Global Comm. section 2 (2 of 3)

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  • Today: we carry on with our discussion. The constructive side.
  • I will call it the “phenomenological-inferential” model of c. (for a number of reasons – schutz + sperber & Wilson) The starting point of a phenomenological theory of communication is the notion that communication is only possible because human beings are capable of producing signification. Semiologists define ‘signification’ as the act that unites a signifier with a signified – an expression with a certain content – the outcome being what they call a ‘sign’. It is therefore the act (or process) through which actual experience transcends itself and functions as a sign of something other: that little hole in the snow is not only a hole but becomes for me an imprint, an index that a fox may have passed by.
  • In other words, signification is the source of meanings, the act whereby they are formed. Or, even more generally, it is the moment when being suspends its causal bond with the surrounding world, distances itself from the relation of mere stimulus/response, and becomes able to interpret stimuli and react to them in a free and unexpected way. I see smoke and think fire.
  • Remember this case and the little child. Signification creates sets of possibilities for action, and this distinguishes the human agency from mechanisms: smoke is no longer something that irritates my eyes; it is also, and above all, something that signals the existence of a fire to me.
  • Consider this new example: To ride a bike To crash into a car To hear the sound of a car horn
  • Now, let’s consider more closely the classic and general example of smoke as a sign of fire. This is not an act of communication. But neither is it a case of causal interaction with surrounding people. Let’s assume that we see the smoke coming out of the windows of the flat above ours. It is not actually the smoke that forces us out of the house. The smoke is relevant as a vehicle of a content that is something else: the burning. That is, in semiotic terms, the smoke is a sign of fire. The smoke does not force us out of the house until we have understood it as a vehicle of meanings, as a meaningful event. And this happens through an act of signification. Whereas when one burns oneself on a flame one immediately withdraws the hand, even before one understands what happened.
  • Another, similar example (by Paul Watzlawick).
  • To summarize As you can see, we turn back to what I said yesterday: our body of past experiences is what enable us to produce acts of signification by encountering new experiences.
  • So, we can also state that… To be meaningful = to find a place in the horizon of past experiences To fit in our (personal) world (when it doesn’t happen, the new experience remains meaningless).
  • These consequences are the most important issues. 1) If meaning is the result of a process of signification by an experiencing subject, then in communication…
  • Smoke can be sign for a burning wood. If the receiver is a European of the 20° century. But it can also be a sign for to launch an attack – if the receiver is a cow boy or an American indian of the 19° century.
  • 2) (as a consequence of 1): One cannot not communicate – i.e., it isn’t possible not to be interpreted by somebody else. Any perceivable behaviour, including the absence of action, has the potential to be interpreted by other people as having some meaning Even if someone is sitting quietly, seemingly not responding to, nor interacting with, their external environment, they are still participating in an activity of communication. No matter how one may try, one cannot not communicate. Activity or inactivity, words or silence all have message value: they influence others. (- not physically, but through the production of meanings).
  • “ The man at a crowded lunch counter who looks straight ahead, or the airplane passenger who sits with his eyes closed, are both communicating that they do not want to speak to anybody or be spoken to, and their neighbors usually “get the message” and respond appropriately by leaving them alone. This, obviously, is just as much an interchange of communication as an animated discussion. ” (P. W.)
  • 3) If we look at the same issue from the point of view of things… Example: to go into a university lecture-hall. Student vs. teacher: Different perceptions, different sets of meaning Where to go (favourite place) What to do (roles) How to feel There exist no “chair” – my chair, the university chair, the chair I steadily stumbled in, my grandfather’s chair, etc.
  • Ex.: different apperception of classroom vs. canteen (same objects, desk vs. table).
  • As you can see now, this is a meaningful set. We will see it is also a set of communication
  • Smoke/fire Cloud/rain Sea-smell, snow-smell Track/animal
  • Now we can finally answer our first and main question: what does it mean to communicate? Let’s summarize our starting point.
  • Example: If I say to my pretty colleague “look, it’s raining outside” – what is happening? Is it a communication set? What am I communicating? no matter of the fact whether is raining or not Hey, look, he is smart the guy! Maybe I will give him my mobile telephone number
  • So communication is not at all a passing on Communication is… To communicate is not to transmit messages, but to transform reality in which one lives, so that one’s interlocutor is able to produce acts of signification similar to those one desires: if one wants someone to pass the water at the table, one must modify the physical environment (by emitting sounds, by altering the position of one’s body or of objects: for example, by holding one’s glass out) so that the other will realize that one wants to drink. Esample N. 2: “I am thirsty” Handing on an empty glass Water pitcher
  • Newspaper Please forget the truth issue to communicate doesn’t have anything to do with truth it has to do with relationship reliability helpfulness
  • Global Comm. section 2 (2 of 3)

