Understanding communication theory (memo)

Cragan, John F. and Donald C. Shields 1998. Understanding communication theory: the communicative forces for human action. Boston, etc.: Allyn and Bacon.

1. Introduction to Communication Theory
2. Information Systems Theory (IST)
3. Rational Argumentation Theory (RAT)
4. Symbolic Convergence Theory (SCT)
5. Uncertainly Reduction Theory (URT)
6. Narrative Paradigm Theory (NPT)
7. Diffusion of Innovations Theory (DIT)
8. Interpersonal and Small Group Communication Context Theories
9. Public Speaking and Organizational Communication Context Theories
10. Mass and Intercultural Communication Context Theories
11. Communication Microtheories
12. Capstone
During the twentieth century, theorists began concluding that symbolic facts exist just like material and social facts. George Herbert Mead (1938) left us with the notion of communication as symbolic interaction. Flew (1985), by including the symbolic realm, extended Berger and Luckman's (1966) notion about the social construction of reality. Bormann abandoned the social construction of reality and introduced the notion of the symbolic construction of reality (1980, 1985b). These and other theorists contributed procedures to ascertain the presence of symbolic facts. Symbolic facts are language representations that provide interpretations of the way things are. They may or may not possess a referent in social or material reality. Today, symbolic facts include such entities as worldview, ideologies, myths, interpretive frames, ideographs, perspectives, speech codes, and rhetorical visions. (Cragan & Shields 1998: 322)
  • Berger, C. R., & Calabrese, R. J. 1975. Some explorations in initial interaction and beyond: Toward a developmental theory of interpersonal communication. Human Communication Research 1(2): 90-112.
    This paper provides a theoretical perspective for dealing with the initial entry stage of interpersonal interaction. The seven axioms and 21 theorems presented suggest a set of research priorities for studying the development of interpersonal relationships. The paper concludes with a discussion of some of the problems to be considered if the theory is to be extended beyond the initial stages of interaction.
  • Griffith, B. C. 1989. Understanding science: Studies of communication and information. Communication Research 16: 600-614.
    A diverse group of researchers and scholars has achieved a better understanding of social and cognitive processes, general throughout science. The key elements proved to be communication and information. Communication is the only general scientific behavior; other behaviors are mostly specific and technical. Information and its representations are its principal and general artifacts. This article explores the development of theory and the discovery of some strong empirical relationships among measured communication and information that, in turn, capture important features of social process and cognitive change in science.
  • Flew, Anthony 1985. Thinking about social thinking: The philosophy of the social sciences. New York: Basil Blackwell.
    Rationalizing human behavior is our most compelling pastime. We are all disposed to offer and accept insufficient evidence and invalid arguments when these seem to support conclusions that we merely wish were true. We need to know how clearly about our social thinking and how to resist the allure of self-deception, everyone skeptical about or confused by the findings of the social sciences will appreciate Antony Flew's crisp analysis of the methodological flaws and systematic misunderstandings corrupting their content and application. Thinking About Social Thinking seeks to establish what can and cannot be learned from such studies, indicating where good work has been ignored, or much-needed work has yet to be done. Flew's clear and incisive arguments are illustrated with abundant examples and references -- many entertaining, others surprising. Flew issues a refreshing, impassioned warning against the perils of complacent, muddled thinking and false but comfortable conclusions.


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