Robert Craig suggests that communication should be viewed as a practical discipline; theory is developed to solve real world problems.Craig identifies seven established traditions of communication theory. Description, what questions do they ask about the process of communication, variations in field
Cognitive – What you do in a communication situation depends not just on stimulus response patters but on mental operations used to manage information
Communication as a system of information processingArtificial intelligence: Illustrates the way feedback makes information processing possible in our heads and on our laptops.
Basic system theory – ideas outlined in Cybernetics
Communication as artful public addressRhetoric: The art of using all available means of persuasion, focusing upon lines of argument,organisation of ideas, language use and delivery in public speaking
Aristotle: Persuaders could make use of a variety of rhetorical tools, such as style, arrangement of ideas, delivery and proof of arguments
Communication Theory (Critical Approaches I)
7 TRADITIONS OF COMMUNICATION THEORY
Emphasizes the scientific perspective.
Scholars believe that communication truths can be discovered by
careful, systematic observation that predict cause-and-effect
Researchers focus on what is without their personal bias of what ought
Theorists check data through surveys or controlled experiments, often
calling for longitudinal empirical studies.
Focuses on the individual as a socialized entity, a part of a network of
people, but still independent in their actions
Focus on individual social behaviour, psychological
variables, individual effects, personalities and traits, perception and
Share a common concern for behaviour and for the personal traits and
cognitive processes that produce behaviour
Persuasion and attitude change
How individuals plan message strategies
How receivers process message information
Effects of messages on individuals
Questions about communication process
Can we predict individual communication behaviour?
How does an individual take into account, accommodate, and adapt to different
By what logic do people make decisions about the types of messages they wish
VARIATIONS IN SOCIO-PSYCHOLOGICAL
Behavioural – How people behave in communication situations
Cognitive – How individuals acquire, store and process information
in a way that leads to behavioural outputs
Biological – Our traits, ways of thinking, and behaviours are wired in
biologically and derive not from learning or situational factors, but
from inborn neurobiological influences
Cybernetics: Tradition of complex systems in which interacting
elements influence one another.
Any part of a system is always constrained by its dependence on other
parts, and this pattern of interdependence organises the system itself.
System cannot remain alive without importing new resources in the
form of inputs. Takes inputs from the environment, processes the,, and
creates outputs that are put back into the environment.
In addition to interdependence, systems involve self-regulation and
control. Systems monitor, regulate and control their own outputs to
Within cybernetics, communication is understood as a system of
parts, or variables, that influence one another, shape and control the
character of the overall system, and achieve balance and change.
The study of information processing, feedback and control in
Theorists seek to answer the questions:
How does the system work?
What could change it?
How can we get the bugs out?
5 VARIATIONS IN CYBERNETIC TRADITION
Basic System Theory
General System Theory
BASIC SYSTEM THEORY
Depicts systems as structures that can be analysed from the outside.
You can manipulate the system by tinkering with the inputs
Contrary to idea that one thing causes another in a linear fashion. How
things impact one another in circular way, how systems maintain
control, how balance is achieved and how feedback loops can maintain
balance and create change
Originates in the work of Claude Shannon in telecommunications
Transmission of signals from one part of a system to others through
Quantifies the uncertainty in messages and calculates the amount of
redundancy necessary to counteract noise and make possible the
accurate flow of messages through a system.
GENERAL SYSTEM THEORY
Biologist, Ludwig von Bertalanffy
Broad, multidisciplinary approach to knowledge
Shows how things in many different fields are similar to one another
because of shared system principles
Recognises the universal nature of all types and deals with
commonalities among systems as seemingly diverse as economic
growth, biolgical development and social movement
Observers can never see how a system will work by standing outside
the system itself because the observer is always engaged cybernetically
with the system being observed.
You affect and are affected by a system whenever you observe it.
Also known as Cybernetics of Knowing – Knowledge is a product of
between the knower and the known.
What we observe in a system is determined in part by the categories
and methods of
observation, which in turn are affected by what is seen.
6 FEATURES OF RHETORICAL TRADITION
A conviction that speech distinguishes humans from other animals.
A confidence in the efficacy of public address.
A setting of one speaker addressing a large audience with the
intention to persuade.
Oratorical training as the cornerstone of a leader’s education.
An emphasis on the power and beauty of language to move people
emotionally and stir them to action.
Rhetoric was the province of males.
RHETORIC IN ANCIENT TIMES
Oral with no technology
to achieve purposive ends (passing laws, making judicial decisions)
Done in formal settings for particular purposes, not seen as occurring
in everyday communication
Audience immediately present
5 CANONS OF RHETORIC
Development of the substance of the speech
Structure of the speech/ordering of rhetorical
Verbal ornamentation of speech using
techniques such as rhetorical figures
Vocal qualities and physical movements used
by the Rhetor
Used to recall information for a speech