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10th Edition

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Chapter  1—Launching Your Study of Communication Theory

  1. What is a theory and what does it do?
    1. Ernest Bormann defined theory as “an umbrella term for all careful, systematic, and self-conscious discussion and analysis of communication phenomena.”
    2. This definition is purposefully broad, but may not be helpful in providing a direction for study.
    3. Judee Burgoon suggested that a theory is nothing more than “a set of systematic informed hunches about the way things work.”
      1. Set of hunches.
        1. If a theory is a set of hunches, it means we aren’t yet sure we have the answer.
        2. Theories always involve an element of speculation or conjecture.
        3. A theory is not just one inspired thought or an isolated idea.
        4. Good theories define their key terms.
        5. A theory offers some sort of explanation.
        6. A theory offers some indication of scope.
      2. Informed hunches.
        1. A theorist’s hunches should be informed.
        2. A theorist has a responsibility to check it out.
        3. A theorist should be familiar with alternate explanations and interpretations.
      3.  Hunches that are systematic.
        1. A theory is an integrated system of concepts, laying out both relevant terms and their relationship to one another.
        2. A theory ties together ideas into a unified whole.
      4. Images of theory.
        1. Theory might also be understood using descriptive metaphors.
        2. Karl Popper described theories as nets, a tool used to grasp an elusive concept.
        3. Theories can be seen as lenses which help focus attention.
        4. A communication theory is a kind of map that’s designed to help you navigate some part of the topography of human relationships.
  2. What is communication?
    1. No singular definition of communication is agreed upon by communication scholars.
    2. Frank Dance, who published the first comprehensive book on communication theory, concluded that we’re “trying to make the concept of communication do too much work for us.”
    3. Communication is the relational process of creating and interpreting messages that elicit a response.
      1. Messages are at the core of communication study.
        1. Communication theories deal specifically with messages.
        2. The term text is synonymous with a message.
      2. Communicators usually make conscious choices about a message’s form and substance.
      3. Messages are symbolically encoded and decoded by people based on the meanings they assign.
      4. Communication is an on-going relational process between two or more people, which both affects their interpretation of the messages as well as the nature of the connection between the people. Messages are polysemic and subject to different interpretations.
      5. For whatever reason, if a message fails to stimulate any cognitive, emotional, or behavioral reaction, it seems pointless to refer to it as communication.
  3. An arrangement of ideas to aid comprehension.
    1. The arrangement of the book’s chapters is explained.
    2. The theory chapters are divided into four major divisions: interpersonal communication, group and public communication, mass communication, and cultural context.
  4. Chapter features to enliven theory
    1. Personal application will make theory doubly interesting and memorable for you.
    2. We also make a consistent effort to link each theory with its creator(s).
    3. Don’t overlook the three features at the end of each chapter.
    4. In every chapter we include a cartoon for your learning and enjoyment.
 

Chapter  2—Talk About Theory

  1. Introduction.
    1. Behavioral scientists are scholars who apply the scientific method to describe, predict, and explain recurring forms of human behavior.
    2. Rhetoricians are scholars who study the ways in which symbolic texts can be used to identify with people, or to persuade people towards a certain view. They interpret texts.
  2. Two communication scholars view a heartwarming ad.
    1. Glenn: An objective approach.
      1. Social scientists wonder why the commercial produced such a positive sentiment and whether it resulted in action.
      2. They want to explain and predict human behavior.
      3. For scientists, it’s not enough to identify a theory that seems to apply to the situation. We want an objective test to find out if a theory is faulty.
      4. In science, theory and research walk hand in hand.
    2. Marty: An interpretive approach.
      1. The entire ad is structured by an archetypal mythic pattern of birth-death-rebirth.
      2. The ad activates emotions by incorporating the form of the cycle within a mini-narrative.
  3. Objective or interpretive: Sorting out the labels.
    1. The objective and interpretive approaches to communication study differ in starting point, method, and conclusion.
    2. Scholars who do objective study are scientists concerned with behavior and attitudes.
    3. Scholars who do interpretive study are concerned with meaning, and reflect a range of ideological and methodological positions. As a result, there is no single unifying or accepted label, although the authors uses the term “interpretive scholars” to apply to the entire groups and specific labels for subgroups as appropriate.
  4. Ways of knowing: Discovering truth or creating multiple realities?
    1. Epistemology is the study of the nature of knowledge.
    2. Scientists assume that truth is singular.
      1.   Reality is accessible through our senses.
      2. No one person can know it all, so individual researchers pool their findings and build a collective body of knowledge about how the world works.
      3. Good theories are mirrors of nature, true as long as conditions remain the same.
    3. Interpretive scholars seek truth as well, but many interpreters regard that truth as socially constructed through communication.
      1. Truth is largely subjective and meaning is highly interpretive.
      2. Knowledge is always viewed from a particular standpoint.
      3. The knower cannot be separated from the known.
      4. Texts never interpret themselves.
      5. Multiple meanings or multiple versions of truth are acceptable.
      6. Successful interpretations are those that convince others.
  5. Human nature: Determinism or free will.
    1. Scientists stress the forces that shape human behavior; interpretive scholars focus on conscious choices made by individuals
    2. Determinists argue that heredity and environment determine behavior.
      1. Behavioral scientists usually describe human conduct as occurring “because of” forces outside the individual’s awareness..
      2. Behavior is the response to a prior stimulus.
    3. In contrast, interpretive scholars tend to use explanatory phrases such as “so that” or “in order to” because they attribute a person’s action to conscious intent.
      1. They focus on conscious choices of individuals, not on why choices are made.
      2. They believe that significant decisions are value laden.
    4. As individual freedom increases, predictability of behavior decreases.
  6. The highest value: Objectivity or emancipation?
    1. When we talk about values, we are discussing priorities, questions of relative worth.
    2. Social scientists value objectivity; personal values should not distort human reality.
    3. Interpretive scholars seek to expand the range of free choice; knowledge is never neutral.
    4. Scientists seek effectiveness; interpreters focus on participation.
  7. The purpose of theory: Universal laws or guides for interpretation?
    1. Scientists seek universal laws; interpreters strive to interpret individual texts.
    2. Scientists test theories; interpreters explore the web of meaning constituting human existence.
    3. Scientists seek prediction; interpretive scholars strive for meaning.
  8. Objective or interpretive: Why is it important?
    1. You cannot fully understand a theory without knowing its assumptions about truth, human nature, the purpose of theory, and its values.
    2. It is helpful when thinking through theories to have a way of organizing them into objective and interpretive worldviews.
    3. Understanding objective and interpretive points can help you decide what direction to take your coursework.
    4. Theorists in both camps believe their area of work will improve relationships and society.
  9. Plotting theories on an objective-interpretive scale: A metatheoretical way of comparing theories featured in the book. Objective and interpretive labels anchor the ends of a continuum, with many theories in between.
 

Chapter  3—Weighing the Words

  1. Introduction.
    1. Not all theories are equally effective.
    2. The utility of a theory may be judged by applying the appropriate criteria used by behavioral scientists and a wide range of interpretive scholars to weigh the theories of their colleagues.
  2. What makes an objective theory good?
    1. Scientific standard 1: Prediction of future events. Prediction in physical science is more accurate than in social science, where it is based on probability.
    2. Scientific standard 2: Explanation of the data.
      1. A good theory makes sense out of disturbing situations or draws order out of chaos.
      2. It focuses attention on crucial variables and away from irrelevant data.
      3. It explains what is happening and why.
      4. It explains both the process and the results.
    3. Scientific standard 3: Relative simplicity. The rule of parsimony dictates that all things being equal, we accept the simpler explanation over the more complex.
    4. Scientific standard 4: Hypotheses that can be tested. If there is no way to prove a theory false, then any claim that it’s true seems hollow.
      1. They shy away from the put-up-or-shut-up standard—they aren’t testable.
      2. They are never-miss shots.
    5. Scientific standard 5: Practical utility.
      1. This requirement is consistent with social psychologist Kurt Lewin’s claim that there is nothing as practical as a good theory.
      2. Don't dismiss a theory as impractical unless you understand it.
      3. The wider the scope of a theory’s application, the greater its practical utility.
    6. Scientific standard 6: Quantitative Research
      1. Scientists favor quantifiable experiments and surveys.
      2. The idea that numbers are more reliable than words runs deep in the scientific community.
      3. Through experiments, scientists seek to establish a cause-and-effect relationship by manipulating an independent variable in a tightly controlled situation in order to determine its effect on a dependent variable.
      4. Surveys rely on self-report data to discover who people are and what they think, feel, and intend to do—the key components of our attitudes.
  3. What makes an interpretive theory good?
    1. Interpretive standard 1: Clarification of values.
      1. Theorists acknowledge their own values.
      2. They seek to unmask the ideology behind messages.
      3. Of course, not all interpretive scholars occupy the same moral ground, but there are core values most of them share.
      4. Many theorists value individual liberty and equality. Krippendorff's Ethical Imperative argues that we should grant others that occur in our construction the same autonomy we practice constructing them.
      5. Many interpretive scholars value equality as highly as they do freedom.
      6. Critical theorists, in particular, insist that scholars can no longer remain ethically detached from the people they are studying, or from the political and economic implications of their work
    2. Interpretive standard 2: New understanding of people.
      1. Interpretive scholarship is good when it offers fresh insight into the human condition.
      2. Rhetorical critics, ethnographers, and other humanistic researchers seek to gain new understanding by analyzing the activity that they regard as uniquely human—symbolic interaction.
      3. Whereas science wants objective explanation, humanism desires subjective understanding.
      4. Klaus Krippendorff's Self-Referential Imperative states that, as theorists, we are both the cause and the consequence of what we observe.
    3. Interpretive standard 3: Aesthetic appeal.
      1. A theory's form can be as captivating as its content.
      2. Although the elegance of a theory is in the eye of the beholder, clarity and artistry seem to be the two qualities needed to satisfy this aesthetic requirement.
    4. Interpretive standard 4: A community of agreement. A theory must have widespread scrutiny and usage.
      1. We can identify a good interpretive theory by the amount of support it generates within a community of scholars who are interested and knowledgeable about the same type of communication.
      2. Interpretation of meaning is subjective, but whether the interpreter’s case is reasonable or totally off the wall is ultimately decided by others in the field.
    5. Interpretive standard 5: Reform of society.
      1. They want to expose and publicly resist the ideology that permeates the accepted wisdom of a culture.
      2. Theory challenges cultural assumptions.
      3. The aim of critical scholarship is to unmask communication practices that create or perpetuate power imbalances in an attempt to stimulate change.
      4. To the extent that the theory stimulates students to rethink, respond, and react to this “free-market” process, it is a good interpretive theory.
    6. Interpretive standard 6: Qualitative research
      1. While scientists use numbers to support their theories, interpretive scholars use words.
      2. Textual analysis and ethnography are the two methods most often used to study how humans use signs and symbols to create and infer meaning.
      3. Textual analysis describes and interprets the characteristics of messages.
      4. Through ethnography, participant-observers experience a culture's web of meaning.
  4. Contested turf and common ground among theorists.
    1. Although the differences that separate objective and interpretive theorists are meaningful, they can friendly with each other across their lines of difference.
      1. It requires mutual respect for each other’s interest and recognition of their intellect.
      2. It requires a mutual appreciation that scientific theorists are comparing multiple messages or groups while interpretive theorists are analyzing a single message or group.
      3. The two sets of six criteria are not as different as they might seem.
        1. Both prediction and value clarification look to the future.
        2. An explanation can further understanding of motive.
        3. Simplicity has aesthetic appeal.
        4. Hypothesis testing is a way of achieving a community of agreement.
        5. Theories that reform are practical.
        6. Qualitative and quantitative research both reflect a commitment to learning more about communication.
    2. It is important for the two communities to at least be familiar with the other’s work.
    3. Although all theories featured in this book have merit, they also have weaknesses elucidated by the standards set forth in this chapter.

Chapter  4—Mapping the Territory

  1. Introduction.
    1. Communication scholars hold widely divergent views as to what communication is.
    2. Robert Craig thinks practical application is a great starting point for developing a tool to help discriminate between theories.
    3. Communication theory is the systematic and thoughtful response of communication scholars to questions posed as humans interact with one another—the best thinking within a practical discipline.
    4. Craig identifies seven established traditions of communication theory.
  2. The socio-psychological tradition: Communication as interaction and influence.
    1. This tradition epitomizes the scientific perspective.
    2. Scholars believe that communication truths can be discovered by careful, systematic observation that predicts cause-and-effect relationships.
    3. Researchers focus on what is without their personal bias of what ought to be.
    4. Theorists check data through surveys or controlled experiments, often calling for longitudinal empirical studies.
    5. Griffin, Ledbetter, and Sparks wondered if there’s a way to predict which college friendships would survive and thrive after graduation.
      1. The practical question the authors sought to answer was, "What predicts friendship that lasts over time?"
      2. They approached this question from the socio-psychological tradition because it’s designed to identify cause-and-effect patterns.
  3. The cybernetic tradition: Communication as a system of information processing.
    1. Norbert Wiener coined the term cybernetics to describe the field of artificial intelligence.
      1. Wiener’s concept of feedback anchored the cybernetic tradition.
      2. Communication is the link separating the separate parts of any system.
    2. Theorists seek to answer the questions: How does the system work? What could change it? How can we get the bugs out?
    3. University of Washington communication professor Malcolm Parks studies personal relationships by asking both partners to describe their social network.
      1. The practical question Parks sought to answer was, "How are friendships shaped by other people that the friends know?"
      2. He approached this question from the cybernetic tradition because it’s designed to understand how information flows through social networks.
  4. The rhetorical tradition: Communication as artful public address.
    1. Greco-Roman rhetoric was the main communication theory until the twentieth century.
    2. Six features characterize the tradition.
      1. A conviction that speech distinguishes humans from other animals.
      2. A confidence in the efficacy and supremacy of public address.
      3. A setting of one speaker addressing a large audience with the intention to persuade.
      4. Oratorical training as the cornerstone of a leader’s education.
      5. An emphasis on the power and beauty of language to move people emotionally and stir them to action.
      6. Rhetoric was the province of males.
    3. Readers of Aristotle’s The Rhetoric may be surprised to find a systematic analysis of friendship.
    4. Rochester Institute of Technology rhetorician Keith Jenkins examined how Obama appealed to friendship in his 2008 campaign rhetoric.
      1. The practical question Jenkins sought to answer was, "How did Obama persuade people by appealing to close relationships?"
      2. He approached this question from the rhetorical tradition because it’s designed to understand how language changes the minds of others.
  5. The semiotic tradition: Communication as the process of sharing meaning through signs.
    1. Semiotics is the study of signs.
    2. Words are a special kind of sign known as a symbol.
    3. I. A. Richards was an early scholar of semiotics.
      1. His “proper meaning superstition” identifies the mistaken belief that words have a precise meaning.
      2. Meanings don’t reside in words or other symbols, but in people.
    4. Communication professor Michael Monsour (Metropolitan State University of Denver) recognized that the word intimacy used in the context of friendship might mean different things to different people, and the disparity could lead to confusion.
      1. The practical question Monsour sought to answer was, "What does the word intimacy mean to people in the context of friendship?"
      2. He approached this question from the semiotic tradition because it’s designed to understand how the meanings of symbols change between people and across time.
  6. The socio-cultural tradition: Communication as the creation and enactment of social reality.
    1. Communication produces and reproduces culture.
    2. Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf pioneered this tradition.
      1. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis of linguistic relativity states that the structure of a culture’s language shapes what people think and do.
      2. Their theory counters the notion that languages are neutral conduits of meaning.
    3. It is through language that reality is produced, maintained, repaired, and transformed.
    4. Patricia Sias, a communication professor at the University of Arizona, takes a socio-cultural approach when studying friendships that form and dissolve in organizational settings.
      1. The practical question Sias sought to answer was, "What communication practices shape deteriorating workplace friendships?"
      2. She approached this question from the socio-cultural tradition because it’s designed to understand how communication creates social realities.
  7. The critical tradition: Communication as a reflective challenge of unjust discourse.
    1. Critical theory derives from the German Frankfurt School.
    2. The Frankfurt School rejected Karl Marx’s economic determinism, but embraced the Marxist tradition of critiquing society.
    3. Critical theorists challenge three features of contemporary society.
      1. The control of language to perpetuate power imbalances.
      2. Critical theorists are suspicious of empirical work that scientists say is ideologically free, because science is not the value-free pursuit of knowledge that it claims to be.
      3. Critical theorists see the “culture industries” of television, film, music, and print media as reproducing the dominant ideology of a culture and distracting people from recognizing the unjust distribution of power within society.
    4. Southwestern University communication professor Davi Johnson Thornton investigated the image of an interracial friendship on the TV show Psych.
      1. Her critical analysis of the show argues that its particular portrayal of black/white friendship might actually reinforce racism rather than work against it.
      2. The practical question Thornton sought to answer was, "What ideologies of interracial friendship are produced through the TV show Psych?"
      3. She approached this question from the critical tradition because it’s designed to critique how language and the mass media perpetuate unjust differences in power.
  8. The phenomenological tradition: Communication as the experience of self and others through dialogue.
    1. Phenomenology refers to the intentional analysis of everyday life from the standpoint of the person who is living it.
    2. The phenomenological tradition places great emphasis on people’s perceptions and interpretations of their own subjective experiences.
    3. Phenomenological tradition answers two questions: Why is it so hard to establish and sustain authentic human relationships? How can this problem be overcome?
    4. Ohio University professor Bill Rawlins works within this tradition as he studies friendship by taking an in-depth look at the actual conversations between friends.
      1. The practical question Rawlins sought to answer was, "How do people create mutual understanding in their friendships?"
      2. He approached this question from the phenomenological tradition because it’s designed to probe how people develop authentic human relationships.
  9. Fencing the field of communication theory.
    1. These seven traditions have deep roots in communication theory.
    2. They have been mapped with respect to the objective/interpretive dichotomy.
    3. Some theories are hybrids that arise from multiple traditions.
    4. They might not cover every approach to communication theory—thus the addition of the ethical tradition.
  10. The ethical tradition: Communication as people of character interacting in just and beneficial ways.
    1. Since ancient Greece, scholars have grappled with the obligations of the communicator.
    2. The NCA adopted a “Credo for Communication Ethics,” which tackles difficult questions about communication and ethics: Is it always our duty to be honest? What limits, if any, should exist on freedom of expression? When does persuasion cross the line into intimidation and coercion?
    3. Craig has responded to our proposed ethical tradition by noting that, to define it fully, we'd have to explain how it compares to every other tradition.
    4. Concern for ethics spreads across the objective-interpretive landscape.
    5. The ethical tradition encourages every other tradition to consider what is right or wrong, what is good or bad, and who is virtuous or evil.
    6. Craig’s framework of seven traditions helps us make sense of the great diversity in the field of communication. 

Chapter  5—Symbolic Interactionism

  1. Introduction.
    1. Social constructionists believe that our thoughts, self-concept, and the wider community we live in are created through communication—symbolic interaction.
    2. Symbolic interaction refers to language and gestures a person used in anticipation of the way others will respond.
    3. George Herbert Mead, an early social constructionist, was an influential philosophy professor at the University of Chicago, but he never published his ideas.
    4. After his death, his students published his teachings in Mind, Self, and Society.
    5. Mead's chief disciple, Herbert Blumer, further developed his theory.
      1. Blumer coined the term symbolic interactionism, and claimed that the most human and humanizing activity in which people are engaged is communicating.
      2. The three core principles of symbolic interactionism are concerned with meaning, language and thinking.
      3. These principles lead to conclusions about the formation of self and socialization into a larger society.
  2. Meaning: The construction of social reality.
    1. First principle: Humans act toward people or things on the basis of the meanings they assign to those people or things.
    2. Once people define a situation as real, it’s very real in its consequences.
    3. Where a behavioral scientist would see causality as stimulus ? response, for an interactionist it would look like stimulus? interpretation ? response.
  3. Language: The source of meaning.
    1. Second principle: Meaning arises out of the social interaction people have with each other.
    2. Meaning is not inherent in objects.
    3. Meaning is negotiated through the use of language, hence the term symbolic interactionism.
    4. As human beings, we have the ability to name things.
      1. Symbols, including names, are arbitrary signs.
      2. By talking with others, we ascribe meaning to words and develop a universe of discourse.
    5. Symbolic naming is the basis for society—the extent of knowing is dependent on the extent of naming.
    6. Symbolic interactionism is the way we learn to interpret the world.
      1. A symbol is a stimulus that has a learned meaning and a value for people.
      2. Our words have default assumptions.
      3. Significant symbols can be nonverbal as well as linguistic.
  4. Thinking: The process of taking the role of the other.
    1. Third principle: An individual's interpretation of symbols is modified by his or her own thought process.
    2. Symbolic interactionists describe thinking as an inner conversation, or minding.
      1. Minding is a reflective pause.
      2. We naturally talk to ourselves in order to sort out meaning.
    3. Whereas animals act instinctively and without deliberation, humans are hardwired for thought.
      1. Humans require social stimulation and exposure to abstract symbol systems to have conceptual thought.
      2. Language is the software that activates the mind.
    4. Humans have the unique capacity to take the role of the other.
  5. The self: Reflections in a looking glass.
    1. Self cannot be found through introspection, but instead through taking the role of the other and imaging how we look from the other’s perspective. This mental image is called the looking-glass self and is socially constructed, or as the Mead-Cooley hypothesis claims, “individuals’ self-conceptions result from assimilating the judgments of significant others.”
    2. Self is a function of language.
      1. One has to be a member of a community before consciousness of self sets in.
      2. The self is always in flux.
    3. Self is an ongoing process combining the “I” and the “me.”
      1. The “I”—the subjective self—sponsors what is novel, unpredictable, and unorganized about the self.
      2. The “me”—the objective self—is the image of self seen through the looking glass of other people's reactions.
      3. Once your “I” is known, it becomes your “me.”
  6. Society: The socializing effect of others' expectations.
    1. The composite mental image of others in a community, their expectations, and possible responses is referred to as the generalized other.
    2. The generalized other shapes how we think and interact with the community.
    3. The “me” is formed through continual symbolic interaction.
    4. The “me” is the organized community within the individual.
  7. A sampler of applied symbolic interaction.
    1. Creating reality.
      1. Erving Goffman develops the metaphor of social interaction as a dramaturgical performance.
      2. The impression of reality fostered by performance is fragile.
    2. Meaning-ful research.
      1. Mead advocated study through participant observation, a form of ethnography.
      2. Experimental and survey research are void of the meaning of the experience.
    3. Generalized other—the tragic potential of symbolic interaction: Negative responses can consequently reduce a person to nothing.
    4. Naming.
      1. Name-calling can be devastating because it forces us to view ourselves through a warped mirror.
      2. These grotesque images are not easily dispelled.
    5. Self-fulfilling prophecy.
      1. Each of us affects how others view themselves.
      2. Our expectations evoke responses that confirm what we originally anticipated, resulting in a self-fulfilling prophecy.
    6. Symbol manipulation—symbols can galvanize people into united action.
  8. Ethical reflection: Levinas’ responsive “I”
    1. Levinas insists that the identity of our “I” is formed by the way we respond to others, not how others respond to me as Mead contends.
    2. We all have an ethical echo of responsibility to take care of each other that has existed since the beginning of history.
    3. To not recognize our human responsibility when we look at the face of the Other is to put our identity at risk.
  9. Critique: Setting the gold standard for four interpretive criteria.
    1. Mead meets clarification of values, offers a new understanding of people, uses ethnographic research, and has generated a community of agreement.
    2. Mead does not call for a reform of society. In fact, he says little about power, domination, or emotion. The theory has fluid boundaries, vague concepts, and an undisciplined approach that lacks aesthetic appeal.
    3. Mead overstates his case when he maintains that language is the distinguishing factor between humans and other animals.

Chapter  6—Coordinated Management of Meaning

  1. Introduction.
    1. Barnett Pearce and Vernon Cronen regret the fact that most communication theorists and practitioners hold to a transmission model of communication.
    2. They’d say that seeing communication as a transmission of ideas looks through communication rather than directly at it.
    3. In contrast, Pearce and Cronen offer the coordinated management of meaning (CMM) as a theory that looks directly at the communication process and what it’s doing.
    4. They believe that communication is a constitutive force that shapes all of our ideas, our relationships, and whole social environment.
  2. First Claim: Our communication creates our social worlds
    1. Selves, relationships, organizations, communities, and cultures are the “stuff” that make up our social worlds.
    2. For CMM theorists, our social worlds are not something we find or discover. Instead, we create them.
    3. Barnett Pearce summed up this core concept of the theory by asserting that persons-in-conversation co-construct their own social realities and are simultaneously shaped by the worlds they create.
    4. Using M.C. Escher’s lithograph, Bond of Union, the authors draw three parallels.
      1. The experience of persons-in-conversation is the primary social process of human life.
      2. The figures in the lithograph are bound together regardless of what they are talking about; the content is less important than the way they say it.
      3. The endless ribbon in the Bond loops back to reform both persons-in-conversation, demonstrating reflectivity.
    5. As social constructionists, CMM researchers see themselves as curious participants in a pluralistic world.
      1. They are curious rather than certain.
      2. They are participants rather than spectators.
      3. They live in pluralist worlds rather than seek a singular Truth.
  3. Second claim: The stories we tell differ from the stories we live
    1. CMM uses the term story to refer to much of what we say when we talk with others about our social worlds—ourselves, others, relationships, organizations, or the larger community
    2. CMM theorists distinguish between stories lived and stories told.
      1. Stories told are tales we tell ourselves and others in order to make sense of the world around us and our place in it.
      2. CMM calls this process coherence, the making and managing of meaning.
      3. The management of meaning involves the adjustment of our stories told to fit the reality of stories lived—or vice versa.
      4. Stories lived are the co-constructed actions we perform with others.
      5. Coordination takes place when we fit our stories lived into the stories lived by others in a way that makes life better.
    3. Stories told: Making and managing meaning.
      1. The stories we tell or hear are never as simple as they seem.
      2. LUUUUTT is an acronym to label the seven types of stories.
        1. Lived stories
        2. Unknown stories
        3. Untold stories
        4. Unheard stories
        5. Untellable stories
        6. Story Telling
        7. Stories Told
      3. There is no correct story or correct interpretation of it. CMM theorists created the LUUUUTT model to demonstrate the complexity of social situations.
    4. Stories lived: Coordinating our patterns of interaction
      1. There’s almost always a difference or tension between our stories told and stories lived.
      2. Pearce and Cronen are particularly concerned with the patterns of communication we create with others.
      3. The serpentine model can map out the history and provide insight into persons-in conversation.
      4. Logical force is the moral pressure or sense of obligation a person feels to respond in a given way.
      5. CMM describes this type of conversational sequence as an unwanted repetitive pattern (URP) which neither party wants to repeat but they keep reliving it.
      6. Coordination refers to the “process by which persons collaborate in an attempt to bring into being their vision of what is necessary, noble, and good and to preclude the enactment of what they fear, hate, or despise.”
      7. Pearce used the phrase coordination without coherence to refer to people cooperating, but for quite different reasons.
  4. Third Claim: We get what we make.
    1. Since CMM claims we create our social worlds through our patterns of communication, it follows that we get what we make.
    2. Barnett Pearce urged that we ask three questions when we reflect on past interactions: how did that get made? What are we making? What can we do to make better social worlds?
    3. The authors illustrate the principle with an extended example between Em and Bea.
    4. A bifurcation point is the turning point in a conversation where what one says next affects the unfolding pattern of interaction and takes it in a different direction.
  5. Fourth Claim: Get the pattern right, create better social worlds
    1. Barnett Pearce admitted he couldn’t be specific on what to do to make social worlds better.
    2. Barnett and Kim Pearce describe better social worlds as replete with caring, compassion, love, and grace among its inhabitants—not the stated goal of most communication theories.
    3. The theorists claim is that one does not need to be a saint, a genius, or an orator to create a better social worked. The communicator, however, must be mindful.
    4. Mindfulness is a presence or awareness of what participants are making in the midst of their conversation.
    5. For an overall remedy to unsatisfactory or destructive patterns of interaction, CMM theorists advocate dialogue, a specific form of communication that they believe will create a social world where we can live with dignity, honor, joy, and love.
    6. Barnett and Kim Pearce have adopted Jewish philosopher Martin Buber’s perspective on dialogue.
  6. Ethical reflection: Martin Buber’s Dialogic Ethics.
    1. Buber, a German Jewish philosopher, focused his ethical approach on the relationship between people rather than on moral codes of conduct
    2. He contrasted two types of relationships—I-It versus I-Thou.
      1. I-It treats the other person as an object to be manipulated.
      2. I-Thou treats our partner as the very one we are.
    3. For Buber, dialogue is a synonym for ethical communication.
    4. Buber used the image of the narrow ridge to illustrate the tension of dialogic communication.
    5. Duquesne University communication ethicist Ron Arnett notes that “living the narrow ridge philosophy requires a life of personal and interpersonal concern, which is likely to generate a more complicated existence than that of the egoist or the selfless martyr.”
  7. Critique: Highly practical as it moves from confusion to clarity.
    1. By offering such diagnostic tools as the serpentine and LUUUUTT models of communication, CMM promotes a deeper understanding of people and of the social worlds they create through their conversation.
    2. Unlike many theories which seek only to describe communication patterns, CMM theorists and the researchers they inspire make it clear that their aim is to make better social worlds.
    3. Although many objective theorists dismiss CMM because of its social constructionist assumptions, CMM has generated widespread interest and acceptance within the community of interpretive communication scholars.
    4. If changing destructive patterns of communication in whole communities strikes you as a bit of a stretch, you should know that pursuit of this goal is why Barnett and Kim Pearce founded the Public Dialogue Consortium and the CMM Institute.
    5. CMM scholars and practitioners use a wide range of qualitative research methods—textual and narrative analyses, case studies, interviews, participant observation, ethnography, and collaborative action research
    6. The aesthetic standard for an interpretive theory has two components—artistry and clarity. For some who have immersed themselves in CMM literature both Barnett and Kim Pearce’s often poetic language reflects the beauty of the human soul and the world as it could be. Yet for others, lack of clarity is a real problem. 

Chapter  7—Expectancy Violations Theory

  1. Personal space expectations: conform or deviate?
    1. Judee Burgoon defines personal space as the invisible, variable volume of space surrounding an individual that defines that individual’s preferred distance from others.
      1. The size and shape of our personal space depends upon cultural norms and individual preferences.
      2. Personal space is always a compromise between the conflicting approach-avoidance needs that we as humans have for affiliation and privacy.
    2. Edward Hall coined the term proxemics to refer to the study of people’s use of space as a special elaboration of culture.
      1. He believed that most spatial interpretation is outside our awareness.
      2. He believed that Americans have four proxemic zones.
        1. Intimate distance: 0 to 18 inches.
        2. Personal distance: 18 inches to 4 feet.
        3. Social distance: 4 to 12 feet.
        4. Public distance: 12 to 25 feet to infinity.
      3. He maintained that effective communicators adjust their nonverbal behavior to conform to the communicative rules of their partners.
    3. Burgoon suggests that under some circumstances, violating social norms and personal expectations is a superior strategy to conformity.
  2. An applied test of the original model.
    1. According to Burgoon’s early model, crossing over the “threat threshold” that forms the boundary of the intimate distance causes physical and psychological discomfort.
    2. Noticeable deviations from what we expect cause a heightened state of arousal and spur us to review the nature of our relationship with a person.
    3. A person with “punishing” power should observe proxemic conventions or stand slightly farther away than expected.
    4. An attractive communicator benefits from a close approach.
    5. Burgoon’s original experiments failed to confirm her theory, but she has continued to refine her approach to expectancy violations.
    6. The current version is an excellent example of ideas continually revised as a result of empirical disconfirmation.
  3. A convoluted model becomes an elegant theory.
    1. Burgoon dropped the concept of the threat threshold.
    2. She has substituted “an orienting response” or a mental “alertness” for “arousal.”
    3. Arousal is no longer a necessary link between expectancy violation and communication outcomes such as attraction, credibility, persuasion, and involvement, but rather a side effect of a partner’s deviation.
    4. She has dropped the qualifier “nonverbal” because she believes the principles of EVT apply to verbal interaction as well.
  4. Core concepts of EVT (expectancy violations theory).
    1. EVT offers a soft determinism rather than hard-core universal laws.
    2. Burgoon does, however, hope to link surprising interpersonal behavior and attraction, credibility, influence, and involvement.
    3. Expectancy.
      1. Expectancy is what is predicted to occur rather than what is desired.
      2. Expectancy is based on context, relationship, and communicator characteristics.
      3. Burgoon believes that all cultures have a similar structure of expected communication behavior, but that the content of those expectations differs from culture to culture.
    4. Violation valence.
      1. The violation valence is the positive or negative value we place on the unexpected behavior, regardless of who does it.
      2. If the valence is negative, do less than expected.
      3. If the valence is positive, do more than expected.
      4. Although the meanings of most violations can be determined from context, some nonverbal expectancy violations are equivocal.
      5. For equivocal violations, one must refer to the communicator reward valence.
    5. Communicator reward valence.
      1. The communicator reward valence is the sum of the positive and negative attributes that the person brings to the encounter plus the potential he or she has to reward or punish in the future.
      2. Puzzling violations force victims to search the social context for clues to their meaning and that’s when communication reward valence comes into play.
      3. Burgoon says that all things being equal, the nature of the violation will influence the response it triggers more than the reward potential of the one who did it.
      4. Communicator reward valence may loom large when it's especially strong either way (exceptionally positive or negative).
  5. Interactional Adaptation—Adjusting Expectations.
    1. Burgoon has recognized that “EVT does not fully account for the overwhelming prevalence of reciprocity that has been found in interpersonal interactions.”
    2. So she has reassessed EVT’s single-sided view of unexpected communication and now favors a dyadic model of adaptation.
      1. Interactional adaptation theory is an extension and expansion of EVT
      2. Interactional position encompasses three factors:
        1. Requirements—outcomes we all need to fulfill our basic needs to survive, be safe, belong, and have sense of self worth.
        2. Expectations—what we think really will happen.
        3. Desire—what we personally would like to see happen.
    3. Unlike EVT, IAT addresses how people adjust their behavior when others violate their expectations.
  6. Critique: A well-regarded work in progress.
    1. While we might wish for predictions that prove more reliable than a long-range weather forecast, a review of expectancy violations research suggests that EVT may have reached that point and be more accurate than other theories that predict responses to nonverbal communication.
    2. Despite problems, Burgoon’s theory meets five criteria for a good scientific theory (explanation, relative simplicity, testable, quantitative research, and practical advice) and recent research suggests improvement in the sixth criterion—prediction.

Chapter  8—Social Penetration Theory

  1. Introduction.
    1. Developed by social psychologists Irwin Altman and Dalmas Taylor, social penetration theory explains how relational closeness develops.
    2. Closeness develops only if individuals proceed in a gradual and orderly fashion from superficial to intimate levels of exchange as a function of both immediate and forecast outcomes.
  2. Personality structure: a multilayered onion.
    1. The outer layer is the public self.
    2. The inner core is one’s private domain.
  3. Closeness through self-disclosure.
    1. The main route to deep social penetration is through self-disclosure.
    2. With the onion-wedge model, the depth of penetration represents the degree of personal disclosure.
    3. The layers of the onion are tougher near the center.
  4. The depth and breadth of self-disclosure.
    1. Peripheral items are exchanged more frequently and sooner than private information.
    2. Self-disclosure is reciprocal, especially in early stages of relationship development.
    3. Penetration is rapid at the start, but slows down quickly as the tightly wrapped inner layers are reached.
      1. Societal norms prevent too much early self-disclosure.
      2. Most relationships stall before a stable intimate exchange is established.
      3. Genuine intimate exchange is rare but when it is achieved, relationships become meaningful and enduring.
      4. Sharing personal narratives, which tend to contain a carefully structured story, deeper emotion, and greater detail than other shared information, is a quick path to stronger bonds.
    4. Depenetration is a gradual process of layer-by-layer withdrawal.
    5. For true intimacy, depth and breadth of penetration are equally important.
  5. Regulating closeness on the basis of rewards and costs.
    1. Social penetration theory draws heavily on the social exchange theory of John Thibaut and Harold Kelley.
    2. If perceived mutual benefits outweigh the costs of greater vulnerability, the process of social penetration will proceed.
    3. Three important concepts are: relational outcome; relational satisfaction; and relational stability.
  6. Relational outcome: Rewards minus costs.
    1. Thibaut and Kelley suggest that people try to predict the outcome of an interaction before it takes place.
      1. The economic approach to determining behavior dates from John Stuart Mill’s principle of utility.
      2. The minimax principle of human behavior claims that people seek to maximize benefits and minimize costs.
      3. The higher we index a relational outcome, the more attractive the behavior that might make it happen.
    2. Social exchange theory assumes that people can accurately gauge the benefits of their actions and make sensible choices based on their predictions.
    3. As relationships develop, the nature of interaction that friends find rewarding evolves.
  7. Gauging relational satisfaction- The comparison level (CL).
    1. A person’s CL is the threshold above which an outcome appears attractive.
    2. One’s CL for friendship, romance, or family ties is pegged by one’s relational history, the baseline of past experience.
    3. Sequence and trends play large roles in evaluating a relationship.
  8. Gauging relational stability- The comparison level of alternatives (CLalt).
    1. The CLalt is the best relational outcomes currently available outside the relationship.
    2. While one’s CL is relatively stable over time, CLalt compares the options at the current moment.
    3. When existent outcomes slide below an established CLalt, relational instability increases.
    4. Social exchange theories have an economic orientation.
    5. The CLalt explains why people sometimes stay in unsatisfying relationships.
      1. Some women endure abuse because Outcome > CLalt.
      2. They will leave only when CLalt > Outcome.
    6. The relative values of Outcome, CL, and CLalt help determine one’s willingness to disclose.
      1. Optimum disclosure will occur when both parties believe that Outcome > CLalt > CL.
      2. A relationship can be more than satisfying if it is stable, but other satisfying options are also available (in case this relationship turns sour).
  9. Ethical reflection: Epicurus’ ethical egoism.
    1. Psychological egoism reflects many social scientists’ conviction that all of us are motivated by self-interest.
    2. Ethical egoism claims we should act selfishly.
    3. Epicurus emphasized the passive pleasures of friendship, good digestion, and above all, the absence of pain.
    4. Other philosophers (Thomas Hobbes, Adam Smith, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ayn Rand) echo the Epicurean call for selfish concern.
  10. Dialectics and the environment.
    1. Altman originally thought that openness is the predominant quality of relationship changes. The desire for privacy may counteract a unidirectional quest for intimacy.
    2. A dialectical model suggests that human social relationships are characterized by openness or contact and closedness or separateness between participants.
    3. Altman also identified the environment as a heuristic cue that might guide our decisions to disclose.
    4. Disclosing of one’s self may include both our cognitive space (our minds, thoughts) and our physical space or territory.
    5. Sandra Petronio’s Communication Privacy Management theory maps out the intricate ways people manage boundaries around their personal information.
  11. Critique: Pulling back from social penetration.
    1. Petronio thinks it’s simplistic to equate self-disclosure with relational closeness.
    2. She also challenges the theorists’ view of disclosure boundaries as being fixed and increasingly less permeable.
    3. Can a complex blend of advantages and disadvantages be reliably reduced to a single index?
    4. Are people so consistently selfish that they always opt to act strictly in their own best interest?
    5. Paul Wright believes that friendships often reach a point of such closeness that self-centered concerns are no longer salient.

Chapter  9—Uncertainty Reduction Theory

  1. Introduction.
    1. Charles Berger notes that the beginnings of personal relationships are fraught with uncertainties.
    2. Uncertainty reduction theory focuses on how human communication is used to gain knowledge and create understanding.
    3. Any of three prior conditions—anticipation of future interaction, incentive value, or deviance—can boost our drive to reduce uncertainty.
  2. Uncertainty reduction: To predict and explain.
    1. Berger’s emphasis on explanation (our inferences about why people do what they do) comes from the attribution theory of Fritz Heider.
    2. There are at least two types of uncertainty.
      1. Behavioral questions, which are often reduced by following accepted procedural protocols.
      2. Cognitive questions, which are reduced by acquiring information. Cognitive uncertainty is what Berger is addressing.
  3. An axiomatic theory: Certainty about uncertainty.
    1. Berger proposes a series of axioms to explain the connection between uncertainty and eight key variables.
    2. Axioms are traditionally regarded as self-evident truths that require no additional proof.
      1. Axiom 1, verbal communication: As the amount of verbal communication between strangers increases, the level of uncertainty decreases, and as a result, verbal communication increases.
      2. Axiom 2, nonverbal warmth: As nonverbal affiliative expressiveness increases, uncertainty levels will decrease. Decreases in uncertainty level will cause increases in nonverbal warmth.
      3. Axiom 3, information seeking: High levels of uncertainty cause increases in information-seeking behavior. As uncertainty levels decline, information-seeking behavior decreases.
      4. Axiom 4, self-disclosure: High levels of uncertainty in a relationship cause decreases in the intimacy level of communication content. Low levels of uncertainty produce high levels of intimacy.
      5. Axiom 5, reciprocity: High levels of uncertainty produce high rates of reciprocity. Low levels of uncertainty produce low levels of reciprocity.
      6. Axiom 6, similarity: Similarities between persons reduce uncertainty, while dissimilarities produce increases in uncertainty.
      7. Axiom 7, liking: Increases in uncertainty level produce decreases in liking; decreases in uncertainty produce increases in liking.
      8. Axiom 8, shared networks: Shared communication networks reduce uncertainty, while a lack of shared networks increases uncertainty.
  4. Theorems: The logical force of uncertainty axioms.
    1. Through pairing axioms, Berger creates 28 theorems.
    2. These 28 theorems suggest a comprehensive theory of interpersonal development based on the importance of reducing uncertainty in human interaction.
  5. Message plans to cope with uncertain responses.
    1. Berger concluded that most social interaction is goal-driven: we have reasons for saying what we say.
      1. Berger claims plans are hierarchically organized with abstract representations at the top of the hierarchy and progressively more concrete representation toward the bottom.
      2. Switching strategies at the top of the hierarchy causes changes down the hierarchy, altering behavior.
    2. Uncertainty is central to all social interaction.
    3. There is an interaction between uncertainty reduction theory and plan-based message production that suggests various strategies individuals use to cope with uncertainty and hedge against risk when deploying messages.
      1. Uncertainty reduction theorists have outlined four approaches we can use to reduce uncertainty.
        1. Using a passive strategy, we unobtrusively observe others from a distance.
        2. In an active strategy, we ask a third party for information.
        3. With an interactive strategy, we talk face-to-face with the other person and ask specific questions.
        4. The extractive strategy involves searching for information online.
      2. The complexity of a message plan is measured in two ways—the level of detail the plan includes and the number of contingency plans prepared in case the original one doesn’t work.
      3. Berger catalogs a series of planned hedges that allow a somewhat gracious retreat to “save face” when at least one of them miscalculated.
      4. The hierarchy hypothesis: When individuals are thwarted in their attempts to achieve goals, their first tendency is to alter lower-level elements of their message.
  6. Reducing uncertainty in ongoing relationships: Relational turbulence theory
    1. Can uncertainty also wreak havoc in ongoing relationships?
    2. Leanne Knobloch suggests that uncertainty in close relationships arises from whether we’re sure about our own thoughts, those of the other person, and the future of the relationship.
    3. Some life circumstances tend to generate relational uncertainty though it can occur at any point.
    4. Couples also experience partner interference as they learn to coordinate their individual goals, plans, and activities in ways that don’t annoy each other.
    5. In times of relational turbulence, we’re likely to feel unsettling emotions like anger, sadness, and fear.
    6. Over time, turbulence leads to even more uncertainty and interference, which then creates more turbulence—a vicious cycle that could threaten the health of the relationship.
    7. Knobloch’s research supports the relational turbulence theory across many types of romantic relationships, ranging from couples facing clinical depression to military spouses returning from deployment.
  7. Critique: Nagging doubts about uncertainty.
    1. Berger’s uncertainty reduction theory was an early prototype of what an objective theory should be and it continues to inspire a new generation of scholars today.
    2. As Berger himself admits, his original statement contained some propositions of dubious validity.
      1. Critics such as Kathy Kellermann consider theorem 17 particularly flawed.
      2. The tight logical structure of the theory doesn't allow us to reject one theorem without questioning the axioms behind it.
      3. In the case of theorem 17, axioms 3 and 7 must also be suspect.
      4. Kellermann and Rodney Reynolds challenge the motivational assumption of axiom 3.
      5. They also have undermined the claim that motivation to search for information is increased by anticipation of future interaction, incentive value, and deviance.
    3. Michael Sunnafrank challenges Berger’s claim that uncertainty reduction is the key to understanding early encounters.
      1. He believes that predicted outcome value more accurately explains communication in early encounters.
      2. Berger insists that you can't predict outcome values until you reduce uncertainty.
    4. Walid Afifi thinks both theories are too narrow. In his theory of motivated information management, he suggests we’re most motivated to reduce anxiety rather than uncertainty.
    5. Despite these problems, Berger's theory has stimulated considerable discussion within the discipline.

Chapter 10—Social Information Processing Theory

  1. Introduction.
    1. Rapid changes in communication technology over the past several decades have frustrated communication scholars seeking to understand what all of this means for interpersonal relationships.
    2. Walther initially developed SIP to understand how online communication shapes the development of interpersonal and group relationships.
    3. His experiments suggest that people can indeed form relationships online that are just as satisfying—in fact, sometimes even more satisfying—than their offline interactions.
  2. Online versus face-to-face: A sip instead of a gulp.
    1. Walther labeled his theory social information processing (SIP) because he believes relationships grow only to the extent that parties first gain information about each other and use that information to form impressions.
    2. It’s a chain of events that occurs regardless of the medium we’re using to communicate: we get information, we form an impression, and then the relationship grows.
    3. SIP focuses on the how the first link of the chain looks a bit different when communicating online.
    4. Although we can use these technologies to communicate with images and video, SIP focuses on online communication that is textual.
    5. Before SIP, many communication theorists shared a cues filtered out interpretation of online messages. They believed the lack of nonverbal cues would disrupt the process of gaining information and forming an impression.
    6. Flaming is use of hostile language that zings its target, creating a toxic climate for relationship development and growth.
    7. Walther doesn’t think the loss of nonverbal cues is necessarily fatal or even injurious to a well-defined impression of the other or the relational development it triggers.
    8. Two features of online communication provide a rationale for SIP theory.
      1. Verbal cues: CMC users can create fully formed impressions of others based solely on linguistic content of messages.
      2. Extended time: Though the exchange of social information is slower online versus face-to-face, over time the relationships formed are not weaker or more fragile.
  3. Verbal cues of affinity replace nonverbal cues.
    1. Based on Mehrabian’s seminal research on inconsistent messages, people gave nonverbal cues more weight when interpreting messages where verbal and nonverbal channels clash.
    2. Nonverbal cues become less powerful when they don’t conflict with the verbal message or when we’re conveying facts.
    3. Walter claims we can replace nonverbal cues with verbal messages that convey the same meaning.
    4. This ability to convert nonverbal cues into verbal meaning isn’t new; earlier examples include pen-pal relationships.
  4. Experimental support for a counter-intuitive idea
    1. Walther isn’t content to rely on anecdotes for support of his theory.
    2. Walther and his colleagues ran studies to test how online communicators pursue their social goals and if affinity can be expressed through a digital medium.
      1. In their study, the participants discussed a moral dilemma with a stranger via either online or face-to-face. The stranger was in actuality a research confederate told to pursue a specific communication goal. Half the confederates were told to interact in a friendly manner and the remaining pairs were told to interact in an unfriendly manner.
      2. The method of communication made no difference in the emotional tone perceived by the participants.
      3. Self-disclosure, praise, and explicit statements of affection successfully communicated warmth.
      4. In face-to-face interactions, participants relied on facial expression, eye contact, tone of voice, body position, and other nonverbal cues to communicate affiliation.
    3. Compared to visually-oriented channels, building warmth over texting might take longer.
  5. Extended time: The crucial variable in online communication.
    1. According to Walther, online communicators need a lot of time to build close connections.
    2. Rather than drinking a glass by taking big gulps, smaller sips will take more time.
    3. Over an extended period, the issue is not the amount of social information that can be conveyed online; rather, it’s the rate at which that information mounts up.
    4. Messages spoken in person take at least four times as long to say them online. This differential may explain why online interactions are perceived as impersonal and task-oriented.
    5. Since online exchanges convey messages more slowly, Walther advises users to send messages more often.
    6. Anticipated future interaction and chronemic cues may also contribute to intimacy on the Internet.
      1. People will trade more relational messages if they think they may meet again and this anticipated future interaction motivates them to develop the relationship.
      2. Walther believes that chronemic cues, or nonverbal indicators of how people perceive, use, or respond to issues of time, are never filtered out completely when communicating online.
    7. Walther claims that sometimes, online exchanges actually surpass the quality of relational communication that’s available when parties talk face-to-face.
  6. Hyperpersonal perspective: Closer online than in person.
    1. Walther uses the term hyperpersonal to label online relationships that are more intimate than if partners were physically together.
    2. He classifies four types of media effects that occur precisely because communicators aren’t face-to-face and have limited nonverbal cues.
      1. Sender: Selective self-presentation
        1. Through selective self-presentation, people who meet online have an opportunity to make and sustain an overwhelmingly positive impression.
        2. As a relationship develops, they can carefully edit the breadth and depth of their self-disclosure to conform to their cyber image, without worrying that nonverbal leakage will shatter their projected persona.
      2. Receiver: Overattribution of similarity
        1. Attribution is a perceptual process where we observe people’s actions and try to figure out what they’re really like.
        2. In the absence of other cues, we are likely to overattribute the information we have and create an idealized image of the sender.
      3. Channel: Communicating on your own time
        1. Many forms of online communication are asynchronous channels of communication, meaning that parties can use them nonsimultaneously—at different times.
        2. A benefit is the ability to edit when dealing with touchy issues, misunderstandings, or conflict between parties.
      4. Feedback: Self-fulfilling prophecy
        1. A self-fulfilling prophecy is the tendency for a person’s expectation of others to evoke a response from them that confirms what was anticipated.
        2. Self-fulfilling prophecy is triggered when the hyperpositive image is intentionally or inadvertently fed back to the other person.
        3. Beyond online dating, Walther suggests hyperpersonal communication may improve relationships between groups with a strong history of tension and conflict, such as Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims.
        4. Based on his research, Walther suggests that in order to ease tensions, communicators should focus on common tasks rather than group differences, allowing plenty of time for communication, and exclusively using text-only channels.
  7. The warranting value of information: What to trust?
    1. Hyperpersonal effects aren’t likely to occur when people don’t trust each other.
    2. Walther and his colleagues have examined how people evaluate the credibility of others through social media.
    3. Social media sites display two types of information—that controlled by the profile owner and that beyond the owner’s direct control.
    4. Walther’s investigation of the warranting value of personal information, or what he describes as “the perceived validity of information presented online with respect to illuminating someone’s offline characteristics,” examined what information is believed when posted online.
    5. Information is believed if it has warranting value. Does their online profile match their offline characteristics?
      1. Like email messages, whose content is under the sole control of the sender, information posted by a profile owner is low warrant information because he or she can manipulate it with ease.
      2. Since the profile owner can’t as easily manipulate what’s posted by friends, we’re more likely to accept such high warrant information as true.
    6. Walther’s experiments confirm that people trust high warrant information.
  8. Critique: A good objective theory in need of update.
    1. Because technology changes so rapidly, it’s difficult to craft and defend enduring theories of online communication.
    2. Yet in this train of high-tech innovation, SIP remains popular among communication scholars because it stacks up well against all the criteria for a good social science theory.
    3. However, the invention of smartphones and the subsequent explosion of social media may reduce the scope and validity of Walther’s theory.
    4. In contrast, the qualitative research of Sherry Turkle, Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT, suggests that the connectivity provided by mobile phones has unanticipated consequences that Walther hasn’t addressed in the two decades since he crafted his theory.
    5. She’s convinced this continuous distraction [by mobile technology] deflects us from that which makes us truly human—conversation, intimacy, and empathy.
      1. Turkle claims that for those brought up with Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, WhatsApp and other smartphone social apps, face-to-face conversation is becoming a lost art.
      2. In their increasing flight from conversation, people who log on to social media constantly give up the possibility of closeness or intimacy with a special few in order to make weak connections with hundreds of “friends.”
      3. Turkle believes the ability to feel what others feel is developed through face-to-face conversations, not through social media.

