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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

John A. Cagle, Ph.D.


California State University, Fresno

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Diversity in Theory: Making sense of it all

  • Traditions & Approaches to Communication

  • Communication Contexts

  • Application, Function, and Purpose

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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.

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  • 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.

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  • Public Speaking Approaches: the Rhetorical Tradition

  • Trait Approaches

  • Persuasion Approaches

  • Verbal Behavior Approaches

  • Nonverbal Behavior Approaches

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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)

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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

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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.

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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

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Persuasion Approaches

  • Variable analytic:

    • message structure,

    • message appeals, and

    • language variables

  • Source credibility

  • Cognitive dynamics theories (attitudes)

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Verbal Behavior Approaches

  • Metaphor and stylistic devices

  • Language intensity

  • Lexical diversity

  • Evidence

  • Fear appeals

  • Supportive and defensive messages

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Nonverbal Behavior Approaches

  • Affective-cognitive dimensions

  • Functions and relationships

  • Nonverbal codes:

    • kinesics,

    • vocalics,

    • proximics, etc.

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  • Interpersonal Contexts

  • Small Group and Organizational Contexts

  • Mass Media Contexts

  • Intercultural Contexts

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Interpersonal Contexts

  • Social exchange

  • Stages in relationship development and decline: strangers to intimacy

  • Interpersonal circumplex

  • Self-concept and interpersonal attraction

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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

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Mass Media Contexts

  • Two-step flow

  • Diffusion of innovations

  • Uses and gratifications

  • Social role of media: stereotypes

  • Advertising and propaganda

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Intercultural Contexts

  • Cultures are big damn groups

  • Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

  • Rules and roles

  • High and low context

  • Standpoint theory

  • International communication

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  • Political communication and power

  • Agitation and control: social change

  • Religious communication

  • Psychology and Counseling

  • Business: sales, management, marketing

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