ICA Fellows: A Collective Biography

Michael Meyen


This article aims to reveal the structure of the academic field of communication by portraying the people at its dominant pole. The study is based on the sociology of Bourdieu and 57 personal interviews with International Communication Association (ICA) fellows. It shows that the communication field’s legitimization problem is intensified by social climbers’ prevalence at the field’s power pole. These first-generation college graduates were raised to value education, hard work, and a certain type of public conduct. They entered the field when they realized that it matched their habitus, as communication attracted people with both an affinity for natural sciences and the wish to make a difference. Quantitative methods and psychological approaches promised scientific authority as well as knowledge for the outside world.

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