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Perspectives on Human Communication – 2005. Dr. Willard Uncapher Wed-Fri 9/7,9/2005 –Communication & Research Frameworks [Please Fill out Attendance Sheet]. What is communication?. Is communication intentional?

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perspectives on human communication 2005

Perspectives on Human Communication – 2005

Dr. Willard Uncapher

Wed-Fri 9/7,9/2005 –Communication & Research Frameworks

[Please Fill out Attendance Sheet]

what is communication
What is communication?
  • Is communication intentional?
    • Are we dealing with ‘people’ or senders who want to send ‘something’ via communication?
    • Does it require a sender and receiver?
  • Is communication symbolic?
    • Must it involve signs, symbols, or some abstraction?
    • Is communication concerned with meanings?
  • Is our study of communication limited to humans?
    • Can we include animals… or plants?
  • Is communication limited to speech?
    • What different ‘channels’ are we going to look at?
    • When is ‘not doing something’ also ‘sending a message’?
models and definitions
Models and Definitions
  • Models and theories begin with definitions.
    • Definitions help establish the structure of the model.
      • Show structure and function.
  • Models and Theories?
    • Models are necessarily reductionist
      • Only some things selected
    • Models are abstractions (the map is not the territory).
      • We have to use ‘concepts’ [remember laws of identity, excluded middle, contradiction?]
    • Models are descriptive tools.
      • Illustrate, demonstrate, explain, and/or show relationships among entities or concepts.
      • Illustrate dynamics among components of a theory.
    • Models may lead to predictions
models and perspectives
Models and Perspectives
  • Psychological [Transmission]: communication as the transmission of messages

Metaphor: Radios

  • Social construction: communication as collective world-building

Metaphor: Software

  • Pragmatic: communication as patterned interactions

Metaphor: Chess game

  • Cultural and Critical Studies: communication as a revealer of social and cultural forces
  • Ethnography of Communication: looking at speech communities as observed
as transmission view
As Transmission View
  • Claude Shannon 1947 – “Information Theory” at Bell Labs (Telephone Company)
    • Asks- How can we make our telephone lines more efficient?
    • Asks - How much ‘noise’ can we allow on a line…. And still understand what the message is?
    • Worked with Warren Weaver to make a popular account
  • Created new theory [don’t memorize – just familiarize yourself]
    • Information?
      • Here seen as something ‘unexpected’
      • The more ‘unexpected’ the more information
      • How much ‘information’ needs to be transmitted to understand a message
    • Redundancy
      • Because of noise and misunderstanding
    • Noise
      • Wilber Schramm includes ‘semantic noise’ – distraction, emphasizing wrong part of message, attitudes toward sender, attitudes toward message, differences in the code
      • Channel Capacity – what are the limits of communication?
    • Code – to be encoded and decoded
      • Can include non-verbal
  • Norbert Weiner 1947 – “Cybernetics”
    • 'the science of control and communication in the animal and the machine'
    • adds notion of “feedback” – like thermostat
    • General systems become adaptive to changing environment, and more stable
analog and digital
Analog and Digital
  • Analog as continuous
    • Communication is ‘linked’ continuously
    • Eg. Phonograph record repeats amplitude and dynamic of the signal
    • Analog only stores and reproduces similarity; harder to manipulate
  • Digital as discrete, non continuous
    • Digital as higher order language or code; discrete,
    • Code as the represented
    • Example of the digital: the alphabet
    • Binary when the code has only two values
  • Sampling according to some rule (heuristic)
    • How often, how long, what values
analog and digital1
Analog and Digital

Continuous Analog Original – Sampling/Encode – Digital (Arbitrary) Discrete – Non-Continuous Code – Manipulate Code – Decode back to Analog

