University of Southern California
Annenberg School for Communication


Research Areas

Communication Environment

Working together, residents, geo-ethnic media, and community-based organizations have the capacity to change the life conditions of a residential area. However, this process does not take place in a vacuum. In forging those critical ties that produce a neighborhood storytelling network, these storytellers face numerous challenges in their communication environment or what we call the communication action context (CAC).

The CAC is the space in which residents confront the problems of everyday life and engage in problem-defining and problem-solving activities. The boundaries of the CAC are the boundaries of the residential area as defined by shared conventions (e.g., major cross streets, the incorporated area, real estate sections, geographic labels).

Important features of the CAC include:

Depending on the degree to which the CAC encourages or hinders communication, it is said to vary along a continuum, from open to closed.

Research Team

- Andrew Schrock

- Carmen Gonzalez

- Craig Hayden

- Evelyn Moreno

- George Villanueva

- Johann D’Agostino

- Matthew D. Matsaganis

- Minhee Son

- Sandra Ball-Rokeach

- Sorin Matei

- Yong Chan Kim



Published Papers Ball-Rokeach, S.J., Kim, Y.C., & Matei, S. (2001). Storytelling neighborhood: Paths to belonging in diverse urban environments. Communication Research. 28(4), 392-428 Broad, G. M., Gonzalez, C., & Ball-Rokeach, S. J. (2013). Intergroup relations in South Los Angeles" Combining communication infrastructure and contact hypothesis approaches. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 38, 47-59. Broad, G.M. (In Press). Revolution on Primetime TV - Jamie Oliver Takes On the US School Food System. In Frye, J. & Bruner, M. (Eds) The Rhetoric of Food: Discourse, Materiality & Power. New York: Routledge. Chen, N.-T. N., Ognyanova, K., Zhang, C., Wang, C., Ball-Rokeach, S. J., & Parks, M. (2015). Causing ripples in local power relations: The meso-level influence of a hyperlocal news website. Journalism Studies, 6(18), 710-731. doi:10.1080/1461670X.2015.1078738 Cheong, P. H. & Wilkin, H. A. (2005). Digital divide(s) among Hispanic immigrants and Internet connections for health information seeking. In M. Allen & M. Convalso (Eds.), Internet Research Annual, 2, 175-188. Cheong, P. H. (2006). Communication context, social cohesion, and social capital building among Hispanic immigrant families. Community, Work & Family, 9(3), 367-387. Cheong, P.H., Wilkin, H.A., & Ball-Rokeach, S.J. (2004). Diagnosing the communication infrastructure in order to reach target audiences: A study of Hispanic communities in Los Angeles. In Cook, D. & Whitten, P. (Eds.), Understanding health communications technologies: A case study approach. (pp.101-110). Gerson, D., Chen, N.-T. N., Ball-Rokeach, S., & Parks, M. (2016). From website to Weibo: New media as a catalyst for activating the local communication network and civic engagement in a diverse city. In E. Gordon & P. Milhailidis (Eds.), Civic media: Technology, design & practice (pp. 429-434). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Giles, H., Katz, V. S. & Lambert, P. (2006). Language attitudes and the role of community infrastructure: A communication ecology model. Moderna Språk C(1), 38-54. Jung, J.-Y. & Kim, Y.C. (2016). Are you an opinion giver, seeker, or both? Re-examining political opinion leadership in the new communication environment. International Journal of Communication, 10. Katz, V.S. (2014). Communication dynamics of immigrant integration. Communication Yearbook, 38, 39-68. Kim, Y. C., & Ball-Rokeach, S. J. (2006). Civic engagement from a communication infrastructure perspective. Communication Theory, 16 (2), 173-197. Kim, Y. C., & Ball-Rokeach, S. J. (2006). Neighborhood storytelling resources and civic engagement: A multilevel approach. Human Communication Research, 32(4), 