Chapter 11—Relational Dialectics

  1. Introduction
    1. Leslie Baxter’s theory of relational dialectics treats discourse as the essence of close ties.
    2. By focusing on talk, Baxter separates relational dialectics theory from many of the other interpersonal theories in this book.
    3. Relational dialectics is about the struggle between discourses, and these unceasing struggles are “located in the relationship between parties, produced and reproduced through the parties’ joint communicative activity.”
    4. Despite the fact that we tend to think of struggle and competition as detrimental to intimate relationships, Baxter believes good things emerge from competing discourses.
  2. Discourses that create meaning
    1. The central concept of relational dialectics theory is the discourse, or “a set of propositions that cohere around a given object of meaning.”
    2. To help make sense of the world of discourse, Baxter draws heavily on the thinking of 20th century Russian intellectual Mikhail Bakhtin.
    3. Bakhtin’s philosophy criticized monologue—a mode of talking that emphasizes one official discourse and silences all others.
    4. Bakhtin embraced dialogue as “a process in which unity and difference, in some form, are at play, both with and against one another.”
    5. Although Baxter believes discourses create any interpersonal connection, most of the recent research on the theory has investigated the family.
  3. Caught in a chain of utterances
    1. Talk reverberates with words spoken before, words yet to come, and words that speakers may never dare to voice.
    2. Baxter calls them utterances linked together in a chain.
    3. Baxter insists we consider discourses on two dimensions.
      1. The first dimension categorizes discourses by who speaks them: nearby (or proximal) discourses that occur between the mother and daughter versus distant discourses spoken by other people, such as third parties and people in the broader culture.
      2. The second dimension categorizes dimensions by time: already-spoken discourses in the past versus not-yet-spoken discourses anticipated in the future.
    4. Together, these intersect to form four ‘links’ in the utterance chain that create the utterance’s meaning.
    5. Bakhtin and Baxter believe dialectical tension provides an opportunity to work out ways to mutually embrace the conflict between unity with and differentiation from each other.
  4. Three common dialectics that shape relationships
    1. Across hundreds of interviews about close ties, Baxter heard people voice three recurring themes: integration–separation, stability–change, and expression–nonexpression.
    2. In her first iteration of the theory, she called these contradictions. She no longer prefers that word, since it may tempt people to think she’s talking about psychological conflict between different desires.
    3. Baxter thinks we have such internal motivations, but because she takes communication seriously, she thinks cultural discourses create and shape them.
    4. Baxter refers to these themes as discursive struggles or competing discourses.
    5. The Internal Dialectic describes the three dialectics as they shape the relationship between two people.
    6. The External Dialectic describes the dialectics as they create the relationship between two people and the community around them.
  5. Integration and separation.
    1. Within any given relationship, Baxter regards the discursive struggle between connection and autonomy as foundational.
    2. If one side prevails, the relationship loses.
    3. The discourses of integration and separation also address a pair’s inclusion with and seclusion from other people in their social network
  6. Stability and change.
    1. Without the spice of variety to season our time together, relationships become bland, boring, and, ultimately, emotionally dead.
    2. The external version of certainty/uncertainty is conventionality/uniqueness.
    3. Discourses of conventionality consider how a relationship is similar to other relationships, while discourses of uniqueness emphasize difference.
  7. Expression and nonexpression.
    1. The discourse of expression clashes with the discourse of nonexpression.
    2. Just as the openness-closedness dialectic is an ongoing discursive struggle within a relationship,couples and families also face choices about what information to reveal or conceal from third parties.
  8. How meaning emerges from struggles between discourses
    1. Not all discourses are equal: it’s common for some discourses to possess more prominence than others.
    2. Baxter and Bakhtin refer to powerful discourses as centrifugal or dominant (at the center) and those at the margins as centripetal or marginalized.
    3. Baxter draws on the discourse of the critical tradition to elaborate her view of power.
    4. Baxter chooses not to focus on the management of discourses because saying that people “manage” discourses “implies that contradictions, or discursive struggles, exist outside of communication.”
    5. She’d rather consider how patterns of talk position certain discourses as dominant or marginalized.
    6. Her work has identified two such overarching patterns, differentiated by time.
      1. In one pattern, competing discourses ebb and flow but never appear together, called diachronic separation.
      2. In contrast, synchronic interplay voices multiple discourses in the same time and place.
  9. Diachronic Separation: Different discourses at different times.
    1. According to Baxter, diachronic separation isn’t unusual.
    2. Simultaneous expression of opposing voices is the exception rather than the rule.
    3. Baxter has identified two typical patterns of diachronic separation:
      1. Spiraling inversion involves switches back and forth across time between two contrasting discourses, voicing one and then the other.
      2. Segmentation compartmentalizes different aspects of the relationship.
    4. Compared to the monologue of one dominant discourse, Baxter thinks diachronic separation is a step in the right direction.
  10. Synchronic Interplay: Different Discourses at the Same Time
    1. Baxter’s findings describe four forms of synchronic interplay, starting with those that are more like a monologue and moving to those that are more dialogic.
      1. Negating mentions a marginalized discourse in order to dismiss it as unimportant.
      2. Countering replaces an expected discourse with an alternative discourse.
      3. Entertaining recognizes that every discourse has alternatives
      4. Transforming combines two or more discourses, changing them into something new.
    2. Perhaps the highest form of transformation is the aesthetic moment: “a momentary sense of unity through a profound respect for the disparate voices in dialogue.”
  11. Dialogue creates our relational worlds
    1. Scholars of relational dialectics think communication creates and sustains relationships—in other words, the relationship exists in communication.
    2. Discursive struggles are what give interpersonal relationships their meaning.
    3. If Baxter, Mead, Pearce and Cronen are right, if the discourses voiced by partners change, so does their relationship.
    4. The ubiquity of such struggling discourses means that developing and sustaining a relationship is bound to be an unpredictable, unfinalizable, indeterminate process.
    5. Since a relationship is created through dialogue, it’s always in dialectical flux.
    6. This chaotic jumble of competing voices is far removed from such idyllic notions of communication as a one-way route to interpersonal closeness, shared meaning, or increased certainty.
  12. Ethical reflection: Sissela Bok’s Principle of Veracity.
    1. Baxter argues for a critical sensibility that’s suspicious of dominant voices, especially those that suppress marginalized discourses. She opposes any communication practice that ignores or gags another’s voice.
    2. Philosopher Sissela Bok believes lying can do that, but rejects an absolute prohibition of lying.
    3. Bok doesn’t view lies as neutral. She is convinced that all lies drag around an initial negative weight that must be factored into any ethical equation.
    4. Her principle of veracity asserts that, “truthful statements are preferable to lies in the absence of special consideration.”
    5. Bok contends that we need the principle of veracity because liars engage in a tragic self-delusion.
  13. Critique: Is relational dialectics theory just one discourse among many?
    1. It’s hard to identify an interpersonal communication theory in this book that Baxter doesn’t criticize.
      1. Baxter is particularly tough on scientific scholarship.
      2. It’s unclear how this marginalization of mathematical voices accords with her call for the emergence of new meaning from discourses in interplay.
    2. Relational dialectics theory stacks up quite well as an interpretative theory.
      1. The theory offers a new way to make sense out of close relationships.
      2. Leslie Baxter’s work has inspired a generation of relational dialectics scholars, and they’re continuing her work.
      3. By encouraging a diverse group of people to talk about their relationships, and taking what they say seriously, Baxter models the high value that Bakhtin placed on hearing multiple voices.
      4. Not only does Baxter listen to multiple voices, but her theory seeks to carve out a space where marginalized voices can be heard.
      5. The theory emphasizes the importance of qualitative work when using the theory.
      6. Baxter holds out the promise of an aesthetic ideal to which all of us can aspire—an image that could make slogging through the morass of struggling discourses feel less frustrating.

Chapter 12—Communication Privacy Management Theory

  1. Introduction.
    1. Petronio sees communication privacy management theory as a map of the way people navigate privacy.
    2. Privacy boundaries are barriers that determine how much information one shares with another.
    3. Petronio sees communication privacy management theory (CPM) as a description of a privacy management system that contains three main parts.
      1. The first part of the system, privacy ownership, contains our privacy boundaries that encompass information that we have but others don’t know.
      2. Privacy control, the second part of the system, involves our decision to share private information with another person.
      3. Privacy turbulence, the third part of the privacy management system, comes into play when managing private information doesn’t go the way we expect.
    4. Having a mental image of these three parts of the privacy management system is helpful in understanding the five core principles of Petronio’s CPM. The first four deal with issues of privacy ownership and control; the fifth involves privacy turbulence—the turmoil that erupts when rules are broken.
    5. There are five core principles of CPM:
      1. People believe they own and have a right to control their private information.
      2. People control their private information through the use of personal privacy rules.
      3. When others are told or given access to a person’s private information, they become co-owners of that information.
      4. Co-owners of private information need to negotiate mutually agreeable privacy rules about telling others.
      5. When co-owners of private information don’t effectively negotiate and follow mutually held privacy rules, boundary turbulence is the likely result.
  2. Ownership and control of private information: People believe they own and have a right to control their private information.
    1. Petronio prefers the term disclosure of private information in place of self-disclosure for four reasons.
      1. A lot of private information we tell others is not about ourselves.
      2. Self-disclosure is usually associated with intimacy, but there can be other motives for disclosure.
      3. It has a neutral connotation, whereas self-disclosure has a positive feel.
      4. It draws attention to the content of what is said and how the confidant responds.
    2. We regard private information as something we own.
      1. Petronio defines privacy as “the feeling one has the right to own private information.”
      2. Ownership conveys rights and obligations.
      3. Privacy boosts our sense of autonomy and makes us feel less vulnerable.
      4. Our sense of ownership motivates us to create boundaries that will control the spread of what we know.
  3. Rules for concealing and revealing: People control their private information through the use of personal privacy rules.
    1. An easy way to grasp what she means is to remember that people usually have rules for managing their private information.
    2. Five factors play into the development of a person’s unique privacy rules including culture, gender, motivation, context, and risk/benefit ratio.
      1. Cultures differ on the value of openness and disclosure.
      2. With regards to gender, popular wisdom suggests that women disclose more than men, yet research on this issue is mixed at best.
      3. Petronio emphasizes attraction and liking as interpersonal motives that can loosen privacy boundaries that could not otherwise be breached.
      4. Traumatic events can temporarily or permanently disrupt the influence of culture, gender, and motivation when people craft their rules for privacy.
      5. Risk/benefit ratios do the math for revealing as well as concealing private information.
  4. Disclosure creates a confidant and co-owner: When others are told or discover a person’s private information, they become co-owners of that information.
    1. The act of disclosing private information creates a confidant and draws that person into a collective privacy boundary.
    2. Disclosing information to another person results in co-ownership.
      1. The discloser must realize the personal privacy boundary has morphed into a collective boundary that seldom shrinks back to being solely personal.
      2. As co-owners, people tend to feel responsibility for the information, though not always equally.
      3. Those who had the information foisted upon them may be more casual about protecting it.
  5. Coordinating mutual privacy boundaries: Co-owners of private information need to negotiate mutually agreeable privacy rules about telling others.
    1. This pivotal fourth principle of CPM is where Petronio moves from being descriptive to prescriptive.
    2. Assuming the privacy boundaries co-owners place around the information are different, co-owners must negotiate mutual privacy boundaries—collective boundaries that people shape together.
    3. Boundary ownership is the rights and responsibilities that co-owners of private information have to control its spread.
      1. Not all boundary ownership is 50-50.
      2. A deliberate confidant is someone who intentionally seeks private information, and often the more eager they are to be confided in, the less control they have over what they hear.
      3. A reluctant confidant doesn’t want the disclosure, doesn’t expect it, may find the revealed information an unwelcome burden, and often feels only a vague sense of responsibility to disclosed information, resulting in less of an obligation to follow the privacy guidelines of the discloser.
      4. A shareholder is fully committed to handling private information according to the original owner's privacy rules.
      5. A stakeholder deserves access and control regarding private information and the rules for sharing it.
    4. Boundary linkage is the process of the confidant being linked into the privacy boundary of the person who revealed the information.
      1. Boundary linkage is the process of determining who else gets to know.
      2. When the revealer and recipient have a close relationship, the recipient is more likely to deal with the new information the way the revealer wants. 
    5. E. Boundary permeability—How much information can flow?
      1. 1. Boundaries can be closed, thick, or stretched tight allowing little information to pass through, or boundaries can be open, thin, or loosely held allowing information to easily pass through.
      2. 2. Permeability is a matter of degree.
      3. 3. Rules act as filters, letting some information pass easily through, while other information is closely guarded.
      4. 4. Disclosers and receivers need to negotiate mutual rules for possible third-party dissemination.
  6. VI. Boundary turbulence - Relationships at risk: When co-owners of private information don’t effectively negotiate and follow jointly held privacy rules, boundary turbulence is the likely result.
    1. Turbulence can radically alter our relationships by the way it affects our thoughts, feelings, and actions.
    2. Petronio predicts that people react to turbulence in attempts to regulate the disturbed relationships that it creates.
    3. Fuzzy boundaries occur when there are no recognized mutual boundaries, in which case a confidant resorts to using their own privacy rules to guide what they say to others.
    4. Intentional breaches occur when a confidant purposefully reveals a secret they know the original owner does not want shared.
      1. They may do so to intentionally hurt the original owner or simply because to do so works to their personal advantage.
      2. A confidentiality dilemma occurs when a confidant must breach a collective privacy boundary in order to promote the original owner’s welfare
    5. Not all boundary and relational turbulence comes from privacy rules out of sync or the intentional breach of boundaries.
      1. Sometimes people create turmoil by making mistakes, such as letting secrets slip out when their guard is down or simply forgetting who might have access to the information.
      2. Errors of judgment occur when someone discusses private cases in public places.
      3. A miscalculation in timing can cause turbulence when information is revealed at a bad time.
  7. Critique: Keen diagnosis, good prescription, cure in process?
    1. CPM nicely meets five of the six criteria for a good interpretive theory.
    2. It scores well on providing a new understanding of people, backing that up by sound qualitative research, the support of a community of agreement, clarifying privacy as a value, and calling for reform (though that is a bit of a stretch).
    3. CPM lacks aesthetic appeal, in both style and clarity.
    4. A gap in the theory is that Petronio does not offer insight on how to conduct negotiations or offer solutions for when boundary turbulence occurs.
    5. Over the 35 years in working with the theory, she’s acknowledged the theory’s ambiguities and repackaged things for improved clarity.

Chapter 13—Media Multiplexity Theory

  1. Caroline Haythornthwaite is the chief theorist behind media multiplexity theory, which originally took a cybernetic approach to understanding how and why we use different communication channels
    1. The theory claims that our social networks powerfully influence the media we use, including why we might choose one medium over another to send a greeting such as happy birthday.
    2. Perhaps even more important, the theory calls attention to the number of media we use with an interpersonal partner.
    3. Media multiplexity scholars are convinced of one simple fact: The stronger the relational tie we have with a person, the more media we will use with that person.
  2. II. Mapping our social networks
    1. Scholars in the cybernetic tradition think we can map out what our relationships look like in a social network.
    2. Social network scholars call bonds weak ties if they don’t consume much time or energy, like acquaintances, classmates, and distant relatives.
    3. In contrast, strong ties such as romantic partners, immediate family, and BFFs (best friends forever) demand that we make a significant investment in the relationship.
    4. Sociologist Mark Granovetter offered a more formal definition of tie strength, claiming it’s a “combination of the amount of time, the emotional intensity, the intimacy (mutual confidence), and the reciprocal services” exchanged in the relationship.
    5. Cybernetic theorists want to understand how the structure of a network shapes the flow of information and resources between people.
  3. When are strong ties weak, and when are weak ties strong?
    1. With strong ties, we experience acceptance, intimacy, and enjoyment.
    2. Stanford sociologist Mark Granovetter claimed he wasn’t so sure that strong ties are always better than weak ties.
    3. He affirmed the importance of close relationships for understanding our identity, but noted that strong ties feature a major weakness: They’re redundant when it comes to accessing information and resources.
    4. According to Granovetter, quick access to diverse information is one strength of weak ties.
    5. Among weak ties, bridging ties serve a particularly powerful role. They’re the ties that connect one strong tie group to another.
    6. Granovetter’s treatise on weak ties has inspired many scholars, including Haythornthwaite, who found his explanation of strong and weak ties particularly helpful for understanding the channels that sustain them.
  4. Media multiplexity: Tie strength involves the channels we use.
    1. Haythornthwaite sought to create maps of relationships in education contexts, with particular interest in courses that take place online—often with students located far apart from one another.
    2. At first, Haythornthwaite wanted to understand how online learners adapt to the computer-mediated environment: “What happens to such relationships when face-to-face contact is unavailable or severely limited?”
    3. But Haythornthwaite’s findings soon drove her into unexplored terrain: “Asking ‘who talks to whom about what and via which media’ revealed the unexpected result that more strongly tied pairs make use of more of the available media, a phenomenon I have termed media multiplexity.”
    4. What differentiated strong ties from weak ties was the number of media the pair employed. Greater tie strength seemed to drive greater numbers of media used.
    5. Although Haythornthwaite initially observed media multiplexity in educational and organizational groups, scholars in the socio-psychological tradition soon took her ideas and applied them to interpersonal contexts.
    6. The basic claim of media multiplexity theory: Tie strength drives use of multiple media.
      1. Claim #1: Communication content differs by tie strength, not by medium.
        1. Earlier theories of communication technology suggested some channels can’t effectively facilitate the ambiguous messages common in close relationships.
        2. Media multiplexity theory and social information processing (SIP) theory agree that those earlier theories weren’t quite right—people can and do maintain close ties online.
        3. SIP researchers have been most interested in the getting-to-know-you phase of relationship initiation, and they’ve pointed to the need for extended time during it.
        4. Media multiplexity theorists have been more interested in the maintenance of ongoing relationships, and they’ve pointed to the nature of the interpersonal tie itself.
        5. In her research, Haythornthwaite has found that the medium partners use doesn’t change the topic of their talk.
        6. University of Illinois professor John Caughlin noted that media multiplexity theory has much to say on what media interpersonal partners use, but not how they link all those media together.
        7. Thus it may not be quite right to say that partners never choose different media for different content, but rather that they may pay a relational price for that kind of segmentation.
      2. Claim #2: The hierarchy of media use depends on group norms.
        1. According to multiplexity scholars, this allocation of different channels for different kinds of ties creates a hierarchy of media use expectations.
        2. In such a hierarchy, members of the group use some media to communicate with all relational ties, whether weak or strong.
        3. But pairs with a strong tie often feel they need more private channels to sustain their relationship.
        4. Haythornthwaite would be quick to point out that there’s nothing sacred about any particular hierarchy of media use, because such hierarchies differ between groups.
      3. Claim #3: Adding and subtracting media access influences weak ties.
        1. Haythornthwaite would argue that the launch of Facebook created latent ties, or “connection[s] available technically, even if not yet activated socially.”
        2. She thinks the impact of a loss of a communication medium would depend on the strength of your tie.
        3. Where a weak tie, with few other channels, might be heavily impacted, on the flip side, Haythornthwaite thinks strong ties are relatively unaffected by the loss of a medium.
        4. Because strong ties tend to communicate through several media, they have built-in redundancy that can withstand the loss of a channel.
        5. Overall, then, “a central thesis of MMT is that . . . changes to the media landscape alter strong ties only minimally, but may change the nature of weak ties considerably.
  5. Are media use and tie strength always associated with each other?
    1. As you’d expect for an objective theory steeped in both the cybernetic and socio-psychological traditions, scholars haven’t taken the link between tie strength and media use for granted; they’ve gathered evidence to support that crucial belief.
    2. At the same time, their empirical detective work has found that the tie strength/media use link may depend on some other ingredients. If those factors aren’t present, tie strength and media use may not be so tightly linked—if they’re linked at all.
    3. One such factor is medium enjoyment, or one’s preference for a specific medium, driven by the belief that it is fun and convenient.
    4. As the study of medium enjoyment in family relationships concluded, “Effective media choice does not match medium to message so much as medium to person.”
  6. Critique: Strong on simplicity, weak on explanation and prediction.
    1. Media multiplexity theory is the youngest theory in this book, yet it has gained a sizable following among scholars within and outside the communication discipline.
    2. “To date, [the theory] represents the most comprehensive and systematic attempt to explain how the multimodality of social life influences, and is influenced by, the characteristics of interpersonal relationships.”
    3. One of the theory’s greatest strengths is its relative simplicity.
    4. These hypotheses are testable, and as scholars have conducted quantitative research, the numbers have tended to support the theory’s claims.
    5. Where the theory falters is its explanation of the data.
    6. Haythornthwaite seems to emphasize that tie strength drives channel expansion. Yet at other times, she acknowledges that increased communication probably strengthens the tie.
    7. Additional research on the theory’s causality claims could enhance the theory’s ability to predict future events.
    8. Despite the need for better prediction and explanation, the theory has demonstrated its practical utility.

Chapter 14—Social Judgment Theory

  1. Three latitudes: Acceptance, rejection, and noncommitment.
    1. Social judgment theory says that at the instant of perception, people compare messages to their present point of view.
    2. Individuals’ opinions are not adequately represented as a point along a continuum because degrees of tolerance around their positions must also be considered.
    3. Muzafer Sherif established three zones of attitudes.
      1. The latitude of acceptance represents ideas that are reasonable or worthy of consideration.
      2. The latitude of rejection includes items that are unreasonable or objectionable.
      3. The latitude of noncommitment represents ideas that are neither acceptable nor objectionable.
    4. A description of a person’s attitude structure must include the location and width of each interrelated latitude.
    5. In order to craft a more persuasive message, social judgment theory recommends that a communicator try to figure out the location and breadth of the other person’s three latitudes before further discussion.
  2. Ego-involvement: How much do you care?
    1. Ego-involvement refers to how central or important an issue is in our lives.
    2. The favored position anchors all other thoughts about the topic.
    3. People who hold extreme views care deeply.
  3. Judging the message: Contrast and assimilation errors.
    1. Social judgment-involvement describes the linkage between ego-involvement and perception.
    2. Contrast occurs when one perceives a message within the latitude of rejection as being more discrepant than it actually is from the anchor point. This perceptual distortion leads to polarization of ideas.
    3. Assimilation, the opposite of contrast, occurs when one perceives a message within the latitude of acceptance as being less discrepant than it actually is from the anchor point.
    4. Although Sherif is unclear as to how people judge messages that fall within the latitude of noncommitment, most interpreters believe the message will be perceived as intended.
  4. Discrepancy and attitude change.
    1. If individuals judge a new message to fall within their latitude of acceptance, they adjust their attitude to accommodate it.
      1. The persuasive effect will be positive but partial.
      2. The greater the discrepancy, the more individuals adjust their attitudes.
      3. The most persuasive message is the one that is most discrepant from the listener’s position, yet still falls within his or her latitude of acceptance or latitude of noncommitment.
    2. If individuals judge a new message to be within their latitude of rejection, they will adjust their attitude away from it.
      1. For individuals with high ego-involvement and broad latitudes of rejection, most messages that are aimed to persuade them that fall within a latitude of rejection have an effect opposite of what the communicator intended.
      2. This boomerang effect suggests that individuals are often driven, rather than drawn, to the positions they occupy.
    3. Sherif’s approach is quite automatic.
      1. He reduced interpersonal influence to the issue of the distance between the message and the hearer’s position.
      2. Volition exists only in choosing the message the persuader presents.
  5. Practical advice for the persuader.
    1. For maximum influence, select a message right on the edge of the audience’s latitude of acceptance or noncommitment.
    2. Ambiguous messages can sometimes serve better than clarity.
    3. Persuasion is a gradual process consisting of small movements.
    4. The most dramatic, widespread, and enduring attitude changes involve changes within reference groups where members have differing values.
  6. Attitudes on sleep, booze, and money: Evidence supporting SJT.
    1. Research on the predictions of social judgment theory requires highly ego-involved issues.
    2. A highly credible speaker can shrink the listener’s latitude of rejection.
    3. Application of the theory raises ethical problems.
  7. Ethical Reflections: Kant’s categorical imperative.
    1. Social judgment theory focuses on what is effective. But, before we adjust what we say so that it serves our ends and seems reasonable to others, we should consider what’s ethical.
    2. German philosopher Immanuel Kant believed that any time we speak or act, we have a moral obligation to be truthful.
    3. He held an absolutist position, based on his categorical imperative, which is “act only on that maxim which you can will to become a universal law.”
    4. There are no mitigating circumstances. Lying is wrong—always. So is breaking a promise.
    5. Kant would have us look at the difference between what we plan to say to influence others and what we truly believe.
    6. We should then ask, What if everybody did that all the time? If we don’t like the answer, we have a solemn duty not to do the deed.
    7. The categorical imperative is a method for determining right from wrong by thinking through the ethical valence of an act, regardless of motive.
  8. Critique: A theory well within the latitude of acceptance.
    1. The theory has practical utility for persuaders.
    2. The theory offers specific predictions and explanations about what happens in the mind when a message falls within someone’s latitude of acceptance or rejection.
    3. Like all cognitive explanations, social judgment theory assumes a mental structure and process that are beyond sensory observation.
    4. Although its falsifiable claims have not been widely tested, the empirical research has been conducting validates supports the SJT.
    5. Despite the small amount of research it’s fostered, social judgment theory is an elegant, intuitively appealing approach to persuasion.

Chapter 15—Elaboration Likelihood Model

  1. The central route and the peripheral routes to persuasion.
    1. Richard Petty and John Cacioppo posit two basic mental routes for attitude change.
    2. The central route involves message elaboration, defined as the extent to which a person carefully thinks about issue-relevant arguments contained in a persuasive communication.
    3. The peripheral route processes the message without any active thinking about the attributes of the issue or the object of consideration.
      1. Recipients rely on a variety of cues to make quick decisions.
      2. Robert Cialdini has identified six such cues:
        1. Reciprocation
        2. Consistency
        3. Social proof
        4. Liking
        5. Authority
        6. Scarcity
    4. Although Petty and Cacioppo’s model seems to suggest that the routes are mutually exclusive, the theorists stress the central route and the peripheral route are poles on a cognitive processing continuum that shows the degree of mental effort a person exerts when evaluating a message.
    5. The more listeners work to evaluate a message, the less they will be influenced by content-irrelevant factors; the greater the effect of content-irrelevant factors, the less impact the message carries.
  2. Motivation for elaboration: Is it worth the effort?
    1. People are motivated to hold correct attitudes.
    2. Yet the number of ideas a person can scrutinize is limited, so we tend to focus on issues that are personally relevant.
    3. Personally relevant issues are more likely to be processed on the central route; issues with little relevance take the peripheral route, where credibility and other content free cues take on greater importance).
    4. Certain individuals have a need for cognitive clarity, regardless of the issue; these people will work through many of the ideas and arguments they hear.
  3. Ability for elaboration: Can they do it?
    1. Elaboration requires intelligence and concentration.
    2. Distraction disrupts elaboration.
    3. Repetition may increase the possibility of elaboration, but too much repetition causes people to resort to the peripheral route.
  4. Type of elaboration: Objective vs. biased thinking.
    1. Biased elaboration (top-down thinking) occurs when predetermined conclusions color the supporting data underneath.
    2. Objective evaluation (bottom-up thinking) considers the facts on their own merit.
  5. Elaborated messages: Strong, weak, and neutral.
    1. Objective elaboration examines the perceived strength of an argument.
      1. Petty and Cacioppo have no absolute standard for differentiating between cogent and specious arguments.
      2. They define a strong message as one that generates favorable thoughts.
    2. Thoughtful consideration of strong arguments will produce positive shifts in attitude.
      1. The change is persistent over time.
      2. It resists counterpersuasion.
      3. It predicts future behavior.
    3. Thoughtful consideration of weak arguments can lead to negative boomerang effects paralleling the positive effects of strong arguments (but in the opposite direction).
    4. Mixed or neutral messages won’t change attitudes and in fact reinforce original attitudes.
  6. Peripheral cues: An alternative route of influence.
    1. Most messages are processed through the peripheral route, bringing attitude changes without issue-relevant thinking.
    2. The most obvious cues for the peripheral route are tangible rewards.
    3. Source credibility is also important.
      1. The principal components of source credibility are likability and expertise.
      2. Source credibility is salient for those unmotivated or unable to elaborate.
    4. Peripheral route change can be either positive or negative, but it won’t have the impact of message elaboration.
  7. Pushing the limits of peripheral power.
    1. Penner and Fritzshe’s study of Magic Johnson’s HIV announcement suggests that the effect of even powerful peripheral cues is short-lived.
    2. Although most ELM research has measured the effects of peripheral cues by studying credibility, a speaker’s competence or character could also be a stimulus to effortful message elaboration.
    3. Petty and Cacioppo emphasize that it’s impossible to compile a list of cues that are strictly peripheral.
    4. Lee and Koo argue that there are times when source credibility is processed through the central route rather than functioning as a peripheral cue.
    5. This is particularly true when there's a close match between an advertised product that consumers really care about and the expertise of the star presenter.
    6. Many variables like perceived credibility or the mood of the listener can act as peripheral cues. Yet if one of them motivates listeners to scrutinize the message or affects their evaluation of arguments, it no longer serves as a no-brainer.
  8. Choosing a route: Practical advice for the persuader.
    1. If listeners are motivated and able to elaborate a message, rely on factual arguments—i.e., appeal through the central route.
    2. When listeners are willing and able to elaborate a message, avoid using weak arguments; they will backfire.
    3. If listeners are unable or unwilling to elaborate a message, rely on packaging rather than content; appeal by using cues be processed on the peripheral route.
    4. When using the peripheral route, however, the effects will probably be fragile.
  9. Ethical reflection: Nilsen’s significant choice.
    1. Nilsen proposes that persuasive speech is ethical to the extent that it maximizes people’s ability to exercise free choice.
    2. Philosophers and rhetoricians have compared persuasion to a lover making fervent appeals to his beloved—wooing an audience, for example.
    3. For Nilsen, true love can’t be coerced; it must be freely given.
    4. Nilsen would regard persuasive appeals that encourage message elaboration through ELM’s central route as ethical
  10. Critique: Elaborating the model.
    1. ELM has been a leading theory of persuasion and attitude change for the last twenty-five years, and Petty and Cacioppo’s initial model has been very influential.
    2. These theorists have elaborated ELM to make it more complex, less predictive, and less practical, which makes it problematic as a scientific theory.
    3. As Paul Mongeau and James Stiff have charged, the theory cannot be adequately tested and falsified, particularly in terms of what makes a strong or weak argument.
    4. Despite these limitations, the theory synthesizes many diverse aspects of persuasion.

Chapter 16—Cognitive Dissonance

  1. Dissonance: Discord between behavior and belief.
    1. Identified by Leon Festinger, cognitive dissonance is the distressing mental state that people feel when they find themselves doing things that don’t fit with what they know, or having opinions that do not fit with other opinions they hold.
    2. Humans have a basic need to avoid dissonance and establish consistency.
    3. The tension of dissonance motivates the person to change either the behavior or the belief.
    4. The more important the issue and the greater the discrepancy, the higher the magnitude of dissonance.
  2. Health-conscious smokers: Dealing with dissonance.
    1. When Festinger first published his theory, he chose the topic of smoking to illustrate the concept of dissonance.
    2. Perhaps the most typical way for the smoker to avoid anguish is to trivialize or simply deny the link between smoking and cancer.
    3. Festinger noted that almost all of our actions are more entrenched than the thoughts we have about them.
  3. Reducing dissonance between attitudes and actions.
    1. Hypothesis #1: Selective exposure prevents dissonance.
      1. We avoid information that is likely to increase dissonance.
      2. People select information that lined up with what they already believed and ignored facts or ideas that ran counter to those beliefs.
      3. Dieter Frey concluded that selective exposure exists only when information is known to be a threat.
      4. Warm personal relationships are the best environment for considering discrepant views.
    2. Hypothesis #2: Post decision dissonance creates a need for reassurance.
      1. The more important the issue, the more dissonance.
      2. The longer an individual delays a choice between two equally attractive options, the more dissonance.
      3. The greater the difficulty in reversing the decision once it has been made, the more dissonance.
    3. Hypothesis #3: Minimal justification for action induces a shift in attitude.
      1. Conventional wisdom suggests that to change behavior, you must first alter attitude.
      2. Festinger reverses the sequence.
      3. In addition, he predicts that attitude change and dissonance reduction depend on providing only a minimum justification for the change in behavior.
  4. A classic experiment: “Would I lie for a dollar?”
    1. Festinger’s minimal justification hypothesis is counterintuitive.
    2. The Stanford $1/$20 experiment supported the minimal justification hypothesis because subjects who received a very small reward demonstrated a change in attitude.
  5. Three state-of-the-art revisions: The cause and effect of dissonance.
    1. Most persuasion researchers today subscribe to one of three revisions of Festinger’s original theory. A process model of cognitive dissonance helps us understand the three:
      Attitude/behavior inconsistency ⇒ Dissonance created ⇒ Attitude change ⇒ Dissonance reduced
    2. Self-consistency: the rationalizing animal.
      1. Elliot Aronson argued that dissonance is caused by psychological rather than logical inconsistency.
      2. Inconsistency between a cognition and self-concept causes dissonance.
      3. Humans aren’t rational, they are rationalizing.
      4. Research such as the $1/$20 experiment provides evidence of self-esteem maintenance.
      5. The amount of dissonance a person can experience is directly proportional to the effort he or she has invested in the behavior.
    3. Personal responsibility for bad outcomes (the new look).
      1. Joel Cooper argues that we experience dissonance when we believe our actions have unnecessarily hurt another person.
      2. Cooper concludes that dissonance is a state of arousal caused by behaving in such a way as to feel personally responsible for bringing about an aversive event.
    4. Self-affirmation to dissipate dissonance.
      1. Claude Steele focuses on dissonance reduction.
      2. He believes that high self-esteem is a resource for dissonance reduction.
      3. Steele asserts that most people are motivated to maintain a self-image of moral and adaptive adequacy.
    5. These three revisions of Festinger’s theory are not mutually exclusive.
  6. Theory into practice: Persuasion through dissonance.
    1. Festinger’s theory offers practical advice for those who wish to affect attitude change as a product of dissonance.
    2. Apply the concepts of selective exposure, postdecision dissonance, and minimal justification to manage dissonance effectively.
    3. As long as counterattitudinal actions are freely chosen and publicly taken, people are more likely to adopt beliefs that support what they’ve done.
    4. Personal responsibility for negative outcomes should be taken into account.
  7. Critique: Dissonance over dissonance.
    1. Cognitive dissonance is one of the few theories in this book that has achieved name recognition within popular culture as people have found it practically useful.
    2. Where the theory falls short is relative simplicity.
    3. Bem claims that self-perception is a much simpler explanation than cognitive dissonance.
    4. The theory has also received knocks for how difficult it is to actually observe dissonance.
    5. If researchers can’t observe dissonance, then the theory’s core hypotheses aren’t testable—a big problem for a scientific theory.
    6. Patricia Devine applauds researchers who have attempted to gauge the arousal component of dissonance.
    7. The most promising attempts to develop a dissonance thermometer have used neuroimaging.
      1. It has provided initial hard evidence that the experience of cognitive dissonance is, indeed, real.
      2. Even so, actually observing it is difficult and expensive, so even if the theory is testable, it certainly isn’t simple.
    8. Despite detractors, cognitive dissonance theory has energized objective scholars of communication for 50 years.

Chapter 17—Functional Perspective on Group Decision Making

  1. Introduction.
    1. Randy Hirokawa and Dennis Gouran believe that group interaction has a positive effect on decision making.
    2. Hirokawa seeks quality solutions; Gouran desires appropriate decisions.
    3. The functional perspective specifies what communication must accomplish for jointly made decisions to be wise.
  2. Four functions for effective decision making.
    1. Hirokawa and Gouran draw on the analogy between biological systems and small groups.
      1. Group decision making must fulfill four task requirements to reach a high-quality decision.
      2. These tasks are requisite functions of effective decision making—hence the functional perspective label.
    2. Function #1: Analysis of the problem.
      1. Group members must take a realistic look at current conditions.
      2. Misunderstandings of situations are compounded when group members make their final decision.
      3. The clearest example of faulty analysis is a failure to recognize a potential threat.
      4. Group members must determine the nature, extent, and probable cause(s) of the problem.
    3. Function #2: Goal setting.
      1. A group needs to establish criteria for judging proposed solutions. If the group fails to meet these, the decision will likely be driven by power or passion rather than reason.
      2. With no definitive goals to focus their discussion, it’s difficult for group members to know whether they’re making an appropriate decision.
    4. Function #3: Identification of alternatives.
      1. Hirokawa and Gouran stress the importance of marshalling a number of different viable options from which to choose.
      2. Groups need to identify courses of action.
    5. Function #4: Evaluation of positive and negative characteristics.
      1. Group members must test the relative merits of each alternative they identified against the criteria that emerged in the goal setting function.
      2. Some group tasks have a positive bias—spotting the favorable characteristics of alternative choices is more important than identifying negative qualities.
      3. Other group tasks have a negative bias—the downside of options is more important than identifying their positive qualities.
  3. Prioritizing the four functions.
    1. Originally, they thought that no single function was inherently more central than the others.
    2. Hirokawa discovered the groups that successfully resolve especially difficult problems usually take a common decision-making path.
    3. Research suggests that the evaluation of negative consequences of alternative solutions was by far the most crucial to ensure a quality decision.
    4. Hirokawa now splits evaluation of positive and negative consequences and speaks of five requisite functions rather than four.
    5. As long as a group covers all of the functions, the route taken is not the key issue.
    6. Nonetheless, groups that successfully resolve particularly tough problems often take a common decision-making path: problem analysis, goal setting, identifying alternatives, and evaluating the positive and negative characteristics.
  4. The role of communication in fulfilling the functions.
    1. Traditional wisdom suggests that talk is the channel or conduit through which information travels between participants.
      1. Verbal interaction makes it possible for members to distribute and pool information, catch and remedy errors, and influence each other.
      2. Ivan Steiner claimed that actual group productivity equals potential productivity minus losses due to processes.
      3. Communication is best when it does not obstruct or distort the free flow of ideas.
    2. In contrast, Hirokawa believes that group discussion creates the social reality for decision making.
    3. Hirokawa and Gouran outline three types of communication in decision-making groups.
      1. Promotive—interaction that calls attention to one of the four decision-making functions.
      2. Disruptive—interaction that detracts from the group’s ability to achieve the four task functions.
      3. Counteractive—interaction that refocuses the group.
    4. Since most communication disrupts, effective group decision making depends upon counteractive influence.
  5. Thoughtful advice for those who know they are right.
    1. Be skeptical of personal opinions.
      1. Groups often abandon the rational path due to the persuasive efforts of other self-assured group members.
      2. Unsupported intuition is untrustworthy.
    2. Follow John Dewey’s six-step process of reflective thinking, which parallels a doctor’s treatment regimen.
      1. Recognize symptoms of illness.
      2. Diagnose the cause of the ailment.
      3. Establish criteria for wellness.
      4. Consider possible remedies.
      5. Test to determine which solutions will work.
      6. Implement or prescribe the best solution.
    3. Hirokawa and Gouran’s four requisite functions replicate steps two through five of Dewey’s reflective thinking.
    4. To counteract faulty logic, insist on a careful process.
  6. Ethical reflection: Habermas’ discourse ethics.
    1. Jürgen Habermas suggests a rational group process through which people can determine right from wrong.
    2. Being ethical means being accountable.
    3. People in a given culture or community can agree on the good they want to accomplish and over time build up wisdom on how to achieve it.
    4. The person who performed an act must be prepared to discuss what he or she did and why he or she did it in an open forum.
    5. He imagined an ideal speech situation where participants were free to listen to reason and speak their minds without fear of constraint or control.
    6. Three requirements must be met to have an ideal speech situation:
      1. Requirement of access for all affected parties
      2. Requirement of argument to figure out the common good
      3. Requirement of justification or universal application
  7. Critique: Valid Only If New Functions Are Added Or Scope Is Narrowed
    1. Although the functional perspective is one of the three leading theories in small group communication, its exclusive focus on rationality may cause the mixed experimental results it’s had.
    2. Stohl and Homes suggest that unless the theorists adopt a bona fide group approach, the theory is irrelevant for most real life group decisions.
    3. In these authentic situations, many members have roles in overlapping groups that have a stake in the decision they make and are typically responsible to a leader or manager outside the group.
    4. Stohl and Holmes emphasize that most real-life groups have a prior decision-making history and are embedded within a larger organization.
      1. They advocate adding a historical function requiring the group to talk about how past decisions were made.
      2. They also advocate an institutional function that is satisfied when members discuss relevant parties who are absent from the decision-making process.
    5. Recently, Gouran has raised doubts about the usefulness of the functional perspective for all small groups.
      1. It’s beneficial for members to fulfill the four requisite functions only when they are addressing questions of policy.
      2. Groups addressing questions of fact, conjecture, or value may not find the requisite functions relevant.
      3. The scope of the functional perspective is more limited than first believed.

Chapter 18—Symbolic Convergence Theory

  1. Central explanatory principle of SCT: sharing group fantasies creates symbolic convergence.
    1. Similar to Bales, Bormann and his team of colleagues observed that group members often dramatized events happening outside the group, things that took place at previous meetings, or what might possibly occur among them in the future.
    2. When the drama was enhanced in this way, members developed a common group consciousness and drew closer together.
  2. Dramatizing messages: Creative interpretations of there-and-then.
    1. According to SCT, conversations about things outside of what’s going on right now can often serve the group well.
    2. Dramatizing messages contains imaginative language that describes events occurring at some other place and/or time.
    3. The dramatizing message must paint a picture or bring to mind an image.
    4. A vivid message is dramatizing if it either describes something outside the group or portrays an event that has happened within the group in the past or might happen to the group in the future.
    5. Dramatizing messages are creative interpretations that help the speaker, and sometimes the listener, make sense of a confusing situation or bring clarity to an uncertain future.
  3. Fantasy chain reactions: Unpredictable symbolic explosions.
    1. Bormann uses fantasy for dramatizing messages that are enthusiastically embraced by the whole group.
    2. Most dramatizing messages don’t get that kind of reaction.
    3. Some dramatizing messages cause a symbolic explosion in the form of a chain reaction in which members join in until the entire group comes alive.
    4. A fantasy chain occurs when there is a common response to the imagery.
    5. Fantasy chains are hard to predict, but when they occur, they are hard to control and a group will often converge around a fantasy theme.
  4. Fantasy themes: Content, motives, cues, types.
    1. A fantasy theme is the content of the dramatizing message that sparks a fantasy chain.
    2. A fantasy theme is the basic unit of analysis for SCT.
    3. Bormann suggested that group members’ meanings, emotions, motives, and actions are apparent in their fantasy themes.
    4. Many fantasy themes are indexed by a symbolic cue.
    5. Clusters of related fantasy themes sometimes surface repeatedly in different groups and are labeled with a fantasy type.
  5. Symbolic convergence: Group consciousness and often cohesiveness.
    1. Symbolic convergence results from sharing group fantasies.
      1. Symbolic convergence is the way in which two or more private symbol worlds incline toward each other, come more closely together, or even overlap.
      2. Symbolic convergence causes group members to develop a unique group consciousness.
      3. Bormann suggested that it is important for members to memorialize their group consciousness with a name and recorded history that recalls moments when fantasies chained out.
    2. Symbolic convergence usually, but not always, results in heightened group cohesiveness.
  6. Rhetorical vision: A composite drama shared by a rhetorical community.
    1. Fantasies that begin in small groups often are worked into public speeches, become picked up by mass media and ‘spread out across larger publics.’
      1. Rhetorical vision refers to a composite drama that catches up large groups of people into a common symbolic reality.
      2. Rhetorical community is the wide ranging body of people who share a reality.
    2. Fantasy theme analysis discovers fantasy themes and rhetorical visions that have already been created.
    3. Fantasy theme analysis is a specific type of rhetorical criticism that’s built on two basic assumptions
      1. People create their social reality.
      2. People’s meanings, motives, and emotions can be seen in their rhetoric.
      3. Four features should be present in the shared fantasies: characters, plot lines, scene, and sanctioning agent.
    4. Examples of such rhetorical visions can be seen in McCabe’s work on pro-eating disorders (also known as high-risk dieters) or the impact of the “Make America Great Again” movement during the run-up to the 2016 US Presidential elections.
  7. Theory into practice: Advice to improve your college experience.
    1. Bormann offers advice on how to use SCT as it applies to a group.
      1. When the group begins to share a drama that in your opinion would contribute to a healthy culture, you should pick up the drama and feed the chain.
      2. If the fantasies are destructive, creating group paranoia or depression, cut the chain off whenever possible.
      3. To build cohesiveness, use personification to identify your group.
      4. Be sure to encourage the sharing of dramas depicting your group history.
      5. Even though a conscious rhetorical effort on your part can succeed in igniting a chain reaction, remember that the fantasy may take an unexpected turn.
    2. Most rhetorical visions embrace either a righteous vision, a social vision, or a pragmatic vision.
  8. Critique: Judging SCT as both a scientific and interpretive theory.
    1. The theory’s basic hypothesis that sharing group fantasies creates symbolic convergence is framed as a universal principle that holds for all people, in any culture, at any time, in any communication context; it typifies the objective tradition.
    2. But the methodology of determining fantasy themes, fantasy types, and rhetorical visions is rhetorical criticism—a humanistic approach that’s undeniably interpretive.
    3. SCT holds up well against both the criteria for an objective theory and an interpretive theory.
    4. Despite this success, SCT fails to meet two at least benchmarks of a good theory (one objective benchmark and one interpretive benchmark).
      1. SCT researchers adequately predict the benefits of convergence (cohesiveness) but have little success predicting when a dramatizing message will trigger a chain reaction.
      2. Without the ability to forecast when a fantasy chain reaction will occur, SCT is difficult to test and not as useful as group practitioners desire.
      3. There’s no doubt that fantasy theme analysis uncovers the values of a rhetorical community.
      4. SCT vocabulary shows the theory’s pro-social bias, but ignores issues of power.