as a psychological model
As a Psychological Model
  • Trenholm Focuses on this reading
    • Communication originates and is received in the human mind.
    • Meanings are exchanged through transmission and reception of stimuli.
    • Messages are transmitted though channels.
    • Messages are encoded and decoded through filters (mental sets).
    • Mental sets are based in experience, attitudes, etc. of sender and receiver.
    • Noise is anything that interferes with the transmission of the message.
criticisms of transmission psychological model
Criticisms of Transmission Psychological Model
  • Why communicate? – What about intentions?
  • Changes in context – the same ‘message’ might be different – a kiss in the morning
  • Relationships between sender and receiver are not stressed
  • What about the bias of the code – what influence does language have in how we see things?
social constructionist perspective from the outside as a social activity looks at
Social constructionist perspectivefrom the outside, as a social activity. Looks at:
  • Collective – Communication is a process whereby groups create collective perspectives
  • Stresses Importance of Filters – We never experience the world directly, but always though cultural filters.
  • Knowledge – Suggests Our world is thus a socio-cultural construct, held together by communication.
  • Ethos/Culture – Communication between people of different “worlds” will be problematic.
social construction perspective
Social Construction Perspective
  • Erving Goffman – Communication in ‘frames’:
    • Frames – are made up of: roles, rules, props, keys
      • Frames – like the ‘class’ frame, the ‘restaurant’ frame, the ‘dorm hall’ frame
      • The same people can act differently with different ‘frames.’
      • Frames: bus stop, classroom
    • Frames have Fronts [where activity takes place] and Backs [where activity is discussed and rehearsed.]
      • Frame Confusion – when you don’t know which frame to use!
      • What happens when you meet a professor at… the bus stop, the bar, the concert?
      • You must ‘negotiate’ or ‘key’ which frame to use!
social constructionist benefits
Social Constructionist – Benefits
  • Emphasizes our (social) responsibility for the ways we talk about things and others.
  • Helps us understand harmful social constructions (e.g., stereotypes) in a socio-cultural context
  • Reveals/Focuses on: social roles.
  • Extremely useful in organizational/cultural research.
social constructionist problems
Social Constructionist – Problems
  • Emphasizes the social self over the individual self. Who is responsible: society or me?
  • Defines “good” communication as “socially appropriate” communication.
  • Makes truth elusive. Truth as simply ‘what happens.’
  • Easily over-generalized – what does ‘society’ mean, eg. Do ‘Americans’ do one thing or another; do corporations do one thing or another.
pragmatic perspective
Pragmatic Perspective
  • Focus on systems of behavior.
    • For your thought… but not for a test:
      • Systems vs Heaps – looking at how things work together rather than examining things independently – Newton’s Science vs a science of complexity
      • Systems have irreducible properties – Aristotle – properties unpredicted by the parts.
      • Systems maintain themselves in a changing environment
      • Systems create themselves in response to challenge from environment… or else dissolve
      • Systems ‘are coordinating interfaces’ in nature’s hierarchy
  • Assumes that interdependence will emerge among members of the system.
  • Unit of analysis is the interaction--a sequence of communication acts.
practical applications of the pragmatic perspective
Practical applications of the pragmatic perspective
  • Helps reveal “scripted” or unhealthy patterns.
  • Focuses on behavior in communication systems.
  • Shifts focus from personalities to interactions.
    • Eg. Intergenerational Psychology – look to how problems are transmitted across generations – approaches to child rearing, anger management, etc.
  • Provides a basis for effective conflict management.
problems with pragmatic perspective
Problems with pragmatic perspective
  • Systems models are good at description, but weakat prediction
    • Still used in business, less so in social, cultural sciences.
    • Things chosen/observed as the model predicts – Colonialists use ‘social evolutionary systems theory’ to distinguish ‘primitive’ from ‘advanced’ society.’
  • Holds personality and culture irrelevant.
    • Except in so far as they are manifest in interaction.
  • Ignores intentions, motivations, desires, needs, etc.
    • Intentions are ‘created’ through interactions
  • The world outside “the game” is not easily considered.
    • Where does the game exist? Games within games as a problem.
cultural studies critical studies
Cultural Studies & Critical Studies
  • Cultural Studies - Values sub-culture and everyday activities
    • Worker culture, band/music cultures
    • More anthropological and literary
  • Critical Studies tends to look at the ‘political economy’ of social and economic hierarchies
  • Both look to the issues of power in society
5 approaches to comm research
5 Approaches to Comm. Research
  • Rhetorical criticism – a content analysis that relates material to audience
    • Content Analysis, Conversation Analysis
  • Ethnography – “observe” or ‘interact with people in their ‘place’ – field research
  • Surveys – using an research ‘instrument’ that articulates distinct categories to sample a ‘population.’ Open ended vs. closed ended questions.
  • Experimental (laboratory) – control the environment
  • Performance studies – describe the rules, roles, props, assessment, context, etc. of a communicative activity
  • Mixed Methods – Triangulation of several methods