Urban Communication| Going About the City: Methods and Methodologies for Urban Communication Research — Introduction

Giorgia Aiello, Simone Tosoni


This introduction to the special section on methods and methodologies for urban communication research discusses major approaches to conceptualizing and researching the relationship between cities and communication. We underline the increasing significance of scholarship on the various ways in which city dwellers relate to each other and their urban environment through symbolic, technological, and material means. We then argue that a systematic conversation on the methodological principles, protocols, and practices that set apart this burgeoning area of inquiry is not only timely, but also much needed. With this objective in mind, we invited a group of scholars to reflect on the key questions, instruments, challenges, and contributions of documentary, audiencing, material, visual, mixed-method, ecological, and applied perspectives on urban communication. Based on the seven articles included in the special section, we propose three distinct but interrelated conceptual heuristics—the city as context, the city as medium, the city as content—that highlight the importance of cities as both producers and products of particular practices, interactions, and narratives. We finally conclude that, vis-à-vis research on the automatic production of urban space, urban communication scholarship may contribute to strengthening a broader research agenda rooted in an understanding of communication as a human endeavor.


urban communication, cities, empirical research, methods, methodology

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