Date of Graduation

8-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Communication (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Communication

Advisor

Matthew L. Spialek

Committee Member

Myria W. Allen

Second Committee Member

Patricia Amason

Keywords

Communication Infrastructure Theory, Rural, Storytelling

Abstract

The health of a community’s communication infrastructure influences their efficacy and efficiency in dealing with societal problems. The majority of previous communication infrastructure research has focused on multicultural urban centers. This study looks at the communication infrastructure of one rural Arkansas town, specifically looking for the places residents report as communication assets and the subjects discussed within the storytelling network. I used a combination of communication asset mapping and semi-structured interviews to identify the physical locations within the community where residents regularly converse with one another. The interviews along with observations also provided insight into the subject matter that residents prioritize when conversing in public. I found that the overwhelming majority of public locations, whether public spaces or private businesses, were considered comfort zones by respondents. I also discovered that residents prefer to talk about micro-level subjects such as family, relationships, and well-being and avoid meso- and macro-level topics that could be considered controversial, such as local or national politics, except when the issue brought up for discussion impacted the community’s youth.

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