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Chapter 5-7

COMM 250 Chapter Notes - Chapter 5-7: Uncertainty Reduction Theory, Expectancy Violations Theory, Cognitive Dissonance

Course Code
COMM 250
Susan Hubbard

of 27
Maggie Doran
Fall 2014
Chapter 5: Coordinated Management of Meaning
CMM (coordinated management of meaning) created to understand what takes place
during a conversation by Barnett Pearce and Vernon Cronen
oGenerally refers to how individuals establish rules for creating and interpreting
meaning and how those rules are enmeshed in conversation where meaning is
constantly being coordinated
oHuman communication guided by rules
“CMM theory describes human actors as attempting to achieve coordination by managing
the ways messages take on meaning” “CMM invites you to ask, of the passing moment,
‘What are we making together?’” “CMM does things to us; it changes in constructive
ways the way we think and relate to others.”
All The World’s a stage (terminology of CMM)
oTo describe life experiences, Pearce/ Cronen use metaphor “undirected theater”
oA number of actors are following some sort of dramatic action and others are
producing “cacophonous bedlam with isolated points of coherence”
oThere is no one grand director, instead self-appointed directors who manage to
keep chaos in check
oConversation flow is theater production
oActors who enter a conversation rely on past acting experiences to achieve
meaning, how they perceive the play is their reality, roles they play not known
until production begins
oActors are constantly coordinating script with one another
Coordinated Management of Meaning: In conversation and through the messages
we send and receive, people co-create meaning. As we create our social worlds, we
employ various rules to construct and coordinate meaning. That is, rules guide
communication between people. CMM focuses on the relationship between an
individual and his or her society. Through a hierarchical structure, people come to
organize meaning of literally hundreds of messages received throughout the day.
Assumptions of CMM
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oHuman beings live in communication
Communication: dynamic process that is more than talk, is also (according
to CMM) a way of creating and doing things
Communication “substance of human community” and an essential part of
the discourses embedded in these communities
Counterintuitive view of communication models:
Believe that social situations are created by interactions
Because individuals create their own conversational reality, each
interaction has potential to be unique
oHuman beings co-create reality
Social constructionism: belief that people co-construct their social reality
in conversations
Not “what did you mean by that” instead, “What are we making
Social worlds which require an understanding of social reality
Social reality: a person’s beliefs about how meaning and action fit
within interpersonal interaction
oInformation transactions depend on personal and interpersonal meaning
“Communication is about meaning” which is constantly changing from
interaction to interaction
Transactions depend on personal and interpersonal meaning
Personal meaning: the meaning achieved when a person brings his
or her unique experiences to an interaction
Interpersonal meaning: the result when two people agree on each
other’s interpretations of an interaction
Meanings achieved in conversations, frequently without much
The Hierarchy of Organized Meaning
oHuman beings organize meanings in hierarchy manner
oImplies people are able to determine how much weight to give to a particular
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oWhen people come together, they must try to handle not only the messages that
are sent to them from others, but also the messages that they send to others
oSix levels of meaning: content, speech acts. Episodes, relationships, life scripts,
and cultural patterns
Pearce/ Cronen prefer to use this as model rather then true ordering system
People differ in their interpretation of meaning at various levels
Content: the conversion of raw data into meaning
Ex: at work, converting symbols you observe/ sent into a group of
things about your boss, things about pay scale, etc
Speech acts: action we perform by speaking (e.g. questioning,
complimenting, or threatening)
Ex: promises, threats, insults, guesses, compliments
Not things, configurations in the logic of meaning and action of
Relational history must be taken into consideration when
interpreting a speech act
oDifficult to figure out what a speech means without having
sense of character dynamics
Episodes: communication routines that have recognized beginnings,
middles, and endings
Used to interpret speech acts
Describe contexts in which people act
Can be small: discernable parts of conversation
Large: entire discussion between people
Individuals in episodes may differ in how they punctuate an
Punctuation: process of identifying when an episode begins or ends
Coherent conversation requires punctuation to some degree
Different punctuations elicit different impressions of same episode
oCreates “inside” and “outside” perspectives of episode
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