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Communication Studies
COMM 2102
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Sept. 05 - Introduction In this course… • Introduction to the theories/theoretical frameworks on which communication research and scholarship is based Understand the context in which these theories emerged and changed and how they help • us understand communication Why learn theory? - Theories provide us an explanation of why things happen the way they do - Theory helps us understand our world and society - Helps us find ways to better our society - Uncovers hidden processes and practices by showing how they are connected to everyday actions and views Know these for every theory: 1. What is it seeking to explain? (its purpose) 2. When/why it emerged 3. Key theorists 4. Key concepts 5. How those concepts are applied to explain aspects of communication Sept.12 – Theory and Communication What is a theory? - Theory is: “an idea or set of ideas that is intended to explain something” (Collins 1987, 1515) - Empirically (doing experiments) and analytically (philosophical) tested explanation of how or why things happen the way they do. Goals of theory: • Describe • Explain • Predict or understand • Reform or to change *Not all theories do all four Think of each theory as a different lens… - a lens through which we view and understand a particular phenomenon - each lens has a number of assumptions that are applied in the analysis of that particular phenomenon - no lens is complete (all have limitations) - different lenses compete and contradict each other - all lenses are continually being defined/refined (all theory needs to evolve and reshape as what we’re looking at evolves and reshapes) How does theory emerge? Gaps in knowledge Reaction to something Builds limitations of previous theory Sept.12 – Theory and Communication Types of Theories 1. Grand or meta theory (very broad) Big Bang Theory (Seeks to explain a lot) - Lots of applications 2. Formal or mini theory (more specific within discipline) Photosynthesis (formal, well tested theory applied to a more specific phenomenon) 2. Emergent Theory (adapted within a research setting) Global warming is the cause of theAlberta Floods - In the process of being tested and applied What counts as a good theory? (Opinion vs. Theory) - extensive - applicable - testable - simple - consistent - modifiable to accommodate new information *Academically it needs to build upon past theory and acknowledge limitations There are little - no theories today that are “brand new” - every theory builds upon a previous theory In COMM 2101 we will… Explore, analyze and apply (theoretical) concepts from different schools of thought and theoretical frameworks that inform communication studies. Sept.12 – Theory and Communication School of thought - Idea or set of ideas held by a specific group of academics - Group or school of people that subscribe to a particular understanding and build theory around it. - Typically studied or worked at the same institution (ex: The Toronto School, The Chicago School, a “Canadian” school) - common theories that they work with and apply them in an emergent way to a phenomenon Theoretical framework - Group of theories with common foundations, assumptions and limitations (ex: Marxism, Cultural Studies) - Interdisciplinary communication studies, scholars often work within a theoretical framework drawing key elements/argument from multiple theoretical works within the framework while rejecting others Theory - Alens through which we understand a particular phenomenon; constituted by a set of concepts and their interrelationships Concept - Acore element we can use to analyze what we are trying to study - Provide explanation - “An abstract or generic idea generalized from particular instances” (Webster Dictionary) - Individual element of a theory that interacts with other elements to explain a phenomenon - E.g: In Global Warming, the hole in the o-zone is a concept Theoretical Framework recipe book for stews Sept.12 – Theory and Communication School of Thought chapter on French strew cooking Theory individual stew recipes Concept individual ingredients Understanding Theory • Understand what the theory is trying to do/explain Learn about how it emerged • • Know key theorists • Understand the key concepts/ideas and how they work together • Practice theory “Theory is not a spectator sport.” (Berry, 1995) COMM 2101 KEY QUESTIONS • What does the theoretical framework posit? (key assumptions, purpose, limitations) • What are some of the key concepts and how to they interact to explain? • Why was it introduced? (gap, reaction to, building on) • Who are the theorists? • How is it applied in comm’s scholarship? Sept.12 – Theory and Communication Abridged history of inter - disciplinary Early 1900s - sociology War years - propaganda, psych, poli sci 1940s-50s - media effects 50s-60s - critical theory 70s - “linguistic turn” 80s - international influences 90s - postmodernism What is communication studies? • Multiple Theoretical approaches • “Loosness of the field” • Try to understand Comm with an array of disciplines • Communications is not an independent school of thought Different focuses and events introduced different theories into the field of communication • • Awealth of concepts and theoretical frameworks through which we explore the role and nature of communication at different levels • No accepted definition • Broad realm *** “Who said what to whom(receiver of the message) through what