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COMM THEORY: On Diversity of Theories. John A. Cagle, Ph.D. Communication California State University, Fresno. Diversity in Theory: Making sense of it all. Traditions & Approaches to Communication Communication Contexts Application, Function, and Purpose. TRADITIONS [Littlejohn & Foss].

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comm theory on diversity of theories

COMM THEORY:On Diversity of Theories

John A. Cagle, Ph.D.


California State University, Fresno

diversity in theory making sense of it all
Diversity in Theory: Making sense of it all
  • Traditions & Approaches to Communication
  • Communication Contexts
  • Application, Function, and Purpose
traditions littlejohn foss
TRADITIONS [Littlejohn & Foss]
  • The Semiotic Tradition: study of how signs come to represent objects, ideas, states, situations, feelings, and conditions outside of themselves.
  • The Phenomenological Tradition: study of how people actively interpret their experience and come to understand the world by personal experiences with it.
  • The Cybernetic Tradition: study of complex systems in which many interacting elements influence one another.
  • The Sociopsychological Tradition:study of the individual as a social being—behavior and the personal traits and cognitive processes that produce behavior.
  • The Sociocultural Tradition:study of the ways our understandings, meanings, roles, norms, and rules are worked out interactively in communication.
  • The Critical Tradition:study of questions of privilege and power—how race, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, income level, etc. identity and social differences.
  • The Rhetorical Tradition:study of ways humans use symbols to affect those around them and construct the worlds in which they live.
illustrative approaches
  • Public Speaking Approaches: the Rhetorical Tradition
  • Trait Approaches
  • Persuasion Approaches
  • Verbal Behavior Approaches
  • Nonverbal Behavior Approaches
the rhetorical tradition
The Rhetorical Tradition
  • Plato & Aristotle: Rhetoric as tool to discover and use truth in governing society
  • Cicero & Quintilian: Public speaking and leadership as essential skills for citizenship
  • Capella: Rhetoric as a foundation of all learning (the Liberal Arts)
St. Augustine: Something to do until you get into heaven
  • Bacon: Rhetoric needed for advancement of science
  • Adam Smith: Rhetoric and the belles lettres
  • Cagle: Why don’t my students take notes?
in all centuries rhetoric
In all centuries, rhetoric
  • . . . responds to what’s going on in the world, but enables and effects the world of which it is a part
    • War gives rise to political exigencies
    • Depressions give rise to problem solving
    • Prosperity gives rise to self-actualization
in the 20th century
In the 20th Century. . . .
  • Rhetorical theory extended to all forms of communication, including writing &literature and small groups & problem solving
  • Rhetorical principles were applied to new media such as radio, television, newspapers, computers, etc.
trait approaches
Trait Approaches
  • Traits are consistent communication behaviors across contexts
  • Personality traits: persuasibility, self-esteem, dogmatism, introversion
  • Communication apprehension and willingness to communicate
  • Social style and self-disclosure
  • Aggression and assertiveness traits
persuasion approaches
Persuasion Approaches
  • Variable analytic:
    • message structure,
    • message appeals, and
    • language variables
  • Source credibility
  • Cognitive dynamics theories (attitudes)
verbal behavior approaches
Verbal Behavior Approaches
  • Metaphor and stylistic devices
  • Language intensity
  • Lexical diversity
  • Evidence
  • Fear appeals
  • Supportive and defensive messages
nonverbal behavior approaches
Nonverbal Behavior Approaches
  • Affective-cognitive dimensions
  • Functions and relationships
  • Nonverbal codes:
    • kinesics,
    • vocalics,
    • proximics, etc.
communication contexts
  • Interpersonal Contexts
  • Small Group and Organizational Contexts
  • Mass Media Contexts
  • Intercultural Contexts
interpersonal contexts
Interpersonal Contexts
  • Social exchange
  • Stages in relationship development and decline: strangers to intimacy
  • Interpersonal circumplex
  • Self-concept and interpersonal attraction
small group and organizational contexts
Small Group and Organizational Contexts
  • Encounter groups and growth groups
  • Problem solving and decision making
  • Conflict management and resolution
  • Networks and organizations
  • Leadership and management
mass media contexts
Mass Media Contexts
  • Two-step flow
  • Diffusion of innovations
  • Uses and gratifications
  • Social role of media: stereotypes
  • Advertising and propaganda
intercultural contexts
Intercultural Contexts
  • Cultures are big damn groups
  • Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis
  • Rules and roles
  • High and low context
  • Standpoint theory
  • International communication
  • Political communication and power
  • Agitation and control: social change
  • Religious communication
  • Psychology and Counseling
  • Business: sales, management, marketing
Government: management
  • Health communication
  • Education
  • Entertainment
  • Legal communication: civil and criminal