Monday, 12 March 2012


Traditions of Communication Theory
 theories and perspectives shape the field of communication studies

-these can be divided up into seven categories

1.Cybernetic or Information Theory (transmission)
2-7 All constitutive:
3.The Phenomenological Tradition          
7.Critical Theory
TWO MODELS:Transmission (informational) - examines process of sending/receiving messages or transferring information from one mind to another.

Constitutive model- process of production and reproduction of shared meaning

The Information or Cybernetic theory of Communication
  Shannon and Weaver Bell Laboratories 1949

research-useful for how as a designer your work makes effective communication.
1.TECHNICAL:Accuracy, systems of encoding and decoding, compatibility of systems/need for specialist equipment or knowledge
2.SEMANTIC:Precision of language, what language to use
3.EFFECTIVENESS:Does the message affect behaviour the way we want it to?
As the citizens of less developed countries are increasingly viewed through the prism of consumerism, control of their values and purchasing patterns becomes increasingly important to multinational firms.
At its peak in mid-1990s, Baywatch was watched by more than 1 billion people a week in nearly 150 countries.
But what was communicated?

-Semantics: addresses what a sign stands for. Dictionaries are semantic reference books.
-Syntactics: is the relationships between signs.  Almost always part of a larger sign system referred to as codes.
-Pragmatics: studies the practical use and effects of signs.

Semiotics examines signs as if they are part of a language.
-Structuralists adopted language as their model in exploring a much wider range of social phenomena:  i. e. culturally shared codes
-Lévi-Strauss for ethnography; myth, kinship rules and totemism;
-Lacan for the unconscious; psychology, the subjective aspects of signification, language is first of all a foreign one
-Barthes for the 'grammar' of narrative;
-Julia Kristeva declared that 'what semiotics has discovered... is that  the major constraint affecting any social practice lies in the fact that it
signifies; i.e. that it is articulated like a language'

-Researching how we make meaning within any given situation and how art/design is read within that situation.
No language-even a visual one if self explanatory, language must be learnt

-Danger due to proximity of a place where aircraft fly frequently at low altitude over the road.
-Drivers of cars are obliged to use the road at the entrance of which this sign is placed.
-Drivers of cars are forbidden from driving in this area

The Phenomenological Tradition
process of knowing through direct experience
phenomenon refers to the appearance of an object, event or condition in one’s perception.
makes lived experiences basic data of reality. 
-Merleau-Ponty  The theory of the body schema is, implicitly, a theory of perception  in which "our own body is in the world as the
heart is in the organism: it keeps the visible spectacle constantly alive, it breathes life into it and sustains it inwardly, and with it
forms a system
The weakness of Merleau-Pontys position is grounded in his attachment to semiotics. 

The Corporeal Turn
St Thomas by Caravaggio
basic physical nature of communication rests in the fact we inhabit a body and that our senses are dominated by touch

Language is seen as part of that system existing as as neuronal pathways that are linked within the brain. The key is a physiological classification of coding and encoding.
Three schools of the phenomenological tradition:
Classical phenomenology:
EDWARD HUSSERL:world can be experienced, through bracketing, the putting aside of bias without the knower bringing his or her own categories to bear. This is often criticised as being an impossible task.
phenomenology of perception:
Maurice Merleau-Ponty:contemporary phenomenology rejects the objectivist view and posits that we can only know things through our personal, subjective relationship to things
Hermeneutic phenomenology:the interpretation of being, extends the subjective tradition even further by incorporating the communication system itself as a further interpretive mechanism.

Rhetoric:Useful for thinking through how you are going to achieve certain effects on the reader or audience.
- the art of rhetoric can only be learned by practice
- technical problems
- lacks good empirical evidence that its persuasive techniques actually work as intended
Metaphor; from the Greek: metaphora, meaning "transfer" is language that directly compares seemingly unrelated subjects or activities.

-metaphor enables us to grasp new concepts and remember things by creating associations. 

The Sociopsychological tradition:

The study of the individual as a social being

Three key areas


The sociocultural tradition
-defining yourself in terms of your identity with terms such as father, Catholic, student, lesbian, Asian, Yorkshire etc.- defining yourself in terms of your identity as part of a group-group frames your cultural identity
-context is seen as being crucial to forms and meanings of communication

Critical Communication Theory:
-The basis of critical communication  theory rests on two aspects of Hegels thinking.
-In the Phenomenology of the Mind the critique was an examination of various forms and sources of deceptions and illusions that the mind 
is subject to on its journey to absolute knowledge.
-Hegel believed that human history has a purpose. -assumes that we are driven by a common interest in freedom and therefore we seek to break free of all systems of overt and hidden constraints.


Critical Communication Theory

A synthesis of philosophy and social science.

Critical theory approaches to communication examine social conditions in order to uncover hidden structures.
Useful to use when examining the ways the media produce encoded messages, the ways audiences decode those messages, and
the power base apparent in these processes.
Key thinkers and schools of thought: Frankfurt School, Michel Foucault, Pierre Bourdieu, disability studies and feminist theory
However: Critical theory easily confuses facts and values, as well as imposing a dogmatic ideology. Critical theory questions the
rational validity of all authority, tradition, and conventional belief, therefore as a theory it can be difficult to use if the main purpose 
            of research is to examine simply the fact that communication is taking place and how well it is working. 

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