channel(what kind of media) to what effect” (Lasswell, 1948). Levels of Communication Analysis Intra individual (how individuals process information in their own heads) Inter personal (how two individuals interact to influence one another) Sept.12 – Theory and Communication Group/organizational (how communication dynamics occur among individuals and institutions) Macro-scopic/societal (how communications build of changes agendas of important issues) Communication Study - broad area of study - looks at communication as a phenomenon - can be studied from multiple perspectives or approaches - - interdisciplinary - theoretically informed by theorists and theories related to other areas of study - which are then adapted to study a particular aspect of the phenomenon of communication What is a theory, theoretical framework, concept, school of thought and how to they connect? How does theory emerge? What counts as good theory? What is meant by communication studies? What are different levels of analysis? Why does it use multiple theories? Theory Theory concept concept concept Sept.12 – Theory and Communication concept Theory concept concept concept Theory concept School of Thought Theoretical Framework Sept.12 – Theory and Communication Sept.19 – Marxism & Political Economy FOR EVERY THEORY: When/why the theory emerged What the goal/purpose of the theory is Key theorists Key concepts How it is applied to communication studies Context - Modernity Modern times - rough period from the Industrial Revolution (1800s) to current day Industrial society is profoundly different from periods that preceded it (Agrarian - primary means of economy was agriculture, Feudal) Modernity: promise of progress and success Process: Capitalism “Promise of great society” resulted in: - growing gap between workers and masters (inequality between the two) - owners felt no allegiance or responsibility to their workers - miserable working and living conditions in new urban centers - destruction of independent production (people who didn’t want to take part in industry) - could no longer compete * Result: Rise of socialism (tried to promote equality) Which brought us Marxism Sept.19 – Marxism & Political Economy Marxist Theory • Theoretical perspective that emerged from the writings of Karl Marx and Friederich Engles in 1800s Studies relationship between power, industrial economy and society • • Critiques capitalism and the resulting economic inequity and effect on human relations Goal: to show how multiple, seemingly unconnected facts of social life evolved and are ultimately defined by class antagonisms.Also, to unveil our cultural practices which may not look like they are unfair/promoting inequality but deep down there is still issues with class and inequality. 3 Components of Marxist Theory 1. philosophy 2. social theory 3. economic theory **Philosophy** “Dialectical Materialism” Dialectics: - ongoing process of change that subscribes to a set of laws or principles - an “end point” that it’s expected for us to get to - # of different markers between now and then that we have to go through determined course Materialism: material world is real and that nature or matter is primary the mind/ideas are a product of the brain “Dialectical Materialism” process of change influences and is influenced by material world and how we think and interact with it Sept.19 – Marxism & Political Economy we exist in a cyclical and transitory state of being - tied to material conditions **Marxist Social Theory** • society progressing to state of communism • society progresses in stages that are based on ownership of the means of production • ex: feudalism replaced aristocracy, capitalism replaced feudalism and true socialism or communism will replace capitalism • each stage evolves through conflict/class struggle • absolute belief that capitalism will be overturned and power will be achieved by workers Concepts: Labour andAlienation For Marx, labour is a creative, liberating, productive force Control over one’s own labour = freedom (pre industrial society = artisians and craftsmen) Industrial society = division of labour and alienation - people who own the factories have control over labour Labour in Capitalist society did not allow freedom for the individuals Socialism - each work to their own ***Marxist Economic Theory*** • Proletariat need to develop class consciousness and revolt (need to understand how the production process is working) • They don’t revolt because bourgeoisie control the means of production and heir values become reinforced in social practice and institutions • Base and superstructure: model for understanding economic forced in society • Base: mode of production and social order enforcing it (industry) • Superstructure: remainder of society, culture, technology, institutions, media, etc. (Belief system) • Base determines superstructure Sept.19 – Marxism & Political Economy • e.g: Universities make agreements with corporations to get donations CONCEPTS Ideology: - Describes the dominant ideas represented in a given social order - For Marxism, the ruling ideas reproduce the ideas of the ruling class - “the ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch (stage/era) the ruling ideas” - Reproduced by cultural production owned by bourgeois - Exists in the structures and practices of society - Even though only favor particular groups, constructed as being “universal” and applying to everyone in all situations False consciousness: - Is naturalized so that people accept the economic relations of ruling