    1. 1. <ul><li>Communication in the Era of Globalization </li></ul>
    2. 2. <ul><li>Paolo Volonté </li></ul><ul><li>Sociologia dei processi culturali </li></ul><ul><li>Politecnico di Milano </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>http://paolovolonte.wordpress.com </li></ul>
    3. 3. <ul><li>Communication in the Era of Globalization </li></ul>Today: A New Model of Communication
    4. 4. Human beings are capable of producing signification. Semiologists define “signification” as the act that unites a signifier with a signified – an expression with a certain content – the outcome being what they call a “sign”. The “phenomenological-inferential model” of communication
    5. 6. Human beings are capable of producing signification. Semiologists define “signification” as the act that unites a signifier with a signified – an expression with a certain content – the outcome being what they call a “sign”. Signification is the source of meanings, the act whereby they are formed. The “phenomenological-inferential model” of communication
    6. 8. The “phenomenological-inferential model” of communication
    7. 10. «If the foot of a walking man hits a pebble, energy is transferred from the foot to the stone; the latter will be displaced and will eventually come to rest again in a position which is fully determined by such factors as the amount of energy transferred, the shape and weight of the pebble, and the nature of the surface on which it rolls.» The “phenomenological-inferential model” of communication
    8. 11. The “phenomenological-inferential model” of communication «If, on the other hand, the man kicks a dog instead of the pebble, the dog may jump up and bite him. In this case the relation between the kick and the bite is of a very different order. It is obvious that the dog takes the energy for his reaction from his own metabolism and not from the kick. What is transferred, therefore, is no longer energy, but rather information. In other words, the kick is a piece of behavior that communicates something to the dog, and to this communication the dog reacts with another piece of communication-behavior.» (Paul Watzlawick, Pragmatics of Human Communication )
    9. 12. The human being is endowed with that special kind of expertise we call the faculty of signification . It allows her/him to reprocess her/his response to the surrounding world on the basis of the body of experiences s/he accumulated in the course of her/his life. The “phenomenological-inferential model” of communication
    10. 13. Signification = act of interrelating the current experience with the heritage of past experiences as a whole: a message (or a situation) is meaningful to us insofar as it acquires a specific arrangement in the context of our overall experience of the surrounding world. The “phenomenological-inferential model” of communication
    11. 14. <ul><li>Meaning relies primarily on the receiver (it isn’t a matter of the sender nor of the message itself). </li></ul>Some consequences The “phenomenological-inferential model” of communication
    12. 16. <ul><li>The “first axiom of communication” (P. Watzlawick) is the impossibility of not communicating . </li></ul>a) Meaning relies primarily on the receiver (it isn’t a matter of the sender nor of the message itself). The “phenomenological-inferential model” of communication Some consequences
    13. 18. <ul><li>The world we live in is not made out of things, it is made out of meanings (meaningful situations, meaningful objects, etc.). </li></ul><ul><li>Meaning relies primarily on the receiver (it isn’t a matter of the sender nor of the message itself). </li></ul><ul><li>The “first axiom of communication” (P. Watzlawick) is the impossibility of not communicating . </li></ul>The “phenomenological-inferential model” of communication Some consequences
    14. 21. <ul><li>Meaning relies primarily on the receiver (it isn’t a matter of the sender nor of the message itself). </li></ul><ul><li>The “first axiom of communication” (P. Watzlawick) is the impossibility of not communicating . </li></ul><ul><li>c) The world we live in does not consist of things, it consists of meanings (meaningful situations, meaningful objects, etc.) . </li></ul><ul><li>The faculty of signification is independent from the occurrence of a state of communication. Signification precedes communication . </li></ul>The “phenomenological-inferential model” of communication Some consequences
    15. 23. <ul><li>What does it mean to communicate? </li></ul>Starting point: in our world signification is a universal feature, while communication is not. Signification is the same as living, communication is just a limited feature of living. Signification is previously here when communication begins, it comes before, it precedes communication. The “phenomenological-inferential model” of communication
    16. 25. <ul><li>What does it mean to communicate? </li></ul>Starting point: in our world signification is a universal feature, while communication is not. Signification is the same as living, communication is just a limited feature of living. Signification is previously here when communication begins, it comes before, it precedes communication. Communication is thus the accomplishment of conducts that are able to affect the process of signification of the other, aiming at urging him toward a desired behaviour (or state of mind). The “phenomenological-inferential model” of communication
    17. 26. « Communication is a process involving two information-processing devices. One device modifies the physical environment of the other. As a result, the second device constructs representations similar to representations already stored in the first device » (Sperber and Wilson) The “phenomenological-inferential model” of communication
    18. 27. <ul><li>What does it mean to communicate? </li></ul>Communicating means performing actions in order to modify the behaviour of the other appealing to his/her faculty of signification. The “phenomenological-inferential model” of communication
    19. 28. <ul><li>What does it mean to communicate? </li></ul>To communicate means to modify the physical environment of the Other so that they will realise what we want them to realise. The “phenomenological-inferential model” of communication

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