Chapter 19—Cultural Approach to Organizations

  1. Introduction.
    1. Anthropologist Clifford Geertz views cultures as webs of shared meaning, shared understanding, and shared sensemaking.
    2. Geertz' work has focused on Third World cultures, but his ethnographic approach has been applied by other scholars to organizations.
    3. In the field of speech communication, Michael Pacanowsky has applied Geertz's approach in his research of organizations.
    4. Pacanowsky asserts that communication creates and constitutes the taken-for-granted reality of the world.
  2. Culture as a metaphor of organizational life.
    1. Initial interest in culture as a metaphor for organizations stems from initial American fascination with Japanese corporations.
    2. Corporate culture has several meanings.
      1. The surrounding environment that constrains a company’s freedom of action.
      2. An image, character, or climate that a corporation has.
      3. Pacanowsky argues that culture is not something an organization has, but is something an organization is.
  3. What culture is; what culture is not.
    1. Geertz and his colleagues do not distinguish between high and low culture.
    2. Culture is not whole or undivided.
    3. Pacanowsky argues that the web of organizational culture is the residue of employees' performances. Geertz called these cultural performances an ensemble of texts.
    4. The elusive nature of culture prompts Geertz to label its study a “soft science,” an interpretive approach in search of meaning.
  4. Thick description: What ethnographers do.
    1. Participant observation, the research methodology of ethnographers, is a time-consuming process.
    2. Pacanowsky spent over a year imbedded in Gore & Associates to understand how members experienced the organization.
    3. He advised other researches to assume an attitude of “radical naivete” to experience the organization as a “stranger.”
    4. An ethnographer has five tasks.
      1. Accurately describe talk and actions and the context in which they occur.
      2. Capture the thoughts, emotions, and the web of social interactions.
      3. Assign motivation, intention, or purpose for what people said and did.
      4. Artfully write this up so readers feel they’ve experienced the events.
      5. Interpret what happened; explain what it means within this culture.
    5. Thick description refers to the intertwined layers of common meaning that underlie what people say and do.
      1. Thick description involves tracing the many strands of a cultural web and tracking evolving meaning.
      2. Thick description begins with a state of bewilderment.
      3. The puzzlement is reduced by observing as a stranger in a foreign land.
    6. Ethnographers approach their research very differently from behaviorists.
      1. They are more interested in the significance of behavior than in statistical analysis.
      2. Pacanowsky warns that statistical analysis and classification across organizations yields superficial results.
    7. As an ethnographer, Pacanowsky is particularly interested in imaginative language, stories, and nonverbal rites and rituals.
  5. Metaphors: Taking language seriously.
    1. Widely used metaphors offer a starting place for assessing the shared meaning of a corporate culture.
    2. Metaphors are valuable tools for both the discovery and communication of organizational culture.
  6. The symbolic interpretation of story.
    1. Stories provide windows into organizational culture.
    2. Pacanowsky focuses on the script-like qualities of narratives that outline roles in the company play.
    3. Pacanowsky posits three types of organizational narratives.
      1. Corporate stories reinforce management ideology and policies.
      2. Personal stories define how individuals would like to be seen within an organization.
      3. Collegial stories—usually unsanctioned by management—are positive or negative anecdotes about others within the organization that pass on how the organization “really works.”
    4. Both Geertz and Pacanowsky caution against simplistic interpretations of stories.
  7. Ritual: This is the way it's always been, and always will be.
    1. Many rituals are “texts” that articulate multiple aspects of cultural life.
    2. Some rituals are nearly sacred and difficult to change.
    3. Because it is ”their” ritual, researchers should be guided by employees’ interpretation of what it means.
  8. Can the manager be an agent of cultural change?
    1. Geertz regarded shared interpretations as naturally emerging from all members of a group rather than consciously engineered by leaders.
    2. The cultural approach is popular with executives who want to use it as a tool, yet culture is extremely difficult to manipulate.
    3. Even if such manipulation is possible, it may be unethical.
    4. Linda Smircich notes that communication consultants may violate the ethnographer's rule of nonintervention, and may even extend management’s control within an organization.
  9. Critique: Is the cultural approach useful?
    1. The cultural approach adopts and refines the qualitative research methodology of ethnography to gain a new understanding of a specific group of people, particularly in clarifying values of the culture under study.
    2. The cultural approach is criticized by corporate consultants who believe that knowledge should be used to influence organizational culture.
    3. Critical theorists attack the cultural approach because it does not evaluate the customs it portrays.
    4. The goal of symbolic analysis is to create a better understanding of what it takes to function effectively within the culture, not to pass moral judgment or reform society.
    5. Adam Kuper is critical of Geertz for his emphasis on interpretation rather than behavioral observation.
    6. There isn’t as much excitement about the cultural approach among organizational scholars today as there was when it was first introduced. That may be because few interpretive scholars write in the compelling and quotable prose produced by Geertz.

Chapter 20—Communicative Constitutions of Organizations

  1. Introduction
    1. Robert McPhee and other communicative constitution of organizations (CCO) theorists insist any company is what it is because communication brings the organization into existence.
    2. They believe only communication can bind people into an organization.
    3. McPhee believes that CCO theory can help us see that any organization’s chaos has an underlying order.
  2. Communication: The essence of organization
    1. Employees are not a set of lifeless parts; people create an organization.
    2. Communication calls organization into being.
    3. According to Weick’s Information Systems Approach, organizations are like organisms—active beings who must continually process information to survive.
    4. When faced with such equivocality, Weick encouraged organizations to engage in sensemaking— communication behavior designed to reduce ambiguity.
    5. McPhee thinks communication doesn’t just reduce ambiguity—it creates the organization itself.
    6. McPhee’s answer to the big CCO question [how does communication create organization?] is four specific forms of communication, or flows.
      1. Membership negotiation
      2. Self-structuring
      3. Activity coordination
      4. Institutional positioning
    7. McPhee thinks each flow literally creates the company as members talk. These flows aren’t something an organization does but rather what an organization is.
  3. The Four Flows of CCO
    1. CCO theorists believe organizations are like a river—always changing, always active, and sometimes violent.
    2. McPhee believes the communication must occur in four flows, or “circulating systems or fields of messages.”
    3. Specifically, these four flows concern who is a member of the organization, how these members structure their working relationships, how they coordinate their work, and how the organization positions itself with other people and organizations.
    4. It’s worth noting that not all communication between organization members involves the four flows.
    5. What sets the four flows apart is that they are necessary for creating the organization itself.
  4. Membership negotiation: Joining and learning the ropes
    1. All organizations regulate who is a member and who is not.
    2. Texas A&M University communication professor Kevin Barge reminds us that membership negotiation doesn’t end after accepting a job offer.
    3. The next step of membership negotiation is socialization, or learning what it means to be a member of the organization.
  5. Self-structuring: Figuring out who’s who in the organization
    1. After the organization’s founding, self-structuring continues through the writing of procedures manuals, memos, and sometimes a chart that specifies the relationships among employees.
    2. McPhee reminds us that the official chart isn’t the final word on structure.
    3. Cooren and Fairhurst argue that employees seek closure, or a sense of shared understanding that emerges in back-and-forth interaction
  6. Activity coordination: Getting the job done
    1. McPhee believes all organizations have goals.
    2. A defined purpose, such as a mission statement, separates an organization from a crowd of people. Most important to CCO theorists, members communicate to accomplish the organization’s day-to-day work toward their goals—a flow McPhee terms activity coordination.
    3. Activity coordination becomes quite complex at any organization with more than a handful of employees.
  7. Institutional positioning: Dealing with other people and organizations
    1. Institutional positioning is communication between an organization and external entities—other organizations and people.
    2. No organization survives on its own.
  8. Four Principles of the Four Flows
    1. McPhee claims that communication constitutes organization through the four flows of membership negotiation, self-structuring, activity coordination, and institutional positioning.
    2. It’s the intersection of the four flows, mixing and blending together, that constitutes organization.
    3. Four principles direct the four flows of communication.
      1. All four flows are necessary for organization.
      2. Different flows happen in different places.
      3. The same message can address multiple flows.
      4. Different flows address different audiences.
        1. Self-structuring is of little interest to those outside an organization.
        2. Membership negotiation targets new members or those who may be leaving.
        3. Activity coordination addresses specific groups within an organization.
        4. Institutional positioning focuses on external organizations.
  9. Diverting the flow: Crafting solutions to organizational problems.
    1. Some CCO scholars are pragmatists who try to use such insights to fix organizational problems.
    2. They can begin doing this by describing the four flows in an organization.
    3. It is likely that improvements to an organization must address more than just one flow.
  10. Critique: Is constitution really so simple?
    1. McPhee provides a degree of relative simplicity that few interpretive theories possess.
    2. But that simplicity doesn’t appeal to everybody.
    3. CCO researcher James Taylor is critical of McPhee’s top-down approach and instead prefers a ground-up theory that starts with everyday conversation.
    4. Taylor is critical of McPhee’s vague definitions, particularly of the term “flow.”
    5. Through a masterful yet dizzying appeal to linguists such as Chomsky, Greimas, Husserl, and Latour, Taylor counters that conversations organize when members engage in co-orientation, or communication “wherein two or more actors are entwined in relation to an object.”
    6. According to Ryan Bisel (University of Oklahoma), both approaches are valuable but share a common fault.
      1. Taylor and McPhee identify sufficient conditions (co-orientation and the four flows, respectively) for organizing.
      2. Both may be necessary conditions rather than sufficient conditions.
    7. Although they may disagree on the details, CCO theorists share a broad community of agreement.

Chapter 21—Critical Theory of Communication in Organizations

  1. Introduction.
    1. Stanley Deetz’ critical communication theory seeks to unmask what he considers unjust and unwise communication practices within organizations.
    2. His theory advocates “stakeholder participation.” He believes that everyone who will be significantly affected by a corporate policy should have a meaningful voice in the decision-making process.
  2. Corporate colonization and control of everyday life.
    1. Deetz views multinational corporations as the dominant force in society.
    2. That pervasive influence isn't necessarily all bad—they can use their clout for good.
    3. But corporate control has sharply diminished the quality of life for most citizens.
    4. Deetz wants to examine communication practices in organizations that undermine fully representative decision making and thus reduce the quality, innovation, and fairness of business decisions.
  3. Information or communication; Transmission or the creation of meaning.
    1. Deetz challenges the view that communication is the transmission of information, a view that perpetuates corporate dominance.
    2. He warns, however, that as long as we accept the notion that communication is merely the transmission of information, we will continue to perpetuate corporate dominance over every aspect of our lives.
    3. Deetz contends that each line item in an annual report is constitutive—created by corporate decision makers who have the power to make their decisions stick.
    4. All corporate communication is an outcome of political processes that are usually undemocratic and usually hurt democracy.
    5. Deetz offers a communication model that emphasizes the role of language in shaping social reality.
      1. Language does not represent things that already exist; it produces what we believe to be “self-evident” or “natural.”
      2. Corporations subtly produce meanings and values.
      3. Deetz moves even further away from a representational view of language when he not only says that meanings are in people, but asks us to consider whose meanings are in people.
    6. Like Pearce and Cronen, Deetz considers communication to be the ongoing social construction of meaning, but unlike CMM’s authors, he emphasizes that the issue of power runs through all language and communication.
    7. Deetz offers a 2 x 2 model that contrasts communication as information vs. communication as creating reality, and managerial control vs. codetermination.
    8. Managerial control often takes precedence over representation of conflicting interests or long-term company and community health.
    9. Co-determination, on the other hand, epitomizes participatory democracy.
    10. Public decisions can be formed through strategy, consent, involvement, and participation—the four cells depicted in the model.
  4. Strategy—overt managerial moves to extend control.
    1. Deetz contends that managers are not the problem—the real culprit is managerialism.
    2. Managerialism is a discourse that values control above all else.
    3. Forms of control based in communication systems impede any real worker voice in structuring their work.
    4. The desire for control can even exceed the desire for corporate performance.
    5. The quest for control is evident in the corporate aversion to public conflict.
    6. Strategic control does not benefit the corporation, and it alienates employees and causes rebellion.
    7. Because of these drawbacks, most managers prefer to maintain control through workers’ voluntary consent.
  5. Consent: Unwitting allegiance to covert control.
    1. Through the process that Deetz calls consent, most employees willingly give their loyalty without getting much in return.
    2. Consent describes a variety of situations and processes in which someone actively, though unknowingly, accomplishes the interests of others in the faulty attempt to fulfill his or her own interests.
    3. Consent is developed through managerial control of elements of corporate culture: workplace language, information, forms, symbols, rituals, and stories.
    4. Systematically distorted communication operates without employees’ overt awareness.
      1. What can be openly discussed or thought is restricted.
      2. Only certain options are available.
    5. Discursive closure suppresses potential conflict.
      1. Certain groups of people may be classified as disqualified to speak on certain issues.
      2. Arbitrary definitions may be labeled “natural.”
      3. Values behind decisions may be kept hidden to appear objective.
  6. Involvement: Free expression of ideas, but no voice.
    1. Truth emerges from the free flow of information in an open marketplace of ideas, and an information transfer model of communication worked well when people shared values.
      1. Freedom of speech guaranteed equitable participation in decision making.
      2. Persuasion and advocacy were the best ways to reach a good decision.
      3. Autonomous individuals could then make up their own minds.
    2. The information transfer model does not work well in today’s pluralistic, interconnected world.
    3. Advocacy is not negotiation.
    4. Free expression is not the same as having a “voice” in corporate decisions, and knowledge of this difference creates worker cynicism.
  7. Participation: Stakeholder democracy in action.
    1. Meaningful democratic participation creates better citizens and social choices while providing economic benefits.
    2. The first move Deetz makes is to expand the list of people who should have a say in how a corporation is run.
    3. Deetz advocates open negotiations of power among those who have a stake in what an organization does.
    4. There are at least six classes of stakeholders, each with unique needs: Investors, workers, consumers, suppliers, host communities, and greater society and the world community.
    5. Since some stakeholders have taken greater risks and made longer-term investments than stockholders and top-level managers, Deetz believes these stakeholders should have a say in corporate decisions.
    6. Managers should coordinate the conflicting interests of all parties—be mediators rather than persuaders.
    7. Deetz offers his appraisal and previews his solution: Taken together, corporate “stewardship, government regulation, and markets offer weak mechanisms for value inclusion and virtually no support for communication processes that create win/win situations where multiple stakeholders can successfully pursue their mutual interests.”
  8. Politically attentive relational constructivism (PARC).
    1. Deetz proposes an extension of his critical theory that describes six types of conflict that must be addressed in organizations. He labels it politically attentive relational constructionism (PARC).
      1. Deetz maintains that most organizational theories are based on some form of social construction.
      2. Because he is just as concerned with the process of construction as he is with its end product, he uses the designation relational construction rather than the more common term social construction.
      3. Deetz lays out nine conditions that must be met in order for diverse stakeholders to successfully negotiate for their needs and interests.
    2. Deetz uses the term political to refer to the presence of power dynamics in relationships.
      1. He sees power as an ever-present part of our relationships—certainly so in our organizational lives.
      2. To be politically attentive means to honestly explore the power in play behind so-called neutral facts and taken-for-granted positions.
      3. An organization’s stakeholders need to recover the conflict that was repressed so that all interests are on the table and openly discussed.
      4. When stakeholders come together to discuss corporate policy, managers should make sure all areas of conflict are considered. PARC suggests six that are almost always an issue.
        1. Inner life
        2. Identity and recognition
        3. Social order
        4. Truth
        5. Life narratives
        6. Justice
  9. Avoiding meltdown—Putting theory into practice
    1. Given entrenched managerial power and privilege in corporations, most economic observers are skeptical that the workplace participation Deetz advocates will become reality.
    2. But Deetz’ recent work with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) might give naysayers cause for pause.
    3. Deetz’ ultimate goal is to reach a point where all stakeholders voluntarily do the right thing because they see it’s in their own interest or the interests of those they love.
  10. Critique: A quality critical theory, but is workplace democracy just a dream?
    1. Applied to organizational life, Deetz’ critical approach is an exemplar of what this type of interpretive theory should be.
    2. He clarifies the harmful values of managerialism, provides a new understanding of managerial control, sets a reform agenda, offers rich qualitative data, to support his theory, has generated a wide community of agreement, and presents it with wit and humor that makes make the theory aesthetically pleasing.
    3. However, many organizational scholars regard the possibility of managers voluntarily giving up power as unrealistic.
    4. As CCO theorist Robert McPhee (ch. 20) puts it in his ironic summary of Deetz’ theory, “If we just didn’t find it natural and right and unavoidable to hand power over to managers, everything would be different and all our problems would be solved.”
    5. Deetz understands the difficulty in altering entrenched power, but the number of problems like those faced in nuclear power plants may put the forces of a changing world on the side of collaboration between management and workers.
    6. Deetz’ summary of his life work emphasizes his desire to remove “structural and systemic features of life” that hinder “creative mutually beneficial choices.”

Chapter 22—The Rhetoric

  1. Introduction.
    1. Aristotle was a student of Plato’s who disagreed with his mentor over the place of public speaking in Athenian life.
    2. Plato’s negative view of public speaking was based on his assessment of the Sophists.
    3. Aristotle, like Plato, deplored the demagoguery of speakers using their skill to move an audience while showing a casual indifference to the truth.
    4. Aristotle saw rhetoric as a neutral tool with which one could accomplish either noble ends or further fraud.
      1. Truth is inherently more acceptable than falsehood.
      2. Nonetheless, unscrupulous persuaders may fool an audience unless an ethical speaker uses all possible means of persuasion to counter the error.
      3. Speakers who neglect the art of rhetoric have only themselves to blame for failure.
      4. Success requires wisdom and eloquence.
    5. Although Aristotle’s Politics and Ethics are polished, well-organized texts, the Rhetoric is a collection of lecture notes.
    6. Aristotle raised rhetoric to a science by systematically exploring the effects of the speaker, the speech, and the audience.
  2. Rhetoric: Making persuasion probable.
    1. Aristotle saw the function of rhetoric as the discovery in each case of “the available means of persuasion.”
    2. In terms of speech situations, he focused on civic affairs.
      1. Courtroom (forensic) speaking renders just decisions considering actions of the past.
      2. Ceremonial (epideictic) speaking heaps praise or blame for the benefit of present day audiences.
      3. Political (deliberative) speaking attempts to influence those who consider future policy.
    3. Aristotle classified rhetoric as the counterpart of dialectic.
      1. Dialectic is one-on-one conversation; rhetoric is one person addressing the many.
      2. Dialectic searches for truth; rhetoric demonstrates truth that is already found.
      3. Dialectic answers general philosophical questions; rhetoric addresses specific, practical ones.
      4. Dialectic deals with certainty; rhetoric considers probability.
  3. Rhetorical proof: Logos, ethos, and pathos.
    1. Persuasion can be artistic or inartistic.
      1. Inartistic or external proofs are those that the speaker does not create.
      2. Artistic or internal proofs are those that the speaker creates.
    2. The available means of persuasion are based on three kinds of proof.
      1. Logical proof (logos) is an appeal to listeners’ rationality.
      2. Emotional proof (pathos) is the feeling the speech draws out of the hearers.
      3. Source credibility (ethos) is the way the speaker’s character is revealed through the message. 
    3. Case study: Barack Obama’s commencement address at Notre Dame
      1. A few months into his first term of office, President Obama accepted an invitation to address the 2009 graduating class at their University of Notre Dame and receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.
      2. Based on Obama’s approval of abortion and stem-cell research, the announcement that Obama would be the commencement speaker triggered angry protests from many alumni, some students, and Roman Catholic church leaders.
      3. Despite the pro-and-con arguments about abortion that created a highly charged atmosphere surrounding the event, Obama’s speech was not judicial.
      4. This was a deliberative speech—not about any specific government policy, but one in which he urged listeners to be mindful of the way they interact with those who hold opposing views.
      5. The three types of proof Aristotle discussed demonstrate how President Obama might speak in a way that makes reaching his goal possible, maybe even probable, but never with absolute certainty.
    4. Logos: Quasi-logical arguments that make sense.
      1. Aristotle focused on two forms of logical proof—enthymeme and example.
      2. Enthymeme is the strongest of the proofs.
        1. An enthymeme is an incomplete version of a formal deductive syllogism.
        2. Typical enthymemes leave out the premise that is already accepted by the audience.
        3. Lloyd Bitzer notes that the audience helps construct the proof by supplying the missing premise.
      3. The example uses inductive reasoning—drawing a final conclusion from specific examples.
        1. If an illustration strikes a responsive chord in the listener, the truth it suggests seems evident.
        2. Aristotle said that both forms of logos are persuasive, but examples are especially so when they illustrate a premise or the conclusion of an enthymeme that’s already been stated.
        3. Aristotle noted that examples drawn from the past are more compelling than made-up illustrations.
    5. Pathos: Emotional appeals that strike a responsive chord.
      1. Aristotle was skeptical of the emotion-laden public oratory typical of his era.
      2. Yet he understood that public rhetoric, if practiced ethically, benefits society.
      3. Aristotle catalogued a series of opposite feelings, explained the conditions under which each mood is experienced, and then described how the speaker can get an audience to feel that way.
        1. Anger vs. calmness.
        2. Friendliness vs. enmity.
        3. Fear vs. confidence.
        4. Indignation vs. pity.
        5. Admiration vs. envy.
      4. Aristotle scholar and translator George Kennedy claims that this analysis of pathos is “the earliest systematic discussion of human psychology.”
    6. Ethos: Perceived source credibility
      1. According to Aristotle, it’s not enough for a speech to contain plausible arguments. The speaker must seem credible as well
      2. Aristotle was primarily interested in how the speaker’s ethos is created in a speech.
      3. In the Rhetoric, he identified three qualities that build high source credibility—intelligence, character, and goodwill.
        1. The assessment of intelligence is based more on practical wisdom and shared values than training or education.
        2. Virtuous character has to do with the speaker’s image as a good and honest person.
        3. Goodwill is a positive judgment of the speaker’s intention toward the audience.
        4. Aristotle’s explication of ethos has held up well under scientific scrutiny.
  4. The five canons of rhetoric.
    1. Invention—in order to generate effective enthymemes and examples, speakers draw upon both specialized knowledge about the subject and general lines of reasoning common to all kinds of speeches.
      1. Aristotle called stock arguments topoi, a Greek term that can be translated as “topics” or “places.”
      2. As Cornell University literature professor Lane Cooper explained, “In these special regions the orator hunts for arguments as a hunter hunts for game.”
    2. Arrangement—Aristotle recommended a basic structure.
      1. He wrote that “there are two parts to a speech; for it is necessary first to state the subject and then to demonstrate it.”
      2. First the thesis, then the proof.
    3. Style—Aristotle emphasized the pedagogical effectiveness of metaphor.
      1. But for Aristotle, metaphors were more than aids for comprehension or aesthetic appreciation.
      2. Metaphors help an audience visualize—a “bringing-before-the-eyes” process that energizes listeners and moves them to action.
    4. Delivery—naturalness is persuasive.
      1. Audiences reject delivery that seems planned or staged. Naturalness is persuasive, artifice just the opposite.
      2. Any form of presentation that calls attention to itself takes away from the speaker’s proofs.
    5. Memory—this component was emphasized by Roman teachers.
      1. In our present age of instant information on the Internet and teleprompters that guarantee a speaker will never be at a loss for words, memory seems to be a lost art.
      2. Perhaps for us, the modern equivalent of memory is rehearsal.
  5. Ethical reflection: Aristotle’s golden mean.
    1. He took the Greek admiration for moderation and elevated it to a theory of virtue.
    2. Aristotle assumed virtue stands between two vices.
    3. Moderation is best; virtue develops habits that seek to walk an intermediate path.
    4. This middle way is known as the golden mean.
    5. The golden mean is the path that embraces winsome straight talk, gentle assertiveness, and adaptation.
    6. Aristotle advocated the middle way because it is the well-worn path taken by virtuous people.
  6. Critique: A theory that stands the test of time.
    1. Aristotle’s Rhetoric can be classified as both an objective and interpretive theory.
      1. As a good objective theory, Aristotle’s rhetoric predicts future audience responses, explains why they will respond this way, and has practical utility.
      2. As a good interpretive theory, Aristotle’s rhetoric offers a new understanding of people, clarifies the values they are likely to hold, and generated a wide community of agreement that has spanned 24 centuries so far.
    2. Nonetheless, clarity is often a problem with Aristotle’s theory that affects its relative simplicity and aesthetic appeal.

Chapter 23—Dramatism

  1. Introduction.
    1. For Kenneth Burke, words are first and foremost action—symbolic action.
    2. For Burke and other rhetorical critics, a critic is one who carefully analyzes the language that speakers and authors use.
    3. They try to discern the motivations behind their messages—and often these motivations aren’t obvious.
    4. Burke devoted his career to developing vocabulary and methods that help theorists understand the connection between the symbols speakers use and their motives for speaking in the first place.
    5. Burke rejected the commonly held notion that communication is primarily a process of message transmission.
    6. The transmission approach treats communication as just one part of the realm of motion, where things move according to cause-and-effect laws without meaning or purpose.
    7. Unlike animals, humans possess the capacity to engage in intentional action.
    8. This ability to plan and act arises from our ability to use symbols. Thus, when we speak, we’re engaging in symbolic action—using words to give life to particular motives and pursue particular goals.
    9. Burke coined the umbrella term dramatism to describe “a technique of analysis of language and thought as basically modes of action rather than as means of conveying information.”
    10. The nature of language itself leads us to believe that something is wrong with the world. And if something is wrong, somebody or something needs to pay the price to make things right.
  2. Language as the genesis of guilt
    1. Burke regarded our capacity for language as the source of our downfall. That’s because language introduced the negative.
    2. We couldn’t have laws without the negative.
    3. Man-made language gives us the capacity to create rules and standards for behavior that Burke called the “thou shalt nots” of life.
    4. Burke uses guilt as his catchall term to cover every form of tension, anxiety, embarrassment, shame, disgust, and other noxious feelings he believed inherent in human symbol-using activity.
    5. Burke reiterates that it’s only through man-made language that the possibility of choice comes into being.
    6. Burke suggests that our inventions—language and all the tools developed with language—cause us grief.
    7. The final phrase of Burke’s “Definition of Man,” which is “rotten with perfection,” is an example of what Burke called perspective by incongruity, or the linking of two dissonant ideas in order to provide shocking new insight.
    8. Perspective by incongruity shocks our sensibilities but helps us see things from a different angle.
  3. The guilt-redemption cycle: A universal motive for rhetoric
    1. The ultimate motivation of all public speaking is to purge ourselves of guilt.
    2. Rhetoric is the public search for someone or something to blame, the quest for a perfect scapegoat.
    3. The “devil term” sums up all that the speaker regards as bad, wrong, or evil.
    4. The “god terms” are the words that sum up all that the speaker regards as righteous and good.
    5. Devil- and god-terms reveal another aspect of Burke’s theory: his frequent use of religious language.
    6. He regarded theology as a field that has fine-tuned its use of language, and he urged the social critic to look for secular equivalents of the major religious themes of guilt, purification, and redemption.
    7. Burke said that the speaker or author has two possible ways of offloading guilt.
      1. The first option is to purge guilt through self-blame.
      2. Described theologically as mortification, this route requires confession of sin and a request for forgiveness.
      3. Since self-blame (or mortification) is difficult to admit publicly, it’s easier to blame someone else.
      4. Victimage is the process of designating an external enemy as the source of all our ills.
  4. Identification: Without it, there is no persuasion.
    1. Identification is the common ground that exists between speaker and audience.
      1. Substance describes a person’s physical characteristics, talents, occupation, friends, experiences, personality, beliefs, and attitudes.
      2. The more overlap between the substance of the speaker and the substance of the audience, the greater the identification.
      3. Although social scientists use the term homophily to describe perceived similarity between speaker and listener, Burke preferred religious language—identification is consubstantiation.
    2. One of the most common ways for speakers to identify with audiences is to lash out at whatever or whomever people fear.
    3. Audiences sense a joining of interests through style as much as through content.
    4. He was more interested in examining rhetoric after the fact to discover what motivates the speaker.
  5. The dramatistic pentad: A lens for interpreting symbolic action.
    1. Burke’s dramatistic pentad enables the critic to dig beneath surface impressions in order to identify the complex motives of a speaker or writer.
      1. The act is the most important element of the pentad, “foremost among the equals.” The act is what was done.
      2. The agent is the person or kind of person who performed the act.
      3. The agency is the procedure, means, or instruments used to perform the act.
      4. The scene is the background of the act, the environment in which it occurred.
      5. The purpose is the implied or stated motive of the act.
    2. The five elements of the pentad usually refer to the act described within the speech rather than the act of giving the speech.
    3. If we identify with the drama, then we’re persuaded, and the symbolic action worked
  6. Ratio: The relative importance of each part of the pentad.
    1. Burke associated each part of the pentad with a corresponding philosophy.
      1. An emphasis on act demonstrates a commitment to realism.
      2. An emphasis on agent is consistent with idealism.
      3. An emphasis on agency springs from the mind-set of pragmatism.
      4. An emphasis on scene downplays free will and reflects an attitude of situational determinism.
      5. An emphasis on purpose suggests the concerns of mysticism.
    2. The ratio of importance between individual pairs of terms in the dramatistic pentad indicates which element provides the best clue to the speaker’s motivation.
    3. The critic can start by identifying the two elements of the pentad most heavily emphasized in the speech. These two elements create the dominant ratio that provides the most insight into the speaker’s motivations.
  7. Critique: Evaluating the critic’s analysis.
    1. Burke was perhaps the foremost twentieth-century rhetorician.
    2. His ideas are tested through qualitative research from a strong community of agreement.
    3. He provided a creative and new understanding of people.
    4. But some scholars don’t think he did enough to clarify values or reform society.
    5. Perhaps the greatest weakness of dramatism is this: Burke isn’t an easy read.
    6. Although Burke’s followers think he was brilliant, it’s hard to argue that his writings have aesthetic appeal.
    7. Burke has done us all a favor by celebrating the life-giving quality of language.

Chapter 24—Narrative Paradigm

  1. Introduction.
    1. For Walter Fisher, storytelling epitomizes human nature.
    2. All forms of human communication that seek to affect belief, attitude or action need to be seen fundamentally as stories.
    3. Offering good reasons has more to do with telling a compelling story than it does with piling up evidence or constructing a tight argument.
    4. Fisher’s narrative paradigm emphasizes that no communication is purely descriptive or didactic.
  2. Telling a compelling story
    1. Most religious traditions are passed on from generation to generation through the retelling of stories.
    2. American writer Frederick Buechner takes a fresh approach to passing on religious story.
    3. Buechner’s account of love, unfaithfulness, and forgiveness in the eighth-century BC biblical story of Hosea and Gomer provides a vehicle for examining Fisher’s narrative paradigm in the rest of the chapter.
  3. Narration and paradigm: Defining the terms.
    1. Fisher defines narration as symbolic actions—words and/or deeds—that have sequence and meaning for those who live, create, and interpret them.
    2. Fisher’s definition of narration is broad.
      1. Narration is rooted in time and space.
      2. It covers every aspect of life with regard to character, motive, and action.
      3. It refers to verbal and nonverbal messages.
      4. Even abstract communication is included.
    3. A paradigm is a conceptual framework —a widely shared perceptual filter.
    4. Fisher’s narrative paradigm is offered as “the foundation on which a complete rhetoric needs to be built.”
  4. Paradigm shift: From a rational-world paradigm to a narrative one.
    1. According to Fisher, the writings of Plato and Aristotle reflect the early evolution from a generic to a specific use of logos—from story to statement.
    2. As opposed to the abstract discourse of philosophy, rhetoric is practical speech—the secular combination of pure logic on the one hand and emotional stories that stir up passions on the other.
    3. Fisher sees philosophical and technical discussion as scholars’ standard approach to knowledge.
    4. The rational-world paradigm is the mind-set of the reigning technical experts.
      1. People are essentially rational.
      2. We make decisions on the basis of arguments.
      3. The type of speaking situation (legal, scientific, legislative) determines the course of our argument.
      4. Rationality is determined by how much we know and how well we argue.
      5. The world is a set of logical puzzles that we can solve through rational analysis.
    5. The narrative paradigm is built on parallel, yet contrasting, premises.
      1. People are essentially storytellers.
      2. We make decisions on the basis of good reasons, which vary depending on the communication situation, media, and genre (philosophical, technical, rhetorical, or artistic).
      3. History, biography, culture, and character determine what we consider good reasons.
      4. Narrative rationality is determined by the coherence and fidelity of our stories.
      5. The world is a set of stories from which we choose, and thus constantly re-create, our lives.
    6. Unlike the rational-world paradigm, the narrative paradigm privileges values, aesthetic criteria, and commonsense interpretation.
    7. We judge stories based on narrative rationality.
  5. Narrative rationality: Coherence and fidelity.
    1. Fisher believes that everyone applies the same standards of narrative rationality to stories.
    2. The operative principle of narrative rationality is identification rather than deliberation.
    3. The twin tests of a story are narrative coherence and narrative fidelity.
    4. Narrative coherence: Does the story hang together?
      1. How probable is the story to the hearer?
      2. Fisher suggests a number of ways we judge whether a story hangs together.
      3. Narrative consistency parallels lines of argument in the rational-world paradigm.
      4. The test of reason, however, is only one factor affecting narrative coherence.
      5. Stories hang together when we’re convinced that the narrator hasn’t left out important details, fudged the facts, or ignored other plausible interpretations.
      6. The ultimate test of narrative coherence is whether or not we can count on the characters to act in a reliable manner.
    5. Narrative fidelity: Does the story ring true and humane?
      1. Does the story square with the hearer’s experiences?
      2. A story has fidelity when it provides good reasons to guide our future actions.
      3. Values set the narrative paradigm’s logic of good reasons apart from the rational-world paradigm’s logic of reasons.
      4. The logic of good reasons centers on five value-related issues.
        1. The values embedded in the message.
        2. The relevance of those values to decisions made.
        3. The consequence of adhering to those values.
        4. The overlap with the worldview of the audience.
        5. Conformity with what audience members believe is an ideal basis of conduct.
      5. People tend to prefer accounts that fit with what they view as truthful and humane.
      6. There is an ideal audience that identifies the humane values that a good story embodies.
      7. These stories include the timeless “values of truth, the good, beauty, health, wisdom, courage, temperance, justice, harmony, order, communion, friendship, and oneness with the Cosmos.”
      8. Communities not based on humane virtues are possible, but Fisher believes these less idealistic value systems lack true coherence.
      9. Fisher believes the humane virtues of the ideal audience shape our logic of good reasons.
      10. Almost all communication is narrative, and we evaluate it on that basis.
  6. Critique: Does Fisher’s story have coherence and fidelity?
    1. Fisher’s theory excels in fulfilling most of the requirements of a good interpretive theory.
    2. He expands our understanding of human nature, is specific about the values we prefer, and supports his new paradigm with intriguing rhetorical criticism of significant texts—a classic method of qualitative research.
    3. If Fisher is right, when it comes to evaluating coherence and fidelity, people with ordinary common sense are competent rhetorical critics.
    4. Fisher’s narrative paradigm offers a fresh reworking to Aristotelian analysis.
    5. Critics charge that Fisher is overly optimistic when, like Aristotle, he argues that people have a natural tendency to prefer the true and the just.
      1. Fisher grants that evil can overwhelm our tendency to adopt good stories, but argues that’s all the more reason to identify and promote the humane values described by the narrative paradigm.
      2. Others suggest that narrative rationality implies that good stories cannot go beyond what people already believe and value, thus denying the rhetoric of possibility.

Chapter 25—Media Ecology

  1. Introduction.
    1. Ecologists study the environment, how people interact with it, and the way these interactions result in change.
    2. Media ecologists study media environments, seeking to understand how people interact with media and how those interactions shape our culture and our daily experiences.
    3. Marshall McLuhan believed that media should be understood ecologically.
    4. Changes in technology alter the symbolic environment––the socially constructed, sensory world of meanings that in turn shapes our perceptions, experiences, attitudes, and behavior.
  2. The medium is the message.
    1. We’re accustomed to thinking that people change because of the messages they consume.
    2. McLuhan blurred the distinction between the message and the medium.
    3. When McLuhan said, "the medium is the message," he wanted us to see that media—regardless of content—reshape human experience and exert far more change in our world than the sum total of all the messages they contain.
    4. We focus on the content and overlook the medium—even though content doesn’t exist outside of the way it’s mediated.
  3. The challenge of media ecology.
    1. Any understanding of social and cultural change is impossible without a knowledge of the way media work as environments.
    2. All environments are inherently intangible and interrelated.
    3. An environment is not a thing; it is the intricate association of many things.
      1.  Invisibility of environments
        1. We have trouble recognizing “the way media work as environments’ because we’re so immersed in them.
        2. We need to focus on our everyday experience of technology.
        3. A medium shapes us because we partake of it over and over until it becomes an extension of ourselves.
        4. It’s the ordinariness of media that makes them invisible.
      2. Complexity of environments
        1. Research on media ecology is rather sparse because it takes up the challenge of trying to understand the interplay between all of these things in a culture that changes at blazing speed.
        2. McLuhan believed that it took a special ability to be able to stand back from the action and take in the big picture.
  4. A media analysis of human history.
    1. McLuhan divided all human history into four periods, or epochs—a tribal age, a literate age, a print age, and an electronic age.
      1. In each case the world was wrenched from one era into the next because of new developments in media technology.
      2. McLuhan believed the transitions (shaded in gray in Figure 25–1) took 300 to 400 years to complete.
    2. The tribal age: An acoustic place in history
      1. The senses of hearing, touch, taste, and smell were more advanced than visualization. McLuhan wrote about the “sensory balance” of the tribal age—a delicate balance and harmony of all the senses despite the high importance of hearing in an age where most of the important information was acoustic and needed to be heard.
      2. McLuhan claimed that “primitive” people led richer and more complex lives than their literate descendants because the ear, unlike the eye, encourages a more holistic sense of the world.
      3. People acted with more passion and spontaneity.
    3. The age of literacy: A visual point of view.
      1. In an acoustic environment, taking something out of context is nearly impossible. In the age of literacy, it’s a reality.
      2. Literacy moved people from collective tribal involvement to private detachment.
      3. Even though the words may be the same as when spoken aloud, the act of reading a text is an individual one.
      4. Literacy encouraged logical, linear thinking, and fostered mathematics, science, and philosophy.
      5. When oppressed people learned to read, they became independent thinkers.
    4. The print age: Prototype of the Industrial Revolution.
      1. McLuhan argued that the most important aspect of movable type was its ability to reproduce the same text over and over again.
      2. The printing press made visual dependence widespread.
      3. The development of fixed national languages produced nationalism.
      4. Concurring with this new sense of unification was a countering sense of separation and aloneness.
    5. The electronic age: The rise of the global village.
      1. McLuhan believed that the electronic media are retribalizing humanity.
      2. Whereas the book extended the eye, electronic circuitry extends the central nervous system.
      3. In an electronic age, privacy is a luxury or a curse of the past.
      4. Linear logic is less important in the electronic society; we focus on what we feel.
    6. The digital age? A wireless Global Village
      1. The digital age is wholly electronic.
      2. The mass age of electronic media is becoming increasingly personalized.
      3. Instead of mass consciousness, which McLuhan viewed rather favorably, we have the emergence of a tribal warfare mentality
      4. Media scholar Brian Ott claims Twitter has altered the nature of public discourse by demanding simplicity, promoting impulsivity, and fostering incivility.
  5. A source of inspiration for McLuhan’s ideas: His Catholic faith.
    1. McLuhan grew up in a Presbyterian family but converted to Catholicism when he was 25-years old.
    2. It’s widely known that McLuhan’s ideas were informed by the work of Canadian professor of economic history, Harold Innis.
    3. But many McLuhan scholars are also quick to note the impact on his thinking of two Jesuit priests, Walter Ong and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.
    4. McLuhan rarely wrote or talked publicly about his faith: “I deliberately keep Christianity out of these discussions lest perception be diverted from structural processes by doctrinal sectarian passions.”
    5. But as a comment he made during a radio interview reveals, his scholarship informed his faith and his faith informed his scholarship. “In Jesus Christ, there is no distance or separation between the medium and the message: it is the one case where we can say that the medium and the message are fully one and the same.”
  6. Ethical reflection: Postman’s Faustian bargain.
    1. Neil Postman believed that the forms of media regulate and even dictate what kind of content the form of a given medium can carry.
    2. Unlike McLuhan, Postman believed that the primary task of media ecology is to make moral judgments.
    3. New technology always presents us with a Faustian bargain—a potential deal with the devil.
    4. As for television, Postman argued that society lost more than it gained.
    5. Postman feared that virtual interaction may sabotage the kind of intimacy that only comes by being in the physical presence of others.
  7. Critique: How could he be right? But what if he is?
    1. McLuhan’s theory suggests objectivity without scientific evidence.
    2. In other words, he used an interpretive approach to make objective claims, but his theory fails to meet most of the standard criteria used to assess either type of theory.
    3. He fails to meet the standards of empirical research.
      1. While he offers an explanation, he does not provide specific predictions of the future.
      2. He offers no evidence to support his claims nor is his theory supported by empirical research.
      3. The theory can’t be tested and has limited practical utility.
    4. Regarded as an interpretive theory, media ecology seems to fare somewhat better.
      1. It offers a new understanding of communication phenomena.
      2. As for aesthetic appeal, McLuhan was superb at crafting memorable phrases, catchy statements, and 10-second sound bites that appealed to media practitioners and popular audiences, which formed a loose community of agreement.
      3. He made no effort to reform society and chose not to clarify his values.
    5. We believe that all students of media should be conversant with his ideas and have some awareness of the impact he’s had in the past, much of which continues today.

Chapter 26—Semiotics

  1. Introduction.
    1. The goal of semiotics is interpreting both verbal and nonverbal signs.
    2. Roland Barthes held the Chair of Literary Semiology at the College of France.
    3. In Mythologies, he sought to decipher the cultural meaning of visual signs, particularly those perpetuating dominant social values.
    4. Semiology is concerned with anything that can stand for something else.
    5. Barthes is interested in signs that are seemingly straightforward, but subtly communicate ideological or connotative meaning.
    6. Barthes had an unusual style for an academic and was extremely influential.
  2. Wrestling with signs.
    1. Barthes initially described his semiotic theory as an explanation of myth.
    2. Barthes’ true concern was with connotation—the ideological baggage that signs carry wherever they go.
    3. The structure of signs is key to Barthes’ theory.
    4. Ferdinand de Saussure coined the term semiology to refer to the study of signs.
    5. A sign is the combination of its signifier and signified.
      1. The signifier is the image; the signified is the concept.
      2. In Barthes’ terms, the signifier isn’t the sign of the signified—rather the sign is the combination of signifier and signified, which are united in an inseparable bond.
      3. These distinctions come from Saussure.
      4. The relationship between the signifier and the signified in a verbal sign is arbitrary.
      5. The relationship between the signifier and the signified in a nonverbal sign is based on affinity and is therefore quasi-arbitrary.
    6. A sign does not stand on its own: it is part of a system.
      1. A structural analysis of features common to all semiotic systems is called taxonomy.
      2. Barthes believed semiotic systems function the same way despite their apparent diversity.
      3. Significant semiotic systems create myths that affirm the status quo as natural, inevitable, and eternal.
  3. The yellow ribbon transformation: From forgiveness to pride.
    1. Not all semiological systems are mythic.
    2. Mythic or connotative systems are second-order semiological systems built off preexisting denotative sign systems.
    3. Within mythic systems, the sign of the first system becomes the signifier of the second.
    4. The yellow ribbons, first popularized in the 1972 song, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘round ol’ Oak Tree,” serve as an example of this transformation.
  4. The making of myth: Stripping the sign of its history.
    1. Every ideological sign is the result of two interconnected sign systems.
    2. The first system is strictly descriptive as the signifier image and the signified concept combine to produce the denotative sign.
    3. The second system appropriates the sign of the denotative system and makes it the signifier of the connotative system.
    4. This lateral shift transforms a neutral sign into an ideological tool.
    5. The original denotative sign is not lost, but it is impoverished.
  5. Unmasking the myth of a homogeneous society.
    1. Only those who understand semiotics can detect the hollowness of connotative signs.
      1. Mythic signs don’t explain, defend, or raise questions.
      2. Mythic signs always reinforce dominant cultural values.
      3. They naturalize the current order of things.
    2. Throughout his life, Roland Barthes deciphered and labeled the ideologies foisted upon naive consumers of images.
    3. All his semiotic efforts were directed at unmasking what he considered the heresy of those who controlled the images of society—the naturalizing of history.
  6. The semiotics of mass communication: “I’d like to be like Mike.”
    1. Because signs are integral to mass communication, Barthes’ semiotic analysis has become an essential media theory.
    2. Kyong Kim argues that the mass signification arising in a response to signs is an artificial effect calculated to achieve something else.
    3. Advertisements on television create layers of connotation that reaffirm the status quo.
  7. Semiotics goes to the movies
    1. More than one hundred years ago when Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure was describing a sign as the combination of the signifier and signified, American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce was independently developing his own model of how signs work.
    2. Peirce included nonverbal signs in his semiotic theorizing right from the start.
      1. Symbolic signs show no resemblance to the objects they reference.
      2. Iconic signs have a perceived resemblance with the objects they portray.
      3. Indexical signs are directly connected with their referents spatially, temporally, or by cause-and-effect.
  8. Critique: Do mythic signs always reaffirm the status quo?
    1. Roland Barthes’ semiotics fulfills five of the criteria of a good interpretive theory exceedingly well: New understanding of people, aesthetic appeal, qualitative analysis, proposal for reforming society, and clarification of values.
    2. Yet the majority of communication scholars in the United States ignore the field of semiotics and the work of its central theorists such as Barthes; thus it does not as strongly meet the standard of community of agreement.
    3. There are questions about Barthes’ view that all connotative systems uphold the values of the dominant class.
    4. Scholars such as Anne Norton and Douglas Kellner expand Barthes’ semiotic approach to argue that signs can subvert the status quo or exemplify a countercultural connotative system.
    5. Barthes’ semiotic approach to imagery remains a core theoretical perspective for communication scholars, particularly those who emphasize media and culture.

Chapter 27—Cultural Studies

  1. Introduction - Critical theorists such as Stuart Hall question the narrow, quantitative, and scientific focus of mainstream communication research on media influence.
  2. Cultural studies versus media studies: An ideological difference.
    1. Hall believed that the media function to maintain the dominance of the powerful and to exploit the poor and powerless.
    2. Ideology is defined as “the mental frameworks – the languages, the concepts, categories, imagery of thought, and the representation – which different classes and social groups deploy in order to make sense of, define, figure out and render intelligible the way society works.”
    3. Most of us are unaware of our ideologies and the tremendous impact they can have on our lives.
    4. Mainstream U.S. mass communication research serves the myth of democratic pluralism and ignores the power struggle that the media mask.
    5. To avoid academic compartmentalization, Hall preferred the term cultural studies to media studies.
    6. Articulate means both speaking out against oppression and linking that subjugation with the communication media.
    7. Since one of Hall’s stated aims was to unmask the power imbalances within society, he said the cultural studies approach is valid if it “deconstructs” the current structure of a media research establishment that fails to deal with ideology.
    8. Cultural studies is closely related to critical theory, but places more emphasis on resistance than rationality.
    9. Hall believed the purpose of theory and research is to empower people who are marginalized in order to change the world.
  3. Hegemony: Marxism without guarantees.
    1. Hall is strongly influenced by Marxist thought, though he sees the hard line of economic determinism as an oversimplification.
    2. Hall uses the term hegemony to refer to already accepted interpretations of reality that keep society’s haves in power over its have-nots.
    3. He emphasizes that media hegemony is not a conscious plot, it’s not overtly coercive, and its effects are not total.
    4. The result is that the role of mass media turns out to be production of consent rather than a reflection of consensus that already exists.
    5. Hall believed that the consent-making function of the mass media is to convince readers and viewers that they share the same interests as those who hold the reins of power.
  4. Making meaning through discourse.
    1. Hall contended that the primary function of discourse is to make meaning.
      1. Words and signs have no intrinsic meaning.
      2. We learn what signs mean through discourse—through frameworks of interpretation.
    2. Hall believed we must examine the sources of discourse.
      1. People with power create “discursive formations” that become naturalized.
      2. Those ways of interpreting the world are perpetuated through further discourse and keep the dominant in power.
  5. Corporate control of mass communication.
    1. Hall believed the focus of the study of communication should be on how human culture influences the media and on power relations and social structures.
    2. For Hall, stripping the study of communication away from the cultural context in which it is found and ignoring the realities of unequal power distribution in society weakened our field and made it less theoretically relevant.
    3. Hall and other advocates of cultural studies believe that media representations of culture reproduce social inequalities and keep the average person powerless.
    4. At least in the U.S., corporations produce and distribute the vast majority of information we receive.
    5. Corporate control of information prevents many stories from being told.
    6. The ultimate issue for cultural studies is not what information is presented, but whose information it is.
  6. Cultural factors that affect the selection of news
    1. Hall saw corporate clout as only one reason broadcast and print journalism support the status quo.
    2. Over an eight year period, Herbert Gans of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism conducted a content analysis of newscasts at CBS and NBC along with the coverage of two news magazines—Newsweek and Time.
    3. He discovered multiple values, procedures, and publishing realities that ensure their stories favor people who already have power, fame, and fortune. Those factors include, source of news, individualism, ethnocentrism, the democratic process, and objectivity.
      1. Sources of news: The bulk of broadcast and print news comes from those who already have power.
      2. Individualism: Americans value individual effort and news stories are usually framed around a single person who is powerful, wealthy, and has a vested interest in the status quo.
      3. Ethnocentrism: Like reporters in other nations, U.S. journalists value their own country over others. They don’t want the United States to look bad.
      4. Democratic processes: Reporters are committed to democracy, so they frame every election in terms of a simplistic “who won or lost?” dichotomy rather than the complexity of the issues.
      5. Objectivity: Most journalists have a strong commitment to report the news without bias—objective reporting of facts without taking sides. This gives the impression that every position is equally valid.
  7. Extreme Makeover: The ideological work of reality TV.
    1. Luke Winslow claims that ordinary people are offered more explicit guidelines for living in reality TV than other genres or formats.
    2. On Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, episodes chronicle the transformation of a deserving family’s desperate living quarters.
    3. Each episode is a mini morality play that suggests wealth goes only to those who deserve it.
    4. Although many intellectuals dismiss the study of popular culture as frivolous, Hall sees it as a key site where the struggle for power between the haves and the have-nots takes place
  8. An obstinate audience.
    1. Audiences may not accept the source’s ideology.
    2. There are three ways to decode a message.
      1. Operate inside the dominant code.
      2. Apply a negotiable code.
      3. Substitute an oppositional code.
    3. Although Hall had trouble believing the powerless can change the system, he respects the ability of people to resist the dominant code.
    4. He is unable to predict, though, when and where resistance will spring up.
    5. James Anderson (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) and Amie Kincaid (University of Illinois, Springfield) point out the paradox of satire that is used by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert on their television shows.
    6. Their very exposure and reiteration of the dominant ideology may make it more acceptable.
    7. Without naming a viable alternative, the dominant ideology will have no rival and seem to be natural.
  9.  Ethical reflection: Larry Frey’s communication activism for social justice.
    1. Social justice activism is based on an identification and solidarity with oppressed, marginalized, and under-resourced communities.
    2. Larry Frey, professor of communication at the University of Colorado, says action to address these wrongs starts with a social justice sensibility—the ethical conviction that “none of us is truly free while others of us are oppressed.”
    3. But according to Frey, most current cultural studies scholars have turned to merely gazing with interest at cultural phenomena. They ignore any attempt to intervene in a meaningful way to aid those trapped in the cultural systems that Hall described.
    4. The ethical mandate of communication activism for social justice insists we act to change structural conditions and attempt to make the world more just.
    5. Frey and Mara Adelman used their communication skills at the Bonaventure House, a residential home for people with AIDS.
  10. Critique: Your judgment will depend on your ideology.
    1. Perhaps more than any other theorist covered in this book, Hall sought to change the world.
    2. Cultural studies involves learning what the “other” is like.
    3. Hall was critical of scholars who didn’t realize—or didn’t reveal—their value commitments.
      1. Many communications scholars question the wisdom of performing scholarship under an ideological banner.
      2. To some, the strong ideological component inherent in cultural studies limits its credibility.
    4. The book Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State, and Law & Order is Hall’s best known qualitative research.
    5. Students’ first reading of a typical Stuart Hall monograph may find it daunting, both in clarity and in style.
    6. Hall enjoys widespread community of agreement for his pioneering work.

