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Co-evolution: Applications and Implications for Governance Research in Communication Studies


Bauer, Johannes M. /

Michael Latzer

M. Puppis, H. van den Bulck, & R. Mansell (Eds.), Handbook of Media and Communication Governance. Cheltanham, UK; Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar (forthcoming 2024)

A co-evolutionary theoretical framework offers new concepts and methods for communication governance researchers. These concepts and methods are particularly well suited to study problems with strong interdependencies between actors. Such problems often develop in a dynamic, open-ended way and are associated with high levels of uncertainty. Many important, pressing governance tasks in convergent communication sectors, such as efforts to regulate digital platforms, could benefit from integrating insights from co-evolutionary models. For some problems, such as global internet governance, co-evolutionary models may be the only way to develop a robust understanding of the available governance options. This chapter introduces the co-evolution concept, points to applications in communication governance research, and presents models and tools that could enrich future research. It also highlights the implications of its applications for communications governance, summarizes the strengths and limitations of the approach, and gives a brief outlook of further developments.