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Theory or Theories?. To begin …. Is it possible identify a Theory of communication field? There is no canon of general theory to which they all refer ONE specific Theory doesn’t exists yet . To begin …. Scholars of communication apparently neither agree nor disagree about much of anything

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Theory or theories

Theoryor Theories?


To begin

To begin ….

  • Is it possible identify a Theory of communication field?

  • There is no canon of general theory to which they all refer

  • ONE specific Theory doesn’t exists yet


To begin1

To begin ….

  • Scholars of communication apparently neither agree nor disagree about much of anything

  • For the most part, they simply ignore each other

  • There is no consensus on communication theory as a field


An interesting research

An interesting research ….

  • Anderson (1996) analyzed the contents of seven communication theory textbooks and identified 249 distinct “theories”

    • 195 appeared in only one of the seven books

    • the 22% appeared in more than one book

    • the 7% were included in more than three books


Numerous disciplinary fields

Numerous disciplinary fields ….

  • Budd and Ruben’s (1972) anthology of communication highlight 24 severaldisciplinary fields: from anthropology to zoology


Some observation

Some observation …

  • The difficulty in building a specific communication theory is to connect with the attempt to summarize fragments of various disciplines forgetting that the whole is more than the sum of its parts


Some observation1

Some observation …

  • All communication theories are relevant to a common practical lifeworld in which communication is already a richly meaningful term


One hypothesis

One hypothesis ….

  • The potential of communication theory can best be realized, not in a unified theory of communication but in a dialogical-dialectical disciplinary matrix


One hypothesis1

One hypothesis ….

  • Robert T. Craig observes that may be proposed a tentative reconstruction of the multidisciplinary traditions of communication theory

  • He identify 7 “traditional” alternative vocabularies for theorizing communication as a social practice


One hypothesis2

One hypothesis ….

  • Robert T. Craig identifies 7 “traditional” alternative vocabularies for theorizing communication as a social practice

  • A common awareness of certain complementarities among different types of communication theory


The 7 theories

The 7 theories

  • Rhetoric

  • Semiotic

  • Phenomenology

  • Cybernetic

  • Socio-psychology

  • Socio-cultural

  • Critical


Rhetoric

Rhetoric

  • Littlejohn observes: The primary source of ideas about communication prior to this century, dating back to ancient times was rhetoric (1996)


Rhetoric1

Rhetoric

  • Originated with the ancient Greek sophists, communication has typically been theorized as a practical art of discourse

  • Useful for explaining and under-stand notably “public discourse”

  • In the past also to solve social exigencies


Rhetoric2

Rhetoric

  • Also in modern times, we all know that rhetoric is a powerful force in society

  • It is important to understand how rhetoric works and to cultivate our abilities as critical consumers as well as effective producers of rhetoric


Rhetoric3

Rhetoric

  • We know that some people are better communicators than others

  • Communicators: skill or wisdom?

  • It challenges the commonplaces that mere words are less important than actions


Rhetoric4

Rhetoric

  • Problems bring into question

    • Which places may be attributed to emotion and logic in persuasion?

    • Rhetoric in inherently good or bad or just a neutral tool?


Rhetoric5

Rhetoric

  • Rhetoric can be in part connected to real problems that all of us face in our every-day life

  • For example: how are we swayed by the emotional appeals that pervade political and commercial advertising?


Rhetoric6

Rhetoric

  • In modernist thought, rhetoric has often been cast as the enemy of communication

  • For modernists

    • Communication is all about reason, truth, clarity, and understanding

    • Rhetoric is all about traditionalism, artifice, obfuscation, and manipu-lation


Semiotic

Semiotic

  • The study of signs. It has ancient roots, but can be said to have originated in the language theory of John Locke (1960-1979)

  • In the semiotic tradition, communication is theorized as intersubjective mediation by signs


Semiotic1

Semiotic

  • Problems of communication in the semiotic tradition are primarily problems of (re)presentation and transmission of meaning

  • Locke argued that we cannot take it for granted that people ordinarily understand each other


