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Defining Communication. Comm. 1510-01 Mon & Thurs 4:00 to 7:50 p.m. Russell Sage Laboratory 4510 Lecture 2. Introduction to Communication Theory. Prepared by Matt Rolph For Prof . Carlos G. Godoy, Ph.D., Esq. Does technology drive history?.

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defining communication

Defining Communication

Comm. 1510-01

Mon & Thurs

4:00 to 7:50 p.m.

Russell Sage Laboratory 4510

Lecture 2

Introduction to Communication Theory

Prepared by Matt Rolph

For Prof. Carlos G. Godoy, Ph.D., Esq.

does technology drive history
Does technology drive history?
  • The answers you give depend on your perspective on the meaning of ‘drive’ and your opinions regarding technology and history.
  • A simple yes or no answer isn’t usually enough – though starting there may be the first step on a viable path to outlining a theory.
  • Is there a ‘right answer’?
communication cosmos
Communication Cosmos

Different approaches have different views re: history and technology,

among other


Social psychological



Media ecology

Socio-cultural linguistic structure of a society



Virtual reality

Critical Tradition: Frankfurt School

Rhetorical Tradition


Shared meaning

right true
Right / True
  • Another fundamental philosophical question has to do with right answers and ‘truth’.
    • What is truth?
    • Why is it that?
    • Where does it come from?
    • How is it useful in communication?
  • What are some examples of truth?
common knowledge
Common Knowledge
  • What are some examples of ‘common knowledge’?
  • Are these truths?
    • Always? Never? Sometimes?
  • People are easily distracted and swayed
  • ‘Inartful’ persuasion: arousal of emotions, obfuscation of ‘the truth’
  • People know ‘the truth’ when they hear it, and prefer it
  • Rhetors artfully persuade by knowing the audience, knowing common truths, and choosing the right words
  • Aristotle
  • (Ἀριστοτέλης)
  • 384 BC–322 BC
  • Early, classic (literally, as in classical) theory of communication
  • An historic academic discipline; thousands of years, hundreds of theorists
  • Focused on persuasion:
    • “Rhetoric” is “the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion” (Aristotle, Rhetoric 1335b).
  • Ethos
    • Moral competence, expertise, knowledge
    • Translation: ‘convince the audience you are awesome’
  • Logos
    • Logic, data
    • In other words: ‘give them numbers and pertinent facts’
  • Pathos
    • Emotion, passion
    • As in: ‘know what gets them going and use that’

Aristotle’s Model of Communication

Adapted from Ehninger, Gronbeck, and Monroe

A Speaker

An audience

Result: a memorable, persuasive moment

framing the desired message

  • An enthymeme is an incomplete syllogism (a premise is unstated)
  • A syllogism states all premises:
    • Major premise
      • No homework is fun
    • Minor premise
      • Some reading is homework
    • Conclusion
      • Some reading is not fun
  • An informally stated syllogism (a three-part deductive argument) with an unstated assumption that must be true for the premises to lead to the conclusion.
  • A kind of deductive argument
  • Aristotle’s enthymeme’s include probable unstated premises, common truths.
  • We cannot trust this man who has lied in the past.
    • Premise: People are consistent / liars can never be trusted (unstated – because it is ‘common knowledge’)
    • Premise: This man has lied in the past (stated)
    • Conclusion: This man cannot be trusted (stated)
dialectic v rhetoric
Dialectic v. Rhetoric
  • Dialectic (Socrates, Plato): Seeks to arrive at truth, universals, via an exchange of arguments; in contrast, rhetoric has a rhetor (speaker) and an auditor (audience)
  • Dialectic seeks to test the arguments; in contrast, rhetoric is focused on persuasion
inductive v deductive
Inductive v. Deductive
  • Inductive reasoning: from particular to general
    • Socrates was mortal, Plato also, and so it is clear all men are mortal.
      • Repeated observation of particulars lead to general understanding
  • Deductive reasoning: from general to particular
    • All men die. Socrates was a man. Socrates, therefore, died.
      • Stated rule leads to conclusion
where does truth come from
Where does truth come from?
  • How is it made? Via reason, logic, and arguments?
  • Do you agree with Aristotle’s contention that it is more persuasive than other information and that people can recognize it?
  • Where did your opinions about the question of whether technology drives history come from?
narrative paradigm
Narrative Paradigm
  • People are essentially storytelling creatures
  • We make decisions on the basis of good reasons
  • History, biography, culture, and character determine what we consider good reasons
  • Narrative rationality is determined by the coherence and fidelity of our stories
  • The world is a set of stories from which we choose, and thus constantly re-create, our lives
  • Not all stories are created equal.
  • Fisher contends that everyone has an innate ability to determine the narrative rationality (interpreted value) of stories via two steps:
    • First we examine the narrative coherence. Does the story hold together?
    • Then we check the narrative fidelity. Does the story match our own beliefs and experiences? Does it (at least on some level) portray the world we live in? Does it ‘ring true’?
Kenneth BurkeScapegoating