Chapter 28—Uses and Gratifications

  1. Introduction.
    1. Instead of asking, “What do media do to people?” Katz flipped the question around to ask, “What do people do with media?”
    2. People make daily choices to consume different types of media.
    3. The theory attempts to make sense of the fact that people consume an array of media messages for all sorts of reasons, and the effect of a given message is unlikely to be the same for everyone.
    4. The driving mechanism of media use is need gratification.
    5. Understanding the need(s) helps to explain the reasons and the effects of media usage.
    6. Five key assumptions underlie the theory of uses and gratifications.
  2. Assumption 1: People use media for their own particular purposes.
    1. The study of how media affect people must take account of the fact that people deliberately use media for particular purposes; this is Katz’s fundamental assumption.
    2. Audiences are not passive.
    3. Uses and gratifications theory emphasizes that media choices are personal and can change over time.
    4. Exposure to media messages do not affect everyone in the same way, but fulfill different purposes at different times.
      1. The uniform effects model of media proposes that media messages have the same effect on everyone in the audience.
      2. Uses and gratifications theory rejects this image and replaces it with one of free choice based on individual yearnings at particular times.
    5. Research by Robert Plomin discovered that genetics accounted for as much as 25% of the variance in media use.
    6. We may have a genetic predisposition to be attracted to given media but the active choice we make cannot be account for by genetics.
  3. Assumption 2: People seek to gratify needs.
    1. The deliberate choices people make in using media are presumably based on the gratifications they seek from those media.
    2. There is not a straight-line effect where a specific effect on behavior can be predicted from media content alone, with no consideration of the consumer.
    3. The key to understanding media depends on which needs a person satisfies when selecting a media message.
  4. Assumption 3: Media complete for our attention and time.
    1. Different media compete with each other for your time as well as other activities that don’t involve media exposure.
    2. The need that motivates media consumption must be identified in an effort to understand why people make the choices they do.
  5. Assumption 4: Media affect different people differently.
    1. Audiences are made up of people who are not identical.
    2. These differences determine the outcome or gratification a consumer receives.
  6. Assumption 5: People can accurately report their media use and motivation.
    1. If uses & gratifications theory was to have any future, researchers had to find a way to uncover the media that people consumed and the reasons they consumed it.
    2. To discover why people consume media, they must be asked.
    3. The controversial aspect of this measurement strategy is whether or not people are truly capable of discerning the reasons for their media consumption.
    4. Scholars have attempted to show that people’s reports of the reasons for their media consumption can be trusted, but this continues to be debated.
  7. A typology of uses and gratifications.
    1. For the last 50 years, uses & grats researchers have compiled various lists of the motives people report, constructing a typology of major reasons for exposure to media.
    2. A typology is simply a classification scheme that attempts to sort a large number of specific instances into a more manageable set of categories.
    3. Rubin claims that his typology of eight motivations can account for most explanations people give for why they watch television.
      1. Passing time.
      2. Companionship.
      3. Escape.
      4. Enjoyment.
      5. Social interaction.
      6. Relaxation.
      7. Information.
      8. Excitement.
    4. Each category is relatively simplistic but can be further subdivided.
    5. Rubin claims that his typology captures most of the explanations people give for their media consumption.
    6. Researchers have argued for including habitual watching as a possible motive for media use.
  8. Parasocial relationships: Using media to have a fantasy friend.
    1. Consumers develop a sense of friendship or emotional attachment with media personalities.
    2. Parasocial relationships can help predict how media will affect different viewers in different ways.
    3. In the same way uses & grats could be used to study TV-viewing, it also holds potential for studying social media.
  9. Beyond TV: Uses & grats in the age of new media.
    1. S. Shyam Sundar, founding director of the media effects laboratory at Penn State, believes technologies such as social media challenge the notion that people use media to satisfy needs that arise from within themselves.
    2. Media technology itself can create gratification opportunities that people then seek.
    3. Whether or not Sundar is right that gratifications may arise from technology rather than ourselves, it seems that the gratification possibilities that emerge with new media aren’t quite the same as the ones formulated when TV ruled the mass media world.
  10. Critique: Heavy on description and light on prediction?
    1. For some, the emphasis on description rather than explanation and prediction is one of the theory’s weak spots.
    2. Jiyeon So notes that uses & gratifications theory was never intended to be merely descriptive; it was originally designed to offer specific predictions about media effects.
    3. The propositions that people use media to gratify particular needs and that those needs can be succinctly described using eight categories seem relatively simple.
    4. Scholars question the testability based on whether or not people can accurately report the reasons for their media use.
    5. Uses & grats does not offer much practical utility, whether users are active participants or not.
    6. Instead of staying with the simple assertion that media audiences were uniformly active and making conscious choices, Rubin modified the theory by claiming that activity was actually a variable in the theory.
    7. It’s now clear that uses & grats has generated a large body of quantitative research.

Chapter 29—Cultivation Theory

  1. Introduction.
    1. George Gerbner argued that heavy television viewing creates an exaggerated belief in a mean and scary world.
    2. Gerbner emphasized the symbolic content of television drama.
    3. Television has surpassed religion as the key storyteller in our culture.
    4. Violence is television’s principal message, and particularly for devoted viewers.
    5. Gerbner was concerned that violence affects viewers’ beliefs about the world around them and the feelings connected to those beliefs, more than leading to violent’ behavior.
    6. Cultivation theory is not limited to TV violence, but it can help people theorize about how TV influences how people view social reality.
    7. Gerbner introduced the theory of cultivation as part of his “cultural indicators” paradigm.
  2. Institutional process analysis: The first prong.
    1. Institutional process research addresses scholars’ interest in determining the reasons why media companies produce the messages they do.
    2. Researchers attempt to understand what policies or practices might be lurking behind the scenes of media organizations.
  3.  Message system analysis: The second prong.
    1. Message system analysis uses the method of content analysis to study and classify the specific messages that TV projects.
    2. Gerbner studied violence, but this method can be used to focus on any type of TV content.
    3. An index of violence
      1. He defined dramatic violence as “the overt expression of physical force (with or without a weapon, against self or others) compelling action against one’s will on pain of being hurt and/or killed or threatened to be so victimized as part of the plot.”
      2. Gerbner’s definition of dramatic violence rules out verbal abuse, idle threats, and pie-in-the-face slapstick.
      3. Gerbner found that the annual index of violence is both extremely high and stable.
    4. Equal violence, unequal risk
      1. On any given week, two-thirds of the major characters are caught up in some kind of violence.
      2. Heroes are just as involved as villains, yet there is great inequality as to the age, race, and gender of those on the receiving end of physical force.
      3. Minority groups are often the recipients of violence on TV, despite their underrepresentation.
      4. Not surprisingly, these are the very people who exhibit the most fear of violence when they turn the TV off.
  4. Cultivation analysis: The third prong.
    1. Message system analysis deals with the content of TV; cultivation analysis deals with how TV’s content might affect viewers—particularly the viewers who spend lots of time glued to the tube.
    2. Television viewing cultivates ways of seeing the world, based on the images, values, portrayals, and ideologies shown on TV.
  5. Cultivation works like a magnetic or gravitational field.
    1. The cultivation process is similar to the pull of a gravitational field.
    2. Although the magnitude of TV’s influence is not the same for every viewer, everyone is affected by it.
    3. Marketing professor L. J. Shrum believes that people make judgments about the world around them based on the accessibility principle--what comes to mind most quickly or the information that is most accessible.
  6. Mainstreaming: Blurring, blending, and bending of viewer attitudes.
    1. Mainstreaming is the process by which heavy viewers develop a commonality of outlook through constant exposure to the same images and labels.
    2. Instead of narrowcasting their programs, TV producers broadcast in that they seek to “attract the largest possible audience by celebrating the moderation of the mainstream.”
    3. TV homogenizes its audience so that heavy viewing habits share the same orientations, perspectives, and meanings with each other, causing people to share common perceptions of reality that resemble the TV world.
    4. The television answer is the mainstream.
    5. Gerbner illustrates the mainstreaming effect by showing how television types blur economic and political distinctions.
      1. They assume that they are middle class.
      2. They believe they are political moderates.
      3. In fact, heavy viewers tend to be conservative.
    6. Traditional differences diminish among people with heavy viewing habits.
  7. Resonance: The TV world looks like my world, so it must be true.
    1. Gerbner thought the cultivating power of TV’s messages would be especially strong over viewers who perceived that the world depicted on TV was a world very much like their own.
    2. This resonance process causes the power of TV’s messages to be stronger for such viewers. 
  8. Research on cultivation analysis.
    1. Cultivation takes time.
    2. Change due to cultivation takes place over months and years; most experiments measure change that takes place over 30 or 60 minutes.
    3. Cultivation analysis relies on surveys instead of experiments.
    4. Gerbner labeled heavy viewers as those who watch four hours or more daily whereas light viewers watch less than two hours.
    5. His basic prediction was that heavy TV viewers would be more likely than light viewers to see the social world as resembling the world depicted on TV.
  9. The major findings of cultivation analysis.
    1. Believing that violence is the backbone of TV drama and knowing that people differ in how much TV they watch, Gerbner sought to discover the cultivation differential. That’s his term for “the difference in the percent giving the ‘television answer’ within comparable groups of light and heavy viewers.”
    2. People with heavy viewing habits believe that 5% of society is involved in law enforcement compared to light viewers’ estimates of 1%.
    3. Heavy viewers are more suspicious of people’s motives.
    4. Gerbner called this cynical mindset the mean world syndrome.
  10. Critique: How strong is the evidence in favor of the theory?
    1. For several decades, communication journals have been filled with the sometimes bitter charges and countercharges of critics and supporters.
    2. Perhaps the most daunting issue to haunt cultivation research is how to clearly establish the causal claim that heavy TV viewing leads a person to perceive the world as mean and scary.
    3. Testability is seen as low because there is a lack of longitudinal studies.
    4. Correlation is not necessarily cause and effect. Both fear of crime and heavy television viewing could be the result of other factors—living in a high crime area, for example.
    5. Cultivation effects also tend to be statistically small.
    6. The theory must adapt to the new media environment of cable and streaming.
    7. It’s also important to keep in mind that amid all the criticism, few theories in the area of mass communication have generated as many studies.

Chapter 30—Agenda-Setting Theory

  1. Most of us can’t pay equal attention to more than a dozen issues. Time and mental energy are scarce resources.
    1. The typical person can only focus on about five issues at any one time.
    2. The small set of issues that’s most important to you at the moment is your personal agenda.
    3. Taking the average of those concerns across an entire community, state, or nation is the public agenda—the set of issues most salient (in other words, that capture attention) across a group of people at a given time.
    4. The degree of importance that the news media assigns to issues at a given moment is the media agenda.
    5. The basic hypothesis of the theory is this: over time, the media agenda shapes the public agenda.
    6. McCombs, Shaw, and others have amassed decades of evidence that documents the power of the press to shape our reality.
    7. They've found that agenda-setting occurs in three ways, or levels.
  2. Level 1: The media tells us what to think about.
    1. McCombs wondered if, over time, the public agenda came to reflect the media agenda, such that “we judge as important what the media judge as important.”
    2. In opposition to then-current wisdom that mass communication had limited effects upon its audience, Theodore White came to the conclusion that the media shaped election campaigns
    3. Walter Lippmann claimed that the media act as a mediator between “the world outside and the pictures in our heads.”
    4. What set McCombs and Shaw apart is that they put these hunches to empirical test.
    5. McCombs and Shaw first tested their theory with undecided voters in Chapel Hill, NC.
      1. McCombs and Shaw’s first task was to measure the media agenda.
      2. They established position and length of story as the two main criteria of prominence of stories in local print and broadcast news
      3. With the media agenda measured, their next task was to assess the public agenda. McCombs and Shaw asked undecided voters to outline what each one considered the key issue of the campaign, regardless of what the candidates might be saying.
      4. The initial Chapel Hill study only demonstrated that the media and public agendas are correlated.
      5. A true test must be able to show that public priorities lag behind the media agenda.
      6. It took a tightly controlled experiment run by Yale researchers to establish a cause-and-effect chain of influence from the media agenda to the public agenda.
      7. Iyengar, Peters, and Kinder’s study was the first of many studies to offer strong evidence that the media agenda causes which stories are salient in the public agenda—the first level of agenda-setting.
  3. Level 2: The media tells us which attributes of issues are most important.
    1. The first level of agenda-setting demonstrates that media tells us what to think about, but do they also tell us how to think about it?
    2. For the first two decades of agenda-setting research, the accepted answer was no.
      1. For a long time, almost every article about the theory included this mantra: the media aren’t very successful in telling us what to think, but they are stunningly successful in telling us what to think about.
      2. But then scholars realized that, by emphasizing certain attributes of issues over other attributes, the media do more than just make topics salient.
  4. The second level of agenda setting is the transfer of salience of a dominant set of attributes that the media associate with an attitude object to the specific features of the image projected on the walls of our minds.
    1. Some scholars call this selection process framing.
    2. James Tankard, one of the leading writers on mass communication theory, defines a media frame as “the central organizing idea for news content that supplies a context and suggests what the issue is through the use of selection, emphasis, exclusion, and elaboration.”
  5. The press frame people, too, especially political figures.
  6. It’s impossible to report stories without emphasizing certain attributes over others.
    1. For better or worse, framing isn’t optional.
    2. In most studies, the voters’ agenda mirrors the media’s agenda in substance (the first level) and in tone (the second level).
  7. But object salience and attribute framing aren’t the end of the story.
  8. Level 3: The media tell us which issues go together
    1. The media communicates issues as though they are an interconnected web, with some connections stronger than others.
    2. Like framing, these kinds of connections aren’t optional.
    3. Even where a story is placed on a web page or in a newscast might establish such connections.
    4. The third level of agenda-setting examines how the media’s issue map influences the public’s issue map.
  9. Beyond opinion: The behavioral effect of the media’s agenda
    1. Most of the research studies on agenda-setting have measured the effect of media agendas on public opinion.
    2. McCombs now presents several intriguing findings showing that media priorities also influence people’s behavior.
    3. Areas of practical application include coverage of the flu and vaccinations, university enrollment when high crimes are reported, and decreased plane ticket sales after skyjacking reports.
    4. Savvy marketers can also use agenda-setting effects to promote their business products.
  10. Who sets the agenda for the agenda setters?
    1. Agenda-setting research has gathered strong evidence that the media agenda influences the public agenda. This begs the question: What, then, shapes the media agenda?
    2. So far, research has identified several sources journalists rely on to decide what counts as news.
      1. Other new organizations. When one news source influences the agenda of another one, that’s intermedia agenda-setting.
      2. Emerging media can break a story that then gets picked up by mainstream sources.
      3. Partisan media such as political talk radio and websites hold influence.
      4. Candidates and office-holders can sometimes single-handedly set the agenda.
      5. Press releases from public relations professionals repackage the news.
      6. Interest aggregations refers to a cluster of people who demand center stage for their issue.
      7. Gatekeepers can be editors who ultimately determine what gets published.
    3. Disturbingly, fake news appeared to exert at least some influence on the agenda of more credible news organizations.
  11. Need for orientation influences agenda-setting effects
    1. McCombs and Shaw suspected that some viewers might be more resistant to the media’s priorities than others.
    2. The key factor they’ve discovered is our need for orientation.
    3. It represents a drive to make sense of the world around us, to orient our understanding of it.
    4. For some people, need for orientation is an internal drive that motivates them no matter the issue.
    5. McCombs believes both relevance and uncertainty lead us to have a need for orientation on a particular issue.
  12. Melding agendas into communities
    1. McCombs and Shaw’s agenda-setting theory has found an appreciative audience among mass communication researchers because it offers two attractive features: it reaffirms the power of the press while maintaining that individuals are free to choose.
    2. More than ever before, there isn’t one dominant media agenda that descends from the boardrooms of East Coast media establishments.
    3. Multiple media agendas exist and we can choose from among them.
    4. McCombs and Shaw suggest that we can make sense of the media landscape if we sort outlets into two types.
      1. One type is vertical media.
        1. They try to appeal to a broad, diverse audience.
        2. Examples of such vertical media in the United States include the newspaper USA Today, Time and Newsweek magazines, and nightly news broadcasts on ABC, NBC, and CBS.
      2. In contrast, horizontal media “usually connect us via valued special interest and personal interest communities.”
        1. They appeal to niche audiences.
        2. These include Fox News, MSNBC, partisan talk shows, magazines devoted to particular hobbies and industries, and many sources of news on social media.
    5. Agenda-setting theorists believe that we assemble our view of current events from these media and our own experiences.
    6. They call this agendamelding, or “the social process by which we meld agendas from various sources, including other people, to create pictures of the world that fit our experiences and preferences.”
    7. It’s a social process because agendamelding creates communities. People like to spend time with people who think like they do.
      1. An advantage of the digital news environment is that diverse people can speak about public issues and, perhaps, have their voices heard.
      2. Yet the very technology that connects us can also allow us to separate into our own isolated agendamelding communities.
  13. Ethical reflections: Christians’ communitarian ethics.
    1. Christians believes that discovering the truth is still possible if we are willing to examine the nature of our humanity.
    2. Mutuality is the essence of humanness.
    3. His communitarian ethics establish civic transformation rather than objective information as the primary goal of the press.
    4. He insists that media criticism must be willing to reestablish the idea of moral right and wrong.
    5. Journalists have a social responsibility to promote the sacredness of life.
  14. Critique: Who sets the agenda in the digital era?
    1. When compared to the standards for evaluating an objective theory, agenda-setting theory fares well.
      1. Study after study has demonstrated the theory’s ability to explain the data about agendas, and not only in the United States, but elsewhere as well.
      2. That’s because carefully-constructed quantitative research on the theory’s testable hypotheses, conducted over time and through experiments, has built a strong case for the order of causation.
      3. The theory remains relatively simple.
      4. To any company, candidate, or celebrity who cares what the media are saying about them, the theory is practically useful.
      5. Agenda-setting theory is a good model for what an objective theory should be.
    2. The greatest challenge to the theory’s longevity may be the digital era foreseen by McLuhan and other scholars.
      1. McCombs doesn’t seem to think the digital age changes agenda-setting all that much.
      2. But studies in the traditional mold of agenda-setting research may miss the point.
      3. Every time you visit social media or use a search engine, an algorithmic gatekeeper filters the information and decides what you’ll see.
        1. This filtering often occurs on the basis of a number of personal factors.
        2. What exactly does the social media agenda mean when it’s tailored so specifically to the user, precisely because it arises from the user’s own preferences?

Chapter 31—Genderlect Styles

  1. Introduction.
    1. Deborah Tannen argues that male-female communication is cross-cultural.
    2. Miscommunication between men and women is both common and insidious because the parties usually don’t realize that the encounters are cross-cultural.
    3. Tannen’s writing underscores the mutually alien nature of male and female conversation styles.
    4. Tannen’s approach departs from much feminist scholarship that claims that conversations between men and women reflect male domination.
      1. She assumes that male and female conversational styles are equally valid.
      2. The term genderlect suggests that masculine and feminine styles of discourse are best viewed as two distinct cultural dialects rather than as inferior or superior ways of speaking.
    5. At the risk of reinforcing a reductive biological determinism, Tannen insists that there are gender differences in the ways we speak.
  2. Women’s desire for connection versus men’s desire for status.
    1. More than anything else, women seek human connection.
    2. Men are concerned mainly with status.
    3. Tannen agrees that many men and women would like to have intimacy and independence in every situation if they could, but she doesn’t think it’s possible.
    4. Tannen does not believe that men and women seek only status or connection, respectively, but these are their primary goals.
  3. Rapport talk versus report talk.
    1. Tannen scrutinizes the conversation of representative speakers from the feminine culture and the masculine culture to determine their core values.
    2. These linguistic differences give her confidence that the connection/status distinction structures verbal contact between women and men.
    3. Julia Wood thinks that Tannen’s observations have merit and that the connection/status distinction is evident even in childhood.
    4. Each of these speech forms shows that women value rapport talk, while men value report talk.
      1. Public speaking versus private speaking.
        1. Folk wisdom suggests that women talk more than men.
        2. Women talk more than do men in private conversations.
        3. In the public arena, men vie for ascendancy and speak much more than do women.
        4. James Pennebaker’s empirical evidence calls into question the supposed gender difference in the quantity of talk, but not necessarily its quality—its tone and intent.
        5. Men assume a lecture style to establish a “one-up” position, command attention, convey information, and insist on agreement.
        6. Men’s monologue style is appropriate for report, but not for rapport.
        7. Girls learn to involve others in conversations while boys learn to use communication to assert their own ideas and draw attention to themselves.
      2. Telling a story.
        1. Tannen recognizes that the stories people tell reveal a great deal about their hopes, needs, and values.
        2. Men tell more stories and jokes than do women.
          1. Telling jokes is a masculine way to negotiate status.
          2. Men are the heroes in their own stories.
        3. When women tell stories, they downplay themselves.
      3. Listening.
        1. Women show attentiveness through verbal and nonverbal cues.
        2. Men may avoid these cues to keep from appearing “one-down.”
        3. A woman interrupts to show agreement, to give support, or to supply what she thinks the speaker will say (a cooperative overlap).
        4. Men regard any interruption as a power move.
      4. Asking questions.
        1. Tannen thinks that men and women also annoy each other with their different ways of asking questions—or of not asking them.
        2. Men don’t ask for help because it exposes their ignorance.
        3. Women ask questions to establish a connection with others.
        4. When women state their opinions, they often use tag questions to soften the sting of potential disagreement and to invite participation in open, friendly dialogue.
      5. Conflict.
        1. Since they see life as a contest, many men are more comfortable with conflict and are therefore less likely to hold themselves in check.
        2. To women, conflict is a threat to connection to be avoided at all costs.
        3. Men are extremely wary about being told what to do.
      6. Nonverbal communication.
        1. Curiously, Tannen doesn’t extend the connection/status distinction to the ways in which men and women communicate nonverbally.
        2. Susan Pease Gadoua, a licensed marriage counselor with a column in Psychology Today magazine, finds it difficult to analyze the way men and women talk to each other without also including the nonverbal component.
        3. Sadly, Gadoua observes that when women want to connect and men want to have sex, it’s often the case that neither activity takes place.
  4. Men and women grow up in different speech communities
    1. Tannen concluded that the origins of speaking in different genderlects must be traced back to early childhood.
    2. Linguists and communication scholars refer to the segregated groups to which boys and girls belong as speech communities.
    3. The differences that Tannen sees between the speech of adult males and females have their roots in the early socialization of children.
  5. “Now you’re beginning to understand.”
    1. Tannen believes that both men and women need to learn how to adopt the other’s voice.
    2. However, she expresses only guarded hope that men and women will alter their linguistic styles.
    3. She has more confidence in the benefits of multicultural understanding between men and women.
  6. Ethical reflection: Gilligan’s different voice.
    1. Gilligan claims that women tend to think and speak in an ethical voice different from men.
    2. She believes men seek autonomy and think in terms of justice; women desire linkage and think in terms of care.
    3. Men’s justice is impersonal; women’s is contextual.
    4. Though more descriptive than prescriptive, the underlying assumption is that the way things are reflects the way things ought to be.
    5. Gilligan’s theory suggests different ethics for different groups.
  7. Critique: Is Tannen soft on research--and men?
    1. Tannen suggests we use the “aha factor”—a subjective standard of validity—to test her truth claims.
    2. Tannen’s analysis of common misunderstandings between men and women has struck a chord with millions of readers and mental health care professionals.
    3. Critics suggest that selective data may be the only way to support a reductionist claim that women are one way and men another.
    4. Tannen’s intimacy/independence dichotomy echoes one of Baxter and Bakhtin’s tensions, but it suggests none of the ongoing complexity of human existence that relational dialectics theory describes.
    5. Tannen’s assertions about male and female styles run the risk of becoming self-fulfilling prophecy.
    6. Adrianne Kunkel and Brant Burleson challenged the different cultures perspective that is at the heart of Tannen’s genderlect theory, citing their work on comforting as equally valuable to both sexes.
    7. Senta Troemel-Ploetz accuses Tannen of ignoring issues of male dominance, control, power, sexism, discrimination, sexual harassment, and verbal insults.
      1. You cannot omit issues of power from communication.
      2. Men understand what women want but give it only when it suits them.
      3. Tannen’s theory should be tested to see if men who read her book talk more empathetically with their wives.

Chapter 32—Standpoint Theory

  1. Introduction.
    1. Standpoint theorists suggest our view of the world depends on our social location.
    2. That social location is shaped by our demographic characteristics, including sex, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and economic status.
    3. As Julia Wood puts it, “the social groups within which we are located powerfully shape what we experience and know as well as how we understand and communicate with ourselves, others, and the world.”
    4. Standpoint theorists believe that knowledge starting from the social location of marginalized people “can provide a more objective view than the perspective from the lives of the more powerful.”
    5. Feminist standpoint theorists focus on the social location of women.
    6. They are quick to warn that a social location is not a standpoint.
    7. A feminist standpoint is “achieved through critical reflection on power relations and their consequences.”
    8. A standpoint necessarily opposes the status quo.
  2. A feminist standpoint rooted in philosophies.
    1. Georg Hegel revealed that what people “know” depends upon which group they are in and that the powerful control received knowledge.
    2. Early feminist standpoint theorists were influenced by Marx and Engels’ idea that the poor can be society’s “ideal knowers.”
    3. Standpoint theory is also influenced by symbolic interactionism, which suggests that gender is socially constructed, and by the postmodernism of theorists such as Jean-Francois Lyotard, which suggests a critique of male-centered epistemologies.
    4. However, standpoint theorists reject postmodernism’s absolute relativism.
    5. Although Harding and Wood draw from these somewhat conflicting influences, their theory is held together by the central tenet that all scholarly inquiry should start from the lives of women and others who are marginalized.
  3. The Help: Stories from the lives of marginalized women
    1. Passages from the book The Help will be used to help describe the theory.
    2. Communication professor Rachel Griffin at the University of Utah questions whether the novel, written by a white woman, accurately represents black voices—a fair critique.
    3. The African-American actresses who portrayed leading characters in the film disagree.
    4. These debates demonstrate how messy standpoints can be, even among those who take the social location of women seriously.
  4. Women as a marginalized group.
    1. Standpoint theorists see important differences between men and women that shape their communication.
    2. Wood does not attribute gender differences to biology, maternal instinct, or women’s intuition.
      1. To the extent that women are distinct from men, she sees the difference largely as a result of cultural expectations and the treatment that each group receives from the other.
      2. A culture is not experienced identically by all members of society because of inequities.
      3. Feminist standpoint theorists suggest that women are underadvantaged and, thus, men are overadvantaged—a gender difference that makes a huge difference.
    3. Harding and Wood point out that women are not a monolithic group, and thus they do not all share the same social location.
      1. Economic condition, race, and sexual orientation also contribute to a woman’s position in society.
      2. An intersection of minority positions creates a highly looked-down-upon location in the social hierarchy.
      3. Wood believes that a sense of solidarity is politically useful if women are to effectively challenge male domination and gain full participation in public life.
  5. Knowledge from nowhere versus local knowledge.
    1. People at the top of the societal hierarchy have the power to define others.
    2. Standpoint theorists believe that those who define a field shape the picture of the world that emerges from that field.
    3. This view contrasts sharply with the claim that “truth” is value-free and accessible to any objective observer.
    4. Harding and other standpoint theorists insist there is no possibility of an unbiased perspective that is disinterested, impartial, value-free, or detached from a particular historical situation.
    5. Harding does not want to abandon the search for reality; she simply believes that the search should begin from the lives of those in the underclass.
      1. Like all knowledge, the perspectives arising from the standpoint of women or any other minority are partial or situated knowledge.
      2. However, standpoint theorists believe that the perspectives of subordinate groups are more complete and thus better than those of privileged groups in a society.
  6. Strong objectivity: Less partial views from the standpoint of women.
    1. Harding emphasizes that it’s the perspective generalized from women’s lives that provides a preferred standpoint from which to begin research.
      1. She calls this approach “strong objectivity.”
      2. By contrast, knowledge generated from the standpoint of dominant groups offers only “weak objectivity.”
    2. Wood offers two reasons why the standpoints of women and other marginalized groups are less partial, distorted, and false than those of men in dominant positions.
      1. Marginalized people have more motivation to understand the perspective of the powerful than vice versa.
      2. Marginalized people have little reason to defend the status quo.
    3. Harding and Wood emphasize that a woman’s location on the margin of society is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition to attain a feminist standpoint.
    4. They believe a feminist standpoint is an achievement gained through critical reflection rather than a piece of territory automatically inherited by being a woman.
  7. Theory to practice: communication research based on women’s lives.
    1. Wood’s study of caregiving in the United States exemplifies research that starts from the lives of women.
    2. Wood suggests that a standpoint approach is practical to the extent that it generates an effective critique of unjust practices.
  8. The standpoint of black feminist thought.
    1. Patricia Collins claims that “intersecting oppressions” puts black women in a different marginalized social location than either white women or black men.
    2. The different social location means that black women’s way of knowing is different from Harding and Wood’s standpoint epistemology.
    3. She identifies four ways that black women validate knowledge.
      1. Lived experience as a criterion of meaning.
      2. The use of dialogue in assessing knowledge claims.
      3. The ethic of caring.
      4. The ethic of personal accountability.
  9. Ethical reflection: Benhabib’s interactive universalism
    1. Seyla Benhabib maintains that a universal ethical standard is a viable possibility, one that values diversity of belief without thinking that every difference is ethically significant.
    2. She holds out the possibility that instead of reaching a consensus on how everyone should act, interacting individuals can align themselves with a common good.
    3. Benhabib insists that any panhuman ethic be achieved through interaction with collective concrete others rather than imposed on them by the rational elite.
    4. Interactive universalism would avoid privatizing women’s experiences.
  10. Critique: Do standpoints on the margins give a less false view?
    1. Feminist standpoint theory was originally developed to better appreciate the value of women’s lived experiences, with the hope that qualitative research on marginalized groups can bring about societal reform that takes their perspectives seriously.
    2. Although comparing male and female experiences has an aesthetic appeal in its simplicity, many feminist scholars now think that’s too simple.
      1. Feminist scholar Kathy Davis (VU University Amsterdam) further notes that feminist theories developed by white Western women emerge from a stance that may not account for the diversity of women’s experiences around the world.
      2. One answer to this problem is intersectionality.
      3. For feminist scholars, intersectionality refers to how identities occur at the crossroads of gender, race, sexuality, age, occupation, and any number of other characteristics.
      4. It’s an intellectual tool that sharpens standpoint theorists’ understanding of people—people who often defy simple categorization.
    3. John McWhorter, an African American professor of English at Columbia University, is also concerned that some people use standpoint logic to oversimplify the human condition.
    4. Other critics see the concept of strong objectivity as inherently contradictory, since it seems to appeal to universal standards of judgment
    5. Standpoint theory energizes Idaho State University rhetorician Lynn Worsham and others in the theory’s broad community of agreement who believe that minority standpoints can be a partial corrective to the biased knowledge that now passes for truth.
 

Chapter 33—Muted Group Theory

  1. Introduction.
    1. To Cheris Kramarae, language is a man-made construction.
    2. Women’s words and thoughts are discounted in our society.
    3. When women try to overcome this inequity, the masculine control of communication places them at a disadvantage.
    4. Women are a muted group because man-made language aids in defining, depreciating, and excluding them.
  2. Muted groups: Black holes in someone else’s universe.
    1. Anthropologist Edwin Ardener first proposed that women are a muted group.
    2. He noted that many ethnographers claimed to have “cracked the code” of a culture without referencing female speech.
    3. He and Shirley Ardener discovered that mutedness is caused by the lack of power that besets any group of low status.
    4. Mutedness doesn’t mean that low-power groups are completely silent. The issue is whether people can say what they want to say when and where they want to say it.
    5. He claimed that muted groups are “black holes” because they are overlooked, muffled, and rendered invisible.
    6. Kramarae argues that the ever-prevalent public/private distinction in language is a convenient way to exaggerate gender differences and pose separate sexual spheres of activity.
  3. The masculine power to name experience.
    1. Kramarae’s basic assumption is that women perceive the world differently from men because of women’s and men’s different experiences and activities rooted in the division of labor.
    2. Kramarae argues that because of their political dominance, men’s system of perception is dominant, impeding the free expression of women’s alternative models of the world.
    3. Men’s control of the dominant mode of expression has produced a vast stock of derogatory, gender-specific terms to refer to women’s speech.
    4. There are also more words to describe sexually promiscuous women than men.
    5. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis suggests that muted women may come to doubt the validity of their experiences and the legitimacy of their feelings.
  4. Men as the gatekeepers of communication.
    1. Even if the public mode of expression contained a rich vocabulary to describe feminine experience, women would still be muted if their modes of expression were ignored or ridiculed.
      1. Kramarae points out that both the law and the conventions of proper etiquette have served men well.
      2. Kramarae observes that most gatekeepers are men—a “good ole boys” cultural establishment that historically has excluded women’s art, poetry, plays, film scripts, public address, and scholarly essays.
      3. Mainstream communication is “malestream” expression.
    2. Authors such as Virginia Woolf and Dorothy Smith have argued that women have not been given their rightful place in history.
    3. Many women have suppressed their feminine identity to satisfy the demands of a male gatekeeper.
    4. To some extent, Kramarae thinks advances in technology create new spaces where women can make their voices heard.
    5. But tech executive Eli Pariser notes that these programs are likely to “simply reflect the social mores of the culture they’re processing.”
    6. Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg believes technology won’t reflect the interests of female users until we have more women in technology fields.
  5. Speaking women’s truth in men’s talk: The problem of translation.
    1. Kramarae believes that in order to participate in society, women must transform their own models in terms of the received male system of expression.
    2. This translation process requires constant effort and leaves women wondering if they said it right.
    3. According to Kramarae, women have to choose their words carefully in a public forum.
  6. Speaking out in private: Networking with women.
    1. Kramarae believes that females are likely to find ways to express themselves outside the dominant public modes of expression used by males.
    2. She labels women’s outlets the female “sub-version” that runs beneath the surface of male orthodoxy.
    3. She is convinced that males have more difficulty than females understanding what members of the other gender mean because they haven’t made the effort.
    4. Dale Spender hypothesizes that men realize that listening to women would involve a renunciation of their privileged position.
  7. Enriching the lexicon: A feminist dictionary.
    1. The ultimate goal of muted group theory is to change the man-made linguistic system that oppresses women including challenging sexist dictionaries.
    2. Traditional dictionaries pose as authoritative guides to proper language use, but because of their reliance on male literary sources, lexicographers systematically exclude words coined by women.
    3. Kramarae and Paula Treichler have compiled a feminist dictionary that offers definitions for women’s words that don’t appear in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary and presents alternative feminine readings of words that do.
  8. Sexual harassment: Coining a term to label experience.
    1. The popularization of the term sexual harassment represents a great victory for feminist communication scholarship—encoding women’s experience into the received language of society.
    2. Although unwanted sexual attention is not new, until recently it went unnamed.
    3. The battle over sexual harassment is as much a struggle over language as it is over sexual conduct.
      1. Communication professor Ann Burnett (North Dakota State University) identifies similar confusion and powerlessness regarding date rape—an acute form of sexual harassment often directed at college women.
      2. Uncertainty favors men—and mutes women—before, during, and after date rape.
  9. Critique: Do men mean to mute?
    1. Feminist scholars insist that “the key communication activities of women’s experiences—their rituals, vocabularies, metaphors, and stories—are an important part of the data for study.”
    2. The theory has inspired many scholars to take the voices of women and other muted groups seriously.
    3. Few other interpretive theories in this book can claim such wide-ranging support and enthusiasm.
    4. Steeped in the critical tradition, muted group theory is exceedingly candid about trying to clarify values.
    5. So, can men be members of a muted group? Kramarae’s answer is yes, especially if those men identify with another marginalized group, such as the economically disadvantaged or an ethnic minority.
    6. Kramarae acknowledges that oppression is more complex than identification with any one group.
    7. Her perspective on men’s motives is contested by scholars such as Tannen.
    8. Kramarae thinks Tannen’s apology for men’s abuse of power is too simple.

Chapter 34—Communication Accommodation Theory

  1. Introduction.
    1. Howard Giles built communication accommodation theory (CAT) as an answer to questions regarding intent and perception of changing speech patterns, cultural group membership, and social consequences.
    2. Giles refers to his speech adjustments as accommodation, or changing communication behavior in a way that reduces social distance.
    3. In contrast, failing to alter one’s style (or any other communication adjustment that maintains or increases social distance) is nonaccommodation.
    4. The early research of Giles and his colleagues centered on interethnic communication, often between two bilingual groups in the same country.
    5. In the last three decades, however, CAT researchers have also shown consistent interest in exploring accommodation in an intergenerational context.
    6. Whether differences between people are generational, cultural, or from any other source, Giles thinks an understanding of CAT can help members of different groups communicate effectively with each other.
  2. How we accommodate (or how we don’t)
    1. Giles contrasts convergence and divergence, two strategic forms of communication used to interact with diverse others.
    2. Convergence
      1. Convergence is a strategy by which you adapt your communication behavior in such a way as to become more similar to the other person.
      2. Most of the time, we do it because we want to accommodate the other person.
      3. It is a form of audience adaption to reduce nonverbal differences.
      4. Discourse management, another way of adapting, is the sensitive selection of topics to discuss.
    3. Divergence
      1. Divergence is a communication strategy of accentuating the differences between yourself and another.
      2. Most of the time, the goal of divergence is nonaccommodation.
      3. Divergence may include counteraccommodation—direct, intentional, and even hostile ways of maximizing the differences between speakers.
      4. The elderly often increase social distance through the process of self- handicapping —a defensive, face-saving strategy that uses age as a reason for not performing well.
      5. Giles and his colleagues describe two other strategies similar to divergence that are a bit more subtle, but function as nonaccommodation.
        1. Maintenance is the strategy of persisting in your original communication style regardless of the communication behavior of the other.
        2. The other strategy that’s similar to divergence is overaccommodation, which may be well-intended, but has the effect of making the recipient feel worse.
  3. Different motivations for convergence and divergence.
    1. CAT theorists have always maintained that desire for approval was the main motivation for convergence
    2. But this doesn’t account for divergence, nor for when speakers act as representatives of a group.
    3. Social identity theory
      1. When communicators are aware of their group differences, that’s intergroup contact. Henri Tajfel and John Turner believed intergroup contact is common, and that our social identity is based upon it.
      2. We often communicate not as individuals but as representatives of groups that define us.
      3. Communication may be used to reinforce and defend ties to reference groups.
      4. When groups are salient at the start of an interaction with someone different, CAT claims that communication will diverge away from a partner’s speech rather than converge toward it.
      5. Tajfel and Turner pictured a motivational continuum with personal identity on one end of the scale and social identity on the other.
      6. If communicators feel the need for distinctiveness, then divergence is often the result.
      7. They hold out the possibility that a person could seek approval and distinctiveness within the same conversation when personal and social identities are both salient.
    4. Initial orientation
      1. Initial orientation is the predisposition a person has toward focusing on either individual identity or group identity.
      2. Five factors impact the perception of a conversation as an intergroup encounter.
        1. Collective cultural context.
          1. The we-centered focus of collectivism emphasizes similarity and mutual concern within the culture—definitely oriented toward social identity.
          2. The I-centered focus of individualistic cultures valorizes the individual actor—definitely oriented toward individual identity.
        2. If previous interactions were uncomfortable, competitive, or hostile, both interactants will tend to ascribe that outcome to the other person’s social identity.
        3. The more specific and negative stereotypes people have of an out-group, the more likely they are to think of the other in terms of social identity and then resort to divergent communication.
        4. Expectations of group norms can affect whether a member of one group regards a person from another group as an individual or as “one of them.”
        5. High group solidarity and high group dependence would predict that we have initial intergroup orientation.
    5. No single factor determines a person’s initial orientation, yet if all five factors line up in the direction of social identity, they make it almost certain that a communicator will approach it as an intergroup encounter.
  4. Recipient evaluation of convergence and divergence.
    1. People converge when they want social approval and diverge when they want to emphasize their distinctiveness.
    2. Giles and his colleagues still believe that listeners regard convergence as positive and divergence as negative.
    3. Convergent speakers are evaluated as more competent, attractive, warm, and cooperative compared to divergent communicators who are seen as insulting, impolite, and hostile.
    4. What is ultimately important is how the communicator is perceived.
      1. Objective versus subjective accommodation.
        1. A disconnect may exist between what is actually happening and what a listener perceives is happening.
        2. Speakers who converge may also misperceive the other’s style.
      2. Attribution theory.
        1. Heider and Kelley suggest that we attribute an internal disposition to the behavior we see another enact.
        2. Our default assumption is that people who do things like that are like that.
        3. Listeners’ evaluation is based on the other’s ability, external constraints, and expended effort.
        4. Overall, listeners who interpret convergence as a speaker’s desire to break down cultural barriers react quite favorably.
    5. The interpersonal tension created by divergence or maintenance can certainly block the formation of intergroup or intercultural relationships and understanding.
    6. But the upside for the communicator is the reaffirmed social identity and solidarity that comes from enacting a divergent strategy.
  5. Applying CAT to police officer-citizen interaction.
    1. CAT can be applied to any intercultural or intergroup situation where the differences between people are apparent and significant.
    2. Giles has employed CAT to analyze routine traffic stops for issues of accommodation and race.
    3. The goal of one CAT study was “to move beyond casual assumptions to systematically investigate the extent to which the race of interactants might influence the nature of police–civilian communication.”
  6. Critique: Enormous scope at the cost of clarity.
    1. CAT not only describes communication behavior, it explains why it happens.
    2. The theory has consistently predicted what will happen in specific situations.
    3. CAT is an extraordinarily complex theory presented in multiple versions that are sometimes offered simultaneously.
    4. The structure and underlying terminology are not always represented consistently with even the meaning of “accommodation” slippery.
    5. The complexity problem spills over into the possibility of being able to demonstrate that the theory is false.
    6. Tests of the theory have admirably used a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods.
    7. The theory provides practical insight into many situations where people from different groups or cultures come into contact.

Chapter 35—Face-Negotiation Theory

  1. Introduction.
    1. Stella Ting-Toomey’s face-negotiation theory helps to explain cultural differences in response to conflict.
    2. A basic assumption is that all people negotiate “face.”
      1. Face is a metaphor for our public self-image – the way we want others to see us and treat us.
      2. Facework refers to specific verbal and nonverbal messages that help to maintain and restore face loss, and to uphold and honor face gain.
    3. Our identity can always be called into question, which inevitably leads to conflict and vulnerability.
    4. Facework and corresponding styles of handling conflict vary from culture to culture.
    5. Face-negotiation theory postulates that the facework of people from individualistic cultures like the United States or Germany will be strikingly different from the facework of people from collectivistic cultures like Japan or China.
    6. Ting-Toomey suggests that face maintenance is the crucial intervening variable that ties culture to people’s ways of handling conflict.
  2. Collectivistic and individualistic cultures.
    1. Harry Triandis says that there are three important distinctions between collectivistic and individualistic cultures—the different ways members perceive self, goals, and duty.
    2. Japan and the U.S. represent collectivistic and individualistic cultures, respectively.
    3. Whereas Japanese tend to value collective needs and goals (a we-identity), Americans tend to value individualistic needs and goals (an I-identity).
    4. Whereas Japanese tend to perceive others in us/them categories and attach little importance to pursuing outsiders’ attitudes or feelings, Americans assume that every person is unique and reduce uncertainty by asking questions.
  3. The multiple faces of face.
    1. Face is a universal concern because it is an extension of self-concept.
      1. Ting-Toomey defines face as “the projected image of one’s self in a relational situation.”
      2. Penelope Brown and Stephen Levinson define face as the public self-image that every member of society wants to claim for himself/herself.
      3. Taiwanese writer Lin Yutang called face “a psychological image that can be granted and lost and fought for and presented as a gift.”
    2. The meaning of face differs depending on differences in cultural and individual identities.
    3. Face concern focuses on whose face a person wants to save.
      1. One can save one’s own face or the face of others.
      2. Those in individualistic cultures tend to be more concerned with preserving their own face, whereas people in collectivistic cultures value maintaining the face of the other party.
    4. Mutual face is where there’s an equal concern for both parties’ image, as well as the public image or their relationship.
    5. Face-restoration is the facework strategy used to stake out a unique place in life, preserve autonomy, and defend against loss of personal freedom.
      1. It is the typical face strategy across individualistic cultures.
      2. It often involves justifying one’s actions or blaming the situation.
    6. Face-giving is the facework strategy used to defend and support another’s need for inclusion.
      1. It means taking care not to embarrass or humiliate the other in public.
      2. It is the characteristic face strategy across collectivistic cultures.
    7. Although cultural difference is not absolute, people from collectivisitic and individualistic cultures tend to privilege other-face and self-face, respectively.
  4. Predicts styles of conflict management.
    1. Based on the work of M. Afzalur Rahim, Ting-Toomey identified five distinct responses to situations in which there is an incompatibility of needs, interests, or goals.
      1. Avoiding (withdrawal)
      2. Obliging (accommodating)
      3. Compromising (bargaining)
      4. Integrating (problem solving)
      5. Dominating (competing)
    2. Building from this work, Ting-Toomey and colleague John Oetzel (University of Waikato, New Zealand) have made their theory more complex, yet better able to explain and predict conflict behavior around the world.
  5. Self-construal: Varied self-images within a culture.
    1. Ting-Toomey recognizes that people within a culture differ on the relative emphasis they place on individual self-sufficiency or group solidarity.
    2. She discusses the dimension of self-construal (or self-image) in terms of the independent and interdependent self, or the degree to which people conceive of themselves as relatively autonomous from, or connected with, others.
      1. The independent self is more self-face oriented. This view of self is most prevalent within individualistic cultures.
      2. Conversely, interdependent self is more concerned with other-face and is closely aligned with collectivistic cultures.
    3. Individuals within a culture have different images of self as well as varied views on the degree to which they try to give others face or restore their own face in conflict situations.
    4. Ting-Toomey built her theory around the foundational idea that people from collectivistic cultures are different in the way they manage face in conflict situations than those from individualistic cultures.
  6. Refining the relationship between face concern and conflict style
    1. Since the turn of the century, Ting-Toomey, Oetzel, and many other intercultural researchers have identified three primary conflict styles: dominance, avoidance, and integration.
    2. She and Oetzel now use them as umbrella terms to designate 3 clusters of 11 specific facework strategies.
      1. Dominance
        1. Defend: Stand up for one’s opinion.
        2. Express emotion: Verbally express one’s feelings.
        3. Aggression: Make a direct or passive effort to hurt the other.
      2. Avoidance
        1. Give in: Accommodate the other person.
        2. Pretend: Act like the conflict doesn’t exist.
        3. Third party: Seek outside help to resolve the conflict.
      3. Integration
        1. Apologize: Say sorry for past behavior.
        2. Private talk: Avoid public confrontation.
        3. Remain calm: Stay composed during the conflict.
        4. Problem solve: Engage in behaviors to join perspectives.
        5. Respect: Demonstrate regard for the other by listening.
    3. The three clusters are important because Ting-Toomey and Oetzel claim that the type of face concern people have will best predict the type of facework they’ll employ in conflict situations. They found:
      1. Those most concerned with self-face will try to dominate.
      2. People with an other-face concern will attempt to avoid conflict.
      3. Parties with a mutual-face concern will favor integrating strategies.
    4. Oetzel and Ting-Toomey conducted a four-nation study to test their revised theory with Chinese, Japanese, German, and American students.
      1. As for the dominance tactics, self-face is linked with both defending and aggression, but not emotional expression.
      2. As predicted, all three of the avoidance strategies—giving in, pretending, and seeking third-party help—are associated with high other-face concerns.
      3. What wasn’t anticipated is that three of the behaviors presumably fostered by mutual-face concern are shown to be associated with other-face concern alone.
  7. Application: Competent intercultural facework.
    1. Ting-Toomey’s ultimate goal for her theory goes beyond merely identifying the ways people in different cultures negotiate face or handle conflict.
    2. She wants the theory to help people manage intercultural conflict effectively.
    3. She says there are three requirements.
      1. Knowledge is the most important dimension of facework competence.
      2. Mindfulness shows a recognition that things are not always what they seem. It’s a conscious choice to seek multiple perspectives on the same event.
      3. Interaction skill is your ability to communicate appropriately, effectively, and adaptively in a given situation.
  8. Critique: Passing the objective test with a good grade.
    1. Ting-Toomey and Oetzel have conducted extensive quantitative survey research to craft and test an objective theory that predicts that members of collectivistic cultures will manage conflict differently than members of individualistic societies will.
    2. Then they use the constructs of self-construal and face concern to explain why that’s so. Ting-Toomey has laid out “conflict face-negotiation theory” (which she now calls it) in 24 testable hypotheses.
    3. Given the complex nature of culture, she has made the choice to sacrifice simplicity for validity, which makes the theory tougher to grasp.
    4. For more than two decades as a third-party neutral mediator, Em has found the theory has practical utility.
 

