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Theories of Social & Cultural Reality. The Social Construction of Reality. My meanings and understanding come from my communication with others. Primary thinkers: The Social Construction of Reality Peter Berger Thomas Luckmann. Basic Idea of SC.

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My meanings and understanding come from my communication with others.
  • Primary thinkers: The Social Construction of Reality
    • Peter Berger
    • Thomas Luckmann
basic idea of sc
Basic Idea of SC
  • Illustrationof a classroom exercise in which students arrange a group of objects in different categories (size, use, color, etc.).
  • Language gives me labels to distinguish the objects in my world.
common assumptions of sc
Common Assumptions of SC
  • Communicative action is voluntary.
  • Knowledge is a social product
  • Knowledge is contextual
  • Theories create worlds
  • Scholarship is value laden.
communication perspective
Communication Perspective
  • SC enables communication to be viewed as a perspective, rather than a subject matter.
  • Barnett Pearce
    • Communication and the Human Condition
    • Perspective: A way of looking at or thinking about something.
    • How should we look at something?
      • Whenever I look at something in terms of how it is constructed in interaction among people, I am taking a communication perspective.
      • Pearce’s Model (The Resource-Practice Loop)
        • Resources: all the building blocks I work with in life (ideas, values, stories, symbols, meanings, institutions, etc. used to build my reality).
        • Practices: what I do or perform (behaviors, forms of expression, actions).
        • Resources & practices are closely connected through my interaction with others.
the sc of self
The SC of Self
  • Rom Harre: explains how I account for my behavior in particular situations.
  • Ethogeny
    • Developed by Harre & Secord
    • Ethogeny: the study of how I understand my actions with a predictable sequence of acts, called episodes (an event with a beginning & end that all people would agree on).
    • Helps determine what the episode means and how people understand the acts involved in it.
  • Structured Templates
    • These are theories about the course of action anticipated in the episode.
    • Example: 2 people have a theory of what it means to be “in love” and how that should be acted out.
    • Episodes are governed by rules.
Concept of Self
    • Also important to Symbolic Interactionism.
    • I learn to understand myself by using a theory that defines myself.
    • The two sides of Personal Being:
      • Person (Public):
        • a publicly visible being that is characterized by certain attributes and characteristics established within a culture or social group.
        • Governed by my cultures theory of personhood.
      • Self (Private):
        • My private notion of my own unity as a person.
        • Governed by my theory of of my own being.
        • Learned through my interactions with others.
The self consists of a set of elements that can be viewed spatially along three dimensions.
    • Display: whether an aspect of myself is displayed publicly or remains private.
    • Realization (the source): the degree to which some feature of myself is believed to come from me or the group of people around me.
      • Individual realization: elements coming from me.
      • Collective realization: elements coming from others.
    • Agency: the degree of active power I attribute to myself.
      • Active elements: such as speaking or driving
      • Passive elements: such a listening or riding.
Common elements in theories of the self:
    • Self-consciousness:
      • I think of myself as an object.
      • Double Singularity Principle (Harre): the consistency with which I define and practice I1 & I2.
      • The group’s idea of self must treat each I as a consistent unity.
      • I must see me as me, not as Batman, etc.
    • Agency:
      • I have certain powers to do things.
      • Seen when I plan something.
    • Autobiography:
      • A sense that I have a history and a future.
      • Seen when I tell you about me.
the sc of emotion
The SC of Emotion
  • Emotions (James Averill)
    • Are belief systems that guide my definition of the situation.
    • Consists of internalized social norms and rules governing my feelings.
    • Syndromes: Averill’s label for emotions.
      • A set of responses that go together.
      • Socially constructed.
    • Each emotion has an object.
    • How an emotion is labeled plays a role in how the emotion is experienced.
4 rules that govern emotions
4 Rules That Govern Emotions
  • Rules of appraisal.
    • Tells me what an emotion is, where it is directed, & whether it is positive or negative.
  • Rules of behavior.
    • Tells me how I should respond to the feeling: to hide it, express it in private, or vent it publicly.
  • Rules of prognosis.
    • Defines the progression and course of emotion.
    • How long should it last, what are its different stages, how does it begin, how does it end?
  • Rules of attribution.
    • Dictates how an emotion should be explained or justified.
    • What do I tell other about it? How do I express it publicly?
    • Example: “She was acting like a jerk and that made me mad.”
accounts in social construction
Accounts in Social Construction
  • Accounts: how I justify or explain my behavior.
  • John Shotter:
    • Communication-Experience Loop
      • Communication determines how reality is experienced.
      • The experience of reality affects communication.
    • I am inseparable from society. I am not independent.
rules social action

Rules & Social Action

Rules: Guidelines for action & meaning.

