabic nations less likely to connect with each other (rich nations leave poorer nations behind) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Islamic nations stagnant (no sig diff) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In these areals we can talk about a loss of local ties </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Signs for the backlash to come? </li></ul></ul>
    35. 35. Let’s have a conversation <ul><li>How can we apply these methods to organizational communication? </li></ul><ul><li>How can we extend this paradigm? </li></ul><ul><li>What kind of research issues would you address with this toolkit? </li></ul>