COMM 360 Chapter Notes - Chapter 4: Cybernetics, Semiotics, Pragmatism

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Chapter 4
7 Traditions of Communication Theory:
1. Socio-Psychological Tradition communication as interpersonal interaction and
influence
a. Believe there are communication “Truths” that can be discovered via observation
b. Answers the question: How can I get others to change?
2. Cybernetic Tradition communication as a system of information processing
a. Believe communication as the link connecting the separate parts of any system i.e.
computer system, a family system, media system, or a social support system
b. Answers the questions: How does the system work? What could change it? How
can we get the bugs out?
c. Cybernetics: study of information processing, feedback, and control in
communication systems
3. Rhetorical Tradition communication as artful public address
a. Rhetoric: the art of using all available means of persuasion, focusing lines of
argument, organization of ideas, language use, and delivery in public speaking
b. Believe speech distinguishes humans from animals, public address solves
problems better than decree, effective communication requires audience
adaptation, oratorical training is important in a leader’s education, rhetoric is
more art than science, and oral public persuasion is for men only
4. Semiotic Tradition communication as the process of sharing meaning through signs
a. Semiotics: the study of signs
b. Symbols: words and nonverbal signs that bear no natural connection with what
they describe
c. Believe meaning resides in people
d. Trying to explain and reduce the misunderstanding created using ambiguous
symbols
5. Socio-cultural Tradition communication as the creation and enactment of social reality
a. As people talk, they produce and reproduce culture
b. Believe the view of reality is strongly shaped by the language we’ve used as
infants
c. Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis of Linguistic Relativity: the structure of a culture’s
language shapes what people think and do
6. Critical Tradition communication as a reflective challenge to unjust discourse
a. Challenge the control of language to perpetuate power imbalances, the role of
mass media in dulling sensitivity to repression, and blind reliance on the scientific
method and uncritical acceptance of empirical findings
7. Phenomenological Tradition communication as the experience of self and others
through dialogue
a. Phenomenology: the intentional analysis of everyday life from the standpoint of
the person living it
b. Believe an individual’s story is more important than research hypothesis
c. Answers the questions: why is it so hard to establish and sustain authentic human
relationships? How can this problem be overcome?
Pragmatism: an applied approach to knowledge; true understanding of an idea or situation has
practical implications for action
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