Semiotic2

Semiotic

  • Semiotic seems plausible and practical when:

    • It appeals to the commonsense beliefs that communication is easiest when we share a common language

    • The words can mean different things to different people so miscommu-nication is a constant danger


Semiotic3

Semiotic

  • Semiotic can seem implausible when it challenges commonplace beliefs such as that:

    • ideas exist in people’s minds

    • words have correct meanings

    • meanings can be made explicit

    • communication is a voluntary act

    • we use signs and media of communication as tools to represent and share our thoughts


Phenomenology

Phenomenology

  • Communication is theorized as dialogue or experience of otherness

  • Communication theorized in this way

    • explains the interplay of identity

    • and difference in authentic human relationships


Phenomenology1

Phenomenology

  • Communication, or dialogue, is founded on the experience of direct, unmediated contact with others

  • Direct contacts are essentials to prevent the risk of behaviors based on non-authenticity


Phenomenology2

Phenomenology

  • It supports the dialogue as ideal communication method, and under-line the inherent difficulties

  • Considering the “gap” between transmission and reception of messages, Peters argues that No distance is so great as that bet-ween two minds


Cybernetic

Cybernetic

We have decided to call the entire field of control and communication theory, whether in the machine or in the animal, by the name of Cybernetics (Wiener, 1948)


Extension to diverse areas of interest

Extension to diverse areas of interest

  • Systems and information science

  • Cognitive and artificial science

  • Functionalist social theory

  • Network analysis

  • The Batesonian school of interpersonal communication


Cybernetic1

Cybernetic

  • Communication in the cybernetic tradition is theorized as information processing

  • It explains how all kinds of complex systems, whether living or nonli-ving, macro or micro, are able to function, and why they often malfunction


Is cybernetic plausible

Is Cybernetic plausible?

  • No, if we consider the common-sense view:

    • it points out analogies between living and nonliving systems

    • it challenges commonplace beliefs about the significance of consciousness and emotions


Is cybernetic plausible1

Is Cybernetic plausible?

  • it questions our usual distinctions between mind and matter, form and content, the real and the artificial


Unquestioned positive aspect

Unquestioned positive aspect

  • Cybernetics points out that communication process can be enormously more complex than commonsense may be understand


In summary

In summary

  • Cybernetics cultivate a practical attitude that appreciates the complexity of communication problems and questions many of our usual differences between human and nonhuman information processing systems


Sociopsychology

Sociopsychology

  • Experimental socila psychology theorizes communication as a process of expression, interaction, and influence

    or, in short,

  • Communication is the process by which individuals interact and influence each other


Sociopsychology1

Sociopsychology

  • Communication may occur: face-to-face


Sociopsychology2

Sociopsychology

  • Communication may occur: one to many


Sociopsychology3

Sociopsychology

  • Communication may occur: one to many and many to one


Sociopsychology4

Sociopsychology

BUT

  • In all formats it involves interposed elements that mediate between individuals


Sociopsychology and semiotic

Sociopsychology and Semiotic

  • For semiotics communication is mediated by signs and signs systems

  • For social psychology communication is mediated by psychological predi-spositions (attitudes, emotional states, personality traits, uncon-scious conflicts, etc.), and by the effects of social interactions


Sociopsychology rhetoric cybernetic

Sociopsychology, Rhetoric, Cybernetic

  • Sociopsychology requires rigorous experimental evidence

  • It criticizes

    • Rhetoric for lacking proof that its persuasive techniques really work

    • Cybernetics for reducing all communication to information-processing algorithms that ignore the vagaries of motivation, personality, and emotion


Sociocultural theory

Sociocultural theory

  • Communication is a symbolic process whereby reality is produced, maintai-ned, repaired, and transformed (Carey, 1989)

  • Wherever activities or artifacts have symbolic values that articulate indivi-duals into positions vis-à-vis each other or their collectivities, the com-municative is present (Rothenbuhler, 1993)


Sociocultural theory1

Sociocultural theory

  • Communication in sociology and anthropology is typically theorized as a symbolic process that produces and reproduces shared sociocultural patterns