411-439. Kim, Y., Ball-Rokeach, S. & Song, H. (Ed). (2003). Community and market: A survey of Korean-Americans in Southern California. (Available from the Korea Daily, 690 Wilshire Place, Los Angeles, CA 90005). Matei, S., & Ball-Rokeach, S. J. (2002). Belonging across geographic and Internet spaces: Ethnic area variations. In B. Wellman & C. Haythornthwaite (Eds.), The Internet in everyday life. UK: Blackwells. Matei, S., & Ball-Rokeach, S. J. (2007). Communication channels, spatial stereotyping, and urban conflict: A cross-scale and spatio-temporal analysis. Journal of Dispute Resolution, 1, 195-210. Matei, S., & Ball-Rokeach, S.J. (2001). Real and virtual social ties: Connections in the everyday lives of seven ethnic neighborhoods. American Behavioral Scientist. 45(3), 550-564. Matei, S., Ball-Rokeach, S.J., & Qiu, J. (2001). Fear and misperception of Los Angeles urban space: A spatial statistical study of communication-shaped mental maps. Communication Research, 28(4), 429-463. matei_fear_CR.pdf Matei, S., Ball-Rokeach, S.J., Wilson, M., Gibbs, J., & Gutierrez Hoyt, E. (2001). Metamorphosis: A field research methodology for studying communication technology and community. Electronic Journal of Communication. 11(2). From Matei, S.A., & Ball-Rokeach, S.J. (2005). Watts, the 1965 Los Angeles riots and the communicative construction of the fear epicenter of Los Angeles. Communication Monographs, 72(3), 301-323. Matei_Ball_Rokeach_2005_Watts_The_1965_LA_Riots_Communicative_0259.pdf Wilkin, H. A., Ball-Rokeach, S. J. , Matsaganis, M. D., & Cheong, P. H. (In Press). Comparing the communication ecologies of geo-ethnic communities: How people stay on top of their community. Journal of Electronic Communication.
Papers in Preparation Kim, Y.C., & Wilkin, H. (in progress) Structural Constraints, Neighborhood Communication Resources, and Access to Health Information among Hispanic Immigrants in Los Angeles.
Papers Presented at Professional Meetings Ball-Rokeach, S.J. (2004). Geo-ethnic communities of Los Angeles. Paper presented at the meeting of the Leadership California Conference on California Heritage: Shaping California's Future, San Francisco. Ball-Rokeach, S.J., Gonzalez, C., Son, M., Kligler-Vilenchik, N. (2012). Understanding Individuals in the Context of Their Environment: Communication Ecology as a Concept and Method. Paper presented at the International Communication Association conference in Pheonix, AZ. Ball-Rokeach, S.J., Kim, Y., & Matei, S. (2001). Storytelling neighborhood: Paths to belonging in diverse urban environments. Paper presented at the American Sociological Association Meetings. Los Angeles. Ball-Rokeach, S.J., Moran, M.B., Hether, H.J., & Frank, L. B. (2010). Telling the South L.A. storytelling network: A report presented to the California Endowment. Retrieved from Broad, G.M. (2009). Gardens as Sites for Neighborhood Communication: The Case of Hollywood Community Gardens. Paper presented at the Urban Communication Foundation Seminar at the Conference of the National Communication Association. Chicago, IL. Broad, G.M., & Gonzalez, C. (2011, May). Intergroup Relations in South Los Angeles--Combining Communication Infrastructure and Contact Hypothesis Approaches. Paper presented at the Conference of the International Communication Association, Boston, Massachusetts. Chavez, C. (2008). Catholic Parishes as Agents of Integration and Isolation. Paper presented at the International Communication Association Conference, Montreal. Chavez, C.A. & Ball-Rokeach, S.J. (2006). Exploring the Role of Religious Affiliation on Civic Engagement Amongst New Immigrant Latinos in Los Angeles. Paper presented at the meeting of the International Communication Association, Dresden, Germany. Gonzalez, C.