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Communication. Phenomenon, Process & Idea. HB Mokros Rutgers University Course 194:694:601--Fall 2005 Lecture 1--9/14/05. Communication as Phenomenon. Behavior Talk in conversation Outcome Good, efficient Intention Goals and strategies. Communication as Process. Function

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Phenomenon, Process & Idea

HB Mokros

Rutgers University

Course 194:694:601--Fall 2005

Lecture 1--9/14/05

communication as phenomenon
Communicationas Phenomenon
  • Behavior
    • Talk in conversation
  • Outcome
    • Good, efficient
  • Intention
    • Goals and strategies
communication as process
Communicationas Process
  • Function
    • Informing, influencing, persuading
    • Evocative, relational, phatic, poetic
  • Transaction
    • Exchange A BABAB
    • Reciprocity
  • Interaction
    • Mutual influence
    • Sequence & Coactivity
    • Attunement
communication as idea
Communicationas Idea
  • Native and Privileged Theory
    • Everyday commonsense understanding
    • Scholarly and institutional understanding
  • Implicit and Explicit Worldviews
    • Invisible, possibly recoverable analytically
    • Stated, public, referred to, known
fundamental techniques of communication
Fundamental Techniques of Communication
  • Primary Processes
    • communicative in character
    • observable in all societies and cultures
      • Evolved universals
  • Secondary Techniques
    • facilitate the process of communication
    • inventions of sophisticated civilizations
      • Technological innovations
primary processes
Primary Processes




social suggestion

explicit <--------------------------------> implicit


Language, the most explicit primary process:

“consists in every case known to us of an absolutely complete referential apparatus of phonetic symbols which have the property of locating every known social referent, including all the recognized data of perception which the society that is serves carries in its tradition.” (p. 105)

language thought reality
Language, Thought & Reality
  • Edward Sapir, Ph.D. (Columbia, 1910)
  • Franz Boas, Mentor
    • from (Physics) “Why is seawater green?”
    • to (Anthropology) The worldview of the native
  • The Boasian Tradition
    • Cultural Relativism
  • The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis
    • Linguistic Relativism (Language & Thought)
language culture in communication
Language & Culture[(in?) communication]

“whatever may be the shortcomings of primitive society judged from the vantage point of civilization, its language inevitably forms as sure, complete, and potentially creative an apparatus of referential symbolism as the most sophisticated language we know.” (p. 105)

signs ala charles peirce
Signs (ala Charles Peirce)
  • Signs and their Objects
    • Icon (resemblance: “Bang”)
    • Index (pointing: “here/there”, “a/the”
      • Shifters (speech situation: I/you)
    • Symbol (conventional: “blue sky”)
gesture i
Gesture I
  • Nonverbal communication
    • Hand, head, body & eye movements
    • Voice qualities: Intonation, Rasp, Silence
      • Paralanguage (Trager & Smith, 1958)
    • Use of Space/Time
      • Proxemics/Coenetics
gesture ii from reference to inference
Gesture II: From reference to inference
  • Stand in for words
    • Emblems, Pointing
  • Coordinated with talk (& thought as action)
    • Reinforcing of talk (rhythm)
    • Conceptual expression (spatial expression)
  • In contradiction to talk (veracity)
    • “do you love me”
    • “you know I do” (watching TV, no eye contact)
  • Exposing to view (psychological self)
    • Blush, raspy voice, tremble
overt imitation
Overt Imitation
  • Primary condition for social consolidation
    • taken for granted customs and habits, conformity
    • shared practices, ordinary, commonsense
  • Not communicative in intent
    • communicative in action, copying, mimesis
    • sameness of custom &habit, identity, “us”
  • Rationalized through language
    • “that’s just the way it is, that’s what we do”
    • “we don’t put our feet on the coffee table”
social suggestion
Social Suggestion
  • Meaning through difference
    • Proper/Improper
    • Order/Chaos
    • Same/Different
    • Us/Them
    • Good/Bad
social distance communication style
Social Distance & Communication Style

“the smaller the circle and the more complex the understandings already arrived at within it, the more economical can the act of communication afford to become.” (p. 106)

Relationships as Contexts of Communication Style




secondary processes facilitation of primary processes
Secondary ProcessesFacilitation of Primary Processes
  • Language Transfers
    • writing, Morse code
  • Signaling in Technical Situations
    • signal lights, smoke signals (yes/no)
  • Extending Opportunity for
    • railroad, airplane, radio, telephone
the radius of communication
The Radius of Communication
  • Traditional societies
    • Geographically bounded fashion/taste, culture, language
  • Modern civilizations
    • Geographic diffusion of fashion/taste, culture, language
  • Progressive increase historically of the reach of communication
    • Erosion of Space/Time
impact of the proliferation of communication technologies
Impact of the Proliferation of Communication Technologies
  • Increased radius of communication increased sense of global community
  • Decreased importance of geography of local culture

“The weakening of the geographical factor in social organization must in the long run profoundly modify our attitude toward the meaning of personal relations and of social classes and even of nationalities.” (p. 108)

consequences of the ease of communication
Consequences of the Ease of Communication
  • Difficulty of containing communication
    • Reply to all, printing off at public printer
  • Create new obstacles to communication
    • Fire walls
  • The problem of a good thing

“The fear of being too easily understood may, in many cases, be more aptly defined as the fear of being understood by too many--so many, indeed, as to endanger the psychological reality of the image of the enlarged self confronting the not-self.” (p. 108)

dream of communication
Dream of Communication
  • Communication Problem
    • Translation and Transfer of Information

“On the whole, however, it is rather the obstacles to communication that are felt as annoying or ominous.”

  • Perceived Solution
    • Intercommunication language for denotive purposes pure and simple
dream of communication ii
Dream of Communication II
  • Shared Reality
    • Mutual Understanding
      • Relational Harmony
        • Oneness
          • Eternal Return