COMM 5810 THEORETICAL PARADIGMS & PERSPECTIVES

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Nov 30, 2013 (3 years and 8 months ago)

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COMM 5810

THEORETICAL PARADIGMS & PERSPECTIVES


WORLD VIEW I





The "received view"





Based on empiricism & rationalism





Logical positivism







Stresses objectivity







Assumes a physical, knowable reality


Knowledge acquired through discovery &
observation


Deterministic, seeks causal explanation


Aims to discover universal laws



Highly analytical


Reductionistic


Covering Laws metaperspective


Transmissional, Mechanistic, Psychological/Behavioristic, & some Semiotic perspectives



WORLD VIEW I
I


The "constructivist view"

Based on perception & interpretation

Relativism

Stresses subjective responses

Assumes reality in process

Knowledge acquired from interaction between knower & known

Actional, seeks individual explanation

Aims to understand conte
xtual rules

Highly interpretive

Holistic

Rules, Systems, & Critical metaperspectives

Interactional, transactional, & Semiotic perspectives


THE POSTMODERN VIEW
--
WORLD VIEW III?

(LYOTARD, JAMESON, ETC.)


The "deconstructive" view

Repudiates universals, "to
talizing visions," & "grand theory"

Anti
-
telological, anti
-
hierarchical, & anti
-
essentialistic

Attacks rationality (whether scientific or humanistic)

Assumes that reality is socially constructed and localized ("de
-
centered"), as well as commodified

The "me
aning" of represented reality revealed by deconstructing social "texts" (anything can be a
"text")

Symbolic representation represses social contradictions through manipulated simulacra (no
referent,"free
-
floating," "surface," or "hyperreal" representation)

Representation built on recycled images (pastiche & parody)

No distinctions between signified & signifier (or other dichotomies)

Analysis of texts seeks to open up ironies, inter
-
textualitity, paradoxes, inconsistences, etc.

Favors internal models of tran
sformation & marginality

Problematizes individuality, autonomy, & freedom

Contradictory & paradoxical (sometimes seen as pessimistic; not clearly defined)

Post
-
structuralist perspective, also linked to Semiotic perspective and Critical Theory
metaperspecti
ve


COMM 5810


THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES


METATHEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES

(LITTLEJOHN; TRENHOLM)


I.
Covering Laws


Positivism

Regularities govern life

Regularities can be discovered

Theory created deductively, through "hard" data

Theory must explain, predict
, & control regularities

Laws are causal statements linking variables together

Causality is
probabilistic

instead of absolute

Human behavior caused by environmental contingencies (if not genetic)


II.
Rules


Actional, Interpretive

Humans are active rather

than passive; they act intentionally

Humans control their environment & behavior

Humans use cognitive structures to assign meanings to reality

Reality is constructed, not discovered

Implicit rules govern human behavior

A rule explains how humans make sens
e of the world & accomplish goals


III.
Systems


Transactional, Integrative

Human behavior is systemic

Reality is interconnected & best viewed holistically

The whole is not equal to the sum of its parts

Examine the whole, its sub & supra systems, & the re
lationships between them

Phenomenon is connected, interdependent

Later occurrences have a
probability

relationship to earlier occurrences

Focus on cybernetic processes (e.g. input, output, feedback, adjustment)


IV.
Critical Theory


Constructivist, inter
pretive

Social conditions/culture created & maintained through symbols

Human actions are influenced by social conditions/culture

Uncover systems of social relationships which determine actions

Expose ideological underpinings of systems

Concerned with oppre
ssion & power
--
how communication perpetuates domination

Communication is seen as a material practice

Material practices (praxis) reproduce and/or change culture


THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES

(B.A. FISHER; TRENHOLM; WEEDON)


How to categorize theories is an on
-
going concern in scholarly inquiry. There is overlap between
these perspectives
; they
are often combined, esp. the mechanistic
-
psychological and
semiotic
-
poststructuralist perspectives. Combinations are how new insights are generated,
though clearly, so
me perspectives would be difficult to combine. For example, some of the basic
assumptions of post
-
structuralism are antithetical to the interactional, despite what appear to be
commonalities (e.g. the post
-
structuralist position is usually seen to be anti
-
humanistic). Not all of
the theories given for each perspective fit neatly into that "box."


I.
Mechanistic


Linear, directional (one
-
way vs. two
-
way)

Quasi
-
causal, functional

Material existence of components

Reductionistic

Locus
--
the channel

Emphas
is on effects

Transmissional orientation

Effectiveness
--
minimize data loss

Sample concepts: source, message, channel, receiver, encoding
-
decoding, feedback, fidelity,
noise
, etc.

Sample theories: Gatekeeping Model, Westley & Maclean Model, Media Effects
theories, Source
Credibility, Diffusion of Innovations



II.
Psychological (Behavioral)


Stimulus
-
Organism
-
Response (S
-
O
-
R)

Quasi
-
causal

Importance of stimuli on "black box"

Individualistic

Locus
--
perceptual/conceptual filters

Emphasis on behavioral modif
ication

Receiver orientation

Effectiveness
--
shared mental structures

Sample concepts: sender
-
receivers, channel, message stimuli, internalized responses, internal
noise
, etc.

