University of Southern California
Annenberg School for Communication

About the Project


PhotoMetamorphosis: Transforming the ties that bind

Our mission is to understand the transformation of urban community under the forces of globalization, new communication technologies, and population diversity so that our research can inform practitioner and policy maker decisions. Our site of study is Los Angeles and its many ethnic communities of both new and settled immigrants.

We have developed a communication infrastructure perspective that privileges a grassroots understanding of how people construct and re-vitalize their residential communities, and how they go about solving everyday problems of family, health, inter-group relations, and ethnic identity. Our challenge is to make the communication infrastructure of daily life visible so that it can be employed by residents, practitioners, and policy makers to improve the quality of family and community life.

At the heart of this infrastructure is the neighborhood storytelling network. This network involves residents, community organizations, and geo-ethnic media in a dynamic communication process whereby they stimulate each other to focus upon and talk about neighborhood events, issues, threats, and opportunities. As such, this network is hard to see without in-depth and grounded research. Nonetheless, the storytelling network can be a powerful tool for all who wish to bring about changes that are grounded in the dynamics of everyday community life and are, therefore, more likely to endure.