Chapter 36—Co-Cultural Theory

  1. Members of co-cultural groups have less power than members of the dominant culture.
    1. Mark Orbe uses the term co-cultural to refer to marginalized groups of people who are typically labeled as minority, subcultural, subordinate, inferior, or nondominant.
    2. It’s a neutral term that designates significant differences from the dominant culture, but with no hint of contempt or condemnation.
    3. There are many varied co-cultural groups in the United States, such as women, people of color, the economically disadvantaged, people with physical disabilities, the LGBTQ community, the very old and very young, and religious minorities.
    4. Orbe sees co-cultural theory as an extension of both standpoint theory and muted group theory—two other theories concerned with unequal power.
    5. Orbe thinks it’s important to spend time and effort focusing on co-cultural communication—“communication between dominant group and co-cultural group members from the perspective of co-cultural group members.”
    6. Orbe has found that, to maneuver within the dominant culture and achieve some degree of success, co-cultural group members will adopt one or more specific communication orientations in their everyday interactions.
  2. Communication orientation: What they want and what they say to get it.
    1. Orbe claims there are nine communication orientations that different co-cultural group members adopt when trying to survive and thrive within the dominant group culture.
      1. Communication orientation is the term he uses to describe a co-cultural group member’s preferred outcome pursued through the communication approach he or she chooses to achieve that goal.
      2. The three goals—assimilation, accommodation, separation—describe the preferred outcomes co-cultural members might seek when face-to-face with members of the dominant culture.
      3. The three communication approaches—nonassertive, assertive, aggressive—identify the verbal and nonverbal behavior co-cultural members might use to reach their chosen goal
      4. A three-by-three model (i.e., crossing preferred outcomes with communication approaches) yields nine communication orientations.
    2. Inside each of the nine communication orientation boxes are shorthand descriptors of communicative practices.
      1. These practices summarize the specific verbal and nonverbal actions that co-cultural group members take when interacting with members of the dominant culture.
      2. The cluster of terms labeling the practices in each box reflects how that orientation plays out in actual types of behavior.
    3. As Orbe listened to co-cultural group members talk about their interactions with the dominant culture, their words strongly influenced his recognition and interpretation of the three preferred outcomes, the three communication approaches, and the nine different communication orientations they form.
      1. A nonassertive approach is where “individuals are seemingly inhibited and nonconfrontational while putting the needs of others before their own.”
      2. An aggressive approach is behavior “perceived as hurtfully expressive, self-promoting, and assuming control over the choices of others.”
      3. Orbe pictures the nonassertive and aggressive approaches as anchoring opposite ends of a continuum on which an assertive approach (self-enhancing and expressive behavior that takes into account both self and others’ needs) falls roughly in between.
  3. Assimilation as a preferred outcome of communication.
    1. For co-cultural group members, assimilation means fitting into the dominant culture while at the same time shedding the speech and nonverbal markers of their group.
      1. Nonassertive assimilation: Co-cultural members attempt to meet their own needs as best they can by unobtrusively blending into the dominant society.
        1. Emphasizing commonalities—focusing on similarities; downplaying differences.
        2. Developing positive face—Being graciously attentive and considerate.
        3. Censoring self—Remaining silent to inappropriate or offensive comments.
        4. Averting controversy—Moving conversation away from risky or dangerous areas.
      2. Assertive assimilation: Co-cultural members with this orientation attempt to fit into dominant structures by “playing the game.”
        1. Extensive preparation—Preparing thoroughly prior to interaction.
        2. Overcompensating—Making a conscious and consistent effort to be a “superstar.”
        3. Manipulating stereotypes—Exploiting the dominant image of the group for personal gain.
        4. Bargaining—Making covert or overt arrangements to ignore co-cultural differences.
      3. Aggressive assimilation: This is a single-minded, sometimes belligerent approach, which seeks to be regarded as part of the dominant group and not as members of a co-cultural group.
        1. Dissociating—Trying hard to avoid the typical behavior of one’s co-cultural group.
        2. Mirroring—Adopting dominant communication codes to mask co-cultural identity.
        3. Strategic distancing—Stressing individuality by cutting ties with your own group.
        4. Ridiculing self—Taking part in discourse demeaning to one’s co-cultural group.
  4. Accommodation as a preferred outcome of communication.
    1. Rather than following the other guys’ rules as those trying to assimilate do, co-cultural members who seek accommodation work at changing the rules to take their own life experiences into account.
    2. As out-group members adapt their behavior to become more similar to that of the dominant in-group culture, they gain credibility for advocating at least incremental change.
      1. Nonassertive accommodation: By conforming to the norms of the dominant culture, co-cultural members desire to gain acceptance
        1. Increasing visibility—Maintaining co-cultural presence within the dominant group.
        2. Dispelling stereotypes—Changing images of the group by just being yourself.
      2. Assertive accommodation: Co-cultural members whose abilities and interpersonal skills are valued work cooperatively within the dominant culture, advocating for the needs of both cultures.
        1. Communicating self—Interacting with the dominant group in an open, genuine manner.
        2. Intragroup networking—Talking with co-cultural people with a shared worldview.
        3. Utilizing liaisons—Seeking support from dominant group members you can trust.
        4. Educating others—Explaining co-cultural norms and values to the dominant group.
      3. Aggressive accommodation: Working within the dominant culture, these co-cultural advocates offer a prophetic voice calling for major transformation of structures and practices that hold co-cultural groups down.
        1. Confronting—Asserting one’s “voice” in a way that may violate others’ rights.
        2. Gaining advantage—Calling out dominant group oppression to get a response.
  5. Separation as a preferred outcome of communication.
    1. The co-cultural group members who desire separation work to create and maintain an identity distinct from the dominant culture.
    2. Separatist speech is akin to what Giles labeled divergent communication (see ch. 34) and is used to accentuate differences between the two cultures.
      1. Nonassertive separation: These co-cultural members have an inherent belief that their lives will be more tolerable when they “stick to their own kind.”
        1. Avoiding—Staying away from places and situations where interaction is likely.
        2. Maintaining personal barriers—Using verbal and nonverbal cues to stay aloof.
      2. Assertive separation: Co-cultural members with this orientation make a strategic decision to remain separate from an oppressive dominant culture.
        1. Exemplifying strengths—Making the group’s strength, success, and contribution known.
        2. Embracing stereotypes—Putting a positive spin on the dominant group’s biases.
      3. Aggressive separation: This is often employed by a powerful co-cultural group leader when segregation from the dominant culture seems imperative.
        1. Attacking—Inflicting psychological pain through personal attack.
        2. Sabotaging others—Undermining the benefits of dominant group membership.
  6. Phenomenology—Tapping into others’ conscious lived experience
    1. Orbe is convinced that the goals of co-cultural group members and the different styles of communication they adopt are the key factors because he has great confidence in the research method that revealed them—phenomenology.
      1. Phenomenology is a research commitment to focus “on the conscious experience of a person as she or he relates to the lived world.”
      2. Orbe enlisted the help of nearly 100 marginalized people from a variety of co-cultural groups and listened to their stories of interactions with people in the dominant culture.
      3. This inductive type of qualitative research is akin to what Baxter did with relationship partners in developing relational dialectics theory (ch. 11), and how Deetz partnered with corporate employees to form his critical theory of communication in organizations (ch. 21).
    2. It’s a multiple-step process.
      1. First, Orbe invited his co-researchers (his phenomenological term for “participants”) to describe their experiences within the dominant culture, recorded everything they said, and later made a word-for-word transcript.
      2. Next, Orbe pored over this record, looking for repeated words, phrases, or themes that described and gave meaning to their communication.
      3. He conducted this phenomenological interpretation by finding meanings that weren’t immediately apparent in the first two steps.
      4. Through this process, he also identified four other factors that influence how members of co-cultural groups interact with members of the dominant society: Field of experience, situational context, ability, and perceived costs and rewards.
  7. Quantitative research supports a qualitative theory.
    1. Cultural phenomenologist Orbe teamed up with Michigan State University behavioral scientist Maria Knight Lapinski to create self-report scales that measure the two most important dimensions of co-cultural theory.
    2. They asked co-cultural members to respond to a variety of statements about their preferred outcome and communication approach when they are the only co-cultural person at a dominant culture gathering.
    3. The researchers then ran a sophisticated statistical test to determine that co-cultural group members saw the three preferred outcomes—assimilation, accommodation, separation—as distinct from each other.
    4. For scientific scholars, the results of this quantitative analysis offer assurance that Orbe’s qualitative interpretation of what his original co-cultural researchers said was on target.
    5. Another fascinating result was the positive relationship between a co-cultural group member’s desired goals and choice of communication style.
      1. Co-cultural respondents who sought assimilation into the group favored a nonassertive approach.
      2. Those whose aim was to get those members of the dominant culture to accommodate their beliefs and practices tended to prefer being assertive.
      3. Co-cultural group members who desired separation were more likely to adopt an aggressive style.
  8. Critique: An interpretative theory both ambitious and limited.
    1. Mark Orbe uses the criteria set forth in Chapter 3 to favorably evaluate his interpretive theory.
    2. His phenomenological methodology is prototypical qualitative research.
    3. To read what his co-cultural researchers said is to gain a new understanding of people who are trying to survive and thrive in a dominant culture created by privileged men who at least tacitly work to maintain the status quo.
    4. Clarity and artistry are the two faces of aesthetic appeal.
      1. As for clarity, It’s hard to see how the four additional factors of field of experience, situational context, ability, and perceived costs and rewards fit into the framework of the theory.
      2. As for artistry, Em regards many of the quotes from co-cultural group members as found art.
    5. Orbe’s stated indebtedness to muted group theory and standpoint theory gives co-cultural theory a built-in community of agreement among communication scholars who take a critical approach.
    6. Orbe doesn’t call for reform of society or take on the role of advocate. Co-cultural theory seems descriptive rather than prescriptive.
    7. As for clarification of values, rather than show either pity or scorn for those who are marginalized in the United States, Orbe expresses admiration for how his co-researchers use or don’t use communication in order to cope as outsiders within a dominant culture. 

Chapter 37—Common Threads in Comm Theories

  1. Introduction.
    1. This chapter seeks to integrate the theories in this book with each other and with major communication concepts.
    2. The chapter identifies 10 recurring principles that in one form or another appear in multiple theories.
    3. A thread must be a significant feature in at least six different theories.
    4. Consistent with the critique sections that close each theory chapter of the text, discussion of each thread ends with a cause-for-pause reservation that those who warmly embrace the thread might ponder.
  2. Motivation.
    1. Communication is motivated by our basic social need for affiliation, achievement, and control as well as our strong desire to reduce our uncertainty and anxiety.
      1. Uses and grats points out that people use media to gratify their felt needs, but these needs vary from person to person.
      2. Social exchange theory holds that relationships develop based upon the perceived benefits and costs of interaction (and this logic is used by social penetration theory).
    2. Need for affiliation: In media multiplexity theory, Haythornthwaite makes a distinction between weak ties and strong ties in our relationships, claiming that the more types of media both parties use to connect with each other, the stronger and closer their bond will be.
    3. Need for achievement: Functional perspective on group decision-making claims that groups must accomplish the requisite functions to reach a high-quality decision.
    4. Need for control: Unjust communication and control are central to critical theories. Hall argues that corporately-controlled media shape the dominant discourse of the day.
    5. Need to reduce uncertainty: Uncertainty reduction theory suggests that the motive of most communication is to gain knowledge and create understanding in order to increase our ability to predict how future interaction with others will go.
    6. Need to reduce anxiety: Dramatism claims the only way to get rid of the noxious feeling of guilt is through mortification or victimage.
    7. Cause for pause: If it’s true that all of my communication—including this book—is undertaken solely to meet my own personal needs and interests, then I am a totally selfish person.
  3. Self-image.
    1. Communication affects and is affected by our sense of identity, which is strongly shaped within the context of our culture.
    2. Symbolic interactionism claims that our concept of self is formed through communication.
    3. According to Aronson and Cooper’s revisions of cognitive dissonance theory, dissonance negatively impacts our self-image until we find a way to dissipate this distressing feeling.
    4. In face-negotiation theory, face is defined as our public self-image.
    5. Cause for pause: humans naturally commit a fundamental attribution error by being less stringent on themselves and more judgmental of others. As a corrective to this biased perception, perhaps we should consider giving others the benefit of the doubt while holding ourselves to a more rigorous standard of accountability.
  4. Credibility.
    1. Our verbal and nonverbal messages are validated or discounted by others’ perception of our competence and character.
    2. Aristotle used the term source credibility (ethical proof) to describe the credibility of a speaker that increases the probability of a speech being persuasive.
    3. The second level of agenda-setting theory involves noting the affective tone of references to candidates made in the media.
    4. Standpoint theory suggests that marginalized members may have low credibility but a less false view of social reality.
    5. Cause for pause: Focus on the source of a message may cause us to lose sight of the intrinsic value of what’s being said.
  5. Expectation.
    1. What we expect to hear or see will affect our perception, interpretation, and response during an interaction.
    2. Burgoon’s expectancy violations theory suggests we respond to a violation of our expectations depending on the violation valence and communicator reward valence.
    3. Expectation of future interaction heightens the motivation to reduce uncertainty in Berger’s uncertainty reduction theory, and is also central to Walther’s hyperpersonal perspective regarding online interpersonal communication.
    4. Cultivation theory maintains that media creates an expectation of violence and general mistrust of others.
    5. Cause for pause: It is easy to confuse expectations (projections of past perceptions into the future) with perceptions (interpretations of sensory experiences occurring in the present).
  6. Audience adaption.
    1. By mindfully creating a person-centered message specific to the situation, we increase the possibility of achieving our communication goals.
    2. Social judgment theory suggests influencers are most effective if they first figure out the other’s latitude of acceptance and craft their message accordingly.
    3. Petty and Cacioppo’s elaboration likelihood model suggests that the persuader first assess whether the target audience is ready and able to think through issue-relevant arguments that support the advocate’s position.
    4. Burke’s dramatism is concerned with the speaker’s ability to successfully identify with the audience; without it, there is no persuasion.
    5. Giles’ CAT focuses on parties’ adjustment of their speech styles.
    6. Cause for pause: Too much adaptation may mean we lose the authenticity of our message or the integrity of our own beliefs.
  7. Social construction.
    1. Persons-in-conversation co-construct their own social realities and are simultaneously shaped by the worlds they create.
    2. CMM directly embodies this thread.
    3. McPhee’s communicative constitution of organizations clearly indicates that an organization is what it is because communication has brought it into existence—a particular type of social construction.
    4. Mead’s symbolic interactionism denies that there is a real “me” that I can know through introspection. He insists that my self-concept is constituted by how others look at me, what they say to me, and how they act toward me.
    5. McLuhan’s media ecology describes a more subtle construction process summed up in his statement that we shape the tools and they in turn shape us.
    6. Cause for pause: Is there a foundational reality that language can describe, however poorly?
  8. Shared meaning.
    1. Our communication is successful to the extent that we share a common interpretation of the signs we use.
    2. Geetz and Pacanowsky’s cultural approach to organizations describes culture as webs of significance, or systems of shared meaning.
    3. Bormann's symbolic convergence theory says shared group fantasies create symbolic convergence--shared meaning.
    4. Barthes described how the mass media are powerful ideological tools that frame interpretation of events for the benefit of the haves over the have-nots.
    5. Cause for pause: Shared interpretation is an accomplishment of the audience rather than the clarity of the message.
  9. Narrative.
    1. We respond favorably to stories and dramatic imagery with which we can identify.
    2. According to Fisher, almost all communication is story that we judge by its narrative coherence and fidelity.
    3. Bormann’s symbolic convergence theory predicts then when group fantasies are shared, the result is symbolic convergence—a common group consciousness and often a greater cohesiveness.
    4. Gerbner’s cultivation theory says that television is dominant because it tells most of the stories, most of the time.
    5. Tannen’s genderlect styles theory sees disparity between men and women in how they tell stories.
    6. Cause for pause: There are bad stories that can effectively lead people astray or destroy others; well-told tales are inherently attractive, but they might not all be good.
  10. Conflict.
    1. Unjust communication stifles needed conflict; healthy communication can make conflict productive.
    2. Deetz’s critical theory of communication in organizations believes that organizations would be well served by more conflict rather than less.
    3. A core principle of Petronio’s communication privacy management theory warns that when co-owners of private information don’t effectively negotiate and follow mutually held privacy rules, boundary turbulence is the likely result.
    4. Cause for pause: Although honest straight talk is an effective way to reduce conflict in an individualistic society, it may be counterproductive in collectivistic cultures.
  11. Dialogue.
    1. Dialogue is transparent conversation that often creates unanticipated relational outcomes due to parties’ profound respect for disparate voices.
    2. Baxter’s relational dialectics theory describes dialogue as an aesthetic accomplishment that produces fleeting moments of unity.
    3. Pearce and Cronen’s coordinated management of meaning contends that dialogic communication is learnable, teachable, and contagious.
    4. In muted group theory, Kramarae suggests that it’s difficult for women to take part as equal partners in a dialogue while speaking in a man-made language and where the rules for its use are controlled by men.
    5. Orbe’s co-cultural theory extends this idea to all groups of marginalized people. He claims the entrenched power disparity between members of co-cultural groups and members of the dominant culture make dialogue between them almost impossible.
    6. Cause for pause: Dialogue is hard to describe and even more difficult to achieve.
  12. Unraveling the threads.
    1. At this point the 10 threads may be tangled together in your mind like pieces of string jumbled together in a drawer.
    2. Figure 37-1 shows each thread and the associated theories.
    3. The sense of discovery that comes from figuring out where to place additional knots can be quite satisfying and has practical benefits.

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  • To quickly find a theory by chapter number, use the Table of Contents and link from there. It will take you directly to the theory with available options highlighted.
  • You can also use the Theory List, which will take you directly to the theory with available options highlighted.

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Chapter  1—Launching Your Study of Communication Theory

  1. What is a theory and what does it do?
    1. Ernest Bormann defined theory as “an umbrella term for all careful, systematic, and self-conscious discussion and analysis of communication phenomena.”
    2. This definition is purposefully broad, but may not be helpful in providing a direction for study.
    3. Judee Burgoon suggested that a theory is nothing more than “a set of systematic informed hunches about the way things work.”
      1. Set of hunches.
        1. If a theory is a set of hunches, it means we aren’t yet sure we have the answer.
        2. Theories always involve an element of speculation or conjecture.
        3. A theory is not just one inspired thought or an isolated idea.
        4. Good theories define their key terms.
        5. A theory offers some sort of explanation.
        6. A theory offers some indication of scope.
      2. Informed hunches.
        1. A theorist’s hunches should be informed.
        2. A theorist has a responsibility to check it out.
        3. A theorist should be familiar with alternate explanations and interpretations.
      3.  Hunches that are systematic.
        1. A theory is an integrated system of concepts, laying out both relevant terms and their relationship to one another.
        2. A theory ties together ideas into a unified whole.
      4. Images of theory.
        1. Theory might also be understood using descriptive metaphors.
        2. Karl Popper described theories as nets, a tool used to grasp an elusive concept.
        3. Theories can be seen as lenses which help focus attention.
        4. A communication theory is a kind of map that’s designed to help you navigate some part of the topography of human relationships.
  2. What is communication?
    1. No singular definition of communication is agreed upon by communication scholars.
    2. Frank Dance, who published the first comprehensive book on communication theory, concluded that we’re “trying to make the concept of communication do too much work for us.”
    3. Communication is the relational process of creating and interpreting messages that elicit a response.
      1. Messages are at the core of communication study.
        1. Communication theories deal specifically with messages.
        2. The term text is synonymous with a message.
      2. Communicators usually make conscious choices about a message’s form and substance.
      3. Messages are symbolically encoded and decoded by people based on the meanings they assign.
      4. Communication is an on-going relational process between two or more people, which both affects their interpretation of the messages as well as the nature of the connection between the people. Messages are polysemic and subject to different interpretations.
      5. For whatever reason, if a message fails to stimulate any cognitive, emotional, or behavioral reaction, it seems pointless to refer to it as communication.
  3. An arrangement of ideas to aid comprehension.
    1. The arrangement of the book’s chapters is explained.
    2. The theory chapters are divided into four major divisions: interpersonal communication, group and public communication, mass communication, and cultural context.
  4. Chapter features to enliven theory
    1. Personal application will make theory doubly interesting and memorable for you.
    2. We also make a consistent effort to link each theory with its creator(s).
    3. Don’t overlook the three features at the end of each chapter.
    4. In every chapter we include a cartoon for your learning and enjoyment.
 

Chapter  2—Talk About Theory

  1. Introduction.
    1. Behavioral scientists are scholars who apply the scientific method to describe, predict, and explain recurring forms of human behavior.
    2. Rhetoricians are scholars who study the ways in which symbolic texts can be used to identify with people, or to persuade people towards a certain view. They interpret texts.
  2. Two communication scholars view a heartwarming ad.
    1. Glenn: An objective approach.
      1. Social scientists wonder why the commercial produced such a positive sentiment and whether it resulted in action.
      2. They want to explain and predict human behavior.
      3. For scientists, it’s not enough to identify a theory that seems to apply to the situation. We want an objective test to find out if a theory is faulty.
      4. In science, theory and research walk hand in hand.
    2. Marty: An interpretive approach.
      1. The entire ad is structured by an archetypal mythic pattern of birth-death-rebirth.
      2. The ad activates emotions by incorporating the form of the cycle within a mini-narrative.
  3. Objective or interpretive: Sorting out the labels.
    1. The objective and interpretive approaches to communication study differ in starting point, method, and conclusion.
    2. Scholars who do objective study are scientists concerned with behavior and attitudes.
    3. Scholars who do interpretive study are concerned with meaning, and reflect a range of ideological and methodological positions. As a result, there is no single unifying or accepted label, although the authors uses the term “interpretive scholars” to apply to the entire groups and specific labels for subgroups as appropriate.
  4. Ways of knowing: Discovering truth or creating multiple realities?
    1. Epistemology is the study of the nature of knowledge.
    2. Scientists assume that truth is singular.
      1.   Reality is accessible through our senses.
      2. No one person can know it all, so individual researchers pool their findings and build a collective body of knowledge about how the world works.
      3. Good theories are mirrors of nature, true as long as conditions remain the same.
    3. Interpretive scholars seek truth as well, but many interpreters regard that truth as socially constructed through communication.
      1. Truth is largely subjective and meaning is highly interpretive.
      2. Knowledge is always viewed from a particular standpoint.
      3. The knower cannot be separated from the known.
      4. Texts never interpret themselves.
      5. Multiple meanings or multiple versions of truth are acceptable.
      6. Successful interpretations are those that convince others.
  5. Human nature: Determinism or free will.
    1. Scientists stress the forces that shape human behavior; interpretive scholars focus on conscious choices made by individuals
    2. Determinists argue that heredity and environment determine behavior.
      1. Behavioral scientists usually describe human conduct as occurring “because of” forces outside the individual’s awareness..
      2. Behavior is the response to a prior stimulus.
    3. In contrast, interpretive scholars tend to use explanatory phrases such as “so that” or “in order to” because they attribute a person’s action to conscious intent.
      1. They focus on conscious choices of individuals, not on why choices are made.
      2. They believe that significant decisions are value laden.
    4. As individual freedom increases, predictability of behavior decreases.
  6. The highest value: Objectivity or emancipation?
    1. When we talk about values, we are discussing priorities, questions of relative worth.
    2. Social scientists value objectivity; personal values should not distort human reality.
    3. Interpretive scholars seek to expand the range of free choice; knowledge is never neutral.
    4. Scientists seek effectiveness; interpreters focus on participation.
  7. The purpose of theory: Universal laws or guides for interpretation?
    1. Scientists seek universal laws; interpreters strive to interpret individual texts.
    2. Scientists test theories; interpreters explore the web of meaning constituting human existence.
    3. Scientists seek prediction; interpretive scholars strive for meaning.
  8. Objective or interpretive: Why is it important?
    1. You cannot fully understand a theory without knowing its assumptions about truth, human nature, the purpose of theory, and its values.
    2. It is helpful when thinking through theories to have a way of organizing them into objective and interpretive worldviews.
    3. Understanding objective and interpretive points can help you decide what direction to take your coursework.
    4. Theorists in both camps believe their area of work will improve relationships and society.
  9. Plotting theories on an objective-interpretive scale: A metatheoretical way of comparing theories featured in the book. Objective and interpretive labels anchor the ends of a continuum, with many theories in between.
 

Chapter  3—Weighing the Words

  1. Introduction.
    1. Not all theories are equally effective.
    2. The utility of a theory may be judged by applying the appropriate criteria used by behavioral scientists and a wide range of interpretive scholars to weigh the theories of their colleagues.
  2. What makes an objective theory good?
    1. Scientific standard 1: Prediction of future events. Prediction in physical science is more accurate than in social science, where it is based on probability.
    2. Scientific standard 2: Explanation of the data.
      1. A good theory makes sense out of disturbing situations or draws order out of chaos.
      2. It focuses attention on crucial variables and away from irrelevant data.
      3. It explains what is happening and why.
      4. It explains both the process and the results.
    3. Scientific standard 3: Relative simplicity. The rule of parsimony dictates that all things being equal, we accept the simpler explanation over the more complex.
    4. Scientific standard 4: Hypotheses that can be tested. If there is no way to prove a theory false, then any claim that it’s true seems hollow.
      1. They shy away from the put-up-or-shut-up standard—they aren’t testable.
      2. They are never-miss shots.
    5. Scientific standard 5: Practical utility.
      1. This requirement is consistent with social psychologist Kurt Lewin’s claim that there is nothing as practical as a good theory.
      2. Don't dismiss a theory as impractical unless you understand it.
      3. The wider the scope of a theory’s application, the greater its practical utility.
    6. Scientific standard 6: Quantitative Research
      1. Scientists favor quantifiable experiments and surveys.
      2. The idea that numbers are more reliable than words runs deep in the scientific community.
      3. Through experiments, scientists seek to establish a cause-and-effect relationship by manipulating an independent variable in a tightly controlled situation in order to determine its effect on a dependent variable.
      4. Surveys rely on self-report data to discover who people are and what they think, feel, and intend to do—the key components of our attitudes.
  3. What makes an interpretive theory good?
    1. Interpretive standard 1: Clarification of values.
      1. Theorists acknowledge their own values.
      2. They seek to unmask the ideology behind messages.
      3. Of course, not all interpretive scholars occupy the same moral ground, but there are core values most of them share.
      4. Many theorists value individual liberty and equality. Krippendorff's Ethical Imperative argues that we should grant others that occur in our construction the same autonomy we practice constructing them.
      5. Many interpretive scholars value equality as highly as they do freedom.
      6. Critical theorists, in particular, insist that scholars can no longer remain ethically detached from the people they are studying, or from the political and economic implications of their work
    2. Interpretive standard 2: New understanding of people.
      1. Interpretive scholarship is good when it offers fresh insight into the human condition.
      2. Rhetorical critics, ethnographers, and other humanistic researchers seek to gain new understanding by analyzing the activity that they regard as uniquely human—symbolic interaction.
      3. Whereas science wants objective explanation, humanism desires subjective understanding.
      4. Klaus Krippendorff's Self-Referential Imperative states that, as theorists, we are both the cause and the consequence of what we observe.
    3. Interpretive standard 3: Aesthetic appeal.
      1. A theory's form can be as captivating as its content.
      2. Although the elegance of a theory is in the eye of the beholder, clarity and artistry seem to be the two qualities needed to satisfy this aesthetic requirement.
    4. Interpretive standard 4: A community of agreement. A theory must have widespread scrutiny and usage.
      1. We can identify a good interpretive theory by the amount of support it generates within a community of scholars who are interested and knowledgeable about the same type of communication.
      2. Interpretation of meaning is subjective, but whether the interpreter’s case is reasonable or totally off the wall is ultimately decided by others in the field.
    5. Interpretive standard 5: Reform of society.
      1. They want to expose and publicly resist the ideology that permeates the accepted wisdom of a culture.
      2. Theory challenges cultural assumptions.
      3. The aim of critical scholarship is to unmask communication practices that create or perpetuate power imbalances in an attempt to stimulate change.
      4. To the extent that the theory stimulates students to rethink, respond, and react to this “free-market” process, it is a good interpretive theory.
    6. Interpretive standard 6: Qualitative research
      1. While scientists use numbers to support their theories, interpretive scholars use words.
      2. Textual analysis and ethnography are the two methods most often used to study how humans use signs and symbols to create and infer meaning.
      3. Textual analysis describes and interprets the characteristics of messages.
      4. Through ethnography, participant-observers experience a culture's web of meaning.
  4. Contested turf and common ground among theorists.
    1. Although the differences that separate objective and interpretive theorists are meaningful, they can friendly with each other across their lines of difference.
      1. It requires mutual respect for each other’s interest and recognition of their intellect.
      2. It requires a mutual appreciation that scientific theorists are comparing multiple messages or groups while interpretive theorists are analyzing a single message or group.
      3. The two sets of six criteria are not as different as they might seem.
        1. Both prediction and value clarification look to the future.
        2. An explanation can further understanding of motive.
        3. Simplicity has aesthetic appeal.
        4. Hypothesis testing is a way of achieving a community of agreement.
        5. Theories that reform are practical.
        6. Qualitative and quantitative research both reflect a commitment to learning more about communication.
    2. It is important for the two communities to at least be familiar with the other’s work.
    3. Although all theories featured in this book have merit, they also have weaknesses elucidated by the standards set forth in this chapter.

Chapter  4—Mapping the Territory

  1. Introduction.
    1. Communication scholars hold widely divergent views as to what communication is.
    2. Robert Craig thinks practical application is a great starting point for developing a tool to help discriminate between theories.
    3. Communication theory is the systematic and thoughtful response of communication scholars to questions posed as humans interact with one another—the best thinking within a practical discipline.
    4. Craig identifies seven established traditions of communication theory.
  2. The socio-psychological tradition: Communication as interaction and influence.
    1. This tradition epitomizes the scientific perspective.
    2. Scholars believe that communication truths can be discovered by careful, systematic observation that predicts cause-and-effect relationships.
    3. Researchers focus on what is without their personal bias of what ought to be.
    4. Theorists check data through surveys or controlled experiments, often calling for longitudinal empirical studies.
    5. Griffin, Ledbetter, and Sparks wondered if there’s a way to predict which college friendships would survive and thrive after graduation.
      1. The practical question the authors sought to answer was, "What predicts friendship that lasts over time?"
      2. They approached this question from the socio-psychological tradition because it’s designed to identify cause-and-effect patterns.
  3. The cybernetic tradition: Communication as a system of information processing.
    1. Norbert Wiener coined the term cybernetics to describe the field of artificial intelligence.
      1. Wiener’s concept of feedback anchored the cybernetic tradition.
      2. Communication is the link separating the separate parts of any system.
    2. Theorists seek to answer the questions: How does the system work? What could change it? How can we get the bugs out?
    3. University of Washington communication professor Malcolm Parks studies personal relationships by asking both partners to describe their social network.
      1. The practical question Parks sought to answer was, "How are friendships shaped by other people that the friends know?"
      2. He approached this question from the cybernetic tradition because it’s designed to understand how information flows through social networks.
  4. The rhetorical tradition: Communication as artful public address.
    1. Greco-Roman rhetoric was the main communication theory until the twentieth century.
    2. Six features characterize the tradition.
      1. A conviction that speech distinguishes humans from other animals.
      2. A confidence in the efficacy and supremacy of public address.
      3. A setting of one speaker addressing a large audience with the intention to persuade.
      4. Oratorical training as the cornerstone of a leader’s education.
      5. An emphasis on the power and beauty of language to move people emotionally and stir them to action.
      6. Rhetoric was the province of males.
    3. Readers of Aristotle’s The Rhetoric may be surprised to find a systematic analysis of friendship.
    4. Rochester Institute of Technology rhetorician Keith Jenkins examined how Obama appealed to friendship in his 2008 campaign rhetoric.
      1. The practical question Jenkins sought to answer was, "How did Obama persuade people by appealing to close relationships?"
      2. He approached this question from the rhetorical tradition because it’s designed to understand how language changes the minds of others.
  5. The semiotic tradition: Communication as the process of sharing meaning through signs.
    1. Semiotics is the study of signs.
    2. Words are a special kind of sign known as a symbol.
    3. I. A. Richards was an early scholar of semiotics.
      1. His “proper meaning superstition” identifies the mistaken belief that words have a precise meaning.
      2. Meanings don’t reside in words or other symbols, but in people.
    4. Communication professor Michael Monsour (Metropolitan State University of Denver) recognized that the word intimacy used in the context of friendship might mean different things to different people, and the disparity could lead to confusion.
      1. The practical question Monsour sought to answer was, "What does the word intimacy mean to people in the context of friendship?"
      2. He approached this question from the semiotic tradition because it’s designed to understand how the meanings of symbols change between people and across time.
  6. The socio-cultural tradition: Communication as the creation and enactment of social reality.
    1. Communication produces and reproduces culture.
    2. Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf pioneered this tradition.
      1. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis of linguistic relativity states that the structure of a culture’s language shapes what people think and do.
      2. Their theory counters the notion that languages are neutral conduits of meaning.
    3. It is through language that reality is produced, maintained, repaired, and transformed.
    4. Patricia Sias, a communication professor at the University of Arizona, takes a socio-cultural approach when studying friendships that form and dissolve in organizational settings.
      1. The practical question Sias sought to answer was, "What communication practices shape deteriorating workplace friendships?"
      2. She approached this question from the socio-cultural tradition because it’s designed to understand how communication creates social realities.
  7. The critical tradition: Communication as a reflective challenge of unjust discourse.
    1. Critical theory derives from the German Frankfurt School.
    2. The Frankfurt School rejected Karl Marx’s economic determinism, but embraced the Marxist tradition of critiquing society.
    3. Critical theorists challenge three features of contemporary society.
      1. The control of language to perpetuate power imbalances.
      2. Critical theorists are suspicious of empirical work that scientists say is ideologically free, because science is not the value-free pursuit of knowledge that it claims to be.
      3. Critical theorists see the “culture industries” of television, film, music, and print media as reproducing the dominant ideology of a culture and distracting people from recognizing the unjust distribution of power within society.
    4. Southwestern University communication professor Davi Johnson Thornton investigated the image of an interracial friendship on the TV show Psych.
      1. Her critical analysis of the show argues that its particular portrayal of black/white friendship might actually reinforce racism rather than work against it.
      2. The practical question Thornton sought to answer was, "What ideologies of interracial friendship are produced through the TV show Psych?"
      3. She approached this question from the critical tradition because it’s designed to critique how language and the mass media perpetuate unjust differences in power.
  8. The phenomenological tradition: Communication as the experience of self and others through dialogue.
    1. Phenomenology refers to the intentional analysis of everyday life from the standpoint of the person who is living it.
    2. The phenomenological tradition places great emphasis on people’s perceptions and interpretations of their own subjective experiences.
    3. Phenomenological tradition answers two questions: Why is it so hard to establish and sustain authentic human relationships? How can this problem be overcome?
    4. Ohio University professor Bill Rawlins works within this tradition as he studies friendship by taking an in-depth look at the actual conversations between friends.
      1. The practical question Rawlins sought to answer was, "How do people create mutual understanding in their friendships?"
      2. He approached this question from the phenomenological tradition because it’s designed to probe how people develop authentic human relationships.
  9. Fencing the field of communication theory.
    1. These seven traditions have deep roots in communication theory.
    2. They have been mapped with respect to the objective/interpretive dichotomy.
    3. Some theories are hybrids that arise from multiple traditions.
    4. They might not cover every approach to communication theory—thus the addition of the ethical tradition.
  10. The ethical tradition: Communication as people of character interacting in just and beneficial ways.
    1. Since ancient Greece, scholars have grappled with the obligations of the communicator.
    2. The NCA adopted a “Credo for Communication Ethics,” which tackles difficult questions about communication and ethics: Is it always our duty to be honest? What limits, if any, should exist on freedom of expression? When does persuasion cross the line into intimidation and coercion?
    3. Craig has responded to our proposed ethical tradition by noting that, to define it fully, we'd have to explain how it compares to every other tradition.
    4. Concern for ethics spreads across the objective-interpretive landscape.
    5. The ethical tradition encourages every other tradition to consider what is right or wrong, what is good or bad, and who is virtuous or evil.
    6. Craig’s framework of seven traditions helps us make sense of the great diversity in the field of communication. 

Chapter  5—Symbolic Interactionism

  1. Introduction.
    1. Social constructionists believe that our thoughts, self-concept, and the wider community we live in are created through communication—symbolic interaction.
    2. Symbolic interaction refers to language and gestures a person used in anticipation of the way others will respond.
    3. George Herbert Mead, an early social constructionist, was an influential philosophy professor at the University of Chicago, but he never published his ideas.
    4. After his death, his students published his teachings in Mind, Self, and Society.
    5. Mead's chief disciple, Herbert Blumer, further developed his theory.
      1. Blumer coined the term symbolic interactionism, and claimed that the most human and humanizing activity in which people are engaged is communicating.
      2. The three core principles of symbolic interactionism are concerned with meaning, language and thinking.
      3. These principles lead to conclusions about the formation of self and socialization into a larger society.
  2. Meaning: The construction of social reality.
    1. First principle: Humans act toward people or things on the basis of the meanings they assign to those people or things.
    2. Once people define a situation as real, it’s very real in its consequences.
    3. Where a behavioral scientist would see causality as stimulus ? response, for an interactionist it would look like stimulus? interpretation ? response.
  3. Language: The source of meaning.
    1. Second principle: Meaning arises out of the social interaction people have with each other.
    2. Meaning is not inherent in objects.
    3. Meaning is negotiated through the use of language, hence the term symbolic interactionism.
    4. As human beings, we have the ability to name things.
      1. Symbols, including names, are arbitrary signs.
      2. By talking with others, we ascribe meaning to words and develop a universe of discourse.
    5. Symbolic naming is the basis for society—the extent of knowing is dependent on the extent of naming.
    6. Symbolic interactionism is the way we learn to interpret the world.
      1. A symbol is a stimulus that has a learned meaning and a value for people.
      2. Our words have default assumptions.
      3. Significant symbols can be nonverbal as well as linguistic.
  4. Thinking: The process of taking the role of the other.
    1. Third principle: An individual's interpretation of symbols is modified by his or her own thought process.
    2. Symbolic interactionists describe thinking as an inner conversation, or minding.
      1. Minding is a reflective pause.
      2. We naturally talk to ourselves in order to sort out meaning.
    3. Whereas animals act instinctively and without deliberation, humans are hardwired for thought.
      1. Humans require social stimulation and exposure to abstract symbol systems to have conceptual thought.
      2. Language is the software that activates the mind.
    4. Humans have the unique capacity to take the role of the other.
  5. The self: Reflections in a looking glass.
    1. Self cannot be found through introspection, but instead through taking the role of the other and imaging how we look from the other’s perspective. This mental image is called the looking-glass self and is socially constructed, or as the Mead-Cooley hypothesis claims, “individuals’ self-conceptions result from assimilating the judgments of significant others.”
    2. Self is a function of language.
      1. One has to be a member of a community before consciousness of self sets in.
      2. The self is always in flux.
    3. Self is an ongoing process combining the “I” and the “me.”
      1. The “I”—the subjective self—sponsors what is novel, unpredictable, and unorganized about the self.
      2. The “me”—the objective self—is the image of self seen through the looking glass of other people's reactions.
      3. Once your “I” is known, it becomes your “me.”
  6. Society: The socializing effect of others' expectations.
    1. The composite mental image of others in a community, their expectations, and possible responses is referred to as the generalized other.
    2. The generalized other shapes how we think and interact with the community.
    3. The “me” is formed through continual symbolic interaction.
    4. The “me” is the organized community within the individual.
  7. A sampler of applied symbolic interaction.
    1. Creating reality.
      1. Erving Goffman develops the metaphor of social interaction as a dramaturgical performance.
      2. The impression of reality fostered by performance is fragile.
    2. Meaning-ful research.
      1. Mead advocated study through participant observation, a form of ethnography.
      2. Experimental and survey research are void of the meaning of the experience.
    3. Generalized other—the tragic potential of symbolic interaction: Negative responses can consequently reduce a person to nothing.
    4. Naming.
      1. Name-calling can be devastating because it forces us to view ourselves through a warped mirror.
      2. These grotesque images are not easily dispelled.
    5. Self-fulfilling prophecy.
      1. Each of us affects how others view themselves.
      2. Our expectations evoke responses that confirm what we originally anticipated, resulting in a self-fulfilling prophecy.
    6. Symbol manipulation—symbols can galvanize people into united action.
  8. Ethical reflection: Levinas’ responsive “I”
    1. Levinas insists that the identity of our “I” is formed by the way we respond to others, not how others respond to me as Mead contends.
    2. We all have an ethical echo of responsibility to take care of each other that has existed since the beginning of history.
    3. To not recognize our human responsibility when we look at the face of the Other is to put our identity at risk.
  9. Critique: Setting the gold standard for four interpretive criteria.
    1. Mead meets clarification of values, offers a new understanding of people, uses ethnographic research, and has generated a community of agreement.
    2. Mead does not call for a reform of society. In fact, he says little about power, domination, or emotion. The theory has fluid boundaries, vague concepts, and an undisciplined approach that lacks aesthetic appeal.
    3. Mead overstates his case when he maintains that language is the distinguishing factor between humans and other animals.

Chapter  6—Coordinated Management of Meaning

  1. Introduction.
    1. Barnett Pearce and Vernon Cronen regret the fact that most communication theorists and practitioners hold to a transmission model of communication.
    2. They’d say that seeing communication as a transmission of ideas looks through communication rather than directly at it.
    3. In contrast, Pearce and Cronen offer the coordinated management of meaning (CMM) as a theory that looks directly at the communication process and what it’s doing.
    4. They believe that communication is a constitutive force that shapes all of our ideas, our relationships, and whole social environment.
  2. First Claim: Our communication creates our social worlds
    1. Selves, relationships, organizations, communities, and cultures are the “stuff” that make up our social worlds.
    2. For CMM theorists, our social worlds are not something we find or discover. Instead, we create them.
    3. Barnett Pearce summed up this core concept of the theory by asserting that persons-in-conversation co-construct their own social realities and are simultaneously shaped by the worlds they create.
    4. Using M.C. Escher’s lithograph, Bond of Union, the authors draw three parallels.
      1. The experience of persons-in-conversation is the primary social process of human life.
      2. The figures in the lithograph are bound together regardless of what they are talking about; the content is less important than the way they say it.
      3. The endless ribbon in the Bond loops back to reform both persons-in-conversation, demonstrating reflectivity.
    5. As social constructionists, CMM researchers see themselves as curious participants in a pluralistic world.
      1. They are curious rather than certain.
      2. They are participants rather than spectators.
      3. They live in pluralist worlds rather than seek a singular Truth.
  3. Second claim: The stories we tell differ from the stories we live
    1. CMM uses the term story to refer to much of what we say when we talk with others about our social worlds—ourselves, others, relationships, organizations, or the larger community
    2. CMM theorists distinguish between stories lived and stories told.
      1. Stories told are tales we tell ourselves and others in order to make sense of the world around us and our place in it.
      2. CMM calls this process coherence, the making and managing of meaning.
      3. The management of meaning involves the adjustment of our stories told to fit the reality of stories lived—or vice versa.
      4. Stories lived are the co-constructed actions we perform with others.
      5. Coordination takes place when we fit our stories lived into the stories lived by others in a way that makes life better.
    3. Stories told: Making and managing meaning.
      1. The stories we tell or hear are never as simple as they seem.
      2. LUUUUTT is an acronym to label the seven types of stories.
        1. Lived stories
        2. Unknown stories
        3. Untold stories
        4. Unheard stories
        5. Untellable stories
        6. Story Telling
        7. Stories Told
      3. There is no correct story or correct interpretation of it. CMM theorists created the LUUUUTT model to demonstrate the complexity of social situations.
    4. Stories lived: Coordinating our patterns of interaction
      1. There’s almost always a difference or tension between our stories told and stories lived.
      2. Pearce and Cronen are particularly concerned with the patterns of communication we create with others.
      3. The serpentine model can map out the history and provide insight into persons-in conversation.
      4. Logical force is the moral pressure or sense of obligation a person feels to respond in a given way.
      5. CMM describes this type of conversational sequence as an unwanted repetitive pattern (URP) which neither party wants to repeat but they keep reliving it.
      6. Coordination refers to the “process by which persons collaborate in an attempt to bring into being their vision of what is necessary, noble, and good and to preclude the enactment of what they fear, hate, or despise.”
      7. Pearce used the phrase coordination without coherence to refer to people cooperating, but for quite different reasons.
  4. Third Claim: We get what we make.
    1. Since CMM claims we create our social worlds through our patterns of communication, it follows that we get what we make.
    2. Barnett Pearce urged that we ask three questions when we reflect on past interactions: how did that get made? What are we making? What can we do to make better social worlds?
    3. The authors illustrate the principle with an extended example between Em and Bea.
    4. A bifurcation point is the turning point in a conversation where what one says next affects the unfolding pattern of interaction and takes it in a different direction.
  5. Fourth Claim: Get the pattern right, create better social worlds
    1. Barnett Pearce admitted he couldn’t be specific on what to do to make social worlds better.
    2. Barnett and Kim Pearce describe better social worlds as replete with caring, compassion, love, and grace among its inhabitants—not the stated goal of most communication theories.
    3. The theorists claim is that one does not need to be a saint, a genius, or an orator to create a better social worked. The communicator, however, must be mindful.
    4. Mindfulness is a presence or awareness of what participants are making in the midst of their conversation.
    5. For an overall remedy to unsatisfactory or destructive patterns of interaction, CMM theorists advocate dialogue, a specific form of communication that they believe will create a social world where we can live with dignity, honor, joy, and love.
    6. Barnett and Kim Pearce have adopted Jewish philosopher Martin Buber’s perspective on dialogue.
  6. Ethical reflection: Martin Buber’s Dialogic Ethics.
    1. Buber, a German Jewish philosopher, focused his ethical approach on the relationship between people rather than on moral codes of conduct
    2. He contrasted two types of relationships—I-It versus I-Thou.
      1. I-It treats the other person as an object to be manipulated.
      2. I-Thou treats our partner as the very one we are.
    3. For Buber, dialogue is a synonym for ethical communication.
    4. Buber used the image of the narrow ridge to illustrate the tension of dialogic communication.
    5. Duquesne University communication ethicist Ron Arnett notes that “living the narrow ridge philosophy requires a life of personal and interpersonal concern, which is likely to generate a more complicated existence than that of the egoist or the selfless martyr.”
  7. Critique: Highly practical as it moves from confusion to clarity.
    1. By offering such diagnostic tools as the serpentine and LUUUUTT models of communication, CMM promotes a deeper understanding of people and of the social worlds they create through their conversation.
    2. Unlike many theories which seek only to describe communication patterns, CMM theorists and the researchers they inspire make it clear that their aim is to make better social worlds.
    3. Although many objective theorists dismiss CMM because of its social constructionist assumptions, CMM has generated widespread interest and acceptance within the community of interpretive communication scholars.
    4. If changing destructive patterns of communication in whole communities strikes you as a bit of a stretch, you should know that pursuit of this goal is why Barnett and Kim Pearce founded the Public Dialogue Consortium and the CMM Institute.
    5. CMM scholars and practitioners use a wide range of qualitative research methods—textual and narrative analyses, case studies, interviews, participant observation, ethnography, and collaborative action research
    6. The aesthetic standard for an interpretive theory has two components—artistry and clarity. For some who have immersed themselves in CMM literature both Barnett and Kim Pearce’s often poetic language reflects the beauty of the human soul and the world as it could be. Yet for others, lack of clarity is a real problem. 

Chapter  7—Expectancy Violations Theory

  1. Personal space expectations: conform or deviate?
    1. Judee Burgoon defines personal space as the invisible, variable volume of space surrounding an individual that defines that individual’s preferred distance from others.
      1. The size and shape of our personal space depends upon cultural norms and individual preferences.
      2. Personal space is always a compromise between the conflicting approach-avoidance needs that we as humans have for affiliation and privacy.
    2. Edward Hall coined the term proxemics to refer to the study of people’s use of space as a special elaboration of culture.
      1. He believed that most spatial interpretation is outside our awareness.
      2. He believed that Americans have four proxemic zones.
        1. Intimate distance: 0 to 18 inches.
        2. Personal distance: 18 inches to 4 feet.
        3. Social distance: 4 to 12 feet.
        4. Public distance: 12 to 25 feet to infinity.
      3. He maintained that effective communicators adjust their nonverbal behavior to conform to the communicative rules of their partners.
    3. Burgoon suggests that under some circumstances, violating social norms and personal expectations is a superior strategy to conformity.
  2. An applied test of the original model.
    1. According to Burgoon’s early model, crossing over the “threat threshold” that forms the boundary of the intimate distance causes physical and psychological discomfort.
    2. Noticeable deviations from what we expect cause a heightened state of arousal and spur us to review the nature of our relationship with a person.
    3. A person with “punishing” power should observe proxemic conventions or stand slightly farther away than expected.
    4. An attractive communicator benefits from a close approach.
    5. Burgoon’s original experiments failed to confirm her theory, but she has continued to refine her approach to expectancy violations.
    6. The current version is an excellent example of ideas continually revised as a result of empirical disconfirmation.
  3. A convoluted model becomes an elegant theory.
    1. Burgoon dropped the concept of the threat threshold.
    2. She has substituted “an orienting response” or a mental “alertness” for “arousal.”
    3. Arousal is no longer a necessary link between expectancy violation and communication outcomes such as attraction, credibility, persuasion, and involvement, but rather a side effect of a partner’s deviation.
    4. She has dropped the qualifier “nonverbal” because she believes the principles of EVT apply to verbal interaction as well.
  4. Core concepts of EVT (expectancy violations theory).
    1. EVT offers a soft determinism rather than hard-core universal laws.
    2. Burgoon does, however, hope to link surprising interpersonal behavior and attraction, credibility, influence, and involvement.
    3. Expectancy.
      1. Expectancy is what is predicted to occur rather than what is desired.
      2. Expectancy is based on context, relationship, and communicator characteristics.
      3. Burgoon believes that all cultures have a similar structure of expected communication behavior, but that the content of those expectations differs from culture to culture.
    4. Violation valence.
      1. The violation valence is the positive or negative value we place on the unexpected behavior, regardless of who does it.
      2. If the valence is negative, do less than expected.
      3. If the valence is positive, do more than expected.
      4. Although the meanings of most violations can be determined from context, some nonverbal expectancy violations are equivocal.
      5. For equivocal violations, one must refer to the communicator reward valence.
    5. Communicator reward valence.
      1. The communicator reward valence is the sum of the positive and negative attributes that the person brings to the encounter plus the potential he or she has to reward or punish in the future.
      2. Puzzling violations force victims to search the social context for clues to their meaning and that’s when communication reward valence comes into play.
      3. Burgoon says that all things being equal, the nature of the violation will influence the response it triggers more than the reward potential of the one who did it.
      4. Communicator reward valence may loom large when it's especially strong either way (exceptionally positive or negative).
  5. Interactional Adaptation—Adjusting Expectations.
    1. Burgoon has recognized that “EVT does not fully account for the overwhelming prevalence of reciprocity that has been found in interpersonal interactions.”
    2. So she has reassessed EVT’s single-sided view of unexpected communication and now favors a dyadic model of adaptation.
      1. Interactional adaptation theory is an extension and expansion of EVT
      2. Interactional position encompasses three factors:
        1. Requirements—outcomes we all need to fulfill our basic needs to survive, be safe, belong, and have sense of self worth.
        2. Expectations—what we think really will happen.
        3. Desire—what we personally would like to see happen.
    3. Unlike EVT, IAT addresses how people adjust their behavior when others violate their expectations.
  6. Critique: A well-regarded work in progress.
    1. While we might wish for predictions that prove more reliable than a long-range weather forecast, a review of expectancy violations research suggests that EVT may have reached that point and be more accurate than other theories that predict responses to nonverbal communication.
    2. Despite problems, Burgoon’s theory meets five criteria for a good scientific theory (explanation, relative simplicity, testable, quantitative research, and practical advice) and recent research suggests improvement in the sixth criterion—prediction.