Sample theories: Consistency theories (e.g. Cognitive Dissonance, Heider's Bala
nce Theory),
Social Judgment Theory (Ego
-
Involvement), Cost
-
reward theories, Attribution Theory


III.
Interactional


Transactional, humanistic

Human action located in society

Locus
--
role taking behavior

Emphasis on symbolic action

Symbolic orientation

Ef
fectiveness
--
shared emergent meanings

Sample concepts: self, society, significant symbols, shared meanings, coorientation, role
-
taking

Sample theories: Symbolic Interactionism, Dramaturgy/Dramatism, Convergence Theory
(Fantasy Themes), Social Constructio
n Theory, Coordinated Management of Meaning

(CMM
)

IV.
Pragmatic


Transactional, systemic

Human behavior is systemic

Locus
--
sequential behaviors

Emphasis on interdependence between parts of a system

Behavioral orientation

Effectiveness
--
understanding patt
erns

Sample concepts: openness, wholeness, non
-
summativity, hierarchy, equafinality, choice,
uncertainty
, redundancy, constraint, homeostasis (balance), entropy, inputs/outputs

Sample theories: Axioms of communication (Palo Alto Group), Information Theo
ry, Convergence
Theory, Cybernetics


V.
Semiotics


Constructivist

Structural, social

Locus
--
socially shared discourse

Emphasis
--
understanding signifying systems

Critical orientation

Effectiveness
--
shared signifying systems

Sample concepts: sign (symbol/i
ndex/icon), referent, signifier/signified, signifying system,
discourse, ideology, etc.

Sample theories: Triangle of Meaning, Speech Act Theory (can also fit into Interactional),
Generative Grammar, some Non
-
verbal theories, Structuralism, can be combined

with Marxist
Theory


VI.
Poststructuralism


Deconstructive, constructivist

Symbolic discourse constitutes social reality

Symbolic meaning not fixed, but created & contested through social systems

Human subjectivity constructed through language

Locus
--
lan
guage, symbols

Emphasis
--
understanding social constructions & representations

Critical orientation

Effectiveness
--
language/social reality deconstructed in a meaningful way

Sample concepts: sign (see above), signifier/signified, signifying system, discours
e, suture,
subjectivity,
differance
, Other, ideology, hegemony, interpellation, apparatus

Sample theories: Deconstruction (esp. Derrida & Foucault), Barthes' Theory of Myth, Eco's
Semiotics, Lacanian Psychoanalytic theory, some Feminist theories (e.g. Fre
nch Feminists),
sometime linked to Marxist & Critical Theories


TRADITIONS OF COMMUNICATION THEORIES (LITTLEJOHN & FOSS)


I.

The Semiotic Tradition


A. Key Concepts: Sign, Referent, Symbol, Signifier/Signified, etc.

B. Variations: Semantics, Syntact
ics, Pragmatics



II. The Phenomenological Tradition


A. Key Concepts: Phenomenon, Conscious knowledge, Meaning through language, Process of
Interpretation & understanding (
Verstehen
), Hermeneutic circle, etc.

B. Variations: Classical Phenomenology (
Husserl), Phenomenology of Perception
(Merleau
-
Ponty), Hermeneutic (Philosophical) Phenomenology (Heidegger)


III. The Cybernetic Tradition


A.
Key Concepts: System, Sub
-
system, Supra
-
system;
Networks;
Interdependence; Dynamism,
Stasis vs. Change
; etc.

B
. Variations: Basic Systems Theory, Cybernetics, General Systems Theory (GST),
Second
-
order Cybernetics (Cybernetics of knowing).


IV. The Sociopsychological Tradition


A. Key Concepts: Traits vs. States, the “black box” (mind & cognition), attitudes,
attention, etc.

B. Variations: Behavioral, Cognitive, Socio
-
Biological (Psychobiology; Communibiology)


V. The Sociocultural Tradition


A. Key Concepts: Interactional patterns, Process of communication, Interpretation, Context, etc.

B. Variations: Sy
mbolic Interactionism, Constructivism, Social
-
Constructionist

(Social
Construction of Reality), Sociolinguistics,
Philosophy

of language & language game, Ethnography
& Ethnomethodology


VI. The Critical Tradition


A. Key Ideas

Hegemony, Ideology, Power &

Oppression, Praxis (theory + action), etc.

B. Variations: Neo
-
Marxism, Frankfurt School/Critical Theory, Poststructuralism, Postcolonialism,
Postmodernism, Cultural Studies, Feminist Studies.


VI. The Rhetorical Tradition


A. Key Concepts: Five canons

of rhetoric, Dialectic, Argument, Rhetoric as epistemological,
Narrative, etc.

B. Variations: Neo
-
Aristotelian (Classical),
Historical approaches, the “New Rhetoric,” Dramatism,
Rhetoric as Epistemic, Narrative approaches, Postmodernism