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  1. AL AKHAWAYN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES COMMUNICATIONS STUDIES 1. Communication Theory and Scholarship Lecture by Prof. Dr. Mohammed Ibahrine based on Littlejohn’s Theories of Human Communication

  2. Structure of the Lecture • 1. What is Communication Theory • 2. Why Study Communication Theory • 3. The Academic Study of Communication • 4. Defining Communication • 5. The Process of Inquiry in Communication • 5.1 A Basic Model of Inquiry • 5.2 Types of Scholarship

  3. Structure of the Lecture • 6. Communication Theory as a Field • 6.1 The Rhetorical Tradition • 6.2 The Semiotic Tradition • 6.3 The Phenomenological Tradition • 6.4 The Cybernetic Tradition • 6.5 The Socio-psychological Tradition • 6.6 The Socio-cultural Tradition • 6.7 The Critical Tradition

  4. Structure of the Lecture • 7. Levels of Communication • 8. Developing Core Communication Theories • 9. The Intellectual Structure of the Communication Field

  5. 1. What is Communication Theory • Any attempt to explain or represent an experience is a theory • Everybody uses theories • We cannot live without them • Theories guide our understandings and actions

  6. 1. What is Communication Theory • The term communication theory can be used to designate the collective wisdom found in the entire body of theories related to communication

  7. 2. Why Study Communication Theory? • Communication is one of the most persuasive and complex aspects of human life • Because communication is so vital to our lives, surely it deserves our careful attention • Everybody tries to make sense of their own experience • By developing an understanding of a variety of theories of communication • We interpret events in more flexible and useful ways

  8. 2. Why Study Communication Theory? • The study of communication theory will help students see things they never saw before • This widening of perception, or unhitching of blinders, helps us transcend habits and become increasingly adaptable and flexible • Theories, then, provide a set of useful tools for seeing new and useful things

  9. 3. The Academic Study of Communication • Although communication has been studied since antiquity, it became an especially important topic in the twentieth first century • This revolutionary development is largely caused by the rise of communication technologies such as • Radio • Television • Satellite • The Internet • The Mobile • Communication has assumed immense importance in our time

  10. 3. The Academic Study of Communication • Several developments led to this interest in communication • The political influence of public messages spurred considerable research on propaganda and public opinion • Much of the research in sociology in the 1930s investigated the ways in which communication affects individuals and communities • Popular research topics in social psychology included the effects of movies on children, propaganda, persuasion and group dynamics

  11. 3. The Academic Study of Communication • Some areas of special interest were the use of radio in education • The teaching of basic communication skills like • Public speaking • Group discussion • Much of the early research was driven by the desire of people in business to know more about communication for marketing purposes • Advertisement

  12. 3. The Academic Study of Communication • Several developments led to this interest in communication • After World War II, persuasion and decision making in groups were central concerns, not only among researchers but in society in general • After World War II, then, communication studies became quite important

  13. 3. The Academic Study of Communication • The approaches to the study of communication took different turns in Europe and the United States • In United States, researchers tended to study communication quantitatively to try to achieve objectivity • European scholars were strongly influenced more by historical, cultural and critical interests

  14. 3. The Academic Study of Communication • The diversity of work in communication theory reflects the complexity of communication itself • Each theory looks at the process from a different angle • Regardless of their original academic homes, scholars have formed the new field called communication • The young communication field is now producing fresh theories

  15. 4. Defining Communication • Communication is difficult to define • Scholars have made many attempts to define communication but establishing a single definition has proved impossible and may not be very fruitful • Frank Dance found three points of “critical conceptual differentiation” that form the basic dimension of communication

  16. 4. Defining Communication • 1. The first dimension is level of observation, or abstraction • Some definitions are broad and inclusive; others are restrictive and exclusive

  17. 4. Defining Communication • 2. The second distinction is intentionality • Some definitions include only purposeful message sending and receiving • Others do not impose this limitation

  18. 4. Defining Communication • 3. The third dimension is normative judgment • Some definition include a statement of success or accuracy • Other definitions do not contain such implicit judgments

  19. 5. The Process of Inquiry in Communication • Inquiry is the systematic study of experience that leads to understanding and knowledge • People engage in inquiry when they attempt to find out about something in an orderly way

  20. 5.1 A Basic Model of Inquiry • All inquiry involves three stages: • The first stage of inquiry is asking questions

  21. 5.1 A Basic Model of Inquiry • Questions of definition call for concepts as answers, seeking to clarify what is observed: • What is it?

  22. 5.1 A Basic Model of Inquiry • Questions of fact ask about properties and relations in what is observed: • what does it consist of ?

  23. 5.1 A Basic Model of Inquiry • Questions of value probe aesthetic, pragmatic, and ethical qualities of the observed: • Is it beautiful? • It is effective? • Is it good?

