Communication scholar-activism: conceptualizing key dimensions and practices based on interviews with scholar-activists

Srividya Ramasubramanian, Alexandra N. Sousa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This paper presents an empirically grounded conceptual framework for the various dimensions of scholar-activism based on 15 in-depth interviews with prominent communication scholar-activists. It theorizes about the meanings, practices, challenges, and opportunities encompassed by this type of scholarship from the perspective of those in the field. Our participants see scholar-activism as a fluid concept that comprises a range of goals, methods, and activities. They view scholar-activism as distinct from overlapping terms such as engaged scholarship, public scholarship, critical communication, participatory action research, and community organizing. Despite differences in labels, there is a relatively unified sense of the practices, challenges, and opportunities related to scholar-activism. The main dimensions of communication scholar-activism that emerge from the data are that it is: community-driven, social justice-oriented, action-oriented, grounded in co-creation of knowledge, interdisciplinary, long term in nature, challenging of the status quo, driven by intrinsic motivators, and boundary-blurring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)477-496
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Applied Communication Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Social justice
  • activism
  • critical communication
  • engaged scholarship
  • public scholarship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics


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