What makes the study of communication modern? Would a research study about the use of instant messaging by romantic couples in the 20th century be more modern than a study of the broadcasting of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s radio speeches in the 1930s? Does it make a difference if the romantic couple lives apart on two different continents or if the President of the United States gives weekly radio addresses in the 20th century? Would it matter whether we used an interpretive research method to study the romantic couples or an experimental design to study the radio speeches? What if the couple is gay and the President of the United States is Black? Could both studies be modern? What might be the difference in time, space, people, technology, or practice that would authorize someone to claim that his or her study of communication is modern? Questions about the modern status of communication imply that some difference in kind exists between those things and people that are modern and those that are not. If not a difference in kind, then a difference in degree is implied so that something is claimed to be more modern than something else. Moreover, those who claim to be modern or more modern tend to assume it is better to be modern and that everyone and everything should want to become more modern. Yet the positive value of being modern does not go unchallenged; some advocate the virtues of tradition, others declare the end of modernism and call for a recognition that we live in postmodern times, and others suggest a different way of being modern. To appreciate the importance of modernism for communication theory requires an effort to ascertain what makes the modern modern.

Littlejohn, Stephen W and Karen A.Floss. (2009). Encyclopedia of Communication Theory.USA:SAGE.662

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