The Handbook of Communication Ethics

The Handbook of Communication Ethics

The Handbook of Communication Ethics

The Handbook of Communication Ethics


The Handbook of Communication Ethicsserves as a comprehensive guide to the study of communication and ethics. It brings together analyses and applications based on recognized ethical theories as well as those outside the traditional domain of ethics but which engage important questions of power, equality, and justice. The work herein encourages readers to make important connections between matters of social justice and ethical theory. This volume makes an unparalleled contribution to the literature of communication studies, through consolidating knowledge about the multiple relationships between communication and ethics; by systematically treating areas of application; and by introducing explicit and implicit examinations of communication ethics to one another.

The Handbook takes an international approach, analyzing diverse cultural contexts and comparative assessments. The chapters in this volume cover a wide range of theoretical perspectives on communication and ethics, including feminist, postmodern and postcolonial; engage with communication contexts such as interpersonal and small group communication, journalism, new media, visual communication, public relations, and marketing; and explore contemporary issues such as democracy, religion, secularism, the environment, trade, law, and economics. The chapters also consider the dialectical tensions between theory and practice; academic and popular discourses; universalism and particularism; the global and the local; and rationality and emotion.

An invaluable resource for scholars in communication and related disciplines, the Handbookalso serves as a main point of reference in graduate and upper-division undergraduate courses in communication and ethics. It stands as an exceptionally comprehensive resource for the study of communication and ethics.


Robert T. Craig

The Handbook of Communication Ethics offers the most comprehensive current guide to ethical studies across the field. No previous work has explored this fundamental aspect of communication theory, research, and practice in broader scope. Moreover, the editors and authors have attempted not only to represent diverse ethical topics and approaches but also to overcome the field’s current state of fragmentation by illuminating common themes and opening new conversations across topics and approaches.

While scholars who specialize in particular areas such as dialogue, journalism, or environmental justice will find useful chapters related to their specialties, those who read further in the Handbook may profit even more from the discovery of unexpected links to other areas. The Handbook forges integrative links both implicitly in the selection and arrangement of topical chapters and explicitly in the introductory and concluding chapters that frame the volume. This effort toward integration expands the horizon of ethical/moral inquiry in communication, affording glimpses of a communication ethics that is more than an application of ethics to communication but rather includes an array of original contributions to ethical thought essentially informed by communication concepts and practices.

The selection and arrangement of 27 chapters in three main units composing the volume implicitly invites authors and readers to weave each topic through others in a three-dimensional array of theories, contexts, and problems. The first unit presents seven chapters addressing ethical theory from various viewpoints. Here as elsewhere in the volume the reader will find commentaries on classic ideas like utilitarianism and virtue ethics, but the chapters do not focus centrally on traditional schools of ethics. Instead, each chapter advances a particular communication approach to ethics, featuring themes like interactively emergent choice (Stewart), otherness and dialogue (several chapters), feminist discursive ethics (Buzzanell), or postcolonial praxis (Munshi et al.).

Most of these theoretical themes, both classic and new, recur in one or more of the 12 chapters in the second unit, each of which treats a specific context of communication (interpersonal relations, journalism, new technologies, law, and politics, among others). Empirical research abundantly informs many of these essays, elucidating ethical problems and dilemmas that arise in particular contexts and often resemble those in other contexts, thus inviting comparison across contexts. Specific kinds of communicative practices, for example, privacy management or deliberation, also become important in multiple contexts.

Empirical research, as was just noted, has a prominent role in many of these chapters on particular contexts of communication. Empirical research has a similarly large role in chapters of the following unit on contemporary ethical issues. These chapters illustrate the merit of Donsbach’s (2006) argument that empirical studies in communication science, no less than critical studies, can and should be conducted so as to address significant normative problems.

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