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# Griffin livro caps_introdutorios_fernando_ilharco

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### Griffin livro caps_introdutorios_fernando_ilharco

2. 2. CHAPTER 1: LAUNCHING YOUR STUDY OF COMMUNICATION THEORY 3From The Big Book of Hell © 1990 by Matt Groening. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of Pantheon Books, a division of Random House, NY. Courtesy of Acme Features Syndicate. tion, I was intrigued by her unexpected use of the nontechnical term hunch. Would it therefore be legitimate to entitle the book you’re reading Communication Hunches? She assured me that it would, quickly adding that they should be “informed hunches.” So for Burgoon, a theory consists of a set of systematic, informed hunches about the way things work. In the rest of this section, I’ll examine the three key features of Burgoon’s notion of a theory. First, I’ll focus on the idea that theory consists of a set of hunches. But a set of hunches is only a starting point. Second, I’ll discuss what it means to say that those hunches have to be
3. 3. 4 OVERVIEW informed. Last, I’ll highlight the notion that the hunches have to be systematic. Let’s look briefly at the meaning of each of these core concepts of theory. A Set of HunchesTheory If a theory is a set of hunches, it means we aren’t yet sure we have the answer.A set of systematic, in- When there’s no puzzle to be solved or the explanation is obvious, there’s noformed hunches about need to develop a theory. Theories always involve an element of speculation, orthe way things work. conjecture. Being a theorist is risky business because theories go beyond accepted wisdom. Once you become a theorist you probably hope that all thinking people will eventually embrace the trial balloon that you’ve launched, but when you first float your theory, it’s definitely in the hunch category. By referring to a plural “set of hunches” rather than a single “hunch,” Bur- goon makes it clear that a theory is not just one inspired thought or an isolated idea. The young theorist in the cartoon may be quite sure that dogs and bees can smell fear, but that isolated conviction isn’t a theory. A developed theory offers some sort of explanation. For example, how are bees and dogs able to sniff out fright? Perhaps the scent of sweaty palms that comes from high anxiety is qualitatively different than the odor of people perspiring from hard work. A theory will also give some indication of scope. Do only dogs and bees possess this keen sense of smell, or do butterflies and kittens have it as well? Theory construction involves multiple hunches. Informed Hunches Bormann’s description of creating communication theory calls for a careful, self-conscious analysis of communication phenomena, but Burgoon’s definition asks for more. It’s not enough simply to think carefully about an idea; a theo- rist’s hunches should be informed. Working on a hunch that a penny thrown from the Empire State Building will become deeply embedded in the sidewalk, the young theorist has a responsibility to check it out. Before developing a theory, there are articles to read, people to talk to, actions to observe, or exper- iments to run, all of which can cast light on the subject. At the very least, a communication theorist should be familiar with alternative explanations and interpretations of the type of communication they are studying. (Young Theo- rist, have you heard the story of Galileo dropping an apple from the Leaning Tower of Pisa?) Pepperdine University communication professor Fred Casmir’s description of theory parallels Burgoon’s call for multiple informed hunches: Theories are sometimes defined as guesses—but significantly as “educated” guesses. Theories are not merely based on vague impressions nor are they acciden- tal by-products of life. Theories tend to result when their creators have prepared themselves to discover something in their environment, which triggers the process of theory construction.4 Hunches That Are Systematic Most scholars reserve the term theory for an integrated system of concepts. A theory not only lays out multiple ideas, but also specifies the relationships among
5. 5. 6 OVERVIEW theory to guide us through unfamiliar territory. In that sense this book of theories is like a scenic atlas that pulls together 32 must-see locations. It’s the kind of travel guide that presents a close-up view of each site. I would caution, however, that the map is not the territory.6 A static theory, like a still photograph, can never fully portray the richness of interaction between people that is constantly chang- ing, always more varied, and inevitably more complicated than what any theory can chart. As a person intrigued with communication, aren’t you glad it’s this way?WHAT IS COMMUNICATION? To ask this question is to invite controversy and raise expectations that can’t be met. Frank Dance, the University of Denver scholar credited for publishing the first comprehensive book on communication theory, cataloged more than 120 def- initions of communication—and that was more than 40 years ago.7 Communication scholars have suggested many more since then, yet no single definition has risen to the top and become the standard within the field of communication. When it comes to defining what it is we study, there’s little discipline in the discipline. At the conclusion of his study, Dance suggested that we’re “trying to make the concept of communication do too much work for us.”8 Other communication theorists agree, noting that when the term is used to describe almost every kind of human interaction, it’s seriously overburdened. Michigan Tech University communication professor Jennifer Slack brings a splash of reality to attempts to draw definitive lines around what it is that our theories and research cover. She declares that “there is no single, absolute essence of communication that ade- quately explains the phenomena we study. Such a definition does not exist; nei- ther is it merely awaiting the next brightest communication scholar to nail it down once and for all.”9 Despite the pitfalls of trying to define communication in an all-inclusive way, it seems to me that students who are willing to spend a big chunk of their col- lege education studying communication deserve a description of what it is they’re looking at. Rather than giving the final word on what human activities can be legitimately referred to as communication, this designation would highlight the essential features of communication that shouldn’t be missed. So for starters I offer this working definition: Communication is the relational process of creating and interpreting messages that elicit a response.CommunicationThe relational process of To the extent that there is redeeming value in this statement, it lies in drawingcreating and interpreting your attention to five features of communication that you’ll run across repeatedlymessages that elicit a re- as you read about the theories in the field. In the rest of this section I’ll flesh outsponse. these concepts. 1. Messages Messages are at the very core of communication study. University of Colorado communication professor Robert Craig says that communication involves “talking and listening, writing and reading, performing and witnessing, or, more generally, doing anything that involves ‘messages’ in any medium or situation.”10
11. 11. 12 OVERVIEWA SECOND LOOK Recommended resource: Gregory Shepherd, Jeffrey St. John, and Ted Striphas (eds.), Com- munication as . . . Perspectives on Theory, Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA, 2006. Diverse definitions of communication: Frank E.X. Dance, “The Concept of Communica- tion,” Journal of Communication, Vol. 20, 1970, pp. 201–210. Focus on messages: George Gerbner, “Mass Media and Human Communication Theory,” in Frank E.X. Dance, Human Communication Theory: Original Essays, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, 1967, pp. 40–60. Communication as human symbolic interaction: Gary Cronkhite, “On the Focus, Scope and Coherence of the Study of Human Communication,” Quarterly Journal of Speech, Vol. 72, No. 3, 1986, pp. 231–246. Theories of communication as practical: J. Kevin Barge, “Practical Theory as Mapping, Engaged Reflection, and Transformative Practice,” Communication Theory, Vol. 11, 2001, pp. 5–13. Integration of scientific and humanistic theories: Karl Erik Rosengren, “From Field to Frog Ponds,” Journal of Communication, Vol. 43, No. 3, 1993, pp. 6–17. Multidimensional view of theory: James A. Anderson and Geoffrey Baym, “Philosophies and Philosophic Issues in Communication, 1995–2004,” Journal of Communication, Vol. 54, 2004, pp. 589–615. Differences in theoretical scope: Ernest Bormann, Communication Theory, Sheffield, Salem, WI, 1989, pp. 81–101.