and do not rise up (false consciousness) - They aren’t aware that they aren’t free because dominant ideology seems natural Hegemony - Neo Marxist idea (after Marx) (Gramsci) - Idea that lower class doesn’t revolt because they become complicit in their own relations of ruling - Subordinate groups accept the ideas, values and leadership of the dominant group because Concessions are made by the dominant to subordinate groups Marxism Critiques - focus only on economic forces (class relationships) - what about gender, race, ability, etc. Sept.19 – Marxism & Political Economy - working class are dupes, no agency or worse exist in a “false consciousness” - no specific direction as to how “good society” would be structured - no reflection on “socialism” as a potential ideology Marxism and Comm • Marxist ideas surrounding social evolution and power relationships adapted into many critical theoretical approaches used in communications • Political economy • Frankfurt School • (some) Cultural studies Political Economy • Theoretical framework that draws on Marxist theory • Focuses on elite control of institutions and how control effects other institutions and social practices • Accepts classic Marxist assumption that base determines superstructure • The quality of products we get is determined by agriculture (Food inc.) 4 characteristics (Mosco) commitment to historical analysis commitment to understanding the broad social totality (everything involved) commitment to moral philosophy (normative ideal of the good) commitment to social intervention or praxis Political Economy of Communication Sept.19 – Marxism & Political Economy - emerged during post WWII era (late 40s - mid 60s) - state actively getting involved in production and distribution of communication media - debate regarding level of government involvement in economy - look at institutions of communication and government intervention Dallas Smythe (key theorist: Canadian) -- early study of media consumption and involvement in the communication policy process 2 insights: 1. Recognized degree to which communication rules people’s lives (takes over other institutions like religion, etc.) 2. Involvement in policy process revealed the failures of government in managing communications and media for the public good Key Political Economy Questions (Smythe): Who gets what goods of communication - when, how and where? Who takes what action in order to provide these scarce goods? ** In a market system, available goods are smaller than the demand Smythe’s Key Concepts Production policies quantity & quality of communication, technologies Sept.19 – Marxism & Political Economy Allocation policy******** equality of distribution among individuals (who gets products, how are they being distributed, are they being distributed equally, are there barriers to entry?) Capital, organization and control policy * how do we organize communication services, under what system, change, etc Mosco (1998) - expanded upon early political economy of COMM - three categories (“entry points”) to understanding the political economy of communication 1. commodification 2. spacialization 3. structuration Commodification  Comm practices and technologies are commodities in society (How we turn comm practices into technology)  Political economy of communication describes and examines production, distribution and exchange of communication commodities, and regulation of communication  Political economy explores audiences as commodities and labour Spacialization (= globalization)  Overcoming constraints of space and time in social life  Impact globalization and industrial restructuring Political economy of communication explores institutional corporate power in  communication industry  Key focus: convergence and concentration Sept.19 – Marxism & Political Economy Structuration  How people constitute structures that constrain actions and thoughts  Focus on communication institutions and how they perpetuate class divisions Contemporary concerns: - convergence - expanded forms of media - power relations in new media - does traditional base/superstructure still exist? Limitations/Critiques: - don’t recognize the diversity of pop culture - don’t allow for individual agency - concepts of domination and subordination restricted to class - macroscopic focus on institutions - few specifics/contexts - economy no longer same one that Marx was writing about Conclusion Marxism: basis of critical studies - key concepts adopted by schools and frameworks to understand issues or ideology, class relations, individual agency Political economy: how economic imperatives and ideologies are reproduced through institutions, governments, cultural products and labour Sept.19 – Marxism & Political Economy Oct.3 – Frankfurt School 12/11/2013 Last Week Chicago School Goal: community where everyone will live up to their full potential - how communication helps this “the great community” Context: beginning of urbanization Concepts: looking glass self (“I am what you think I think I am”), symbolic interactionism, generalized other, democracy Theorist: Dewey, Park Frankfurt School - Institute for Social Research - opened in Germany in 1923 - Someone made donation to group of scholars to study Marxism and it’s application - Affiliated with the University of Frankfurt - Adopted neo Marxian “critical theory” and social psychology - Looked at psychological issues relating to how individuals create meaning - Concern: rise and acceptance of Fascism in Europe - Before WWII, Naziism gaining steam in Europe - Nazis took power in 1933 - many Frankfurt School scholars in danger - many fled from Europe and were exiled in US - many of scholars went to Columbia and Princeton - America: greater outward influence of Capitalism - naturalization of consumerism, technology and popular culture - they saw that people had total acceptance of consumerism and capitalism which led to the rise of the acceptance of Fascism - totalitarian control* (this concerned them) Key Concerns Oct.3 – Frankfurt School 12/11/2013 - critical analysis of mass culture and communication (mass culture was the material production that was coming out of the factories - being sold to people on a mass level) - cultural and political consequences of concentrated corporate power mass culture really only serves small group of people – the elites • - influence on media audiences Goal/Purpose Goal: uncover totalitarian control in media and cultural production to encourage change/action Focus: - emergence and proliferation of mass culture (history) - reification of capitalism in culture industries - how culture industries that give us activities that make us feel socially good (movies, art) actually underscored capitalism, serves capitalism. Approach show the relationship between individual thoughts and material conditions wanted to situate what was happening in contemporary society in historical context and understand how things progressed to how they were Relating to: - history - economic processes - psychic structures of individuals - totality of the system  To show the “absolute power” of capitalism - reveal the totalitarian control instituted within the “cultural industry” - incorporate Freud’s understanding of human instincts related to authoritarianism, to understand why people accept the totalitarian control Oct.3 – Frankfurt School 12/11/2013 Key Theorists Max Horkheimer Theodor Adorno Walter Benjamin Herbert Marcuse Key Concepts Dialectic of Enlightenment - enlightenment = age of reason - enlightenment (reason) was meant to replace authoritarianism - science/technology now becomes the authority (Instrumental Reason) - result: failure of the enlightenment - everyone thought the enlightenment was going to save the world - royalty had complete/autonomous control over what people did/thought - everyone can have reason through science and technology Instrumental Reason - Ardono and Horkheimer: reason is no longer a thought process, but it becomes an instrument to define the world, so it’s not for betterment of society because people use it to reach an individual goal. - “An instrument concerned with instrumentalizing the world to the advantage of the subject” - subjective reason - seeking a specific goal or purpose False needs - true needs are forgotten because false needs are being created, met and supported by the system of capitalism Oct.3 – Frankfurt School 12/11/2013 Commodity Fetishism - consumer worships the money that he paid for the cultural experience more than the cultural product itself - exchange value (deceptively) takes over the function of use value but disguises itself as the object enjoyment - Ardono and Horkheimer say: fetishism aids in the distribution and consumption of commercial products - gives glamour to the product Culture Industry - commodification of art forms under mass production - results in standardization and repetition - development of “mass culture” - lubricant = advertising - technology only serves the needs of those who control is economically (Marx base/superstructure) - public’s needs are manufactured - liquidates individuality - resistance is impossible - pleasure is false and temporary - results in individuals committing their “free” and “personal” time to working for the capitalists More Culture Industry… - reveal how mass culture serves as an organ of domination - tools of the culture industry, mass persuasion, manipulation, consumerism, controlled gratification, culture - see “the absolute power of capitalism” in the Culture Industry - culture industry controls production - classifies, organizes and labels consumers and then produces materials for them Oct.3 – Frankfurt School 12/11/2013 - “something is provided for all so that none may escape” - audience are taught to react - authentic style negated (style aesthetic equivalent of domination) - culture industry is concerned with entertainment, not art - Ardono and Horkheimer: “pure amusement” is the relaxed surrender of human beings “to all kinds of associations and happy nonsense” - leads to ideological manipulation Criticisms failure to provide empirical proof for its theories elitist critique of mass culture don’t consider ways that consumers may appropriate culture pessimism surrounding revolutionary change obscurity in how it expresses its ideas mass culture not as homogeneous as identified Walter Benjamin’s “Work ofArt” the effects of mass production and consumption and technology on art originally art had an “aura” which contributes to its singularity, uniqueness and authority in the age of mass production, art is reproducable (photographs, prints, etc) and the aura is weakened ritual value of art replaced by exhibition value but more access by masses who can appreciate it and learn from it (although in a weakened state) Ex: Mona Lisa - original copy in the Louvre is very small in size production and distribution under capitalism forces masses into passive role of spectator we can see the propaganda value of communication media Oct.3 – Frankfurt School 12/11/2013 participatory nature of popular culture leads