Kenneth Burke


kenneth burke
Kenneth Burke
  • Life is drama.
  • The key is not persuasion, but identification.
  • Rhetoric is for defining the nature of situations.
  • The speaker seeks to achieve identification with the audience.
in substance
In Substance
  • Man is the creator of the negative. The negative is the basis of human construction of hierarchies of knowledge …
    • Act: what was or will be done.
    • Scene: generally thought of as where and when; context of act.
    • Agent: entity that could be construed as performing an act.
    • Agency: the methods or tools used to perform the act.
    • Purpose: goal of the act
  • The ultimate goal is to purge ourselves of guilt. Guilt is created through symbolic interaction.
  • Guilt comes when we are estranged from the natural world or estranged from others in our world.
  • Guilt serves as a motivating factor that drives the human drama
mortification v victimige scapegoating
Mortification v. Victimige(Scapegoating)
  • Mortification: purge guilt through self-blame, admit they are wrong, ask for forgiveness.
  • Victimage: blame problems on someone else, lash out on who people fear, designating an external enemy, a scapegoat.
truth v values
Truth v. Values
  • Truth is usually considered an absolute (as in: true or untrue)
  • Values are usually considered relative
  • Values may be individual or collective, personal or cultural
rokeach value survey
Rokeach Value Survey
  • Please complete the survey
media value choices
Media & Value Choices
  • Value frames are linguistic windows or interpretive schema deployed by the media
  • There are two types:
  • Terminal values or desired end states (e.g, freedom, equality, family security)
  • Instrumental values are preferred modes of conduct –(e.g., behaving honestly, lovingly, etc…).
media value choices1
Media & Value Choices
  • Everyone has value systems, so the media are quick to code all stories in terms of value frames to connect with audiences. Values strongly influence attitudes, behaviors and perceptions.
  • A value-choice frame consists of two or more values in a state of tension or conflict (as in freedom vs. equality)
  • Argues that great societal change leads to a state of pervasive ambiguity
  • Traditional, communal means to deal with stress are no longer active
  • Process of settling ambiguity and dealing with stress is through media play (watching television).
media dependency
Media Dependency
  • Life is so complicated for some that they rely more on the media to provide needed information/frame choices.
  • Personal goal salience, threat, and ambiguity play a major role in the individuals dependence on the media.
  • An asymmetric relationship.
sociological imagination1
Sociological Imagination
  • Humans cannot be studied apart from the social and historical structures in which they are formed and in which they interact.
  • As structures proliferate, change, and become more interconnected, they become more consequential for those subject to them (“powerless”) or with power over them (“power elite”).
  • The number of white collar occupations is connected to changes in technology and the needs of business
  • This work requires certain skills; therefore, educational infrastructures adapt to generate workers with those skills
white collar
White Collar
  • “Intelligence” in the traditional sense is not rewarded in white-collar work; instead job performance and promotion are due to success with routinized work and in following bureaucratic rules and dictates.
  • Therefore, education systems become similar.
types of power
Types of power
  • Coercion: physical force
  • Authority: comes from rank or position in a hierarchical structure
  • Manipulation: power wielded without the conscious knowledge of those upon whom it is used
    • Mills saw a shift from the power of authority in the past to that of manipulation in the middle 20th c.
hard view
Hard view
  • Technology drives history
    • Inventions or discoveries of Fire, Wheels, Spoken language, Written language, and so on, all the way up to radio, television, MP3 players, HDTV and etc. create the entirety of what we call history.
soft view
Soft view
  • Technological change drives social change but also responds to social pressures
betterment of mankind
Betterment of Mankind
  • To early American revolutionary thinkers: progress meant the pursuit of technology and science in the betterment of mankind. Benjamin Franklin refused to patent his inventions.
  • However, this view changed as the pace of technology quickened.
  • Technological determinism became compatible with the search for political order
  • The term technology, a relatively new word, itself became imbued with a mystical quality.
  • Technology ‘made’ people happier---advertisers began to pick up on this- ironing, washing machines, …advances in technology were assumed to bring social progress
  • Thoreau argued that “men have become tools of their tools” …..even Marx was a technological determinist. Men would, in his ideal Communist state, be become tools for the mega-machine.
jacques ellul
Jacques Ellul
  • Ellul argued that with the integration of the machine into society ‘technique’ was becoming the dominant mode of thought.
  • "Each of us, in his own life, must seek ways of resisting and transcending technological determinism.... The first act of freedom is to become aware of the necessity”
langdon winner
Langdon Winner
  • Technological artifacts have politics.
  • “the very process of technical development is so thoroughly biased in a particular direction that it regularly produces results heralded as wonderful breakthroughs by some social interests and crushing setbacks by others.”
  • Technology is no longer transparent – we don’t understand how most things work.
  • Societies must understand the implications of technologies they employ.
  • Postmodernists argue that the power that dominates people slips out of our grasp to attack or control
  • Assumes the technological narrative has run amok
  • Fatalistic, pessimistic
  • distinct from Langdon winners point of view which still sees the potential in technology if we educated, demystify and inform the citizenry of the consequences of their use.