Chapter  8—Social Penetration Theory

  1. Introduction.
    1. Developed by social psychologists Irwin Altman and Dalmas Taylor, social penetration theory explains how relational closeness develops.
    2. Closeness develops only if individuals proceed in a gradual and orderly fashion from superficial to intimate levels of exchange as a function of both immediate and forecast outcomes.
  2. Personality structure: a multilayered onion.
    1. The outer layer is the public self.
    2. The inner core is one’s private domain.
  3. Closeness through self-disclosure.
    1. The main route to deep social penetration is through self-disclosure.
    2. With the onion-wedge model, the depth of penetration represents the degree of personal disclosure.
    3. The layers of the onion are tougher near the center.
  4. The depth and breadth of self-disclosure.
    1. Peripheral items are exchanged more frequently and sooner than private information.
    2. Self-disclosure is reciprocal, especially in early stages of relationship development.
    3. Penetration is rapid at the start, but slows down quickly as the tightly wrapped inner layers are reached.
      1. Societal norms prevent too much early self-disclosure.
      2. Most relationships stall before a stable intimate exchange is established.
      3. Genuine intimate exchange is rare but when it is achieved, relationships become meaningful and enduring.
      4. Sharing personal narratives, which tend to contain a carefully structured story, deeper emotion, and greater detail than other shared information, is a quick path to stronger bonds.
    4. Depenetration is a gradual process of layer-by-layer withdrawal.
    5. For true intimacy, depth and breadth of penetration are equally important.
  5. Regulating closeness on the basis of rewards and costs.
    1. Social penetration theory draws heavily on the social exchange theory of John Thibaut and Harold Kelley.
    2. If perceived mutual benefits outweigh the costs of greater vulnerability, the process of social penetration will proceed.
    3. Three important concepts are: relational outcome; relational satisfaction; and relational stability.
  6. Relational outcome: Rewards minus costs.
    1. Thibaut and Kelley suggest that people try to predict the outcome of an interaction before it takes place.
      1. The economic approach to determining behavior dates from John Stuart Mill’s principle of utility.
      2. The minimax principle of human behavior claims that people seek to maximize benefits and minimize costs.
      3. The higher we index a relational outcome, the more attractive the behavior that might make it happen.
    2. Social exchange theory assumes that people can accurately gauge the benefits of their actions and make sensible choices based on their predictions.
    3. As relationships develop, the nature of interaction that friends find rewarding evolves.
  7. Gauging relational satisfaction- The comparison level (CL).
    1. A person’s CL is the threshold above which an outcome appears attractive.
    2. One’s CL for friendship, romance, or family ties is pegged by one’s relational history, the baseline of past experience.
    3. Sequence and trends play large roles in evaluating a relationship.
  8. Gauging relational stability- The comparison level of alternatives (CLalt).
    1. The CLalt is the best relational outcomes currently available outside the relationship.
    2. While one’s CL is relatively stable over time, CLalt compares the options at the current moment.
    3. When existent outcomes slide below an established CLalt, relational instability increases.
    4. Social exchange theories have an economic orientation.
    5. The CLalt explains why people sometimes stay in unsatisfying relationships.
      1. Some women endure abuse because Outcome > CLalt.
      2. They will leave only when CLalt > Outcome.
    6. The relative values of Outcome, CL, and CLalt help determine one’s willingness to disclose.
      1. Optimum disclosure will occur when both parties believe that Outcome > CLalt > CL.
      2. A relationship can be more than satisfying if it is stable, but other satisfying options are also available (in case this relationship turns sour).
  9. Ethical reflection: Epicurus’ ethical egoism.
    1. Psychological egoism reflects many social scientists’ conviction that all of us are motivated by self-interest.
    2. Ethical egoism claims we should act selfishly.
    3. Epicurus emphasized the passive pleasures of friendship, good digestion, and above all, the absence of pain.
    4. Other philosophers (Thomas Hobbes, Adam Smith, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ayn Rand) echo the Epicurean call for selfish concern.
  10. Dialectics and the environment.
    1. Altman originally thought that openness is the predominant quality of relationship changes. The desire for privacy may counteract a unidirectional quest for intimacy.
    2. A dialectical model suggests that human social relationships are characterized by openness or contact and closedness or separateness between participants.
    3. Altman also identified the environment as a heuristic cue that might guide our decisions to disclose.
    4. Disclosing of one’s self may include both our cognitive space (our minds, thoughts) and our physical space or territory.
    5. Sandra Petronio’s Communication Privacy Management theory maps out the intricate ways people manage boundaries around their personal information.
  11. Critique: Pulling back from social penetration.
    1. Petronio thinks it’s simplistic to equate self-disclosure with relational closeness.
    2. She also challenges the theorists’ view of disclosure boundaries as being fixed and increasingly less permeable.
    3. Can a complex blend of advantages and disadvantages be reliably reduced to a single index?
    4. Are people so consistently selfish that they always opt to act strictly in their own best interest?
    5. Paul Wright believes that friendships often reach a point of such closeness that self-centered concerns are no longer salient.

Chapter  9—Uncertainty Reduction Theory

  1. Introduction.
    1. Charles Berger notes that the beginnings of personal relationships are fraught with uncertainties.
    2. Uncertainty reduction theory focuses on how human communication is used to gain knowledge and create understanding.
    3. Any of three prior conditions—anticipation of future interaction, incentive value, or deviance—can boost our drive to reduce uncertainty.
  2. Uncertainty reduction: To predict and explain.
    1. Berger’s emphasis on explanation (our inferences about why people do what they do) comes from the attribution theory of Fritz Heider.
    2. There are at least two types of uncertainty.
      1. Behavioral questions, which are often reduced by following accepted procedural protocols.
      2. Cognitive questions, which are reduced by acquiring information. Cognitive uncertainty is what Berger is addressing.
  3. An axiomatic theory: Certainty about uncertainty.
    1. Berger proposes a series of axioms to explain the connection between uncertainty and eight key variables.
    2. Axioms are traditionally regarded as self-evident truths that require no additional proof.
      1. Axiom 1, verbal communication: As the amount of verbal communication between strangers increases, the level of uncertainty decreases, and as a result, verbal communication increases.
      2. Axiom 2, nonverbal warmth: As nonverbal affiliative expressiveness increases, uncertainty levels will decrease. Decreases in uncertainty level will cause increases in nonverbal warmth.
      3. Axiom 3, information seeking: High levels of uncertainty cause increases in information-seeking behavior. As uncertainty levels decline, information-seeking behavior decreases.
      4. Axiom 4, self-disclosure: High levels of uncertainty in a relationship cause decreases in the intimacy level of communication content. Low levels of uncertainty produce high levels of intimacy.
      5. Axiom 5, reciprocity: High levels of uncertainty produce high rates of reciprocity. Low levels of uncertainty produce low levels of reciprocity.
      6. Axiom 6, similarity: Similarities between persons reduce uncertainty, while dissimilarities produce increases in uncertainty.
      7. Axiom 7, liking: Increases in uncertainty level produce decreases in liking; decreases in uncertainty produce increases in liking.
      8. Axiom 8, shared networks: Shared communication networks reduce uncertainty, while a lack of shared networks increases uncertainty.
  4. Theorems: The logical force of uncertainty axioms.
    1. Through pairing axioms, Berger creates 28 theorems.
    2. These 28 theorems suggest a comprehensive theory of interpersonal development based on the importance of reducing uncertainty in human interaction.
  5. Message plans to cope with uncertain responses.
    1. Berger concluded that most social interaction is goal-driven: we have reasons for saying what we say.
      1. Berger claims plans are hierarchically organized with abstract representations at the top of the hierarchy and progressively more concrete representation toward the bottom.
      2. Switching strategies at the top of the hierarchy causes changes down the hierarchy, altering behavior.
    2. Uncertainty is central to all social interaction.
    3. There is an interaction between uncertainty reduction theory and plan-based message production that suggests various strategies individuals use to cope with uncertainty and hedge against risk when deploying messages.
      1. Uncertainty reduction theorists have outlined four approaches we can use to reduce uncertainty.
        1. Using a passive strategy, we unobtrusively observe others from a distance.
        2. In an active strategy, we ask a third party for information.
        3. With an interactive strategy, we talk face-to-face with the other person and ask specific questions.
        4. The extractive strategy involves searching for information online.
      2. The complexity of a message plan is measured in two ways—the level of detail the plan includes and the number of contingency plans prepared in case the original one doesn’t work.
      3. Berger catalogs a series of planned hedges that allow a somewhat gracious retreat to “save face” when at least one of them miscalculated.
      4. The hierarchy hypothesis: When individuals are thwarted in their attempts to achieve goals, their first tendency is to alter lower-level elements of their message.
  6. Reducing uncertainty in ongoing relationships: Relational turbulence theory
    1. Can uncertainty also wreak havoc in ongoing relationships?
    2. Leanne Knobloch suggests that uncertainty in close relationships arises from whether we’re sure about our own thoughts, those of the other person, and the future of the relationship.
    3. Some life circumstances tend to generate relational uncertainty though it can occur at any point.
    4. Couples also experience partner interference as they learn to coordinate their individual goals, plans, and activities in ways that don’t annoy each other.
    5. In times of relational turbulence, we’re likely to feel unsettling emotions like anger, sadness, and fear.
    6. Over time, turbulence leads to even more uncertainty and interference, which then creates more turbulence—a vicious cycle that could threaten the health of the relationship.
    7. Knobloch’s research supports the relational turbulence theory across many types of romantic relationships, ranging from couples facing clinical depression to military spouses returning from deployment.
  7. Critique: Nagging doubts about uncertainty.
    1. Berger’s uncertainty reduction theory was an early prototype of what an objective theory should be and it continues to inspire a new generation of scholars today.
    2. As Berger himself admits, his original statement contained some propositions of dubious validity.
      1. Critics such as Kathy Kellermann consider theorem 17 particularly flawed.
      2. The tight logical structure of the theory doesn't allow us to reject one theorem without questioning the axioms behind it.
      3. In the case of theorem 17, axioms 3 and 7 must also be suspect.
      4. Kellermann and Rodney Reynolds challenge the motivational assumption of axiom 3.
      5. They also have undermined the claim that motivation to search for information is increased by anticipation of future interaction, incentive value, and deviance.
    3. Michael Sunnafrank challenges Berger’s claim that uncertainty reduction is the key to understanding early encounters.
      1. He believes that predicted outcome value more accurately explains communication in early encounters.
      2. Berger insists that you can't predict outcome values until you reduce uncertainty.
    4. Walid Afifi thinks both theories are too narrow. In his theory of motivated information management, he suggests we’re most motivated to reduce anxiety rather than uncertainty.
    5. Despite these problems, Berger's theory has stimulated considerable discussion within the discipline.

Chapter 10—Social Information Processing Theory

  1. Introduction.
    1. Rapid changes in communication technology over the past several decades have frustrated communication scholars seeking to understand what all of this means for interpersonal relationships.
    2. Walther initially developed SIP to understand how online communication shapes the development of interpersonal and group relationships.
    3. His experiments suggest that people can indeed form relationships online that are just as satisfying—in fact, sometimes even more satisfying—than their offline interactions.
  2. Online versus face-to-face: A sip instead of a gulp.
    1. Walther labeled his theory social information processing (SIP) because he believes relationships grow only to the extent that parties first gain information about each other and use that information to form impressions.
    2. It’s a chain of events that occurs regardless of the medium we’re using to communicate: we get information, we form an impression, and then the relationship grows.
    3. SIP focuses on the how the first link of the chain looks a bit different when communicating online.
    4. Although we can use these technologies to communicate with images and video, SIP focuses on online communication that is textual.
    5. Before SIP, many communication theorists shared a cues filtered out interpretation of online messages. They believed the lack of nonverbal cues would disrupt the process of gaining information and forming an impression.
    6. Flaming is use of hostile language that zings its target, creating a toxic climate for relationship development and growth.
    7. Walther doesn’t think the loss of nonverbal cues is necessarily fatal or even injurious to a well-defined impression of the other or the relational development it triggers.
    8. Two features of online communication provide a rationale for SIP theory.
      1. Verbal cues: CMC users can create fully formed impressions of others based solely on linguistic content of messages.
      2. Extended time: Though the exchange of social information is slower online versus face-to-face, over time the relationships formed are not weaker or more fragile.
  3. Verbal cues of affinity replace nonverbal cues.
    1. Based on Mehrabian’s seminal research on inconsistent messages, people gave nonverbal cues more weight when interpreting messages where verbal and nonverbal channels clash.
    2. Nonverbal cues become less powerful when they don’t conflict with the verbal message or when we’re conveying facts.
    3. Walter claims we can replace nonverbal cues with verbal messages that convey the same meaning.
    4. This ability to convert nonverbal cues into verbal meaning isn’t new; earlier examples include pen-pal relationships.
  4. Experimental support for a counter-intuitive idea
    1. Walther isn’t content to rely on anecdotes for support of his theory.
    2. Walther and his colleagues ran studies to test how online communicators pursue their social goals and if affinity can be expressed through a digital medium.
      1. In their study, the participants discussed a moral dilemma with a stranger via either online or face-to-face. The stranger was in actuality a research confederate told to pursue a specific communication goal. Half the confederates were told to interact in a friendly manner and the remaining pairs were told to interact in an unfriendly manner.
      2. The method of communication made no difference in the emotional tone perceived by the participants.
      3. Self-disclosure, praise, and explicit statements of affection successfully communicated warmth.
      4. In face-to-face interactions, participants relied on facial expression, eye contact, tone of voice, body position, and other nonverbal cues to communicate affiliation.
    3. Compared to visually-oriented channels, building warmth over texting might take longer.
  5. Extended time: The crucial variable in online communication.
    1. According to Walther, online communicators need a lot of time to build close connections.
    2. Rather than drinking a glass by taking big gulps, smaller sips will take more time.
    3. Over an extended period, the issue is not the amount of social information that can be conveyed online; rather, it’s the rate at which that information mounts up.
    4. Messages spoken in person take at least four times as long to say them online. This differential may explain why online interactions are perceived as impersonal and task-oriented.
    5. Since online exchanges convey messages more slowly, Walther advises users to send messages more often.
    6. Anticipated future interaction and chronemic cues may also contribute to intimacy on the Internet.
      1. People will trade more relational messages if they think they may meet again and this anticipated future interaction motivates them to develop the relationship.
      2. Walther believes that chronemic cues, or nonverbal indicators of how people perceive, use, or respond to issues of time, are never filtered out completely when communicating online.
    7. Walther claims that sometimes, online exchanges actually surpass the quality of relational communication that’s available when parties talk face-to-face.
  6. Hyperpersonal perspective: Closer online than in person.
    1. Walther uses the term hyperpersonal to label online relationships that are more intimate than if partners were physically together.
    2. He classifies four types of media effects that occur precisely because communicators aren’t face-to-face and have limited nonverbal cues.
      1. Sender: Selective self-presentation
        1. Through selective self-presentation, people who meet online have an opportunity to make and sustain an overwhelmingly positive impression.
        2. As a relationship develops, they can carefully edit the breadth and depth of their self-disclosure to conform to their cyber image, without worrying that nonverbal leakage will shatter their projected persona.
      2. Receiver: Overattribution of similarity
        1. Attribution is a perceptual process where we observe people’s actions and try to figure out what they’re really like.
        2. In the absence of other cues, we are likely to overattribute the information we have and create an idealized image of the sender.
      3. Channel: Communicating on your own time
        1. Many forms of online communication are asynchronous channels of communication, meaning that parties can use them nonsimultaneously—at different times.
        2. A benefit is the ability to edit when dealing with touchy issues, misunderstandings, or conflict between parties.
      4. Feedback: Self-fulfilling prophecy
        1. A self-fulfilling prophecy is the tendency for a person’s expectation of others to evoke a response from them that confirms what was anticipated.
        2. Self-fulfilling prophecy is triggered when the hyperpositive image is intentionally or inadvertently fed back to the other person.
        3. Beyond online dating, Walther suggests hyperpersonal communication may improve relationships between groups with a strong history of tension and conflict, such as Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims.
        4. Based on his research, Walther suggests that in order to ease tensions, communicators should focus on common tasks rather than group differences, allowing plenty of time for communication, and exclusively using text-only channels.
  7. The warranting value of information: What to trust?
    1. Hyperpersonal effects aren’t likely to occur when people don’t trust each other.
    2. Walther and his colleagues have examined how people evaluate the credibility of others through social media.
    3. Social media sites display two types of information—that controlled by the profile owner and that beyond the owner’s direct control.
    4. Walther’s investigation of the warranting value of personal information, or what he describes as “the perceived validity of information presented online with respect to illuminating someone’s offline characteristics,” examined what information is believed when posted online.
    5. Information is believed if it has warranting value. Does their online profile match their offline characteristics?
      1. Like email messages, whose content is under the sole control of the sender, information posted by a profile owner is low warrant information because he or she can manipulate it with ease.
      2. Since the profile owner can’t as easily manipulate what’s posted by friends, we’re more likely to accept such high warrant information as true.
    6. Walther’s experiments confirm that people trust high warrant information.
  8. Critique: A good objective theory in need of update.
    1. Because technology changes so rapidly, it’s difficult to craft and defend enduring theories of online communication.
    2. Yet in this train of high-tech innovation, SIP remains popular among communication scholars because it stacks up well against all the criteria for a good social science theory.
    3. However, the invention of smartphones and the subsequent explosion of social media may reduce the scope and validity of Walther’s theory.
    4. In contrast, the qualitative research of Sherry Turkle, Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT, suggests that the connectivity provided by mobile phones has unanticipated consequences that Walther hasn’t addressed in the two decades since he crafted his theory.
    5. She’s convinced this continuous distraction [by mobile technology] deflects us from that which makes us truly human—conversation, intimacy, and empathy.
      1. Turkle claims that for those brought up with Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, WhatsApp and other smartphone social apps, face-to-face conversation is becoming a lost art.
      2. In their increasing flight from conversation, people who log on to social media constantly give up the possibility of closeness or intimacy with a special few in order to make weak connections with hundreds of “friends.”
      3. Turkle believes the ability to feel what others feel is developed through face-to-face conversations, not through social media.

Chapter 11—Relational Dialectics

  1. Introduction
    1. Leslie Baxter’s theory of relational dialectics treats discourse as the essence of close ties.
    2. By focusing on talk, Baxter separates relational dialectics theory from many of the other interpersonal theories in this book.
    3. Relational dialectics is about the struggle between discourses, and these unceasing struggles are “located in the relationship between parties, produced and reproduced through the parties’ joint communicative activity.”
    4. Despite the fact that we tend to think of struggle and competition as detrimental to intimate relationships, Baxter believes good things emerge from competing discourses.
  2. Discourses that create meaning
    1. The central concept of relational dialectics theory is the discourse, or “a set of propositions that cohere around a given object of meaning.”
    2. To help make sense of the world of discourse, Baxter draws heavily on the thinking of 20th century Russian intellectual Mikhail Bakhtin.
    3. Bakhtin’s philosophy criticized monologue—a mode of talking that emphasizes one official discourse and silences all others.
    4. Bakhtin embraced dialogue as “a process in which unity and difference, in some form, are at play, both with and against one another.”
    5. Although Baxter believes discourses create any interpersonal connection, most of the recent research on the theory has investigated the family.
  3. Caught in a chain of utterances
    1. Talk reverberates with words spoken before, words yet to come, and words that speakers may never dare to voice.
    2. Baxter calls them utterances linked together in a chain.
    3. Baxter insists we consider discourses on two dimensions.
      1. The first dimension categorizes discourses by who speaks them: nearby (or proximal) discourses that occur between the mother and daughter versus distant discourses spoken by other people, such as third parties and people in the broader culture.
      2. The second dimension categorizes dimensions by time: already-spoken discourses in the past versus not-yet-spoken discourses anticipated in the future.
    4. Together, these intersect to form four ‘links’ in the utterance chain that create the utterance’s meaning.
    5. Bakhtin and Baxter believe dialectical tension provides an opportunity to work out ways to mutually embrace the conflict between unity with and differentiation from each other.
  4. Three common dialectics that shape relationships
    1. Across hundreds of interviews about close ties, Baxter heard people voice three recurring themes: integration–separation, stability–change, and expression–nonexpression.
    2. In her first iteration of the theory, she called these contradictions. She no longer prefers that word, since it may tempt people to think she’s talking about psychological conflict between different desires.
    3. Baxter thinks we have such internal motivations, but because she takes communication seriously, she thinks cultural discourses create and shape them.
    4. Baxter refers to these themes as discursive struggles or competing discourses.
    5. The Internal Dialectic describes the three dialectics as they shape the relationship between two people.
    6. The External Dialectic describes the dialectics as they create the relationship between two people and the community around them.
  5. Integration and separation.
    1. Within any given relationship, Baxter regards the discursive struggle between connection and autonomy as foundational.
    2. If one side prevails, the relationship loses.
    3. The discourses of integration and separation also address a pair’s inclusion with and seclusion from other people in their social network
  6. Stability and change.
    1. Without the spice of variety to season our time together, relationships become bland, boring, and, ultimately, emotionally dead.
    2. The external version of certainty/uncertainty is conventionality/uniqueness.
    3. Discourses of conventionality consider how a relationship is similar to other relationships, while discourses of uniqueness emphasize difference.
  7. Expression and nonexpression.
    1. The discourse of expression clashes with the discourse of nonexpression.
    2. Just as the openness-closedness dialectic is an ongoing discursive struggle within a relationship,couples and families also face choices about what information to reveal or conceal from third parties.
  8. How meaning emerges from struggles between discourses
    1. Not all discourses are equal: it’s common for some discourses to possess more prominence than others.
    2. Baxter and Bakhtin refer to powerful discourses as centrifugal or dominant (at the center) and those at the margins as centripetal or marginalized.
    3. Baxter draws on the discourse of the critical tradition to elaborate her view of power.
    4. Baxter chooses not to focus on the management of discourses because saying that people “manage” discourses “implies that contradictions, or discursive struggles, exist outside of communication.”
    5. She’d rather consider how patterns of talk position certain discourses as dominant or marginalized.
    6. Her work has identified two such overarching patterns, differentiated by time.
      1. In one pattern, competing discourses ebb and flow but never appear together, called diachronic separation.
      2. In contrast, synchronic interplay voices multiple discourses in the same time and place.
  9. Diachronic Separation: Different discourses at different times.
    1. According to Baxter, diachronic separation isn’t unusual.
    2. Simultaneous expression of opposing voices is the exception rather than the rule.
    3. Baxter has identified two typical patterns of diachronic separation:
      1. Spiraling inversion involves switches back and forth across time between two contrasting discourses, voicing one and then the other.
      2. Segmentation compartmentalizes different aspects of the relationship.
    4. Compared to the monologue of one dominant discourse, Baxter thinks diachronic separation is a step in the right direction.
  10. Synchronic Interplay: Different Discourses at the Same Time
    1. Baxter’s findings describe four forms of synchronic interplay, starting with those that are more like a monologue and moving to those that are more dialogic.
      1. Negating mentions a marginalized discourse in order to dismiss it as unimportant.
      2. Countering replaces an expected discourse with an alternative discourse.
      3. Entertaining recognizes that every discourse has alternatives
      4. Transforming combines two or more discourses, changing them into something new.
    2. Perhaps the highest form of transformation is the aesthetic moment: “a momentary sense of unity through a profound respect for the disparate voices in dialogue.”
  11. Dialogue creates our relational worlds
    1. Scholars of relational dialectics think communication creates and sustains relationships—in other words, the relationship exists in communication.
    2. Discursive struggles are what give interpersonal relationships their meaning.
    3. If Baxter, Mead, Pearce and Cronen are right, if the discourses voiced by partners change, so does their relationship.
    4. The ubiquity of such struggling discourses means that developing and sustaining a relationship is bound to be an unpredictable, unfinalizable, indeterminate process.
    5. Since a relationship is created through dialogue, it’s always in dialectical flux.
    6. This chaotic jumble of competing voices is far removed from such idyllic notions of communication as a one-way route to interpersonal closeness, shared meaning, or increased certainty.
  12. Ethical reflection: Sissela Bok’s Principle of Veracity.
    1. Baxter argues for a critical sensibility that’s suspicious of dominant voices, especially those that suppress marginalized discourses. She opposes any communication practice that ignores or gags another’s voice.
    2. Philosopher Sissela Bok believes lying can do that, but rejects an absolute prohibition of lying.
    3. Bok doesn’t view lies as neutral. She is convinced that all lies drag around an initial negative weight that must be factored into any ethical equation.
    4. Her principle of veracity asserts that, “truthful statements are preferable to lies in the absence of special consideration.”
    5. Bok contends that we need the principle of veracity because liars engage in a tragic self-delusion.
  13. Critique: Is relational dialectics theory just one discourse among many?
    1. It’s hard to identify an interpersonal communication theory in this book that Baxter doesn’t criticize.
      1. Baxter is particularly tough on scientific scholarship.
      2. It’s unclear how this marginalization of mathematical voices accords with her call for the emergence of new meaning from discourses in interplay.
    2. Relational dialectics theory stacks up quite well as an interpretative theory.
      1. The theory offers a new way to make sense out of close relationships.
      2. Leslie Baxter’s work has inspired a generation of relational dialectics scholars, and they’re continuing her work.
      3. By encouraging a diverse group of people to talk about their relationships, and taking what they say seriously, Baxter models the high value that Bakhtin placed on hearing multiple voices.
      4. Not only does Baxter listen to multiple voices, but her theory seeks to carve out a space where marginalized voices can be heard.
      5. The theory emphasizes the importance of qualitative work when using the theory.
      6. Baxter holds out the promise of an aesthetic ideal to which all of us can aspire—an image that could make slogging through the morass of struggling discourses feel less frustrating.

Chapter 12—Communication Privacy Management Theory

  1. Introduction.
    1. Petronio sees communication privacy management theory as a map of the way people navigate privacy.
    2. Privacy boundaries are barriers that determine how much information one shares with another.
    3. Petronio sees communication privacy management theory (CPM) as a description of a privacy management system that contains three main parts.
      1. The first part of the system, privacy ownership, contains our privacy boundaries that encompass information that we have but others don’t know.
      2. Privacy control, the second part of the system, involves our decision to share private information with another person.
      3. Privacy turbulence, the third part of the privacy management system, comes into play when managing private information doesn’t go the way we expect.
    4. Having a mental image of these three parts of the privacy management system is helpful in understanding the five core principles of Petronio’s CPM. The first four deal with issues of privacy ownership and control; the fifth involves privacy turbulence—the turmoil that erupts when rules are broken.
    5. There are five core principles of CPM:
      1. People believe they own and have a right to control their private information.
      2. People control their private information through the use of personal privacy rules.
      3. When others are told or given access to a person’s private information, they become co-owners of that information.
      4. Co-owners of private information need to negotiate mutually agreeable privacy rules about telling others.
      5. When co-owners of private information don’t effectively negotiate and follow mutually held privacy rules, boundary turbulence is the likely result.
  2. Ownership and control of private information: People believe they own and have a right to control their private information.
    1. Petronio prefers the term disclosure of private information in place of self-disclosure for four reasons.
      1. A lot of private information we tell others is not about ourselves.
      2. Self-disclosure is usually associated with intimacy, but there can be other motives for disclosure.
      3. It has a neutral connotation, whereas self-disclosure has a positive feel.
      4. It draws attention to the content of what is said and how the confidant responds.
    2. We regard private information as something we own.
      1. Petronio defines privacy as “the feeling one has the right to own private information.”
      2. Ownership conveys rights and obligations.
      3. Privacy boosts our sense of autonomy and makes us feel less vulnerable.
      4. Our sense of ownership motivates us to create boundaries that will control the spread of what we know.
  3. Rules for concealing and revealing: People control their private information through the use of personal privacy rules.
    1. An easy way to grasp what she means is to remember that people usually have rules for managing their private information.
    2. Five factors play into the development of a person’s unique privacy rules including culture, gender, motivation, context, and risk/benefit ratio.
      1. Cultures differ on the value of openness and disclosure.
      2. With regards to gender, popular wisdom suggests that women disclose more than men, yet research on this issue is mixed at best.
      3. Petronio emphasizes attraction and liking as interpersonal motives that can loosen privacy boundaries that could not otherwise be breached.
      4. Traumatic events can temporarily or permanently disrupt the influence of culture, gender, and motivation when people craft their rules for privacy.
      5. Risk/benefit ratios do the math for revealing as well as concealing private information.
  4. Disclosure creates a confidant and co-owner: When others are told or discover a person’s private information, they become co-owners of that information.
    1. The act of disclosing private information creates a confidant and draws that person into a collective privacy boundary.
    2. Disclosing information to another person results in co-ownership.
      1. The discloser must realize the personal privacy boundary has morphed into a collective boundary that seldom shrinks back to being solely personal.
      2. As co-owners, people tend to feel responsibility for the information, though not always equally.
      3. Those who had the information foisted upon them may be more casual about protecting it.
  5. Coordinating mutual privacy boundaries: Co-owners of private information need to negotiate mutually agreeable privacy rules about telling others.
    1. This pivotal fourth principle of CPM is where Petronio moves from being descriptive to prescriptive.
    2. Assuming the privacy boundaries co-owners place around the information are different, co-owners must negotiate mutual privacy boundaries—collective boundaries that people shape together.
    3. Boundary ownership is the rights and responsibilities that co-owners of private information have to control its spread.
      1. Not all boundary ownership is 50-50.
      2. A deliberate confidant is someone who intentionally seeks private information, and often the more eager they are to be confided in, the less control they have over what they hear.
      3. A reluctant confidant doesn’t want the disclosure, doesn’t expect it, may find the revealed information an unwelcome burden, and often feels only a vague sense of responsibility to disclosed information, resulting in less of an obligation to follow the privacy guidelines of the discloser.
      4. A shareholder is fully committed to handling private information according to the original owner's privacy rules.
      5. A stakeholder deserves access and control regarding private information and the rules for sharing it.
    4. Boundary linkage is the process of the confidant being linked into the privacy boundary of the person who revealed the information.
      1. Boundary linkage is the process of determining who else gets to know.
      2. When the revealer and recipient have a close relationship, the recipient is more likely to deal with the new information the way the revealer wants. 
    5. E. Boundary permeability—How much information can flow?
      1. 1. Boundaries can be closed, thick, or stretched tight allowing little information to pass through, or boundaries can be open, thin, or loosely held allowing information to easily pass through.
      2. 2. Permeability is a matter of degree.
      3. 3. Rules act as filters, letting some information pass easily through, while other information is closely guarded.
      4. 4. Disclosers and receivers need to negotiate mutual rules for possible third-party dissemination.
  6. VI. Boundary turbulence - Relationships at risk: When co-owners of private information don’t effectively negotiate and follow jointly held privacy rules, boundary turbulence is the likely result.
    1. Turbulence can radically alter our relationships by the way it affects our thoughts, feelings, and actions.
    2. Petronio predicts that people react to turbulence in attempts to regulate the disturbed relationships that it creates.
    3. Fuzzy boundaries occur when there are no recognized mutual boundaries, in which case a confidant resorts to using their own privacy rules to guide what they say to others.
    4. Intentional breaches occur when a confidant purposefully reveals a secret they know the original owner does not want shared.
      1. They may do so to intentionally hurt the original owner or simply because to do so works to their personal advantage.
      2. A confidentiality dilemma occurs when a confidant must breach a collective privacy boundary in order to promote the original owner’s welfare
    5. Not all boundary and relational turbulence comes from privacy rules out of sync or the intentional breach of boundaries.
      1. Sometimes people create turmoil by making mistakes, such as letting secrets slip out when their guard is down or simply forgetting who might have access to the information.
      2. Errors of judgment occur when someone discusses private cases in public places.
      3. A miscalculation in timing can cause turbulence when information is revealed at a bad time.
  7. Critique: Keen diagnosis, good prescription, cure in process?
    1. CPM nicely meets five of the six criteria for a good interpretive theory.
    2. It scores well on providing a new understanding of people, backing that up by sound qualitative research, the support of a community of agreement, clarifying privacy as a value, and calling for reform (though that is a bit of a stretch).
    3. CPM lacks aesthetic appeal, in both style and clarity.
    4. A gap in the theory is that Petronio does not offer insight on how to conduct negotiations or offer solutions for when boundary turbulence occurs.
    5. Over the 35 years in working with the theory, she’s acknowledged the theory’s ambiguities and repackaged things for improved clarity.

Chapter 13—Media Multiplexity Theory

  1. Caroline Haythornthwaite is the chief theorist behind media multiplexity theory, which originally took a cybernetic approach to understanding how and why we use different communication channels
    1. The theory claims that our social networks powerfully influence the media we use, including why we might choose one medium over another to send a greeting such as happy birthday.
    2. Perhaps even more important, the theory calls attention to the number of media we use with an interpersonal partner.
    3. Media multiplexity scholars are convinced of one simple fact: The stronger the relational tie we have with a person, the more media we will use with that person.
  2. II. Mapping our social networks
    1. Scholars in the cybernetic tradition think we can map out what our relationships look like in a social network.
    2. Social network scholars call bonds weak ties if they don’t consume much time or energy, like acquaintances, classmates, and distant relatives.
    3. In contrast, strong ties such as romantic partners, immediate family, and BFFs (best friends forever) demand that we make a significant investment in the relationship.
    4. Sociologist Mark Granovetter offered a more formal definition of tie strength, claiming it’s a “combination of the amount of time, the emotional intensity, the intimacy (mutual confidence), and the reciprocal services” exchanged in the relationship.
    5. Cybernetic theorists want to understand how the structure of a network shapes the flow of information and resources between people.
  3. When are strong ties weak, and when are weak ties strong?
    1. With strong ties, we experience acceptance, intimacy, and enjoyment.
    2. Stanford sociologist Mark Granovetter claimed he wasn’t so sure that strong ties are always better than weak ties.
    3. He affirmed the importance of close relationships for understanding our identity, but noted that strong ties feature a major weakness: They’re redundant when it comes to accessing information and resources.
    4. According to Granovetter, quick access to diverse information is one strength of weak ties.
    5. Among weak ties, bridging ties serve a particularly powerful role. They’re the ties that connect one strong tie group to another.
    6. Granovetter’s treatise on weak ties has inspired many scholars, including Haythornthwaite, who found his explanation of strong and weak ties particularly helpful for understanding the channels that sustain them.
  4. Media multiplexity: Tie strength involves the channels we use.
    1. Haythornthwaite sought to create maps of relationships in education contexts, with particular interest in courses that take place online—often with students located far apart from one another.
    2. At first, Haythornthwaite wanted to understand how online learners adapt to the computer-mediated environment: “What happens to such relationships when face-to-face contact is unavailable or severely limited?”
    3. But Haythornthwaite’s findings soon drove her into unexplored terrain: “Asking ‘who talks to whom about what and via which media’ revealed the unexpected result that more strongly tied pairs make use of more of the available media, a phenomenon I have termed media multiplexity.”
    4. What differentiated strong ties from weak ties was the number of media the pair employed. Greater tie strength seemed to drive greater numbers of media used.
    5. Although Haythornthwaite initially observed media multiplexity in educational and organizational groups, scholars in the socio-psychological tradition soon took her ideas and applied them to interpersonal contexts.
    6. The basic claim of media multiplexity theory: Tie strength drives use of multiple media.
      1. Claim #1: Communication content differs by tie strength, not by medium.
        1. Earlier theories of communication technology suggested some channels can’t effectively facilitate the ambiguous messages common in close relationships.
        2. Media multiplexity theory and social information processing (SIP) theory agree that those earlier theories weren’t quite right—people can and do maintain close ties online.
        3. SIP researchers have been most interested in the getting-to-know-you phase of relationship initiation, and they’ve pointed to the need for extended time during it.
        4. Media multiplexity theorists have been more interested in the maintenance of ongoing relationships, and they’ve pointed to the nature of the interpersonal tie itself.
        5. In her research, Haythornthwaite has found that the medium partners use doesn’t change the topic of their talk.
        6. University of Illinois professor John Caughlin noted that media multiplexity theory has much to say on what media interpersonal partners use, but not how they link all those media together.
        7. Thus it may not be quite right to say that partners never choose different media for different content, but rather that they may pay a relational price for that kind of segmentation.
      2. Claim #2: The hierarchy of media use depends on group norms.
        1. According to multiplexity scholars, this allocation of different channels for different kinds of ties creates a hierarchy of media use expectations.
        2. In such a hierarchy, members of the group use some media to communicate with all relational ties, whether weak or strong.
        3. But pairs with a strong tie often feel they need more private channels to sustain their relationship.
        4. Haythornthwaite would be quick to point out that there’s nothing sacred about any particular hierarchy of media use, because such hierarchies differ between groups.
      3. Claim #3: Adding and subtracting media access influences weak ties.
        1. Haythornthwaite would argue that the launch of Facebook created latent ties, or “connection[s] available technically, even if not yet activated socially.”
        2. She thinks the impact of a loss of a communication medium would depend on the strength of your tie.
        3. Where a weak tie, with few other channels, might be heavily impacted, on the flip side, Haythornthwaite thinks strong ties are relatively unaffected by the loss of a medium.
        4. Because strong ties tend to communicate through several media, they have built-in redundancy that can withstand the loss of a channel.
        5. Overall, then, “a central thesis of MMT is that . . . changes to the media landscape alter strong ties only minimally, but may change the nature of weak ties considerably.
  5. Are media use and tie strength always associated with each other?
    1. As you’d expect for an objective theory steeped in both the cybernetic and socio-psychological traditions, scholars haven’t taken the link between tie strength and media use for granted; they’ve gathered evidence to support that crucial belief.
    2. At the same time, their empirical detective work has found that the tie strength/media use link may depend on some other ingredients. If those factors aren’t present, tie strength and media use may not be so tightly linked—if they’re linked at all.
    3. One such factor is medium enjoyment, or one’s preference for a specific medium, driven by the belief that it is fun and convenient.
    4. As the study of medium enjoyment in family relationships concluded, “Effective media choice does not match medium to message so much as medium to person.”
  6. Critique: Strong on simplicity, weak on explanation and prediction.
    1. Media multiplexity theory is the youngest theory in this book, yet it has gained a sizable following among scholars within and outside the communication discipline.
    2. “To date, [the theory] represents the most comprehensive and systematic attempt to explain how the multimodality of social life influences, and is influenced by, the characteristics of interpersonal relationships.”
    3. One of the theory’s greatest strengths is its relative simplicity.
    4. These hypotheses are testable, and as scholars have conducted quantitative research, the numbers have tended to support the theory’s claims.
    5. Where the theory falters is its explanation of the data.
    6. Haythornthwaite seems to emphasize that tie strength drives channel expansion. Yet at other times, she acknowledges that increased communication probably strengthens the tie.
    7. Additional research on the theory’s causality claims could enhance the theory’s ability to predict future events.
    8. Despite the need for better prediction and explanation, the theory has demonstrated its practical utility.

Chapter 14—Social Judgment Theory

  1. Three latitudes: Acceptance, rejection, and noncommitment.
    1. Social judgment theory says that at the instant of perception, people compare messages to their present point of view.
    2. Individuals’ opinions are not adequately represented as a point along a continuum because degrees of tolerance around their positions must also be considered.
    3. Muzafer Sherif established three zones of attitudes.
      1. The latitude of acceptance represents ideas that are reasonable or worthy of consideration.
      2. The latitude of rejection includes items that are unreasonable or objectionable.
      3. The latitude of noncommitment represents ideas that are neither acceptable nor objectionable.
    4. A description of a person’s attitude structure must include the location and width of each interrelated latitude.
    5. In order to craft a more persuasive message, social judgment theory recommends that a communicator try to figure out the location and breadth of the other person’s three latitudes before further discussion.
  2. Ego-involvement: How much do you care?
    1. Ego-involvement refers to how central or important an issue is in our lives.
    2. The favored position anchors all other thoughts about the topic.
    3. People who hold extreme views care deeply.
  3. Judging the message: Contrast and assimilation errors.
    1. Social judgment-involvement describes the linkage between ego-involvement and perception.
    2. Contrast occurs when one perceives a message within the latitude of rejection as being more discrepant than it actually is from the anchor point. This perceptual distortion leads to polarization of ideas.
    3. Assimilation, the opposite of contrast, occurs when one perceives a message within the latitude of acceptance as being less discrepant than it actually is from the anchor point.
    4. Although Sherif is unclear as to how people judge messages that fall within the latitude of noncommitment, most interpreters believe the message will be perceived as intended.
  4. Discrepancy and attitude change.
    1. If individuals judge a new message to fall within their latitude of acceptance, they adjust their attitude to accommodate it.
      1. The persuasive effect will be positive but partial.
      2. The greater the discrepancy, the more individuals adjust their attitudes.
      3. The most persuasive message is the one that is most discrepant from the listener’s position, yet still falls within his or her latitude of acceptance or latitude of noncommitment.
    2. If individuals judge a new message to be within their latitude of rejection, they will adjust their attitude away from it.
      1. For individuals with high ego-involvement and broad latitudes of rejection, most messages that are aimed to persuade them that fall within a latitude of rejection have an effect opposite of what the communicator intended.
      2. This boomerang effect suggests that individuals are often driven, rather than drawn, to the positions they occupy.
    3. Sherif’s approach is quite automatic.
      1. He reduced interpersonal influence to the issue of the distance between the message and the hearer’s position.
      2. Volition exists only in choosing the message the persuader presents.
  5. Practical advice for the persuader.
    1. For maximum influence, select a message right on the edge of the audience’s latitude of acceptance or noncommitment.
    2. Ambiguous messages can sometimes serve better than clarity.
    3. Persuasion is a gradual process consisting of small movements.
    4. The most dramatic, widespread, and enduring attitude changes involve changes within reference groups where members have differing values.
  6. Attitudes on sleep, booze, and money: Evidence supporting SJT.
    1. Research on the predictions of social judgment theory requires highly ego-involved issues.
    2. A highly credible speaker can shrink the listener’s latitude of rejection.
    3. Application of the theory raises ethical problems.
  7. Ethical Reflections: Kant’s categorical imperative.
    1. Social judgment theory focuses on what is effective. But, before we adjust what we say so that it serves our ends and seems reasonable to others, we should consider what’s ethical.
    2. German philosopher Immanuel Kant believed that any time we speak or act, we have a moral obligation to be truthful.
    3. He held an absolutist position, based on his categorical imperative, which is “act only on that maxim which you can will to become a universal law.”
    4. There are no mitigating circumstances. Lying is wrong—always. So is breaking a promise.
    5. Kant would have us look at the difference between what we plan to say to influence others and what we truly believe.
    6. We should then ask, What if everybody did that all the time? If we don’t like the answer, we have a solemn duty not to do the deed.
    7. The categorical imperative is a method for determining right from wrong by thinking through the ethical valence of an act, regardless of motive.
  8. Critique: A theory well within the latitude of acceptance.
    1. The theory has practical utility for persuaders.
    2. The theory offers specific predictions and explanations about what happens in the mind when a message falls within someone’s latitude of acceptance or rejection.
    3. Like all cognitive explanations, social judgment theory assumes a mental structure and process that are beyond sensory observation.
    4. Although its falsifiable claims have not been widely tested, the empirical research has been conducting validates supports the SJT.
    5. Despite the small amount of research it’s fostered, social judgment theory is an elegant, intuitively appealing approach to persuasion.

Chapter 15—Elaboration Likelihood Model

  1. The central route and the peripheral routes to persuasion.
    1. Richard Petty and John Cacioppo posit two basic mental routes for attitude change.
    2. The central route involves message elaboration, defined as the extent to which a person carefully thinks about issue-relevant arguments contained in a persuasive communication.
    3. The peripheral route processes the message without any active thinking about the attributes of the issue or the object of consideration.
      1. Recipients rely on a variety of cues to make quick decisions.
      2. Robert Cialdini has identified six such cues:
        1. Reciprocation
        2. Consistency
        3. Social proof
        4. Liking
        5. Authority
        6. Scarcity
    4. Although Petty and Cacioppo’s model seems to suggest that the routes are mutually exclusive, the theorists stress the central route and the peripheral route are poles on a cognitive processing continuum that shows the degree of mental effort a person exerts when evaluating a message.
    5. The more listeners work to evaluate a message, the less they will be influenced by content-irrelevant factors; the greater the effect of content-irrelevant factors, the less impact the message carries.
  2. Motivation for elaboration: Is it worth the effort?
    1. People are motivated to hold correct attitudes.
    2. Yet the number of ideas a person can scrutinize is limited, so we tend to focus on issues that are personally relevant.
    3. Personally relevant issues are more likely to be processed on the central route; issues with little relevance take the peripheral route, where credibility and other content free cues take on greater importance).
    4. Certain individuals have a need for cognitive clarity, regardless of the issue; these people will work through many of the ideas and arguments they hear.
  3. Ability for elaboration: Can they do it?
    1. Elaboration requires intelligence and concentration.
    2. Distraction disrupts elaboration.
    3. Repetition may increase the possibility of elaboration, but too much repetition causes people to resort to the peripheral route.
  4. Type of elaboration: Objective vs. biased thinking.
    1. Biased elaboration (top-down thinking) occurs when predetermined conclusions color the supporting data underneath.
    2. Objective evaluation (bottom-up thinking) considers the facts on their own merit.
  5. Elaborated messages: Strong, weak, and neutral.
    1. Objective elaboration examines the perceived strength of an argument.
      1. Petty and Cacioppo have no absolute standard for differentiating between cogent and specious arguments.
      2. They define a strong message as one that generates favorable thoughts.
    2. Thoughtful consideration of strong arguments will produce positive shifts in attitude.
      1. The change is persistent over time.
      2. It resists counterpersuasion.
      3. It predicts future behavior.
    3. Thoughtful consideration of weak arguments can lead to negative boomerang effects paralleling the positive effects of strong arguments (but in the opposite direction).
    4. Mixed or neutral messages won’t change attitudes and in fact reinforce original attitudes.
  6. Peripheral cues: An alternative route of influence.
    1. Most messages are processed through the peripheral route, bringing attitude changes without issue-relevant thinking.
    2. The most obvious cues for the peripheral route are tangible rewards.
    3. Source credibility is also important.
      1. The principal components of source credibility are likability and expertise.
      2. Source credibility is salient for those unmotivated or unable to elaborate.
    4. Peripheral route change can be either positive or negative, but it won’t have the impact of message elaboration.
  7. Pushing the limits of peripheral power.
    1. Penner and Fritzshe’s study of Magic Johnson’s HIV announcement suggests that the effect of even powerful peripheral cues is short-lived.
    2. Although most ELM research has measured the effects of peripheral cues by studying credibility, a speaker’s competence or character could also be a stimulus to effortful message elaboration.
    3. Petty and Cacioppo emphasize that it’s impossible to compile a list of cues that are strictly peripheral.
    4. Lee and Koo argue that there are times when source credibility is processed through the central route rather than functioning as a peripheral cue.
    5. This is particularly true when there's a close match between an advertised product that consumers really care about and the expertise of the star presenter.
    6. Many variables like perceived credibility or the mood of the listener can act as peripheral cues. Yet if one of them motivates listeners to scrutinize the message or affects their evaluation of arguments, it no longer serves as a no-brainer.
  8. Choosing a route: Practical advice for the persuader.
    1. If listeners are motivated and able to elaborate a message, rely on factual arguments—i.e., appeal through the central route.
    2. When listeners are willing and able to elaborate a message, avoid using weak arguments; they will backfire.
    3. If listeners are unable or unwilling to elaborate a message, rely on packaging rather than content; appeal by using cues be processed on the peripheral route.
    4. When using the peripheral route, however, the effects will probably be fragile.
  9. Ethical reflection: Nilsen’s significant choice.
    1. Nilsen proposes that persuasive speech is ethical to the extent that it maximizes people’s ability to exercise free choice.
    2. Philosophers and rhetoricians have compared persuasion to a lover making fervent appeals to his beloved—wooing an audience, for example.
    3. For Nilsen, true love can’t be coerced; it must be freely given.
    4. Nilsen would regard persuasive appeals that encourage message elaboration through ELM’s central route as ethical
  10. Critique: Elaborating the model.
    1. ELM has been a leading theory of persuasion and attitude change for the last twenty-five years, and Petty and Cacioppo’s initial model has been very influential.
    2. These theorists have elaborated ELM to make it more complex, less predictive, and less practical, which makes it problematic as a scientific theory.
    3. As Paul Mongeau and James Stiff have charged, the theory cannot be adequately tested and falsified, particularly in terms of what makes a strong or weak argument.
    4. Despite these limitations, the theory synthesizes many diverse aspects of persuasion.