to the emergence of a mass public which make it easier for the ruling class to control the masses Frankfurt School critical analysis of mass culture and communication material culture as communication role of communication technologies culture and political consequences of concentrated corporate power over material culture and communication technologies influence on media audience Oct.10 ­ Hamermas - Culture today is infecting everything with sameness – pg. 41 - The power of industrial society is imprinted on people once and for all. The products of the culture industry are such that they can be alertly consumed even in a state of distraction – pg. 45 - For consumers the use value of art, its essence, is a fetish and the fetish, the social valuation which they mistake for the merit of works of art, becomes the only use value, the only quality they enjoy – pg 66 - The less culture industry has to promise and the less it can offer a meaningful explanation of life, the emptier the ideology it disseminates necessarily becomes – pg 55 Context: Modernity - based in enlightenment - reason will provide the means to understand, organize and control a good society 19 Century Critical Theory Context: introduction of industrialism - application of scientific thought/technology Marx and the political economists - what was their criticism with “modernity” Early 20 Century Critical Thought Context: large scale mass production Frankfurt school - what was their criticism with “modernity” Habermas: - 2 generation Frankfurt school Oct.10 ­ Hamermas - the “last modernist” - believed that modernity was an “incomplete project” - looked at where the promise of modernity went wrong – how it could be a positive moral force in society - student of Horkheimer andAdorno - 50s and 60s post war Germany - Nuremberg Trials - Citizen uprisings/protests Key Questions he asked: - What is the ideal social/political state? - How do we achieve this ideal state? - What is the social/political system that we have and why? - What is the role and limitations of citizens? - What is the role and limitations of the system? Goal/Purpose: - identify the (modern) means through which individuals can collectively determine their societal future - Theory of CommunicativeAction (1984/87) - Structural transformation of the public sphere (STPS) STPS - identifies, historically, a site where individuals collectively determined their future and managed the system - had control of their political and societal future Oct.10 ­ Hamermas - analyze the key characteristics of this site - understands why it no longer exists - “a sphere which mediates between society and state, in which the public organizes itself as the bearer of public opinion for democratic control of state activities” – p30 Success depends on: - open access (everyone must be able to participate) - autonomy - equal ability for input (bracket differences) - quality of participation (logic, rational) Key Terms/Concepts - public sphere (p.30) • he sees it as a place where everyone comes together to discuss issues and come to a consensus, and the decision controls society - public/private - life world (culture, identity, personal interactions, etc.) / system world (market economy, institutionalized, regulations, goals, etc.) - media - private sphere – sphere of activity where you are interested about your activities, family, friends, etc. STPSArgument th - public sphere existed in 18 century bourgeoisie society – medium for discussion - devolved as private interests entered the debate and influenced governments - commercial goals corrupted government and media - results in colonization of the public sphere by the system world Oct.10 ­ Hamermas Completing the modernity project - to do this we need: rational, critical debate - system world should be directed by public sphere - media should be mediator of public discussion - public authority not directed by individual interests (lobbying) * News room video, message: work for the people, let them make own decisions CommunicativeAction - the practice of rational, critical debate that allows for consensus to be achieved - with modernity, discourse is reduced to instrumental reason or that which is in service of individuals and systems goals Instrumental vs. Communicative Reason Instrumental reason: - focus on technical rationality, private gain, achieving specific aims Communicative reason: - focus on achieving common understanding of issues (inter-subjective understandings) Ideal speech situation (necessary for communicative reason) Standards: - open to anyone who has interest in the outcome - presuppose the other’s truthfulness - be willing to have your opinion changed Oct.10 ­ Hamermas - assess speech acts based on validity claims Validity claims: 1. truth 2. truthfulness/sincerity 3. rightness/appropriateness * allow for critical reflection of the intention of the communication * habermas believes that this critical reflection is innate to human language Theory of CommunicativeAction - because of commercial influences, instrumental communication is the primary basis of communication, resulting in a suspension of communicative action - while we all have ability to debate/assess validity of information – look at larger picture – we don’t because the instrumental reason of the system world has covered up everything that we do - call for instituting ideal speech situation in media and social discourse to start the process of developing moral, progressive, society base
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