  24. 5.1 A Basic Model of Inquiry • All inquiry involves three stages: • The second stage of inquiry is observation

  25. 5.1 A Basic Model of Inquiry • All inquiry involves three stages: • Methods of observation vary significantly from one tradition to another • Some scholars observe by examining records and artifacts • Others by personal involvement • Others by using instruments and controlled experiment • Others by interviewing people

  26. 5.1 A Basic Model of Inquiry • All inquiry involves three stages: • The third stage of inquiry is constructing answers • The scholar attempts • To define • To describe • To explain • To make judgment • This stage is usually referred to as theory

  27. 5.1 A Basic Model of Inquiry • People often think of the stages of inquiry as linear, occurring one step at a time: first questions, then observations, and finally answers • Inquiry does not proceed in this fashion • Observations often stimulate new questions • Theories are challenged by both observations and questions • Inquiry is more like running around a circle than walking in a straight line

  28. 5.2 Types of Scholarship • Different types of inquiry ask different questions, use different methods of observation and lead to different kinds of theory • Methods of inquiry can be grouped into three broad forms of scholarship: • Scientific • Humanistic • Social Scientific

  29. 5.2 Types of Scholarship • Science often is associated with objectivity • If by objectivity, we mean suspension of values, science definitely is not objective • If by objectivity we mean standardization, science is indeed objective • Standardization is important in science because scientists assume that the world has observable form

  30. 5.2 A Types of Scholarship • They view their task as seeing the world as it is • The world sits in wait of discovery • The goal of science is to observe and explain the world as accurately as possible

  31. 5.2 Types of Scholarship • Whereas science is associated with objectivity, the humanities are associated with subjected • Science aims to standardize observation • The humanities seek creative individuality • Most humanist are more interested in individual cases than generalized theory

  32. 5.2 Types of Scholarship • Whereas science is an “out there” activity • The humanities stress the “in here” • Science focus on the discovering world • The humanities focus on the discovering person • Science seeks consensus • The humanities seek alternative interpretations

  33. 5.2 A Types of Scholarship • The Special Case of the Social Sciences • A third form of scholarship is the social sciences • Many social scientist see it as an extension of natural science • Social science is a world apart • It includes elements of both science and the humanities but is different from both

  34. 5.2 Types of Scholarship • To understand human behavior, scholar must observe it • Interpreting may be complicated by the fact that the object of observation, the human subject, is itself an active, knowing being • The central philosophical question in social sciences is • Can “scientific” explanation of human behavior take place without consideration of “humanistic” knowledge of the observed person

  35. 5.2 Types of Scholarship • Communication as a Social Science • Traditionally, humanistic theories of communication have been referred to as rhetorical theory and scientific theories as communication theories

  36. 5.2 Types of Scholarship

  37. 6. Communication Theory as a Field • We have two requirements for communication theory as field • 1. A common understanding of similarities and difference among theories • We need a metamodel, which means a model of models • 2. We need a new definition of the term theory • Theory should be regarded as a statement or argument in favor of a particular approach • Theories are a form of a discourse

  38. 6. Communication Theory as a Field • Theories are a discourse about discourse or metadiscourse • Theories are special forms of communication • Theories constitute an experience of communication • Different theories are different ways of “talking about” communication, each form has its powers and limits • For unity in the field, we need too acknowledge the constitutive power of theories and find a consensual way in which to understand what various theories are designed for

  39. 6. Communication Theory as a Field • Craig describes seven standpoints, traditions or theories within the field: • 1. Rhetorical • 2. Semiotic • 3. Phenomenological • 4. Cybernetic • 5. Socio-psychological • 6. Socio-cultural • 7. Critical

  40. 6. Communication Theory as a Field • Rhetorical tradition • Theories in this tradition see communication as a practical art • Communicators such as • Speakers • Media producers • Writers • perceive a problem or challenge that needs to be dealt with through carefully designed messages

  41. 6. Communication Theory as a Field • Rhetorical tradition • Logical and emotional appeals are typically featured in rhetorical theories • It relies on a sense that words are powerful

  42. 6. Communication Theory as a Field • The Semiotic Tradition • This tradition focuses on signs and symbols • It argues in a language that includes terms such as sign, symbols, meaning, referent, code and understanding • Semiotic theories often lie in opposition to theories suggesting that words have correct meanings, that signs stand for objects, or that language is neutral

  43. 6. Communication Theory as a Field • The phenomenological tradition • This tradition concentrates on personal experience, including how individuals experiences one another • Communication is seen as a sharing of personal experience through dialogue • In this tradition, you will hear a discourse that includes terms such as experience, self, dialogue, genuine and openness • It is appealing as a theoretical approach when it points out the need for human contact, respect, acknowledgment of differences and common ground

  44. 6. Communication Theory as a Field • Cybernetic • Communication is viewed in this tradition primarily as information process • It honors a vocabulary of senders and receivers, information, feedback and systems

  45. 6. Communication Theory as a Field • Socio-psychological • This tradition concentrates on the aspects of communication that include expression, interaction and influence • It addresses problems and challenges in which outcomes need to be manipulated • This discourse accents behavior, variables, effects, personalities traits and perception • This tradition stands most in opposition to claims that people are rational, that individuals know what they think, and that perception is a clear route to seeing what is real

  46. 6. Communication Theory as a Field • Socio-cultural • This genre holds social order as its centerpiece and sees communication as the glue of society • The problems and challenges it addresses include conflict, alienation and the failure to coordinate • Socio-cultural scholars eschew arguments in favor of individual power, unitary self and separation of the human interaction from social structure

  47. 6. Communication Theory as a Field • Critical tradition • The critical tradition tends to see communication as a social arrangement of power and oppression • It responds to problems of ideology, power and domination • Critical discourse includes such terms as ideology, dialectic, consciousness raising, resistance and emancipation • It is an appealing approach to theory in situations that include the self-perpetuation of power, the values of freedom and equality

  48. 7. Levels of Communication • Handbooks, textbooks and college curricula are often divided into sections corresponding to these levels: • Interpersonal communication • Group communication • Organizational communication • Mass Communication

  49. 7. Levels of Communication • Interpersonal communication • Interpersonal communication deals with communication between people, usually face-to-face, private setting

  50. 7. Levels of Communication • Group communication • Group communication relates to the interaction of people in small groups usually in decision-making settings