Chapter 16—Cognitive Dissonance

  1. Dissonance: Discord between behavior and belief.
    1. Identified by Leon Festinger, cognitive dissonance is the distressing mental state that people feel when they find themselves doing things that don’t fit with what they know, or having opinions that do not fit with other opinions they hold.
    2. Humans have a basic need to avoid dissonance and establish consistency.
    3. The tension of dissonance motivates the person to change either the behavior or the belief.
    4. The more important the issue and the greater the discrepancy, the higher the magnitude of dissonance.
  2. Health-conscious smokers: Dealing with dissonance.
    1. When Festinger first published his theory, he chose the topic of smoking to illustrate the concept of dissonance.
    2. Perhaps the most typical way for the smoker to avoid anguish is to trivialize or simply deny the link between smoking and cancer.
    3. Festinger noted that almost all of our actions are more entrenched than the thoughts we have about them.
  3. Reducing dissonance between attitudes and actions.
    1. Hypothesis #1: Selective exposure prevents dissonance.
      1. We avoid information that is likely to increase dissonance.
      2. People select information that lined up with what they already believed and ignored facts or ideas that ran counter to those beliefs.
      3. Dieter Frey concluded that selective exposure exists only when information is known to be a threat.
      4. Warm personal relationships are the best environment for considering discrepant views.
    2. Hypothesis #2: Post decision dissonance creates a need for reassurance.
      1. The more important the issue, the more dissonance.
      2. The longer an individual delays a choice between two equally attractive options, the more dissonance.
      3. The greater the difficulty in reversing the decision once it has been made, the more dissonance.
    3. Hypothesis #3: Minimal justification for action induces a shift in attitude.
      1. Conventional wisdom suggests that to change behavior, you must first alter attitude.
      2. Festinger reverses the sequence.
      3. In addition, he predicts that attitude change and dissonance reduction depend on providing only a minimum justification for the change in behavior.
  4. A classic experiment: “Would I lie for a dollar?”
    1. Festinger’s minimal justification hypothesis is counterintuitive.
    2. The Stanford $1/$20 experiment supported the minimal justification hypothesis because subjects who received a very small reward demonstrated a change in attitude.
  5. Three state-of-the-art revisions: The cause and effect of dissonance.
    1. Most persuasion researchers today subscribe to one of three revisions of Festinger’s original theory. A process model of cognitive dissonance helps us understand the three:
      Attitude/behavior inconsistency ⇒ Dissonance created ⇒ Attitude change ⇒ Dissonance reduced
    2. Self-consistency: the rationalizing animal.
      1. Elliot Aronson argued that dissonance is caused by psychological rather than logical inconsistency.
      2. Inconsistency between a cognition and self-concept causes dissonance.
      3. Humans aren’t rational, they are rationalizing.
      4. Research such as the $1/$20 experiment provides evidence of self-esteem maintenance.
      5. The amount of dissonance a person can experience is directly proportional to the effort he or she has invested in the behavior.
    3. Personal responsibility for bad outcomes (the new look).
      1. Joel Cooper argues that we experience dissonance when we believe our actions have unnecessarily hurt another person.
      2. Cooper concludes that dissonance is a state of arousal caused by behaving in such a way as to feel personally responsible for bringing about an aversive event.
    4. Self-affirmation to dissipate dissonance.
      1. Claude Steele focuses on dissonance reduction.
      2. He believes that high self-esteem is a resource for dissonance reduction.
      3. Steele asserts that most people are motivated to maintain a self-image of moral and adaptive adequacy.
    5. These three revisions of Festinger’s theory are not mutually exclusive.
  6. Theory into practice: Persuasion through dissonance.
    1. Festinger’s theory offers practical advice for those who wish to affect attitude change as a product of dissonance.
    2. Apply the concepts of selective exposure, postdecision dissonance, and minimal justification to manage dissonance effectively.
    3. As long as counterattitudinal actions are freely chosen and publicly taken, people are more likely to adopt beliefs that support what they’ve done.
    4. Personal responsibility for negative outcomes should be taken into account.
  7. Critique: Dissonance over dissonance.
    1. Cognitive dissonance is one of the few theories in this book that has achieved name recognition within popular culture as people have found it practically useful.
    2. Where the theory falls short is relative simplicity.
    3. Bem claims that self-perception is a much simpler explanation than cognitive dissonance.
    4. The theory has also received knocks for how difficult it is to actually observe dissonance.
    5. If researchers can’t observe dissonance, then the theory’s core hypotheses aren’t testable—a big problem for a scientific theory.
    6. Patricia Devine applauds researchers who have attempted to gauge the arousal component of dissonance.
    7. The most promising attempts to develop a dissonance thermometer have used neuroimaging.
      1. It has provided initial hard evidence that the experience of cognitive dissonance is, indeed, real.
      2. Even so, actually observing it is difficult and expensive, so even if the theory is testable, it certainly isn’t simple.
    8. Despite detractors, cognitive dissonance theory has energized objective scholars of communication for 50 years.

Chapter 17—Functional Perspective on Group Decision Making

  1. Introduction.
    1. Randy Hirokawa and Dennis Gouran believe that group interaction has a positive effect on decision making.
    2. Hirokawa seeks quality solutions; Gouran desires appropriate decisions.
    3. The functional perspective specifies what communication must accomplish for jointly made decisions to be wise.
  2. Four functions for effective decision making.
    1. Hirokawa and Gouran draw on the analogy between biological systems and small groups.
      1. Group decision making must fulfill four task requirements to reach a high-quality decision.
      2. These tasks are requisite functions of effective decision making—hence the functional perspective label.
    2. Function #1: Analysis of the problem.
      1. Group members must take a realistic look at current conditions.
      2. Misunderstandings of situations are compounded when group members make their final decision.
      3. The clearest example of faulty analysis is a failure to recognize a potential threat.
      4. Group members must determine the nature, extent, and probable cause(s) of the problem.
    3. Function #2: Goal setting.
      1. A group needs to establish criteria for judging proposed solutions. If the group fails to meet these, the decision will likely be driven by power or passion rather than reason.
      2. With no definitive goals to focus their discussion, it’s difficult for group members to know whether they’re making an appropriate decision.
    4. Function #3: Identification of alternatives.
      1. Hirokawa and Gouran stress the importance of marshalling a number of different viable options from which to choose.
      2. Groups need to identify courses of action.
    5. Function #4: Evaluation of positive and negative characteristics.
      1. Group members must test the relative merits of each alternative they identified against the criteria that emerged in the goal setting function.
      2. Some group tasks have a positive bias—spotting the favorable characteristics of alternative choices is more important than identifying negative qualities.
      3. Other group tasks have a negative bias—the downside of options is more important than identifying their positive qualities.
  3. Prioritizing the four functions.
    1. Originally, they thought that no single function was inherently more central than the others.
    2. Hirokawa discovered the groups that successfully resolve especially difficult problems usually take a common decision-making path.
    3. Research suggests that the evaluation of negative consequences of alternative solutions was by far the most crucial to ensure a quality decision.
    4. Hirokawa now splits evaluation of positive and negative consequences and speaks of five requisite functions rather than four.
    5. As long as a group covers all of the functions, the route taken is not the key issue.
    6. Nonetheless, groups that successfully resolve particularly tough problems often take a common decision-making path: problem analysis, goal setting, identifying alternatives, and evaluating the positive and negative characteristics.
  4. The role of communication in fulfilling the functions.
    1. Traditional wisdom suggests that talk is the channel or conduit through which information travels between participants.
      1. Verbal interaction makes it possible for members to distribute and pool information, catch and remedy errors, and influence each other.
      2. Ivan Steiner claimed that actual group productivity equals potential productivity minus losses due to processes.
      3. Communication is best when it does not obstruct or distort the free flow of ideas.
    2. In contrast, Hirokawa believes that group discussion creates the social reality for decision making.
    3. Hirokawa and Gouran outline three types of communication in decision-making groups.
      1. Promotive—interaction that calls attention to one of the four decision-making functions.
      2. Disruptive—interaction that detracts from the group’s ability to achieve the four task functions.
      3. Counteractive—interaction that refocuses the group.
    4. Since most communication disrupts, effective group decision making depends upon counteractive influence.
  5. Thoughtful advice for those who know they are right.
    1. Be skeptical of personal opinions.
      1. Groups often abandon the rational path due to the persuasive efforts of other self-assured group members.
      2. Unsupported intuition is untrustworthy.
    2. Follow John Dewey’s six-step process of reflective thinking, which parallels a doctor’s treatment regimen.
      1. Recognize symptoms of illness.
      2. Diagnose the cause of the ailment.
      3. Establish criteria for wellness.
      4. Consider possible remedies.
      5. Test to determine which solutions will work.
      6. Implement or prescribe the best solution.
    3. Hirokawa and Gouran’s four requisite functions replicate steps two through five of Dewey’s reflective thinking.
    4. To counteract faulty logic, insist on a careful process.
  6. Ethical reflection: Habermas’ discourse ethics.
    1. Jürgen Habermas suggests a rational group process through which people can determine right from wrong.
    2. Being ethical means being accountable.
    3. People in a given culture or community can agree on the good they want to accomplish and over time build up wisdom on how to achieve it.
    4. The person who performed an act must be prepared to discuss what he or she did and why he or she did it in an open forum.
    5. He imagined an ideal speech situation where participants were free to listen to reason and speak their minds without fear of constraint or control.
    6. Three requirements must be met to have an ideal speech situation:
      1. Requirement of access for all affected parties
      2. Requirement of argument to figure out the common good
      3. Requirement of justification or universal application
  7. Critique: Valid Only If New Functions Are Added Or Scope Is Narrowed
    1. Although the functional perspective is one of the three leading theories in small group communication, its exclusive focus on rationality may cause the mixed experimental results it’s had.
    2. Stohl and Homes suggest that unless the theorists adopt a bona fide group approach, the theory is irrelevant for most real life group decisions.
    3. In these authentic situations, many members have roles in overlapping groups that have a stake in the decision they make and are typically responsible to a leader or manager outside the group.
    4. Stohl and Holmes emphasize that most real-life groups have a prior decision-making history and are embedded within a larger organization.
      1. They advocate adding a historical function requiring the group to talk about how past decisions were made.
      2. They also advocate an institutional function that is satisfied when members discuss relevant parties who are absent from the decision-making process.
    5. Recently, Gouran has raised doubts about the usefulness of the functional perspective for all small groups.
      1. It’s beneficial for members to fulfill the four requisite functions only when they are addressing questions of policy.
      2. Groups addressing questions of fact, conjecture, or value may not find the requisite functions relevant.
      3. The scope of the functional perspective is more limited than first believed.

Chapter 18—Symbolic Convergence Theory

  1. Central explanatory principle of SCT: sharing group fantasies creates symbolic convergence.
    1. Similar to Bales, Bormann and his team of colleagues observed that group members often dramatized events happening outside the group, things that took place at previous meetings, or what might possibly occur among them in the future.
    2. When the drama was enhanced in this way, members developed a common group consciousness and drew closer together.
  2. Dramatizing messages: Creative interpretations of there-and-then.
    1. According to SCT, conversations about things outside of what’s going on right now can often serve the group well.
    2. Dramatizing messages contains imaginative language that describes events occurring at some other place and/or time.
    3. The dramatizing message must paint a picture or bring to mind an image.
    4. A vivid message is dramatizing if it either describes something outside the group or portrays an event that has happened within the group in the past or might happen to the group in the future.
    5. Dramatizing messages are creative interpretations that help the speaker, and sometimes the listener, make sense of a confusing situation or bring clarity to an uncertain future.
  3. Fantasy chain reactions: Unpredictable symbolic explosions.
    1. Bormann uses fantasy for dramatizing messages that are enthusiastically embraced by the whole group.
    2. Most dramatizing messages don’t get that kind of reaction.
    3. Some dramatizing messages cause a symbolic explosion in the form of a chain reaction in which members join in until the entire group comes alive.
    4. A fantasy chain occurs when there is a common response to the imagery.
    5. Fantasy chains are hard to predict, but when they occur, they are hard to control and a group will often converge around a fantasy theme.
  4. Fantasy themes: Content, motives, cues, types.
    1. A fantasy theme is the content of the dramatizing message that sparks a fantasy chain.
    2. A fantasy theme is the basic unit of analysis for SCT.
    3. Bormann suggested that group members’ meanings, emotions, motives, and actions are apparent in their fantasy themes.
    4. Many fantasy themes are indexed by a symbolic cue.
    5. Clusters of related fantasy themes sometimes surface repeatedly in different groups and are labeled with a fantasy type.
  5. Symbolic convergence: Group consciousness and often cohesiveness.
    1. Symbolic convergence results from sharing group fantasies.
      1. Symbolic convergence is the way in which two or more private symbol worlds incline toward each other, come more closely together, or even overlap.
      2. Symbolic convergence causes group members to develop a unique group consciousness.
      3. Bormann suggested that it is important for members to memorialize their group consciousness with a name and recorded history that recalls moments when fantasies chained out.
    2. Symbolic convergence usually, but not always, results in heightened group cohesiveness.
  6. Rhetorical vision: A composite drama shared by a rhetorical community.
    1. Fantasies that begin in small groups often are worked into public speeches, become picked up by mass media and ‘spread out across larger publics.’
      1. Rhetorical vision refers to a composite drama that catches up large groups of people into a common symbolic reality.
      2. Rhetorical community is the wide ranging body of people who share a reality.
    2. Fantasy theme analysis discovers fantasy themes and rhetorical visions that have already been created.
    3. Fantasy theme analysis is a specific type of rhetorical criticism that’s built on two basic assumptions
      1. People create their social reality.
      2. People’s meanings, motives, and emotions can be seen in their rhetoric.
      3. Four features should be present in the shared fantasies: characters, plot lines, scene, and sanctioning agent.
    4. Examples of such rhetorical visions can be seen in McCabe’s work on pro-eating disorders (also known as high-risk dieters) or the impact of the “Make America Great Again” movement during the run-up to the 2016 US Presidential elections.
  7. Theory into practice: Advice to improve your college experience.
    1. Bormann offers advice on how to use SCT as it applies to a group.
      1. When the group begins to share a drama that in your opinion would contribute to a healthy culture, you should pick up the drama and feed the chain.
      2. If the fantasies are destructive, creating group paranoia or depression, cut the chain off whenever possible.
      3. To build cohesiveness, use personification to identify your group.
      4. Be sure to encourage the sharing of dramas depicting your group history.
      5. Even though a conscious rhetorical effort on your part can succeed in igniting a chain reaction, remember that the fantasy may take an unexpected turn.
    2. Most rhetorical visions embrace either a righteous vision, a social vision, or a pragmatic vision.
  8. Critique: Judging SCT as both a scientific and interpretive theory.
    1. The theory’s basic hypothesis that sharing group fantasies creates symbolic convergence is framed as a universal principle that holds for all people, in any culture, at any time, in any communication context; it typifies the objective tradition.
    2. But the methodology of determining fantasy themes, fantasy types, and rhetorical visions is rhetorical criticism—a humanistic approach that’s undeniably interpretive.
    3. SCT holds up well against both the criteria for an objective theory and an interpretive theory.
    4. Despite this success, SCT fails to meet two at least benchmarks of a good theory (one objective benchmark and one interpretive benchmark).
      1. SCT researchers adequately predict the benefits of convergence (cohesiveness) but have little success predicting when a dramatizing message will trigger a chain reaction.
      2. Without the ability to forecast when a fantasy chain reaction will occur, SCT is difficult to test and not as useful as group practitioners desire.
      3. There’s no doubt that fantasy theme analysis uncovers the values of a rhetorical community.
      4. SCT vocabulary shows the theory’s pro-social bias, but ignores issues of power.

Chapter 19—Cultural Approach to Organizations

  1. Introduction.
    1. Anthropologist Clifford Geertz views cultures as webs of shared meaning, shared understanding, and shared sensemaking.
    2. Geertz' work has focused on Third World cultures, but his ethnographic approach has been applied by other scholars to organizations.
    3. In the field of speech communication, Michael Pacanowsky has applied Geertz's approach in his research of organizations.
    4. Pacanowsky asserts that communication creates and constitutes the taken-for-granted reality of the world.
  2. Culture as a metaphor of organizational life.
    1. Initial interest in culture as a metaphor for organizations stems from initial American fascination with Japanese corporations.
    2. Corporate culture has several meanings.
      1. The surrounding environment that constrains a company’s freedom of action.
      2. An image, character, or climate that a corporation has.
      3. Pacanowsky argues that culture is not something an organization has, but is something an organization is.
  3. What culture is; what culture is not.
    1. Geertz and his colleagues do not distinguish between high and low culture.
    2. Culture is not whole or undivided.
    3. Pacanowsky argues that the web of organizational culture is the residue of employees' performances. Geertz called these cultural performances an ensemble of texts.
    4. The elusive nature of culture prompts Geertz to label its study a “soft science,” an interpretive approach in search of meaning.
  4. Thick description: What ethnographers do.
    1. Participant observation, the research methodology of ethnographers, is a time-consuming process.
    2. Pacanowsky spent over a year imbedded in Gore & Associates to understand how members experienced the organization.
    3. He advised other researches to assume an attitude of “radical naivete” to experience the organization as a “stranger.”
    4. An ethnographer has five tasks.
      1. Accurately describe talk and actions and the context in which they occur.
      2. Capture the thoughts, emotions, and the web of social interactions.
      3. Assign motivation, intention, or purpose for what people said and did.
      4. Artfully write this up so readers feel they’ve experienced the events.
      5. Interpret what happened; explain what it means within this culture.
    5. Thick description refers to the intertwined layers of common meaning that underlie what people say and do.
      1. Thick description involves tracing the many strands of a cultural web and tracking evolving meaning.
      2. Thick description begins with a state of bewilderment.
      3. The puzzlement is reduced by observing as a stranger in a foreign land.
    6. Ethnographers approach their research very differently from behaviorists.
      1. They are more interested in the significance of behavior than in statistical analysis.
      2. Pacanowsky warns that statistical analysis and classification across organizations yields superficial results.
    7. As an ethnographer, Pacanowsky is particularly interested in imaginative language, stories, and nonverbal rites and rituals.
  5. Metaphors: Taking language seriously.
    1. Widely used metaphors offer a starting place for assessing the shared meaning of a corporate culture.
    2. Metaphors are valuable tools for both the discovery and communication of organizational culture.
  6. The symbolic interpretation of story.
    1. Stories provide windows into organizational culture.
    2. Pacanowsky focuses on the script-like qualities of narratives that outline roles in the company play.
    3. Pacanowsky posits three types of organizational narratives.
      1. Corporate stories reinforce management ideology and policies.
      2. Personal stories define how individuals would like to be seen within an organization.
      3. Collegial stories—usually unsanctioned by management—are positive or negative anecdotes about others within the organization that pass on how the organization “really works.”
    4. Both Geertz and Pacanowsky caution against simplistic interpretations of stories.
  7. Ritual: This is the way it's always been, and always will be.
    1. Many rituals are “texts” that articulate multiple aspects of cultural life.
    2. Some rituals are nearly sacred and difficult to change.
    3. Because it is ”their” ritual, researchers should be guided by employees’ interpretation of what it means.
  8. Can the manager be an agent of cultural change?
    1. Geertz regarded shared interpretations as naturally emerging from all members of a group rather than consciously engineered by leaders.
    2. The cultural approach is popular with executives who want to use it as a tool, yet culture is extremely difficult to manipulate.
    3. Even if such manipulation is possible, it may be unethical.
    4. Linda Smircich notes that communication consultants may violate the ethnographer's rule of nonintervention, and may even extend management’s control within an organization.
  9. Critique: Is the cultural approach useful?
    1. The cultural approach adopts and refines the qualitative research methodology of ethnography to gain a new understanding of a specific group of people, particularly in clarifying values of the culture under study.
    2. The cultural approach is criticized by corporate consultants who believe that knowledge should be used to influence organizational culture.
    3. Critical theorists attack the cultural approach because it does not evaluate the customs it portrays.
    4. The goal of symbolic analysis is to create a better understanding of what it takes to function effectively within the culture, not to pass moral judgment or reform society.
    5. Adam Kuper is critical of Geertz for his emphasis on interpretation rather than behavioral observation.
    6. There isn’t as much excitement about the cultural approach among organizational scholars today as there was when it was first introduced. That may be because few interpretive scholars write in the compelling and quotable prose produced by Geertz.

Chapter 20—Communicative Constitutions of Organizations

  1. Introduction
    1. Robert McPhee and other communicative constitution of organizations (CCO) theorists insist any company is what it is because communication brings the organization into existence.
    2. They believe only communication can bind people into an organization.
    3. McPhee believes that CCO theory can help us see that any organization’s chaos has an underlying order.
  2. Communication: The essence of organization
    1. Employees are not a set of lifeless parts; people create an organization.
    2. Communication calls organization into being.
    3. According to Weick’s Information Systems Approach, organizations are like organisms—active beings who must continually process information to survive.
    4. When faced with such equivocality, Weick encouraged organizations to engage in sensemaking— communication behavior designed to reduce ambiguity.
    5. McPhee thinks communication doesn’t just reduce ambiguity—it creates the organization itself.
    6. McPhee’s answer to the big CCO question [how does communication create organization?] is four specific forms of communication, or flows.
      1. Membership negotiation
      2. Self-structuring
      3. Activity coordination
      4. Institutional positioning
    7. McPhee thinks each flow literally creates the company as members talk. These flows aren’t something an organization does but rather what an organization is.
  3. The Four Flows of CCO
    1. CCO theorists believe organizations are like a river—always changing, always active, and sometimes violent.
    2. McPhee believes the communication must occur in four flows, or “circulating systems or fields of messages.”
    3. Specifically, these four flows concern who is a member of the organization, how these members structure their working relationships, how they coordinate their work, and how the organization positions itself with other people and organizations.
    4. It’s worth noting that not all communication between organization members involves the four flows.
    5. What sets the four flows apart is that they are necessary for creating the organization itself.
  4. Membership negotiation: Joining and learning the ropes
    1. All organizations regulate who is a member and who is not.
    2. Texas A&M University communication professor Kevin Barge reminds us that membership negotiation doesn’t end after accepting a job offer.
    3. The next step of membership negotiation is socialization, or learning what it means to be a member of the organization.
  5. Self-structuring: Figuring out who’s who in the organization
    1. After the organization’s founding, self-structuring continues through the writing of procedures manuals, memos, and sometimes a chart that specifies the relationships among employees.
    2. McPhee reminds us that the official chart isn’t the final word on structure.
    3. Cooren and Fairhurst argue that employees seek closure, or a sense of shared understanding that emerges in back-and-forth interaction
  6. Activity coordination: Getting the job done
    1. McPhee believes all organizations have goals.
    2. A defined purpose, such as a mission statement, separates an organization from a crowd of people. Most important to CCO theorists, members communicate to accomplish the organization’s day-to-day work toward their goals—a flow McPhee terms activity coordination.
    3. Activity coordination becomes quite complex at any organization with more than a handful of employees.
  7. Institutional positioning: Dealing with other people and organizations
    1. Institutional positioning is communication between an organization and external entities—other organizations and people.
    2. No organization survives on its own.
  8. Four Principles of the Four Flows
    1. McPhee claims that communication constitutes organization through the four flows of membership negotiation, self-structuring, activity coordination, and institutional positioning.
    2. It’s the intersection of the four flows, mixing and blending together, that constitutes organization.
    3. Four principles direct the four flows of communication.
      1. All four flows are necessary for organization.
      2. Different flows happen in different places.
      3. The same message can address multiple flows.
      4. Different flows address different audiences.
        1. Self-structuring is of little interest to those outside an organization.
        2. Membership negotiation targets new members or those who may be leaving.
        3. Activity coordination addresses specific groups within an organization.
        4. Institutional positioning focuses on external organizations.
  9. Diverting the flow: Crafting solutions to organizational problems.
    1. Some CCO scholars are pragmatists who try to use such insights to fix organizational problems.
    2. They can begin doing this by describing the four flows in an organization.
    3. It is likely that improvements to an organization must address more than just one flow.
  10. Critique: Is constitution really so simple?
    1. McPhee provides a degree of relative simplicity that few interpretive theories possess.
    2. But that simplicity doesn’t appeal to everybody.
    3. CCO researcher James Taylor is critical of McPhee’s top-down approach and instead prefers a ground-up theory that starts with everyday conversation.
    4. Taylor is critical of McPhee’s vague definitions, particularly of the term “flow.”
    5. Through a masterful yet dizzying appeal to linguists such as Chomsky, Greimas, Husserl, and Latour, Taylor counters that conversations organize when members engage in co-orientation, or communication “wherein two or more actors are entwined in relation to an object.”
    6. According to Ryan Bisel (University of Oklahoma), both approaches are valuable but share a common fault.
      1. Taylor and McPhee identify sufficient conditions (co-orientation and the four flows, respectively) for organizing.
      2. Both may be necessary conditions rather than sufficient conditions.
    7. Although they may disagree on the details, CCO theorists share a broad community of agreement.

Chapter 21—Critical Theory of Communication in Organizations

  1. Introduction.
    1. Stanley Deetz’ critical communication theory seeks to unmask what he considers unjust and unwise communication practices within organizations.
    2. His theory advocates “stakeholder participation.” He believes that everyone who will be significantly affected by a corporate policy should have a meaningful voice in the decision-making process.
  2. Corporate colonization and control of everyday life.
    1. Deetz views multinational corporations as the dominant force in society.
    2. That pervasive influence isn't necessarily all bad—they can use their clout for good.
    3. But corporate control has sharply diminished the quality of life for most citizens.
    4. Deetz wants to examine communication practices in organizations that undermine fully representative decision making and thus reduce the quality, innovation, and fairness of business decisions.
  3. Information or communication; Transmission or the creation of meaning.
    1. Deetz challenges the view that communication is the transmission of information, a view that perpetuates corporate dominance.
    2. He warns, however, that as long as we accept the notion that communication is merely the transmission of information, we will continue to perpetuate corporate dominance over every aspect of our lives.
    3. Deetz contends that each line item in an annual report is constitutive—created by corporate decision makers who have the power to make their decisions stick.
    4. All corporate communication is an outcome of political processes that are usually undemocratic and usually hurt democracy.
    5. Deetz offers a communication model that emphasizes the role of language in shaping social reality.
      1. Language does not represent things that already exist; it produces what we believe to be “self-evident” or “natural.”
      2. Corporations subtly produce meanings and values.
      3. Deetz moves even further away from a representational view of language when he not only says that meanings are in people, but asks us to consider whose meanings are in people.
    6. Like Pearce and Cronen, Deetz considers communication to be the ongoing social construction of meaning, but unlike CMM’s authors, he emphasizes that the issue of power runs through all language and communication.
    7. Deetz offers a 2 x 2 model that contrasts communication as information vs. communication as creating reality, and managerial control vs. codetermination.
    8. Managerial control often takes precedence over representation of conflicting interests or long-term company and community health.
    9. Co-determination, on the other hand, epitomizes participatory democracy.
    10. Public decisions can be formed through strategy, consent, involvement, and participation—the four cells depicted in the model.
  4. Strategy—overt managerial moves to extend control.
    1. Deetz contends that managers are not the problem—the real culprit is managerialism.
    2. Managerialism is a discourse that values control above all else.
    3. Forms of control based in communication systems impede any real worker voice in structuring their work.
    4. The desire for control can even exceed the desire for corporate performance.
    5. The quest for control is evident in the corporate aversion to public conflict.
    6. Strategic control does not benefit the corporation, and it alienates employees and causes rebellion.
    7. Because of these drawbacks, most managers prefer to maintain control through workers’ voluntary consent.
  5. Consent: Unwitting allegiance to covert control.
    1. Through the process that Deetz calls consent, most employees willingly give their loyalty without getting much in return.
    2. Consent describes a variety of situations and processes in which someone actively, though unknowingly, accomplishes the interests of others in the faulty attempt to fulfill his or her own interests.
    3. Consent is developed through managerial control of elements of corporate culture: workplace language, information, forms, symbols, rituals, and stories.
    4. Systematically distorted communication operates without employees’ overt awareness.
      1. What can be openly discussed or thought is restricted.
      2. Only certain options are available.
    5. Discursive closure suppresses potential conflict.
      1. Certain groups of people may be classified as disqualified to speak on certain issues.
      2. Arbitrary definitions may be labeled “natural.”
      3. Values behind decisions may be kept hidden to appear objective.
  6. Involvement: Free expression of ideas, but no voice.
    1. Truth emerges from the free flow of information in an open marketplace of ideas, and an information transfer model of communication worked well when people shared values.
      1. Freedom of speech guaranteed equitable participation in decision making.
      2. Persuasion and advocacy were the best ways to reach a good decision.
      3. Autonomous individuals could then make up their own minds.
    2. The information transfer model does not work well in today’s pluralistic, interconnected world.
    3. Advocacy is not negotiation.
    4. Free expression is not the same as having a “voice” in corporate decisions, and knowledge of this difference creates worker cynicism.
  7. Participation: Stakeholder democracy in action.
    1. Meaningful democratic participation creates better citizens and social choices while providing economic benefits.
    2. The first move Deetz makes is to expand the list of people who should have a say in how a corporation is run.
    3. Deetz advocates open negotiations of power among those who have a stake in what an organization does.
    4. There are at least six classes of stakeholders, each with unique needs: Investors, workers, consumers, suppliers, host communities, and greater society and the world community.
    5. Since some stakeholders have taken greater risks and made longer-term investments than stockholders and top-level managers, Deetz believes these stakeholders should have a say in corporate decisions.
    6. Managers should coordinate the conflicting interests of all parties—be mediators rather than persuaders.
    7. Deetz offers his appraisal and previews his solution: Taken together, corporate “stewardship, government regulation, and markets offer weak mechanisms for value inclusion and virtually no support for communication processes that create win/win situations where multiple stakeholders can successfully pursue their mutual interests.”
  8. Politically attentive relational constructivism (PARC).
    1. Deetz proposes an extension of his critical theory that describes six types of conflict that must be addressed in organizations. He labels it politically attentive relational constructionism (PARC).
      1. Deetz maintains that most organizational theories are based on some form of social construction.
      2. Because he is just as concerned with the process of construction as he is with its end product, he uses the designation relational construction rather than the more common term social construction.
      3. Deetz lays out nine conditions that must be met in order for diverse stakeholders to successfully negotiate for their needs and interests.
    2. Deetz uses the term political to refer to the presence of power dynamics in relationships.
      1. He sees power as an ever-present part of our relationships—certainly so in our organizational lives.
      2. To be politically attentive means to honestly explore the power in play behind so-called neutral facts and taken-for-granted positions.
      3. An organization’s stakeholders need to recover the conflict that was repressed so that all interests are on the table and openly discussed.
      4. When stakeholders come together to discuss corporate policy, managers should make sure all areas of conflict are considered. PARC suggests six that are almost always an issue.
        1. Inner life
        2. Identity and recognition
        3. Social order
        4. Truth
        5. Life narratives
        6. Justice
  9. Avoiding meltdown—Putting theory into practice
    1. Given entrenched managerial power and privilege in corporations, most economic observers are skeptical that the workplace participation Deetz advocates will become reality.
    2. But Deetz’ recent work with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) might give naysayers cause for pause.
    3. Deetz’ ultimate goal is to reach a point where all stakeholders voluntarily do the right thing because they see it’s in their own interest or the interests of those they love.
  10. Critique: A quality critical theory, but is workplace democracy just a dream?
    1. Applied to organizational life, Deetz’ critical approach is an exemplar of what this type of interpretive theory should be.
    2. He clarifies the harmful values of managerialism, provides a new understanding of managerial control, sets a reform agenda, offers rich qualitative data, to support his theory, has generated a wide community of agreement, and presents it with wit and humor that makes make the theory aesthetically pleasing.
    3. However, many organizational scholars regard the possibility of managers voluntarily giving up power as unrealistic.
    4. As CCO theorist Robert McPhee (ch. 20) puts it in his ironic summary of Deetz’ theory, “If we just didn’t find it natural and right and unavoidable to hand power over to managers, everything would be different and all our problems would be solved.”
    5. Deetz understands the difficulty in altering entrenched power, but the number of problems like those faced in nuclear power plants may put the forces of a changing world on the side of collaboration between management and workers.
    6. Deetz’ summary of his life work emphasizes his desire to remove “structural and systemic features of life” that hinder “creative mutually beneficial choices.”

Chapter 22—The Rhetoric

  1. Introduction.
    1. Aristotle was a student of Plato’s who disagreed with his mentor over the place of public speaking in Athenian life.
    2. Plato’s negative view of public speaking was based on his assessment of the Sophists.
    3. Aristotle, like Plato, deplored the demagoguery of speakers using their skill to move an audience while showing a casual indifference to the truth.
    4. Aristotle saw rhetoric as a neutral tool with which one could accomplish either noble ends or further fraud.
      1. Truth is inherently more acceptable than falsehood.
      2. Nonetheless, unscrupulous persuaders may fool an audience unless an ethical speaker uses all possible means of persuasion to counter the error.
      3. Speakers who neglect the art of rhetoric have only themselves to blame for failure.
      4. Success requires wisdom and eloquence.
    5. Although Aristotle’s Politics and Ethics are polished, well-organized texts, the Rhetoric is a collection of lecture notes.
    6. Aristotle raised rhetoric to a science by systematically exploring the effects of the speaker, the speech, and the audience.
  2. Rhetoric: Making persuasion probable.
    1. Aristotle saw the function of rhetoric as the discovery in each case of “the available means of persuasion.”
    2. In terms of speech situations, he focused on civic affairs.
      1. Courtroom (forensic) speaking renders just decisions considering actions of the past.
      2. Ceremonial (epideictic) speaking heaps praise or blame for the benefit of present day audiences.
      3. Political (deliberative) speaking attempts to influence those who consider future policy.
    3. Aristotle classified rhetoric as the counterpart of dialectic.
      1. Dialectic is one-on-one conversation; rhetoric is one person addressing the many.
      2. Dialectic searches for truth; rhetoric demonstrates truth that is already found.
      3. Dialectic answers general philosophical questions; rhetoric addresses specific, practical ones.
      4. Dialectic deals with certainty; rhetoric considers probability.
  3. Rhetorical proof: Logos, ethos, and pathos.
    1. Persuasion can be artistic or inartistic.
      1. Inartistic or external proofs are those that the speaker does not create.
      2. Artistic or internal proofs are those that the speaker creates.
    2. The available means of persuasion are based on three kinds of proof.
      1. Logical proof (logos) is an appeal to listeners’ rationality.
      2. Emotional proof (pathos) is the feeling the speech draws out of the hearers.
      3. Source credibility (ethos) is the way the speaker’s character is revealed through the message. 
    3. Case study: Barack Obama’s commencement address at Notre Dame
      1. A few months into his first term of office, President Obama accepted an invitation to address the 2009 graduating class at their University of Notre Dame and receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.
      2. Based on Obama’s approval of abortion and stem-cell research, the announcement that Obama would be the commencement speaker triggered angry protests from many alumni, some students, and Roman Catholic church leaders.
      3. Despite the pro-and-con arguments about abortion that created a highly charged atmosphere surrounding the event, Obama’s speech was not judicial.
      4. This was a deliberative speech—not about any specific government policy, but one in which he urged listeners to be mindful of the way they interact with those who hold opposing views.
      5. The three types of proof Aristotle discussed demonstrate how President Obama might speak in a way that makes reaching his goal possible, maybe even probable, but never with absolute certainty.
    4. Logos: Quasi-logical arguments that make sense.
      1. Aristotle focused on two forms of logical proof—enthymeme and example.
      2. Enthymeme is the strongest of the proofs.
        1. An enthymeme is an incomplete version of a formal deductive syllogism.
        2. Typical enthymemes leave out the premise that is already accepted by the audience.
        3. Lloyd Bitzer notes that the audience helps construct the proof by supplying the missing premise.
      3. The example uses inductive reasoning—drawing a final conclusion from specific examples.
        1. If an illustration strikes a responsive chord in the listener, the truth it suggests seems evident.
        2. Aristotle said that both forms of logos are persuasive, but examples are especially so when they illustrate a premise or the conclusion of an enthymeme that’s already been stated.
        3. Aristotle noted that examples drawn from the past are more compelling than made-up illustrations.
    5. Pathos: Emotional appeals that strike a responsive chord.
      1. Aristotle was skeptical of the emotion-laden public oratory typical of his era.
      2. Yet he understood that public rhetoric, if practiced ethically, benefits society.
      3. Aristotle catalogued a series of opposite feelings, explained the conditions under which each mood is experienced, and then described how the speaker can get an audience to feel that way.
        1. Anger vs. calmness.
        2. Friendliness vs. enmity.
        3. Fear vs. confidence.
        4. Indignation vs. pity.
        5. Admiration vs. envy.
      4. Aristotle scholar and translator George Kennedy claims that this analysis of pathos is “the earliest systematic discussion of human psychology.”
    6. Ethos: Perceived source credibility
      1. According to Aristotle, it’s not enough for a speech to contain plausible arguments. The speaker must seem credible as well
      2. Aristotle was primarily interested in how the speaker’s ethos is created in a speech.
      3. In the Rhetoric, he identified three qualities that build high source credibility—intelligence, character, and goodwill.
        1. The assessment of intelligence is based more on practical wisdom and shared values than training or education.
        2. Virtuous character has to do with the speaker’s image as a good and honest person.
        3. Goodwill is a positive judgment of the speaker’s intention toward the audience.
        4. Aristotle’s explication of ethos has held up well under scientific scrutiny.
  4. The five canons of rhetoric.
    1. Invention—in order to generate effective enthymemes and examples, speakers draw upon both specialized knowledge about the subject and general lines of reasoning common to all kinds of speeches.
      1. Aristotle called stock arguments topoi, a Greek term that can be translated as “topics” or “places.”
      2. As Cornell University literature professor Lane Cooper explained, “In these special regions the orator hunts for arguments as a hunter hunts for game.”
    2. Arrangement—Aristotle recommended a basic structure.
      1. He wrote that “there are two parts to a speech; for it is necessary first to state the subject and then to demonstrate it.”
      2. First the thesis, then the proof.
    3. Style—Aristotle emphasized the pedagogical effectiveness of metaphor.
      1. But for Aristotle, metaphors were more than aids for comprehension or aesthetic appreciation.
      2. Metaphors help an audience visualize—a “bringing-before-the-eyes” process that energizes listeners and moves them to action.
    4. Delivery—naturalness is persuasive.
      1. Audiences reject delivery that seems planned or staged. Naturalness is persuasive, artifice just the opposite.
      2. Any form of presentation that calls attention to itself takes away from the speaker’s proofs.
    5. Memory—this component was emphasized by Roman teachers.
      1. In our present age of instant information on the Internet and teleprompters that guarantee a speaker will never be at a loss for words, memory seems to be a lost art.
      2. Perhaps for us, the modern equivalent of memory is rehearsal.
  5. Ethical reflection: Aristotle’s golden mean.
    1. He took the Greek admiration for moderation and elevated it to a theory of virtue.
    2. Aristotle assumed virtue stands between two vices.
    3. Moderation is best; virtue develops habits that seek to walk an intermediate path.
    4. This middle way is known as the golden mean.
    5. The golden mean is the path that embraces winsome straight talk, gentle assertiveness, and adaptation.
    6. Aristotle advocated the middle way because it is the well-worn path taken by virtuous people.
  6. Critique: A theory that stands the test of time.
    1. Aristotle’s Rhetoric can be classified as both an objective and interpretive theory.
      1. As a good objective theory, Aristotle’s rhetoric predicts future audience responses, explains why they will respond this way, and has practical utility.
      2. As a good interpretive theory, Aristotle’s rhetoric offers a new understanding of people, clarifies the values they are likely to hold, and generated a wide community of agreement that has spanned 24 centuries so far.
    2. Nonetheless, clarity is often a problem with Aristotle’s theory that affects its relative simplicity and aesthetic appeal.

Chapter 23—Dramatism

  1. Introduction.
    1. For Kenneth Burke, words are first and foremost action—symbolic action.
    2. For Burke and other rhetorical critics, a critic is one who carefully analyzes the language that speakers and authors use.
    3. They try to discern the motivations behind their messages—and often these motivations aren’t obvious.
    4. Burke devoted his career to developing vocabulary and methods that help theorists understand the connection between the symbols speakers use and their motives for speaking in the first place.
    5. Burke rejected the commonly held notion that communication is primarily a process of message transmission.
    6. The transmission approach treats communication as just one part of the realm of motion, where things move according to cause-and-effect laws without meaning or purpose.
    7. Unlike animals, humans possess the capacity to engage in intentional action.
    8. This ability to plan and act arises from our ability to use symbols. Thus, when we speak, we’re engaging in symbolic action—using words to give life to particular motives and pursue particular goals.
    9. Burke coined the umbrella term dramatism to describe “a technique of analysis of language and thought as basically modes of action rather than as means of conveying information.”
    10. The nature of language itself leads us to believe that something is wrong with the world. And if something is wrong, somebody or something needs to pay the price to make things right.
  2. Language as the genesis of guilt
    1. Burke regarded our capacity for language as the source of our downfall. That’s because language introduced the negative.
    2. We couldn’t have laws without the negative.
    3. Man-made language gives us the capacity to create rules and standards for behavior that Burke called the “thou shalt nots” of life.
    4. Burke uses guilt as his catchall term to cover every form of tension, anxiety, embarrassment, shame, disgust, and other noxious feelings he believed inherent in human symbol-using activity.
    5. Burke reiterates that it’s only through man-made language that the possibility of choice comes into being.
    6. Burke suggests that our inventions—language and all the tools developed with language—cause us grief.
    7. The final phrase of Burke’s “Definition of Man,” which is “rotten with perfection,” is an example of what Burke called perspective by incongruity, or the linking of two dissonant ideas in order to provide shocking new insight.
    8. Perspective by incongruity shocks our sensibilities but helps us see things from a different angle.
  3. The guilt-redemption cycle: A universal motive for rhetoric
    1. The ultimate motivation of all public speaking is to purge ourselves of guilt.
    2. Rhetoric is the public search for someone or something to blame, the quest for a perfect scapegoat.
    3. The “devil term” sums up all that the speaker regards as bad, wrong, or evil.
    4. The “god terms” are the words that sum up all that the speaker regards as righteous and good.
    5. Devil- and god-terms reveal another aspect of Burke’s theory: his frequent use of religious language.
    6. He regarded theology as a field that has fine-tuned its use of language, and he urged the social critic to look for secular equivalents of the major religious themes of guilt, purification, and redemption.
    7. Burke said that the speaker or author has two possible ways of offloading guilt.
      1. The first option is to purge guilt through self-blame.
      2. Described theologically as mortification, this route requires confession of sin and a request for forgiveness.
      3. Since self-blame (or mortification) is difficult to admit publicly, it’s easier to blame someone else.
      4. Victimage is the process of designating an external enemy as the source of all our ills.
  4. Identification: Without it, there is no persuasion.
    1. Identification is the common ground that exists between speaker and audience.
      1. Substance describes a person’s physical characteristics, talents, occupation, friends, experiences, personality, beliefs, and attitudes.
      2. The more overlap between the substance of the speaker and the substance of the audience, the greater the identification.
      3. Although social scientists use the term homophily to describe perceived similarity between speaker and listener, Burke preferred religious language—identification is consubstantiation.
    2. One of the most common ways for speakers to identify with audiences is to lash out at whatever or whomever people fear.
    3. Audiences sense a joining of interests through style as much as through content.
    4. He was more interested in examining rhetoric after the fact to discover what motivates the speaker.
  5. The dramatistic pentad: A lens for interpreting symbolic action.
    1. Burke’s dramatistic pentad enables the critic to dig beneath surface impressions in order to identify the complex motives of a speaker or writer.
      1. The act is the most important element of the pentad, “foremost among the equals.” The act is what was done.
      2. The agent is the person or kind of person who performed the act.
      3. The agency is the procedure, means, or instruments used to perform the act.
      4. The scene is the background of the act, the environment in which it occurred.
      5. The purpose is the implied or stated motive of the act.
    2. The five elements of the pentad usually refer to the act described within the speech rather than the act of giving the speech.
    3. If we identify with the drama, then we’re persuaded, and the symbolic action worked
  6. Ratio: The relative importance of each part of the pentad.
    1. Burke associated each part of the pentad with a corresponding philosophy.
      1. An emphasis on act demonstrates a commitment to realism.
      2. An emphasis on agent is consistent with idealism.
      3. An emphasis on agency springs from the mind-set of pragmatism.
      4. An emphasis on scene downplays free will and reflects an attitude of situational determinism.
      5. An emphasis on purpose suggests the concerns of mysticism.
    2. The ratio of importance between individual pairs of terms in the dramatistic pentad indicates which element provides the best clue to the speaker’s motivation.
    3. The critic can start by identifying the two elements of the pentad most heavily emphasized in the speech. These two elements create the dominant ratio that provides the most insight into the speaker’s motivations.
  7. Critique: Evaluating the critic’s analysis.
    1. Burke was perhaps the foremost twentieth-century rhetorician.
    2. His ideas are tested through qualitative research from a strong community of agreement.
    3. He provided a creative and new understanding of people.
    4. But some scholars don’t think he did enough to clarify values or reform society.
    5. Perhaps the greatest weakness of dramatism is this: Burke isn’t an easy read.
    6. Although Burke’s followers think he was brilliant, it’s hard to argue that his writings have aesthetic appeal.
    7. Burke has done us all a favor by celebrating the life-giving quality of language.

Chapter 24—Narrative Paradigm

  1. Introduction.
    1. For Walter Fisher, storytelling epitomizes human nature.
    2. All forms of human communication that seek to affect belief, attitude or action need to be seen fundamentally as stories.
    3. Offering good reasons has more to do with telling a compelling story than it does with piling up evidence or constructing a tight argument.
    4. Fisher’s narrative paradigm emphasizes that no communication is purely descriptive or didactic.
  2. Telling a compelling story
    1. Most religious traditions are passed on from generation to generation through the retelling of stories.
    2. American writer Frederick Buechner takes a fresh approach to passing on religious story.
    3. Buechner’s account of love, unfaithfulness, and forgiveness in the eighth-century BC biblical story of Hosea and Gomer provides a vehicle for examining Fisher’s narrative paradigm in the rest of the chapter.
  3. Narration and paradigm: Defining the terms.
    1. Fisher defines narration as symbolic actions—words and/or deeds—that have sequence and meaning for those who live, create, and interpret them.
    2. Fisher’s definition of narration is broad.
      1. Narration is rooted in time and space.
      2. It covers every aspect of life with regard to character, motive, and action.
      3. It refers to verbal and nonverbal messages.
      4. Even abstract communication is included.
    3. A paradigm is a conceptual framework —a widely shared perceptual filter.
    4. Fisher’s narrative paradigm is offered as “the foundation on which a complete rhetoric needs to be built.”
  4. Paradigm shift: From a rational-world paradigm to a narrative one.
    1. According to Fisher, the writings of Plato and Aristotle reflect the early evolution from a generic to a specific use of logos—from story to statement.
    2. As opposed to the abstract discourse of philosophy, rhetoric is practical speech—the secular combination of pure logic on the one hand and emotional stories that stir up passions on the other.
    3. Fisher sees philosophical and technical discussion as scholars’ standard approach to knowledge.
    4. The rational-world paradigm is the mind-set of the reigning technical experts.
      1. People are essentially rational.
      2. We make decisions on the basis of arguments.
      3. The type of speaking situation (legal, scientific, legislative) determines the course of our argument.
      4. Rationality is determined by how much we know and how well we argue.
      5. The world is a set of logical puzzles that we can solve through rational analysis.
    5. The narrative paradigm is built on parallel, yet contrasting, premises.
      1. People are essentially storytellers.
      2. We make decisions on the basis of good reasons, which vary depending on the communication situation, media, and genre (philosophical, technical, rhetorical, or artistic).
      3. History, biography, culture, and character determine what we consider good reasons.
      4. Narrative rationality is determined by the coherence and fidelity of our stories.
      5. The world is a set of stories from which we choose, and thus constantly re-create, our lives.
    6. Unlike the rational-world paradigm, the narrative paradigm privileges values, aesthetic criteria, and commonsense interpretation.
    7. We judge stories based on narrative rationality.
  5. Narrative rationality: Coherence and fidelity.
    1. Fisher believes that everyone applies the same standards of narrative rationality to stories.
    2. The operative principle of narrative rationality is identification rather than deliberation.
    3. The twin tests of a story are narrative coherence and narrative fidelity.
    4. Narrative coherence: Does the story hang together?
      1. How probable is the story to the hearer?
      2. Fisher suggests a number of ways we judge whether a story hangs together.
      3. Narrative consistency parallels lines of argument in the rational-world paradigm.
      4. The test of reason, however, is only one factor affecting narrative coherence.
      5. Stories hang together when we’re convinced that the narrator hasn’t left out important details, fudged the facts, or ignored other plausible interpretations.
      6. The ultimate test of narrative coherence is whether or not we can count on the characters to act in a reliable manner.
    5. Narrative fidelity: Does the story ring true and humane?
      1. Does the story square with the hearer’s experiences?
      2. A story has fidelity when it provides good reasons to guide our future actions.
      3. Values set the narrative paradigm’s logic of good reasons apart from the rational-world paradigm’s logic of reasons.
      4. The logic of good reasons centers on five value-related issues.
        1. The values embedded in the message.
        2. The relevance of those values to decisions made.
        3. The consequence of adhering to those values.
        4. The overlap with the worldview of the audience.
        5. Conformity with what audience members believe is an ideal basis of conduct.
      5. People tend to prefer accounts that fit with what they view as truthful and humane.
      6. There is an ideal audience that identifies the humane values that a good story embodies.
      7. These stories include the timeless “values of truth, the good, beauty, health, wisdom, courage, temperance, justice, harmony, order, communion, friendship, and oneness with the Cosmos.”
      8. Communities not based on humane virtues are possible, but Fisher believes these less idealistic value systems lack true coherence.
      9. Fisher believes the humane virtues of the ideal audience shape our logic of good reasons.
      10. Almost all communication is narrative, and we evaluate it on that basis.
  6. Critique: Does Fisher’s story have coherence and fidelity?
    1. Fisher’s theory excels in fulfilling most of the requirements of a good interpretive theory.
    2. He expands our understanding of human nature, is specific about the values we prefer, and supports his new paradigm with intriguing rhetorical criticism of significant texts—a classic method of qualitative research.
    3. If Fisher is right, when it comes to evaluating coherence and fidelity, people with ordinary common sense are competent rhetorical critics.
    4. Fisher’s narrative paradigm offers a fresh reworking to Aristotelian analysis.
    5. Critics charge that Fisher is overly optimistic when, like Aristotle, he argues that people have a natural tendency to prefer the true and the just.
      1. Fisher grants that evil can overwhelm our tendency to adopt good stories, but argues that’s all the more reason to identify and promote the humane values described by the narrative paradigm.
      2. Others suggest that narrative rationality implies that good stories cannot go beyond what people already believe and value, thus denying the rhetoric of possibility.

