Trel B

Monday, February 19, 2007

seven traditions

Traditions of Communication Theory
Multiple theories and perspectives will always characterize the field of communication studies.
Lacking a unifying theory, the field can be divided into seven traditions
1. The Semiotic Tradition
Semiotics, exploring the importance of signs and symbols as they are used, is the focus of many communication theories
The basic concept unifying this tradition is the sign, sometimes referred to as symbol, defined as a stimulus for designating something other than itself.
Areas of Semiotics
1. Semantics - addresses what a sign stands for.
Dictionaries are semantic reference books; they tell us what a sign means.
2. Syntactics is the relationships among signs.
-Signs rarely stand alone. They are almost always
part of a larger sign system referred to as codes.
-Codes are organized rules that designate what
different signs stand for.
3. Pragmatics studies the practical use and effects of signs.
3. The Phenomenological Tradition
…is the process of knowing through direct experience.
the way in which humans come to understand the world.
Phenomenon - appearance of an object, event or condition in one’s perception.
lived experience is basic data of reality.
Basic principles of phenomenological traditionaccording to Stanley Deetz
Knowledge is conscious.
How one relates to a thing determines its meaning for that person.
Language is the vehicle for meaning
The process of interpretation is central to most phenomenological thought.
Unlike the semiotic tradition, where interpretation is separate from reality, in the phenomenological tradition interpretation forms what is real for the person.
Interpretation emerges from a hermeneutic
(to explain or interpret) circle in which interpreters constantly go back and forth between experience and assigning meaning.
3. The Cybernetic Tradition
very common approach in the study of communication, the behavioral sciences, and all social sciences at large.
focuses on individual in social interaction with others as definition of the communicator.
emphasizes psychological variables, individual effects, personalities, perception, and cognition.
current work in this tradition
dominated by persuasion and attitude change in communication, accentuating message processing, strategies, reception and effects.
Most theories in this tradition are cognitive in orientation, providing insights into the way human beings process information.
4. Sociopsychological tradition
Three branches:
1. Behavioral- associated with stimulus-response approach, concentrates on how people actually behave in communication situations.
Cognitive, mental operations used in managing information that leads to behavioral outputs
Communibiology - study of communication from a biological perspective.
5. The Sociocultural Tradition
addresses ways our understandings, meanings, norms, roles, and rules are worked interactively in communication.
holds that reality is not an objective set of arrangements outside us but is constructed through a process of communicating in groups, society, and cultures.
focuses on patterns of interactions rather than on individual characteristics or mental modes.
Knowledge is highly interpretive and constructed
contributing lines of work within this tradition:
Symbolic interactionism (George Mead) -emphasizes idea that social structures and meaning are created and maintained within social interactions.
Social constructionism, or social construction of reality investigates how human knowledge is constructed through social interaction; argues that nature of the world is less important than language used to name and discuss it.
Sociolinguistics - study of language and culture.

sources: R. Craig and internet:


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