Acquired belief system (usually based on social and cultural traditions; and these affect preferred EPISTEMOLOGIES, or WAYS OF KNOWING. Our culture highly validates scientific approaches to decision-making, but within our culture are sub-cultures that highly validate other ways of knowing, including religious)
Area or focus of investigation (e.g. interpersonal, group, media communication)
Approaches to Knowledge (2)
Paradigms are fundamental models or frames of reference that we use to organize our observations and reasoning. They may be implicit. Paradigms lie behind theories . They are ways of looking that may be more or less useful. Examples include Marxism or Structural-functionalism.
Approaches to Knowledge (3)
Theories are systematic sets of interrelated statements that are intended to explain aspects of social life. Theories start with facts and concepts (abstract elements that represent classes of phenomena such as “juvenile delinquency”) and variables (concepts that are variable, e.g. gender varies between male, female).
Theories identify relationships (patterns) between facts, concepts and variables, and develop explanations for these patterns, explanations that can be tested through observation or other methodologies. Theories yield hypotheses , precise predictions about how things did happen or how they will happen in the future.
Approaches to Knowledge
Methodologies are ways of establishing whether theories do or do not represent reality in ways that command the respect of the majority of thinking people. They vary from highly quantitative (e.g. systematic sampling of large populations; experimental) to highly qualitative (e.g. ethnographic observation of a small, closed community), and often combine the two.l
Paradigms in Social and Communication Research (1)
“ Objective” Paradigms
Early positivism : society best understood through application of scientific, objective observation rather than in terms of moral categories
Social-psychological : communication truths are discovered by careful, systematic observation, including the “who says what to whom with what effect” framework
Cybernetic : communication is the link that connects separate parts of any system; focuses on efficiency of information processing, including feedback on past performance
2. “ Interpretive” Paradigms
Interpretive paradigm : subjective viewpoints, meaning and intentionality
Symbolic interactionism : human behavior develops through interactions with others, our perceptions of others and our perceptions of how others see us.
Ethnomethodology : people continuously create social structure, seeking to make meaning of the life.
Phenomenology : understanding people, society requires us to focus on people’s perceptions and interpretations of their own subjective experience
Semiotic : communication is a process of sharing meaning through signs, including words, but extending to indices, icons etc
Post-positivism : both quantitative and qualitative methods are legitimate; use of multiple methods enhances explanations
Conservative Paradigms (tend to be “objective”)
Social Darwinism : society evolving in a positive way over time
Structural functionalism : society is an organism in which every part is either functional or dysfunctional for the whole
Radical Paradigms (tend to be “interpretive”)
Conflict paradigms : society best understood through social class relations
Feminism : how gender differences relate to the rest of social organization
Semiotic: communication is a process of sharing meaning through signs, including words, but extending to indices, icons etc
Socio-cultural: communication is the creation and enactment of social reality; as people talk, they produce and reproduce culture
Critical: starts from the premise that history is best characterized by processes of oppression, through language, media and science.
Focus in Communication Research
Language and social interaction
Media and cultural studies
Performance studies: looks at how performers interpret culturally authored scripts and collaborate with audiences. This incorporates the study of rhetoric or public address
Applied communication: diagnosis and solution of practical problems that hinder people’s ability to achieve communication goals. Incorporates ethical considerations: issues of truth, accuracy, responsibility.
Health communication: sub-set of applied; raises issues concerning hierarchization between medical professionals and patients