1st Edition

Communication Against Domination
Ideas of Justice from the Printing Press to Algorithmic Media

ISBN 9780367236144
Published April 13, 2021 by Routledge
164 Pages

USD $160.00

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Book Description

This book tackles the philosophical challenge of bridging the gap between empirical research into communication and information technology, and normative questions of justice and how we ought to communicate with each other. It brings the question of what justice demands of communication to the center of social science research.

Max Hänska undertakes expansive philosophical analysis to locate the proper place of normativity in social science research, a looming subject in light of the sweeping roles of information technologies in our social world today. The book’s first section examines metatheoretical issues to provide a framework for normative analysis, while the second applies this framework to three technological epochs: broadcast communication, the Internet and networked communications, and the increasing integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies into our communication systems. Hänska goes beyond the prevailing frameworks in the field by exploring how we answer normative questions and how our answer can change depending on our social context and the affordances of prevailing communications technologies.

This book provides an essential guide for scholars as well as graduate and advanced undergraduate students of research and theory in communication, philosophy, political science, and the social sciences.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction - Empirical Research, and the Inextricability of Normative Ideas 

Section 1: An Introduction to Normative Analysis

2. Normativity, or What We Mean When We Say Ought 

3. Can the Facts Tell us What Ought to be? 

4. Why Principles are Fact-Invariant 

5. Communications Against Domination 

Section 2: Technological Transformations of the Normative

6. Print Against Domination 

7. Platforms and Networked Non-domination 

8. Machine Intelligence and Discursive Control 

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Max Hänska is an Associate Fellow at the Free University of Berlin and has previously held posts at De Montfort University, the University of Gothenburg, and the London School of Economics, where he also earned a PhD. His research interests center on social media and collective action, as well as normative questions in the communications field.


"Max Hänska has written a splendid book on an important and timely topic. The book provides a comprehensive study of normative aspects of communication and most valuable guidance for the systematic analyses of normative claims in communication theory. It is conceptually compelling, rich in examples and highly original in the analyses of the impact of communication technologies on social relationships, politics and culture." —Mats Ekström, Professor of Media and Communication, University of Gothenburg

"In an era in which dependence on information and communication technologies has reached new heights and the dangers they pose to our social fabric and personal well-being are so pronounced, Max Hänska makes an invaluable contribution to the much-needed conversation on the normative choices we face when we put them to use. Communication Against Domination is a thorough, broad, insightful and accessible read designed for both scholars and advanced students. It tackles head-on the moral dilemmas contemporary media technologies bring about and proposes a well-argued theoretical approach to engage with them." — Amit Schejter, Professor of Communication Studies at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Co-Director of the Institute for Information Policy at Penn State University

"Communication Against Domination offers a rich framework for analysing the normative underpinnings of communication in contemporary society. It proposes that freedom as non-domination can provide a suitable goal for communication, and for empirical and theoretical communication analysis. In his sharp and thorough reasoning Max Hänska lays out how traditional media, the Internet and Artificial Intelligence challenge and transform the normative foundations of communication. The book is fascinating in its profound understanding of social and communication theory and a must read, particularly for students pursuing empirical communication research." —Barbara Pfetsch, Professor of Communication Studies, Communication Theory and Media Effects, Freie Universität Berlin, and Managing Director, Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society – The German Internet Institute