Sociocultural theory2

Sociocultural theory

  • The word reproduce suggests the reflexivity of this process

    that is,

  • Our everyday interactions with others depend heavily on preexisting, shared cultural patterns and social structures

  • From this point of view, our everyday interactions largely reproduce the existing sociocultural order


A central problem of sociocultural theory is

A central problemof Sociocultural theory is …

  • to find the right balance

    that is,

  • to sort out the complex relations between production and reproduc-tion, particular local culture and universal natural law, in social life


Communication problems in the sociocultural tradition

Communication problems in the sociocultural tradition

  • Problems are thought of as gaps across

    • space - sociocultural diversity and relativity

    • time – sociocultural change


Communication problems in the sociocultural tradition1

Communication problems in the sociocultural tradition

  • Conflicts, misunderstandings, and difficulties in coordination increase when social conditions afford a scarcity of shared rituals, rules, and expectations among members


Sociocultural theory and perturbations

Sociocultural theoryand “perturbations”

* technological change

* breakdown of traditional social orders

* urbanization and mass society

* bureaucratic rationalization

* postmodern cultural fragmentation and globalization, etc.

are disrupt/creative perturbations that produce new meanings of communication


Connections among sociocultural theory an the other communication theories

Connections among sociocultural theory an the other communication theories

  • Hybrids are quite common

  • A relatively “pure” exemplars of sociocultural communication theory may be hard to come by


Some examples

Some examples

  • Social action media theory melds a range of sociocultural, phenomeno-logical, and semiotic perspectives

  • Conversation analysis has interac-tionist, phenomenological, and semiotic roots


Some examples1

Some examples

  • Rhetorical theory has also taken a strongly sociocultural turn in which rhetoric has quite often been conceptualized as an instrument for improving human relations


A distinct sociocultural voice

… a distinct sociocultural “voice”

  • It is the voice that criticizes

    • social psychology for its excessive individualism, and insensitivity to cultural differences

    • classical rhetoric for its naïve assumptions

    • semiotics for abstracting signs from the larger sociocultural context


From a lay point of view

From a lay point of view …

  • Sociocultural theory is plausible in part because

    • individuals are products of their social environments

    • groups develop particular norms, rituals, and worldviews

    • social change can be difficult and disruptive


Sociocultural theory3

Sociocultural theory ..

  • … cultivates communicative practices that

    • acknowledge cultural diversity and relativity

    • value tolerance and understanding

    • emphasize collective more than individual responsibility


Critical communication theory

Critical communication theory

  • The origins: Plato’s conceptions of Socratic dialectic

  • This theory emphasizes a certain instability that inheres in every act of communication


Critical communication theory1

Critical communication theory

  • Communication that involves only the transmission-reception of ritual sharing of meanings is inherently faulty, distorted, incomplete

  • Authentic communication occurs only in a process of discursive reflection


Critical communication theory2

Critical communication theory

  • For this theory, the basic problem of communication in society arises from material and ideological forces that preclude or distort discursive reflection


From a lay point of view1

From a lay point of view …

  • … the critical tradition is plausible when (e.g.)

    • it appeals to commonplace beliefs about the omnipresence of injustice and conflict in society

    • the ways in which power and domination can overcome truth and reason


Critical communication theory3

Critical communication theory

  • Critical theory runs from Marx ideas, and is associated with new social movements

  • In the tradition of Marx, its point is not to understand the world, but is to change it through praxis, or theoretically reflective social action


Critical communication theory4

Critical communication theory

  • Critical theory is criticized

    • for politicizing science and scholarship

    • for asserting a universal normative standard for communication based on a priori ideology


Concluding reflections

CONCLUDING REFLECTIONS

  • Each traditional communication theory is internally complex and open to multiple interpretations

  • Each of them, when magnified, displays a dialogical-dialectical field structure of multiple traditions much like that a communication theory as a whole


Concluding reflections1

CONCLUDING REFLECTIONS

  • The field of communication theory is not a repository of absolute truth. It claims no more than to be useful.


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