rule governing approach
Rule-Governing Approach
  • Susan Shimanoff
  • Rule: “a following prescription that indicates what behavior is obligated, preferred, or prohibited in certain contexts.”
    • Rules must be followable.
    • Rules are prescriptive
    • Rules are contextual
    • Rules specify appropriate behavior.
  • Rules are best stated in the if-then format.
how to find a rule
How to Find a Rule:
  • If you can answer yes to all three questions, you have found a rule:
    • Is the behavior controllable?
    • Is the behavior criticizable?
    • Is the behavior contextual?
  • Finding rules is not always easy.
    • Overt sanctions are the easiest to find.
    • Repairs, such as apologizing, often show that a rule has been violated.
how people use rules
How People Use Rules
  • Rule-fulfilling & rule-ignorant behaviors
    • Acting without knowing the rule.
  • Conforming & error behaviors
    • Governed by rules, although I am not thinking at the time about whether or not I am following the rule.
  • Rule-following & rule violation behavior
    • I consciously follow or violate a rule.
  • Positive reflection or negative reflection
    • Following or violating
coordinated management of meaning
Coordinated Management of Meaning
  • Barnett Pearce, Vernon Cronen, & colleagues.
  • This is the most comprehensive rule theory of communication.
  • CMM integrates work from:
    • System theory
    • Symbolic interactionism
    • Ethogeny
    • Speech acts
    • Relational communication
I act & interpret on the basis of rules.
  • Two types of rules:
    • Constitutive rules
      • Rules of meaning
      • To interpret or understand an event or message
    • Regulative rules
      • Rules of action
      • To determine how I should respond.
  • These rules are always chosen in a context.
    • Context: a frame of reference for interpreting an action.
    • Four typical contexts:
      • Relationship context: the mutual expectations of all involved.
      • Episode context: the event itself.
      • Self-concept context: my sense of personal definition.
      • Archetype context: an image of general truth.
text context loop patterns
Text-Context Loop Patterns
  • Text: an event or action being interpreted.
  • Loop: each is used from time to time to interpret the other (Reflexivity).
  • Charmed Loop: each context confirms the other.
  • Strange Loop: each context disconfirms the other.
logical force
Logical Force
  • Logical force: rules tell us what interpretations and actions are logical in a given situation.
  • Four types of logical force:
    • Causal Force (Prefigurative)
      • I feel I am being pressured to spend the weekend with my in-laws.
    • Practical Force
      • I act to achieve a goal (study to get an A, pass the course, etc.).
    • Contextual Force
      • Pressure from the context. I may go to grad school because I feel this is just who I am (self-concept context).
    • Implicative Force
      • Pressure to change the context in some way, such as the context of family expectations.
the coordination process
The Coordination Process
  • Coordination: involves the meshing of my actions with those of another to the point of feeling that the sequence of actions if logical or appropriate.
  • It is possible with CMM for me to have a perfectly satisfactory coordination with you without understanding you.
language culture

Language & Culture

Sociolinguistics: any study of language that makes use of social data, or, conversely, any study of social life that makes use of linguistic data.

linguistic relativity
Linguistic Relativity
  • Sapir Whorf Hypothesis
    • The way I see the world is shaped by the grammatical structure of language.
    • Study of the Hopi Indians.
  • Reality is already imbedded in the language and therefore comes preformed (in contrast to the social constructivist approach).
elaborated restricted codes
Elaborated & Restricted Codes
  • Basis Bernstein
  • Shows how the structure of language used in everyday talk reflects and shapes the assumptions of a social group.
  • Basic Assumption:
    • the relationships established in a social group affect the type of speech used by the group.
    • Further, the structure of speech used by the group makes different things relevant or significant.
    • I learn my place in the world by virtue of the language codes I use.
  • Codes: sets of organized principles behind the language employed by members of a social group.
Elaborated Codes
    • Provide a wide range of ways to say something.
    • More complex.
    • I can make my ideas and intentions explicit.
    • Require more planning.
    • Appropriate for groups who don’t share my assumptions.
  • Restricted Codes
    • Have a narrower range of options.
    • Easier to predict what form it will take.
    • Do not allow for me to expand on what I mean.
    • Appropriate for groups in which my assumptions are shared.
open and closed role systems
Open and Closed Role Systems
  • Open-role system
    • Expands the number of alternative for individuals in the group.
    • Use of elaborate codes.
    • Person-centered families.
  • Closed-role system
    • Reduces the number of alternative for the participants.
    • Use of restricted codes.
    • Position families.
SC fills in the gaps left by symbolic interactionism.
  • SC is popular because of its intuitive appeal.
  • What is the role of interaction?
    • SI assumes that language is an outcome of interaction (thought-language).
    • Sapir & Wharf: language precedes interaction (language-thought).
opposition to sc
Opposition to SC
  • Because SC conflicts with the concept that reality is objective and independent.
  • Many believe that the rock exist before we even begin talking about it.
  • Structuralists contend that human experience is largely universal, owing to a common biological inheritance and common cognitive structure.
    • Chomsky: language structures are universal.
    • Osgood: the dimensions of meaning are universal.
ellis s challenges to sc
Ellis’s Challenges to SC
  • Communication cannot proceed without assuming that we live in a world of a priori realism.
    • We must assume that we are all talking about the same thing.
    • Based on two principles:
      • Semantic Realism
        • Words have standard meanings.
        • When I say “football” to Craig, I assume that he knows what I am talking about.
        • These meanings are fairly stable.
        • Meaning itself is real.
      • Coherentism
        • Meanings must be verifiable in experience.
        • A table is a table because I can see it and touch it.
        • This does not mean that the table exist objectively, but that we can all assume it does based on our common experience of “tableness.”
facticity of objects
Facticity of Objects
  • Social constructivists do not deny that the locomotive exits.
  • The issue is not whether the locomotive exists apart from human construction, but how it it seen, what it is, and how it relates to other objects in my experience.
  • The locomotive can never be viewed as meaningful apart from human experience.
a serious question
A Serious Question
  • If reality is socially constructed, then how can we produce generalizable knowledge?
  • If communication is context bound, then how is theory possible?
  • Cappella: “In short, when competing knowledge claims are generated, how will they be adjudicated?”
    • Good communication theory should not attempt to achieve a standard set of criteria.
    • It should be judged in terms of its utility and its potential for enriching human experience.
the basic issue of sc
The Basic Issue of SC

Is communication a tool for communicating accurately about the world, or is it the means by which the world itself if determined?