& Moreno, E. (2008). Working Together for a Shared Community: Community-Based Organizations as Sites of Intergroup Interaction. Paper presented at the International Communication Association Conference, Montreal. Katz, V. (2008). An Active Education: Classroom Participation as an Influence On Inter-group Relations Between Parents. Paper presented at the International Communication Association Conference, Montreal. Katz, V. (2009). Publicly and privately constituting community: A theoretical approach to understanding urban community development. Presented to the International Communication Association Annual Conference. Chicago, IL. Kim, Y.C & Ball-Rokeach, S. J. (2006). Community Storytelling Network, Neighborhood Context, and Civic Engagement: A Multilevel Approach. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the AEJMC Theory and Methodology Division, San Francisco. Kim, Y.C., Jung, J.Y., Ball-Rokeach, S.J., Loges, W.E. (2002). Ethnicity, place, and communication technology: Geo-ethnic effect on multi-dimensional Internet Connectedness in urban communities. Paper presented at the International Communication Association Conference, Seoul, Korea. Lapsansky, C. (2008). Community on the Walls: How Public Murals Can Affect Intergroup Relations in a Shared Community. Paper presented at the International Communication Association Conference, Montreal. Matei, S. & Ball-Rokeach S.J. (2002). Ascription of "safe" and "unsafe" places: Communicative allocation of an overlooked scarce resource. Paper presented at the American Sociological Association, Chicago. Matei, S., & Ball-Rokeach, S. J. (2001). Off-line Social Bonds as Predictors for On-line Social Ties. Paper presented at the International Communication Association Conference, Washington DC. Matei, S., Ball-Rokeach, & Qiu, J. (2001). Mental Maps as Communication Research Tools and their Policy Implications. The International Communication Association Conference, Washington DC. Matsaganis, M. (2004). The Metamorphosis of the Urban Environment: Conceptualizing Community Space from a Communication Infrastructure Perspective. Urban Communication Pre-Conference, National Communication Association. Chicago. Matsaganis, M. (2006). Neighborhood Effects and the Invisible Motor of Community Change. International Communication Association. Dresden. Matsaganis, M. (2007). Harnessing the Power of Neighborhood Communication Networks to Build Health Literacy in Diverse Urban Communities. Presented at the National Communication Association Conference/Urban Communication Foundation Conference. Chicago, IL. Villanueva, G. (2009). Public Responses to the 1992 Los Angeles Riots and the Transformation of the Urban Public Sphere for the 21st Century. Paper Presented at National Communication Association. Chicago, Illinois. Villanueva, G. (2010). Mediating Space, Place, and Politics. Paper presented at the International Communication Association Conference. Singapore. Villanueva, G. (2010). Addressing the People vs. Place Urban Planning Debate: The Human Development-Overlay District Project and the Case of Hollywood. Paper presentation at the Urban Affairs Association. March 2010. Waikiki: Hawaii. Villanueva, G. (2010). Communicating Urban Spaces On and Off Screen: The Mediation of Los Angeles in the Films Crash and Quinceanera. Paper presented at the International Communication Association. June 2010. Singapore. Wenzel, A. (2014). Eating in Alhambra: Food storytelling and intergroup relations. Paper presented at the 3rd Global Conference of Food: A Making Sense of: Project. Oxford, United Kingdom.
Dissertations Katz, V. (2007). From conversation to conversion: Children's efforts to translate their immigrant families' social networks into community connections. Kim, Y.C. (2003). Storytelling community: Communication infrastructure and civic engagements in urban spaces. Dissertation Abstracts International, 64 (12), 4256. Lin, W.Y. (2004). Communication and community-building: The role of ethnic media in the Chinese immigrant community of Los Angeles. Dissertation Abstracts International, 65 (09), 3203. Wilson. M.E. (2000). Leading the community chorus: The role of organizations in society. Dissertation Abstracts International, 62 (09), 2920.