Chapter 25—Media Ecology

  1. Introduction.
    1. Ecologists study the environment, how people interact with it, and the way these interactions result in change.
    2. Media ecologists study media environments, seeking to understand how people interact with media and how those interactions shape our culture and our daily experiences.
    3. Marshall McLuhan believed that media should be understood ecologically.
    4. Changes in technology alter the symbolic environment––the socially constructed, sensory world of meanings that in turn shapes our perceptions, experiences, attitudes, and behavior.
  2. The medium is the message.
    1. We’re accustomed to thinking that people change because of the messages they consume.
    2. McLuhan blurred the distinction between the message and the medium.
    3. When McLuhan said, "the medium is the message," he wanted us to see that media—regardless of content—reshape human experience and exert far more change in our world than the sum total of all the messages they contain.
    4. We focus on the content and overlook the medium—even though content doesn’t exist outside of the way it’s mediated.
  3. The challenge of media ecology.
    1. Any understanding of social and cultural change is impossible without a knowledge of the way media work as environments.
    2. All environments are inherently intangible and interrelated.
    3. An environment is not a thing; it is the intricate association of many things.
      1.  Invisibility of environments
        1. We have trouble recognizing “the way media work as environments’ because we’re so immersed in them.
        2. We need to focus on our everyday experience of technology.
        3. A medium shapes us because we partake of it over and over until it becomes an extension of ourselves.
        4. It’s the ordinariness of media that makes them invisible.
      2. Complexity of environments
        1. Research on media ecology is rather sparse because it takes up the challenge of trying to understand the interplay between all of these things in a culture that changes at blazing speed.
        2. McLuhan believed that it took a special ability to be able to stand back from the action and take in the big picture.
  4. A media analysis of human history.
    1. McLuhan divided all human history into four periods, or epochs—a tribal age, a literate age, a print age, and an electronic age.
      1. In each case the world was wrenched from one era into the next because of new developments in media technology.
      2. McLuhan believed the transitions (shaded in gray in Figure 25–1) took 300 to 400 years to complete.
    2. The tribal age: An acoustic place in history
      1. The senses of hearing, touch, taste, and smell were more advanced than visualization. McLuhan wrote about the “sensory balance” of the tribal age—a delicate balance and harmony of all the senses despite the high importance of hearing in an age where most of the important information was acoustic and needed to be heard.
      2. McLuhan claimed that “primitive” people led richer and more complex lives than their literate descendants because the ear, unlike the eye, encourages a more holistic sense of the world.
      3. People acted with more passion and spontaneity.
    3. The age of literacy: A visual point of view.
      1. In an acoustic environment, taking something out of context is nearly impossible. In the age of literacy, it’s a reality.
      2. Literacy moved people from collective tribal involvement to private detachment.
      3. Even though the words may be the same as when spoken aloud, the act of reading a text is an individual one.
      4. Literacy encouraged logical, linear thinking, and fostered mathematics, science, and philosophy.
      5. When oppressed people learned to read, they became independent thinkers.
    4. The print age: Prototype of the Industrial Revolution.
      1. McLuhan argued that the most important aspect of movable type was its ability to reproduce the same text over and over again.
      2. The printing press made visual dependence widespread.
      3. The development of fixed national languages produced nationalism.
      4. Concurring with this new sense of unification was a countering sense of separation and aloneness.
    5. The electronic age: The rise of the global village.
      1. McLuhan believed that the electronic media are retribalizing humanity.
      2. Whereas the book extended the eye, electronic circuitry extends the central nervous system.
      3. In an electronic age, privacy is a luxury or a curse of the past.
      4. Linear logic is less important in the electronic society; we focus on what we feel.
    6. The digital age? A wireless Global Village
      1. The digital age is wholly electronic.
      2. The mass age of electronic media is becoming increasingly personalized.
      3. Instead of mass consciousness, which McLuhan viewed rather favorably, we have the emergence of a tribal warfare mentality
      4. Media scholar Brian Ott claims Twitter has altered the nature of public discourse by demanding simplicity, promoting impulsivity, and fostering incivility.
  5. A source of inspiration for McLuhan’s ideas: His Catholic faith.
    1. McLuhan grew up in a Presbyterian family but converted to Catholicism when he was 25-years old.
    2. It’s widely known that McLuhan’s ideas were informed by the work of Canadian professor of economic history, Harold Innis.
    3. But many McLuhan scholars are also quick to note the impact on his thinking of two Jesuit priests, Walter Ong and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.
    4. McLuhan rarely wrote or talked publicly about his faith: “I deliberately keep Christianity out of these discussions lest perception be diverted from structural processes by doctrinal sectarian passions.”
    5. But as a comment he made during a radio interview reveals, his scholarship informed his faith and his faith informed his scholarship. “In Jesus Christ, there is no distance or separation between the medium and the message: it is the one case where we can say that the medium and the message are fully one and the same.”
  6. Ethical reflection: Postman’s Faustian bargain.
    1. Neil Postman believed that the forms of media regulate and even dictate what kind of content the form of a given medium can carry.
    2. Unlike McLuhan, Postman believed that the primary task of media ecology is to make moral judgments.
    3. New technology always presents us with a Faustian bargain—a potential deal with the devil.
    4. As for television, Postman argued that society lost more than it gained.
    5. Postman feared that virtual interaction may sabotage the kind of intimacy that only comes by being in the physical presence of others.
  7. Critique: How could he be right? But what if he is?
    1. McLuhan’s theory suggests objectivity without scientific evidence.
    2. In other words, he used an interpretive approach to make objective claims, but his theory fails to meet most of the standard criteria used to assess either type of theory.
    3. He fails to meet the standards of empirical research.
      1. While he offers an explanation, he does not provide specific predictions of the future.
      2. He offers no evidence to support his claims nor is his theory supported by empirical research.
      3. The theory can’t be tested and has limited practical utility.
    4. Regarded as an interpretive theory, media ecology seems to fare somewhat better.
      1. It offers a new understanding of communication phenomena.
      2. As for aesthetic appeal, McLuhan was superb at crafting memorable phrases, catchy statements, and 10-second sound bites that appealed to media practitioners and popular audiences, which formed a loose community of agreement.
      3. He made no effort to reform society and chose not to clarify his values.
    5. We believe that all students of media should be conversant with his ideas and have some awareness of the impact he’s had in the past, much of which continues today.

Chapter 26—Semiotics

  1. Introduction.
    1. The goal of semiotics is interpreting both verbal and nonverbal signs.
    2. Roland Barthes held the Chair of Literary Semiology at the College of France.
    3. In Mythologies, he sought to decipher the cultural meaning of visual signs, particularly those perpetuating dominant social values.
    4. Semiology is concerned with anything that can stand for something else.
    5. Barthes is interested in signs that are seemingly straightforward, but subtly communicate ideological or connotative meaning.
    6. Barthes had an unusual style for an academic and was extremely influential.
  2. Wrestling with signs.
    1. Barthes initially described his semiotic theory as an explanation of myth.
    2. Barthes’ true concern was with connotation—the ideological baggage that signs carry wherever they go.
    3. The structure of signs is key to Barthes’ theory.
    4. Ferdinand de Saussure coined the term semiology to refer to the study of signs.
    5. A sign is the combination of its signifier and signified.
      1. The signifier is the image; the signified is the concept.
      2. In Barthes’ terms, the signifier isn’t the sign of the signified—rather the sign is the combination of signifier and signified, which are united in an inseparable bond.
      3. These distinctions come from Saussure.
      4. The relationship between the signifier and the signified in a verbal sign is arbitrary.
      5. The relationship between the signifier and the signified in a nonverbal sign is based on affinity and is therefore quasi-arbitrary.
    6. A sign does not stand on its own: it is part of a system.
      1. A structural analysis of features common to all semiotic systems is called taxonomy.
      2. Barthes believed semiotic systems function the same way despite their apparent diversity.
      3. Significant semiotic systems create myths that affirm the status quo as natural, inevitable, and eternal.
  3. The yellow ribbon transformation: From forgiveness to pride.
    1. Not all semiological systems are mythic.
    2. Mythic or connotative systems are second-order semiological systems built off preexisting denotative sign systems.
    3. Within mythic systems, the sign of the first system becomes the signifier of the second.
    4. The yellow ribbons, first popularized in the 1972 song, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘round ol’ Oak Tree,” serve as an example of this transformation.
  4. The making of myth: Stripping the sign of its history.
    1. Every ideological sign is the result of two interconnected sign systems.
    2. The first system is strictly descriptive as the signifier image and the signified concept combine to produce the denotative sign.
    3. The second system appropriates the sign of the denotative system and makes it the signifier of the connotative system.
    4. This lateral shift transforms a neutral sign into an ideological tool.
    5. The original denotative sign is not lost, but it is impoverished.
  5. Unmasking the myth of a homogeneous society.
    1. Only those who understand semiotics can detect the hollowness of connotative signs.
      1. Mythic signs don’t explain, defend, or raise questions.
      2. Mythic signs always reinforce dominant cultural values.
      3. They naturalize the current order of things.
    2. Throughout his life, Roland Barthes deciphered and labeled the ideologies foisted upon naive consumers of images.
    3. All his semiotic efforts were directed at unmasking what he considered the heresy of those who controlled the images of society—the naturalizing of history.
  6. The semiotics of mass communication: “I’d like to be like Mike.”
    1. Because signs are integral to mass communication, Barthes’ semiotic analysis has become an essential media theory.
    2. Kyong Kim argues that the mass signification arising in a response to signs is an artificial effect calculated to achieve something else.
    3. Advertisements on television create layers of connotation that reaffirm the status quo.
  7. Semiotics goes to the movies
    1. More than one hundred years ago when Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure was describing a sign as the combination of the signifier and signified, American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce was independently developing his own model of how signs work.
    2. Peirce included nonverbal signs in his semiotic theorizing right from the start.
      1. Symbolic signs show no resemblance to the objects they reference.
      2. Iconic signs have a perceived resemblance with the objects they portray.
      3. Indexical signs are directly connected with their referents spatially, temporally, or by cause-and-effect.
  8. Critique: Do mythic signs always reaffirm the status quo?
    1. Roland Barthes’ semiotics fulfills five of the criteria of a good interpretive theory exceedingly well: New understanding of people, aesthetic appeal, qualitative analysis, proposal for reforming society, and clarification of values.
    2. Yet the majority of communication scholars in the United States ignore the field of semiotics and the work of its central theorists such as Barthes; thus it does not as strongly meet the standard of community of agreement.
    3. There are questions about Barthes’ view that all connotative systems uphold the values of the dominant class.
    4. Scholars such as Anne Norton and Douglas Kellner expand Barthes’ semiotic approach to argue that signs can subvert the status quo or exemplify a countercultural connotative system.
    5. Barthes’ semiotic approach to imagery remains a core theoretical perspective for communication scholars, particularly those who emphasize media and culture.

Chapter 27—Cultural Studies

  1. Introduction - Critical theorists such as Stuart Hall question the narrow, quantitative, and scientific focus of mainstream communication research on media influence.
  2. Cultural studies versus media studies: An ideological difference.
    1. Hall believed that the media function to maintain the dominance of the powerful and to exploit the poor and powerless.
    2. Ideology is defined as “the mental frameworks – the languages, the concepts, categories, imagery of thought, and the representation – which different classes and social groups deploy in order to make sense of, define, figure out and render intelligible the way society works.”
    3. Most of us are unaware of our ideologies and the tremendous impact they can have on our lives.
    4. Mainstream U.S. mass communication research serves the myth of democratic pluralism and ignores the power struggle that the media mask.
    5. To avoid academic compartmentalization, Hall preferred the term cultural studies to media studies.
    6. Articulate means both speaking out against oppression and linking that subjugation with the communication media.
    7. Since one of Hall’s stated aims was to unmask the power imbalances within society, he said the cultural studies approach is valid if it “deconstructs” the current structure of a media research establishment that fails to deal with ideology.
    8. Cultural studies is closely related to critical theory, but places more emphasis on resistance than rationality.
    9. Hall believed the purpose of theory and research is to empower people who are marginalized in order to change the world.
  3. Hegemony: Marxism without guarantees.
    1. Hall is strongly influenced by Marxist thought, though he sees the hard line of economic determinism as an oversimplification.
    2. Hall uses the term hegemony to refer to already accepted interpretations of reality that keep society’s haves in power over its have-nots.
    3. He emphasizes that media hegemony is not a conscious plot, it’s not overtly coercive, and its effects are not total.
    4. The result is that the role of mass media turns out to be production of consent rather than a reflection of consensus that already exists.
    5. Hall believed that the consent-making function of the mass media is to convince readers and viewers that they share the same interests as those who hold the reins of power.
  4. Making meaning through discourse.
    1. Hall contended that the primary function of discourse is to make meaning.
      1. Words and signs have no intrinsic meaning.
      2. We learn what signs mean through discourse—through frameworks of interpretation.
    2. Hall believed we must examine the sources of discourse.
      1. People with power create “discursive formations” that become naturalized.
      2. Those ways of interpreting the world are perpetuated through further discourse and keep the dominant in power.
  5. Corporate control of mass communication.
    1. Hall believed the focus of the study of communication should be on how human culture influences the media and on power relations and social structures.
    2. For Hall, stripping the study of communication away from the cultural context in which it is found and ignoring the realities of unequal power distribution in society weakened our field and made it less theoretically relevant.
    3. Hall and other advocates of cultural studies believe that media representations of culture reproduce social inequalities and keep the average person powerless.
    4. At least in the U.S., corporations produce and distribute the vast majority of information we receive.
    5. Corporate control of information prevents many stories from being told.
    6. The ultimate issue for cultural studies is not what information is presented, but whose information it is.
  6. Cultural factors that affect the selection of news
    1. Hall saw corporate clout as only one reason broadcast and print journalism support the status quo.
    2. Over an eight year period, Herbert Gans of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism conducted a content analysis of newscasts at CBS and NBC along with the coverage of two news magazines—Newsweek and Time.
    3. He discovered multiple values, procedures, and publishing realities that ensure their stories favor people who already have power, fame, and fortune. Those factors include, source of news, individualism, ethnocentrism, the democratic process, and objectivity.
      1. Sources of news: The bulk of broadcast and print news comes from those who already have power.
      2. Individualism: Americans value individual effort and news stories are usually framed around a single person who is powerful, wealthy, and has a vested interest in the status quo.
      3. Ethnocentrism: Like reporters in other nations, U.S. journalists value their own country over others. They don’t want the United States to look bad.
      4. Democratic processes: Reporters are committed to democracy, so they frame every election in terms of a simplistic “who won or lost?” dichotomy rather than the complexity of the issues.
      5. Objectivity: Most journalists have a strong commitment to report the news without bias—objective reporting of facts without taking sides. This gives the impression that every position is equally valid.
  7. Extreme Makeover: The ideological work of reality TV.
    1. Luke Winslow claims that ordinary people are offered more explicit guidelines for living in reality TV than other genres or formats.
    2. On Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, episodes chronicle the transformation of a deserving family’s desperate living quarters.
    3. Each episode is a mini morality play that suggests wealth goes only to those who deserve it.
    4. Although many intellectuals dismiss the study of popular culture as frivolous, Hall sees it as a key site where the struggle for power between the haves and the have-nots takes place
  8. An obstinate audience.
    1. Audiences may not accept the source’s ideology.
    2. There are three ways to decode a message.
      1. Operate inside the dominant code.
      2. Apply a negotiable code.
      3. Substitute an oppositional code.
    3. Although Hall had trouble believing the powerless can change the system, he respects the ability of people to resist the dominant code.
    4. He is unable to predict, though, when and where resistance will spring up.
    5. James Anderson (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) and Amie Kincaid (University of Illinois, Springfield) point out the paradox of satire that is used by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert on their television shows.
    6. Their very exposure and reiteration of the dominant ideology may make it more acceptable.
    7. Without naming a viable alternative, the dominant ideology will have no rival and seem to be natural.
  9.  Ethical reflection: Larry Frey’s communication activism for social justice.
    1. Social justice activism is based on an identification and solidarity with oppressed, marginalized, and under-resourced communities.
    2. Larry Frey, professor of communication at the University of Colorado, says action to address these wrongs starts with a social justice sensibility—the ethical conviction that “none of us is truly free while others of us are oppressed.”
    3. But according to Frey, most current cultural studies scholars have turned to merely gazing with interest at cultural phenomena. They ignore any attempt to intervene in a meaningful way to aid those trapped in the cultural systems that Hall described.
    4. The ethical mandate of communication activism for social justice insists we act to change structural conditions and attempt to make the world more just.
    5. Frey and Mara Adelman used their communication skills at the Bonaventure House, a residential home for people with AIDS.
  10. Critique: Your judgment will depend on your ideology.
    1. Perhaps more than any other theorist covered in this book, Hall sought to change the world.
    2. Cultural studies involves learning what the “other” is like.
    3. Hall was critical of scholars who didn’t realize—or didn’t reveal—their value commitments.
      1. Many communications scholars question the wisdom of performing scholarship under an ideological banner.
      2. To some, the strong ideological component inherent in cultural studies limits its credibility.
    4. The book Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State, and Law & Order is Hall’s best known qualitative research.
    5. Students’ first reading of a typical Stuart Hall monograph may find it daunting, both in clarity and in style.
    6. Hall enjoys widespread community of agreement for his pioneering work.

Chapter 28—Uses and Gratifications

  1. Introduction.
    1. Instead of asking, “What do media do to people?” Katz flipped the question around to ask, “What do people do with media?”
    2. People make daily choices to consume different types of media.
    3. The theory attempts to make sense of the fact that people consume an array of media messages for all sorts of reasons, and the effect of a given message is unlikely to be the same for everyone.
    4. The driving mechanism of media use is need gratification.
    5. Understanding the need(s) helps to explain the reasons and the effects of media usage.
    6. Five key assumptions underlie the theory of uses and gratifications.
  2. Assumption 1: People use media for their own particular purposes.
    1. The study of how media affect people must take account of the fact that people deliberately use media for particular purposes; this is Katz’s fundamental assumption.
    2. Audiences are not passive.
    3. Uses and gratifications theory emphasizes that media choices are personal and can change over time.
    4. Exposure to media messages do not affect everyone in the same way, but fulfill different purposes at different times.
      1. The uniform effects model of media proposes that media messages have the same effect on everyone in the audience.
      2. Uses and gratifications theory rejects this image and replaces it with one of free choice based on individual yearnings at particular times.
    5. Research by Robert Plomin discovered that genetics accounted for as much as 25% of the variance in media use.
    6. We may have a genetic predisposition to be attracted to given media but the active choice we make cannot be account for by genetics.
  3. Assumption 2: People seek to gratify needs.
    1. The deliberate choices people make in using media are presumably based on the gratifications they seek from those media.
    2. There is not a straight-line effect where a specific effect on behavior can be predicted from media content alone, with no consideration of the consumer.
    3. The key to understanding media depends on which needs a person satisfies when selecting a media message.
  4. Assumption 3: Media complete for our attention and time.
    1. Different media compete with each other for your time as well as other activities that don’t involve media exposure.
    2. The need that motivates media consumption must be identified in an effort to understand why people make the choices they do.
  5. Assumption 4: Media affect different people differently.
    1. Audiences are made up of people who are not identical.
    2. These differences determine the outcome or gratification a consumer receives.
  6. Assumption 5: People can accurately report their media use and motivation.
    1. If uses & gratifications theory was to have any future, researchers had to find a way to uncover the media that people consumed and the reasons they consumed it.
    2. To discover why people consume media, they must be asked.
    3. The controversial aspect of this measurement strategy is whether or not people are truly capable of discerning the reasons for their media consumption.
    4. Scholars have attempted to show that people’s reports of the reasons for their media consumption can be trusted, but this continues to be debated.
  7. A typology of uses and gratifications.
    1. For the last 50 years, uses & grats researchers have compiled various lists of the motives people report, constructing a typology of major reasons for exposure to media.
    2. A typology is simply a classification scheme that attempts to sort a large number of specific instances into a more manageable set of categories.
    3. Rubin claims that his typology of eight motivations can account for most explanations people give for why they watch television.
      1. Passing time.
      2. Companionship.
      3. Escape.
      4. Enjoyment.
      5. Social interaction.
      6. Relaxation.
      7. Information.
      8. Excitement.
    4. Each category is relatively simplistic but can be further subdivided.
    5. Rubin claims that his typology captures most of the explanations people give for their media consumption.
    6. Researchers have argued for including habitual watching as a possible motive for media use.
  8. Parasocial relationships: Using media to have a fantasy friend.
    1. Consumers develop a sense of friendship or emotional attachment with media personalities.
    2. Parasocial relationships can help predict how media will affect different viewers in different ways.
    3. In the same way uses & grats could be used to study TV-viewing, it also holds potential for studying social media.
  9. Beyond TV: Uses & grats in the age of new media.
    1. S. Shyam Sundar, founding director of the media effects laboratory at Penn State, believes technologies such as social media challenge the notion that people use media to satisfy needs that arise from within themselves.
    2. Media technology itself can create gratification opportunities that people then seek.
    3. Whether or not Sundar is right that gratifications may arise from technology rather than ourselves, it seems that the gratification possibilities that emerge with new media aren’t quite the same as the ones formulated when TV ruled the mass media world.
  10. Critique: Heavy on description and light on prediction?
    1. For some, the emphasis on description rather than explanation and prediction is one of the theory’s weak spots.
    2. Jiyeon So notes that uses & gratifications theory was never intended to be merely descriptive; it was originally designed to offer specific predictions about media effects.
    3. The propositions that people use media to gratify particular needs and that those needs can be succinctly described using eight categories seem relatively simple.
    4. Scholars question the testability based on whether or not people can accurately report the reasons for their media use.
    5. Uses & grats does not offer much practical utility, whether users are active participants or not.
    6. Instead of staying with the simple assertion that media audiences were uniformly active and making conscious choices, Rubin modified the theory by claiming that activity was actually a variable in the theory.
    7. It’s now clear that uses & grats has generated a large body of quantitative research.

Chapter 29—Cultivation Theory

  1. Introduction.
    1. George Gerbner argued that heavy television viewing creates an exaggerated belief in a mean and scary world.
    2. Gerbner emphasized the symbolic content of television drama.
    3. Television has surpassed religion as the key storyteller in our culture.
    4. Violence is television’s principal message, and particularly for devoted viewers.
    5. Gerbner was concerned that violence affects viewers’ beliefs about the world around them and the feelings connected to those beliefs, more than leading to violent’ behavior.
    6. Cultivation theory is not limited to TV violence, but it can help people theorize about how TV influences how people view social reality.
    7. Gerbner introduced the theory of cultivation as part of his “cultural indicators” paradigm.
  2. Institutional process analysis: The first prong.
    1. Institutional process research addresses scholars’ interest in determining the reasons why media companies produce the messages they do.
    2. Researchers attempt to understand what policies or practices might be lurking behind the scenes of media organizations.
  3.  Message system analysis: The second prong.
    1. Message system analysis uses the method of content analysis to study and classify the specific messages that TV projects.
    2. Gerbner studied violence, but this method can be used to focus on any type of TV content.
    3. An index of violence
      1. He defined dramatic violence as “the overt expression of physical force (with or without a weapon, against self or others) compelling action against one’s will on pain of being hurt and/or killed or threatened to be so victimized as part of the plot.”
      2. Gerbner’s definition of dramatic violence rules out verbal abuse, idle threats, and pie-in-the-face slapstick.
      3. Gerbner found that the annual index of violence is both extremely high and stable.
    4. Equal violence, unequal risk
      1. On any given week, two-thirds of the major characters are caught up in some kind of violence.
      2. Heroes are just as involved as villains, yet there is great inequality as to the age, race, and gender of those on the receiving end of physical force.
      3. Minority groups are often the recipients of violence on TV, despite their underrepresentation.
      4. Not surprisingly, these are the very people who exhibit the most fear of violence when they turn the TV off.
  4. Cultivation analysis: The third prong.
    1. Message system analysis deals with the content of TV; cultivation analysis deals with how TV’s content might affect viewers—particularly the viewers who spend lots of time glued to the tube.
    2. Television viewing cultivates ways of seeing the world, based on the images, values, portrayals, and ideologies shown on TV.
  5. Cultivation works like a magnetic or gravitational field.
    1. The cultivation process is similar to the pull of a gravitational field.
    2. Although the magnitude of TV’s influence is not the same for every viewer, everyone is affected by it.
    3. Marketing professor L. J. Shrum believes that people make judgments about the world around them based on the accessibility principle--what comes to mind most quickly or the information that is most accessible.
  6. Mainstreaming: Blurring, blending, and bending of viewer attitudes.
    1. Mainstreaming is the process by which heavy viewers develop a commonality of outlook through constant exposure to the same images and labels.
    2. Instead of narrowcasting their programs, TV producers broadcast in that they seek to “attract the largest possible audience by celebrating the moderation of the mainstream.”
    3. TV homogenizes its audience so that heavy viewing habits share the same orientations, perspectives, and meanings with each other, causing people to share common perceptions of reality that resemble the TV world.
    4. The television answer is the mainstream.
    5. Gerbner illustrates the mainstreaming effect by showing how television types blur economic and political distinctions.
      1. They assume that they are middle class.
      2. They believe they are political moderates.
      3. In fact, heavy viewers tend to be conservative.
    6. Traditional differences diminish among people with heavy viewing habits.
  7. Resonance: The TV world looks like my world, so it must be true.
    1. Gerbner thought the cultivating power of TV’s messages would be especially strong over viewers who perceived that the world depicted on TV was a world very much like their own.
    2. This resonance process causes the power of TV’s messages to be stronger for such viewers. 
  8. Research on cultivation analysis.
    1. Cultivation takes time.
    2. Change due to cultivation takes place over months and years; most experiments measure change that takes place over 30 or 60 minutes.
    3. Cultivation analysis relies on surveys instead of experiments.
    4. Gerbner labeled heavy viewers as those who watch four hours or more daily whereas light viewers watch less than two hours.
    5. His basic prediction was that heavy TV viewers would be more likely than light viewers to see the social world as resembling the world depicted on TV.
  9. The major findings of cultivation analysis.
    1. Believing that violence is the backbone of TV drama and knowing that people differ in how much TV they watch, Gerbner sought to discover the cultivation differential. That’s his term for “the difference in the percent giving the ‘television answer’ within comparable groups of light and heavy viewers.”
    2. People with heavy viewing habits believe that 5% of society is involved in law enforcement compared to light viewers’ estimates of 1%.
    3. Heavy viewers are more suspicious of people’s motives.
    4. Gerbner called this cynical mindset the mean world syndrome.
  10. Critique: How strong is the evidence in favor of the theory?
    1. For several decades, communication journals have been filled with the sometimes bitter charges and countercharges of critics and supporters.
    2. Perhaps the most daunting issue to haunt cultivation research is how to clearly establish the causal claim that heavy TV viewing leads a person to perceive the world as mean and scary.
    3. Testability is seen as low because there is a lack of longitudinal studies.
    4. Correlation is not necessarily cause and effect. Both fear of crime and heavy television viewing could be the result of other factors—living in a high crime area, for example.
    5. Cultivation effects also tend to be statistically small.
    6. The theory must adapt to the new media environment of cable and streaming.
    7. It’s also important to keep in mind that amid all the criticism, few theories in the area of mass communication have generated as many studies.

Chapter 30—Agenda-Setting Theory

  1. Most of us can’t pay equal attention to more than a dozen issues. Time and mental energy are scarce resources.
    1. The typical person can only focus on about five issues at any one time.
    2. The small set of issues that’s most important to you at the moment is your personal agenda.
    3. Taking the average of those concerns across an entire community, state, or nation is the public agenda—the set of issues most salient (in other words, that capture attention) across a group of people at a given time.
    4. The degree of importance that the news media assigns to issues at a given moment is the media agenda.
    5. The basic hypothesis of the theory is this: over time, the media agenda shapes the public agenda.
    6. McCombs, Shaw, and others have amassed decades of evidence that documents the power of the press to shape our reality.
    7. They've found that agenda-setting occurs in three ways, or levels.
  2. Level 1: The media tells us what to think about.
    1. McCombs wondered if, over time, the public agenda came to reflect the media agenda, such that “we judge as important what the media judge as important.”
    2. In opposition to then-current wisdom that mass communication had limited effects upon its audience, Theodore White came to the conclusion that the media shaped election campaigns
    3. Walter Lippmann claimed that the media act as a mediator between “the world outside and the pictures in our heads.”
    4. What set McCombs and Shaw apart is that they put these hunches to empirical test.
    5. McCombs and Shaw first tested their theory with undecided voters in Chapel Hill, NC.
      1. McCombs and Shaw’s first task was to measure the media agenda.
      2. They established position and length of story as the two main criteria of prominence of stories in local print and broadcast news
      3. With the media agenda measured, their next task was to assess the public agenda. McCombs and Shaw asked undecided voters to outline what each one considered the key issue of the campaign, regardless of what the candidates might be saying.
      4. The initial Chapel Hill study only demonstrated that the media and public agendas are correlated.
      5. A true test must be able to show that public priorities lag behind the media agenda.
      6. It took a tightly controlled experiment run by Yale researchers to establish a cause-and-effect chain of influence from the media agenda to the public agenda.
      7. Iyengar, Peters, and Kinder’s study was the first of many studies to offer strong evidence that the media agenda causes which stories are salient in the public agenda—the first level of agenda-setting.
  3. Level 2: The media tells us which attributes of issues are most important.
    1. The first level of agenda-setting demonstrates that media tells us what to think about, but do they also tell us how to think about it?
    2. For the first two decades of agenda-setting research, the accepted answer was no.
      1. For a long time, almost every article about the theory included this mantra: the media aren’t very successful in telling us what to think, but they are stunningly successful in telling us what to think about.
      2. But then scholars realized that, by emphasizing certain attributes of issues over other attributes, the media do more than just make topics salient.
  4. The second level of agenda setting is the transfer of salience of a dominant set of attributes that the media associate with an attitude object to the specific features of the image projected on the walls of our minds.
    1. Some scholars call this selection process framing.
    2. James Tankard, one of the leading writers on mass communication theory, defines a media frame as “the central organizing idea for news content that supplies a context and suggests what the issue is through the use of selection, emphasis, exclusion, and elaboration.”
  5. The press frame people, too, especially political figures.
  6. It’s impossible to report stories without emphasizing certain attributes over others.
    1. For better or worse, framing isn’t optional.
    2. In most studies, the voters’ agenda mirrors the media’s agenda in substance (the first level) and in tone (the second level).
  7. But object salience and attribute framing aren’t the end of the story.
  8. Level 3: The media tell us which issues go together
    1. The media communicates issues as though they are an interconnected web, with some connections stronger than others.
    2. Like framing, these kinds of connections aren’t optional.
    3. Even where a story is placed on a web page or in a newscast might establish such connections.
    4. The third level of agenda-setting examines how the media’s issue map influences the public’s issue map.
  9. Beyond opinion: The behavioral effect of the media’s agenda
    1. Most of the research studies on agenda-setting have measured the effect of media agendas on public opinion.
    2. McCombs now presents several intriguing findings showing that media priorities also influence people’s behavior.
    3. Areas of practical application include coverage of the flu and vaccinations, university enrollment when high crimes are reported, and decreased plane ticket sales after skyjacking reports.
    4. Savvy marketers can also use agenda-setting effects to promote their business products.
  10. Who sets the agenda for the agenda setters?
    1. Agenda-setting research has gathered strong evidence that the media agenda influences the public agenda. This begs the question: What, then, shapes the media agenda?
    2. So far, research has identified several sources journalists rely on to decide what counts as news.
      1. Other new organizations. When one news source influences the agenda of another one, that’s intermedia agenda-setting.
      2. Emerging media can break a story that then gets picked up by mainstream sources.
      3. Partisan media such as political talk radio and websites hold influence.
      4. Candidates and office-holders can sometimes single-handedly set the agenda.
      5. Press releases from public relations professionals repackage the news.
      6. Interest aggregations refers to a cluster of people who demand center stage for their issue.
      7. Gatekeepers can be editors who ultimately determine what gets published.
    3. Disturbingly, fake news appeared to exert at least some influence on the agenda of more credible news organizations.
  11. Need for orientation influences agenda-setting effects
    1. McCombs and Shaw suspected that some viewers might be more resistant to the media’s priorities than others.
    2. The key factor they’ve discovered is our need for orientation.
    3. It represents a drive to make sense of the world around us, to orient our understanding of it.
    4. For some people, need for orientation is an internal drive that motivates them no matter the issue.
    5. McCombs believes both relevance and uncertainty lead us to have a need for orientation on a particular issue.
  12. Melding agendas into communities
    1. McCombs and Shaw’s agenda-setting theory has found an appreciative audience among mass communication researchers because it offers two attractive features: it reaffirms the power of the press while maintaining that individuals are free to choose.
    2. More than ever before, there isn’t one dominant media agenda that descends from the boardrooms of East Coast media establishments.
    3. Multiple media agendas exist and we can choose from among them.
    4. McCombs and Shaw suggest that we can make sense of the media landscape if we sort outlets into two types.
      1. One type is vertical media.
        1. They try to appeal to a broad, diverse audience.
        2. Examples of such vertical media in the United States include the newspaper USA Today, Time and Newsweek magazines, and nightly news broadcasts on ABC, NBC, and CBS.
      2. In contrast, horizontal media “usually connect us via valued special interest and personal interest communities.”
        1. They appeal to niche audiences.
        2. These include Fox News, MSNBC, partisan talk shows, magazines devoted to particular hobbies and industries, and many sources of news on social media.
    5. Agenda-setting theorists believe that we assemble our view of current events from these media and our own experiences.
    6. They call this agendamelding, or “the social process by which we meld agendas from various sources, including other people, to create pictures of the world that fit our experiences and preferences.”
    7. It’s a social process because agendamelding creates communities. People like to spend time with people who think like they do.
      1. An advantage of the digital news environment is that diverse people can speak about public issues and, perhaps, have their voices heard.
      2. Yet the very technology that connects us can also allow us to separate into our own isolated agendamelding communities.
  13. Ethical reflections: Christians’ communitarian ethics.
    1. Christians believes that discovering the truth is still possible if we are willing to examine the nature of our humanity.
    2. Mutuality is the essence of humanness.
    3. His communitarian ethics establish civic transformation rather than objective information as the primary goal of the press.
    4. He insists that media criticism must be willing to reestablish the idea of moral right and wrong.
    5. Journalists have a social responsibility to promote the sacredness of life.
  14. Critique: Who sets the agenda in the digital era?
    1. When compared to the standards for evaluating an objective theory, agenda-setting theory fares well.
      1. Study after study has demonstrated the theory’s ability to explain the data about agendas, and not only in the United States, but elsewhere as well.
      2. That’s because carefully-constructed quantitative research on the theory’s testable hypotheses, conducted over time and through experiments, has built a strong case for the order of causation.
      3. The theory remains relatively simple.
      4. To any company, candidate, or celebrity who cares what the media are saying about them, the theory is practically useful.
      5. Agenda-setting theory is a good model for what an objective theory should be.
    2. The greatest challenge to the theory’s longevity may be the digital era foreseen by McLuhan and other scholars.
      1. McCombs doesn’t seem to think the digital age changes agenda-setting all that much.
      2. But studies in the traditional mold of agenda-setting research may miss the point.
      3. Every time you visit social media or use a search engine, an algorithmic gatekeeper filters the information and decides what you’ll see.
        1. This filtering often occurs on the basis of a number of personal factors.
        2. What exactly does the social media agenda mean when it’s tailored so specifically to the user, precisely because it arises from the user’s own preferences?

Chapter 31—Genderlect Styles

  1. Introduction.
    1. Deborah Tannen argues that male-female communication is cross-cultural.
    2. Miscommunication between men and women is both common and insidious because the parties usually don’t realize that the encounters are cross-cultural.
    3. Tannen’s writing underscores the mutually alien nature of male and female conversation styles.
    4. Tannen’s approach departs from much feminist scholarship that claims that conversations between men and women reflect male domination.
      1. She assumes that male and female conversational styles are equally valid.
      2. The term genderlect suggests that masculine and feminine styles of discourse are best viewed as two distinct cultural dialects rather than as inferior or superior ways of speaking.
    5. At the risk of reinforcing a reductive biological determinism, Tannen insists that there are gender differences in the ways we speak.
  2. Women’s desire for connection versus men’s desire for status.
    1. More than anything else, women seek human connection.
    2. Men are concerned mainly with status.
    3. Tannen agrees that many men and women would like to have intimacy and independence in every situation if they could, but she doesn’t think it’s possible.
    4. Tannen does not believe that men and women seek only status or connection, respectively, but these are their primary goals.
  3. Rapport talk versus report talk.
    1. Tannen scrutinizes the conversation of representative speakers from the feminine culture and the masculine culture to determine their core values.
    2. These linguistic differences give her confidence that the connection/status distinction structures verbal contact between women and men.
    3. Julia Wood thinks that Tannen’s observations have merit and that the connection/status distinction is evident even in childhood.
    4. Each of these speech forms shows that women value rapport talk, while men value report talk.
      1. Public speaking versus private speaking.
        1. Folk wisdom suggests that women talk more than men.
        2. Women talk more than do men in private conversations.
        3. In the public arena, men vie for ascendancy and speak much more than do women.
        4. James Pennebaker’s empirical evidence calls into question the supposed gender difference in the quantity of talk, but not necessarily its quality—its tone and intent.
        5. Men assume a lecture style to establish a “one-up” position, command attention, convey information, and insist on agreement.
        6. Men’s monologue style is appropriate for report, but not for rapport.
        7. Girls learn to involve others in conversations while boys learn to use communication to assert their own ideas and draw attention to themselves.
      2. Telling a story.
        1. Tannen recognizes that the stories people tell reveal a great deal about their hopes, needs, and values.
        2. Men tell more stories and jokes than do women.
          1. Telling jokes is a masculine way to negotiate status.
          2. Men are the heroes in their own stories.
        3. When women tell stories, they downplay themselves.
      3. Listening.
        1. Women show attentiveness through verbal and nonverbal cues.
        2. Men may avoid these cues to keep from appearing “one-down.”
        3. A woman interrupts to show agreement, to give support, or to supply what she thinks the speaker will say (a cooperative overlap).
        4. Men regard any interruption as a power move.
      4. Asking questions.
        1. Tannen thinks that men and women also annoy each other with their different ways of asking questions—or of not asking them.
        2. Men don’t ask for help because it exposes their ignorance.
        3. Women ask questions to establish a connection with others.
        4. When women state their opinions, they often use tag questions to soften the sting of potential disagreement and to invite participation in open, friendly dialogue.
      5. Conflict.
        1. Since they see life as a contest, many men are more comfortable with conflict and are therefore less likely to hold themselves in check.
        2. To women, conflict is a threat to connection to be avoided at all costs.
        3. Men are extremely wary about being told what to do.
      6. Nonverbal communication.
        1. Curiously, Tannen doesn’t extend the connection/status distinction to the ways in which men and women communicate nonverbally.
        2. Susan Pease Gadoua, a licensed marriage counselor with a column in Psychology Today magazine, finds it difficult to analyze the way men and women talk to each other without also including the nonverbal component.
        3. Sadly, Gadoua observes that when women want to connect and men want to have sex, it’s often the case that neither activity takes place.
  4. Men and women grow up in different speech communities
    1. Tannen concluded that the origins of speaking in different genderlects must be traced back to early childhood.
    2. Linguists and communication scholars refer to the segregated groups to which boys and girls belong as speech communities.
    3. The differences that Tannen sees between the speech of adult males and females have their roots in the early socialization of children.
  5. “Now you’re beginning to understand.”
    1. Tannen believes that both men and women need to learn how to adopt the other’s voice.
    2. However, she expresses only guarded hope that men and women will alter their linguistic styles.
    3. She has more confidence in the benefits of multicultural understanding between men and women.
  6. Ethical reflection: Gilligan’s different voice.
    1. Gilligan claims that women tend to think and speak in an ethical voice different from men.
    2. She believes men seek autonomy and think in terms of justice; women desire linkage and think in terms of care.
    3. Men’s justice is impersonal; women’s is contextual.
    4. Though more descriptive than prescriptive, the underlying assumption is that the way things are reflects the way things ought to be.
    5. Gilligan’s theory suggests different ethics for different groups.
  7. Critique: Is Tannen soft on research--and men?
    1. Tannen suggests we use the “aha factor”—a subjective standard of validity—to test her truth claims.
    2. Tannen’s analysis of common misunderstandings between men and women has struck a chord with millions of readers and mental health care professionals.
    3. Critics suggest that selective data may be the only way to support a reductionist claim that women are one way and men another.
    4. Tannen’s intimacy/independence dichotomy echoes one of Baxter and Bakhtin’s tensions, but it suggests none of the ongoing complexity of human existence that relational dialectics theory describes.
    5. Tannen’s assertions about male and female styles run the risk of becoming self-fulfilling prophecy.
    6. Adrianne Kunkel and Brant Burleson challenged the different cultures perspective that is at the heart of Tannen’s genderlect theory, citing their work on comforting as equally valuable to both sexes.
    7. Senta Troemel-Ploetz accuses Tannen of ignoring issues of male dominance, control, power, sexism, discrimination, sexual harassment, and verbal insults.
      1. You cannot omit issues of power from communication.
      2. Men understand what women want but give it only when it suits them.
      3. Tannen’s theory should be tested to see if men who read her book talk more empathetically with their wives.

Chapter 32—Standpoint Theory

  1. Introduction.
    1. Standpoint theorists suggest our view of the world depends on our social location.
    2. That social location is shaped by our demographic characteristics, including sex, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and economic status.
    3. As Julia Wood puts it, “the social groups within which we are located powerfully shape what we experience and know as well as how we understand and communicate with ourselves, others, and the world.”
    4. Standpoint theorists believe that knowledge starting from the social location of marginalized people “can provide a more objective view than the perspective from the lives of the more powerful.”
    5. Feminist standpoint theorists focus on the social location of women.
    6. They are quick to warn that a social location is not a standpoint.
    7. A feminist standpoint is “achieved through critical reflection on power relations and their consequences.”
    8. A standpoint necessarily opposes the status quo.
  2. A feminist standpoint rooted in philosophies.
    1. Georg Hegel revealed that what people “know” depends upon which group they are in and that the powerful control received knowledge.
    2. Early feminist standpoint theorists were influenced by Marx and Engels’ idea that the poor can be society’s “ideal knowers.”
    3. Standpoint theory is also influenced by symbolic interactionism, which suggests that gender is socially constructed, and by the postmodernism of theorists such as Jean-Francois Lyotard, which suggests a critique of male-centered epistemologies.
    4. However, standpoint theorists reject postmodernism’s absolute relativism.
    5. Although Harding and Wood draw from these somewhat conflicting influences, their theory is held together by the central tenet that all scholarly inquiry should start from the lives of women and others who are marginalized.
  3. The Help: Stories from the lives of marginalized women
    1. Passages from the book The Help will be used to help describe the theory.
    2. Communication professor Rachel Griffin at the University of Utah questions whether the novel, written by a white woman, accurately represents black voices—a fair critique.
    3. The African-American actresses who portrayed leading characters in the film disagree.
    4. These debates demonstrate how messy standpoints can be, even among those who take the social location of women seriously.
  4. Women as a marginalized group.
    1. Standpoint theorists see important differences between men and women that shape their communication.
    2. Wood does not attribute gender differences to biology, maternal instinct, or women’s intuition.
      1. To the extent that women are distinct from men, she sees the difference largely as a result of cultural expectations and the treatment that each group receives from the other.
      2. A culture is not experienced identically by all members of society because of inequities.
      3. Feminist standpoint theorists suggest that women are underadvantaged and, thus, men are overadvantaged—a gender difference that makes a huge difference.
    3. Harding and Wood point out that women are not a monolithic group, and thus they do not all share the same social location.
      1. Economic condition, race, and sexual orientation also contribute to a woman’s position in society.
      2. An intersection of minority positions creates a highly looked-down-upon location in the social hierarchy.
      3. Wood believes that a sense of solidarity is politically useful if women are to effectively challenge male domination and gain full participation in public life.
  5. Knowledge from nowhere versus local knowledge.
    1. People at the top of the societal hierarchy have the power to define others.
    2. Standpoint theorists believe that those who define a field shape the picture of the world that emerges from that field.
    3. This view contrasts sharply with the claim that “truth” is value-free and accessible to any objective observer.
    4. Harding and other standpoint theorists insist there is no possibility of an unbiased perspective that is disinterested, impartial, value-free, or detached from a particular historical situation.
    5. Harding does not want to abandon the search for reality; she simply believes that the search should begin from the lives of those in the underclass.
      1. Like all knowledge, the perspectives arising from the standpoint of women or any other minority are partial or situated knowledge.
      2. However, standpoint theorists believe that the perspectives of subordinate groups are more complete and thus better than those of privileged groups in a society.
  6. Strong objectivity: Less partial views from the standpoint of women.
    1. Harding emphasizes that it’s the perspective generalized from women’s lives that provides a preferred standpoint from which to begin research.
      1. She calls this approach “strong objectivity.”
      2. By contrast, knowledge generated from the standpoint of dominant groups offers only “weak objectivity.”
    2. Wood offers two reasons why the standpoints of women and other marginalized groups are less partial, distorted, and false than those of men in dominant positions.
      1. Marginalized people have more motivation to understand the perspective of the powerful than vice versa.
      2. Marginalized people have little reason to defend the status quo.
    3. Harding and Wood emphasize that a woman’s location on the margin of society is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition to attain a feminist standpoint.
    4. They believe a feminist standpoint is an achievement gained through critical reflection rather than a piece of territory automatically inherited by being a woman.
  7. Theory to practice: communication research based on women’s lives.
    1. Wood’s study of caregiving in the United States exemplifies research that starts from the lives of women.
    2. Wood suggests that a standpoint approach is practical to the extent that it generates an effective critique of unjust practices.
  8. The standpoint of black feminist thought.
    1. Patricia Collins claims that “intersecting oppressions” puts black women in a different marginalized social location than either white women or black men.
    2. The different social location means that black women’s way of knowing is different from Harding and Wood’s standpoint epistemology.
    3. She identifies four ways that black women validate knowledge.
      1. Lived experience as a criterion of meaning.
      2. The use of dialogue in assessing knowledge claims.
      3. The ethic of caring.
      4. The ethic of personal accountability.
  9. Ethical reflection: Benhabib’s interactive universalism
    1. Seyla Benhabib maintains that a universal ethical standard is a viable possibility, one that values diversity of belief without thinking that every difference is ethically significant.
    2. She holds out the possibility that instead of reaching a consensus on how everyone should act, interacting individuals can align themselves with a common good.
    3. Benhabib insists that any panhuman ethic be achieved through interaction with collective concrete others rather than imposed on them by the rational elite.
    4. Interactive universalism would avoid privatizing women’s experiences.
  10. Critique: Do standpoints on the margins give a less false view?
    1. Feminist standpoint theory was originally developed to better appreciate the value of women’s lived experiences, with the hope that qualitative research on marginalized groups can bring about societal reform that takes their perspectives seriously.
    2. Although comparing male and female experiences has an aesthetic appeal in its simplicity, many feminist scholars now think that’s too simple.
      1. Feminist scholar Kathy Davis (VU University Amsterdam) further notes that feminist theories developed by white Western women emerge from a stance that may not account for the diversity of women’s experiences around the world.
      2. One answer to this problem is intersectionality.
      3. For feminist scholars, intersectionality refers to how identities occur at the crossroads of gender, race, sexuality, age, occupation, and any number of other characteristics.
      4. It’s an intellectual tool that sharpens standpoint theorists’ understanding of people—people who often defy simple categorization.
    3. John McWhorter, an African American professor of English at Columbia University, is also concerned that some people use standpoint logic to oversimplify the human condition.
    4. Other critics see the concept of strong objectivity as inherently contradictory, since it seems to appeal to universal standards of judgment
    5. Standpoint theory energizes Idaho State University rhetorician Lynn Worsham and others in the theory’s broad community of agreement who believe that minority standpoints can be a partial corrective to the biased knowledge that now passes for truth.
 

Chapter 33—Muted Group Theory

  1. Introduction.
    1. To Cheris Kramarae, language is a man-made construction.
    2. Women’s words and thoughts are discounted in our society.
    3. When women try to overcome this inequity, the masculine control of communication places them at a disadvantage.
    4. Women are a muted group because man-made language aids in defining, depreciating, and excluding them.
  2. Muted groups: Black holes in someone else’s universe.
    1. Anthropologist Edwin Ardener first proposed that women are a muted group.
    2. He noted that many ethnographers claimed to have “cracked the code” of a culture without referencing female speech.
    3. He and Shirley Ardener discovered that mutedness is caused by the lack of power that besets any group of low status.
    4. Mutedness doesn’t mean that low-power groups are completely silent. The issue is whether people can say what they want to say when and where they want to say it.
    5. He claimed that muted groups are “black holes” because they are overlooked, muffled, and rendered invisible.
    6. Kramarae argues that the ever-prevalent public/private distinction in language is a convenient way to exaggerate gender differences and pose separate sexual spheres of activity.
  3. The masculine power to name experience.
    1. Kramarae’s basic assumption is that women perceive the world differently from men because of women’s and men’s different experiences and activities rooted in the division of labor.
    2. Kramarae argues that because of their political dominance, men’s system of perception is dominant, impeding the free expression of women’s alternative models of the world.
    3. Men’s control of the dominant mode of expression has produced a vast stock of derogatory, gender-specific terms to refer to women’s speech.
    4. There are also more words to describe sexually promiscuous women than men.
    5. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis suggests that muted women may come to doubt the validity of their experiences and the legitimacy of their feelings.
  4. Men as the gatekeepers of communication.
    1. Even if the public mode of expression contained a rich vocabulary to describe feminine experience, women would still be muted if their modes of expression were ignored or ridiculed.
      1. Kramarae points out that both the law and the conventions of proper etiquette have served men well.
      2. Kramarae observes that most gatekeepers are men—a “good ole boys” cultural establishment that historically has excluded women’s art, poetry, plays, film scripts, public address, and scholarly essays.
      3. Mainstream communication is “malestream” expression.
    2. Authors such as Virginia Woolf and Dorothy Smith have argued that women have not been given their rightful place in history.
    3. Many women have suppressed their feminine identity to satisfy the demands of a male gatekeeper.
    4. To some extent, Kramarae thinks advances in technology create new spaces where women can make their voices heard.
    5. But tech executive Eli Pariser notes that these programs are likely to “simply reflect the social mores of the culture they’re processing.”
    6. Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg believes technology won’t reflect the interests of female users until we have more women in technology fields.
  5. Speaking women’s truth in men’s talk: The problem of translation.
    1. Kramarae believes that in order to participate in society, women must transform their own models in terms of the received male system of expression.
    2. This translation process requires constant effort and leaves women wondering if they said it right.
    3. According to Kramarae, women have to choose their words carefully in a public forum.
  6. Speaking out in private: Networking with women.
    1. Kramarae believes that females are likely to find ways to express themselves outside the dominant public modes of expression used by males.
    2. She labels women’s outlets the female “sub-version” that runs beneath the surface of male orthodoxy.
    3. She is convinced that males have more difficulty than females understanding what members of the other gender mean because they haven’t made the effort.
    4. Dale Spender hypothesizes that men realize that listening to women would involve a renunciation of their privileged position.
  7. Enriching the lexicon: A feminist dictionary.
    1. The ultimate goal of muted group theory is to change the man-made linguistic system that oppresses women including challenging sexist dictionaries.
    2. Traditional dictionaries pose as authoritative guides to proper language use, but because of their reliance on male literary sources, lexicographers systematically exclude words coined by women.
    3. Kramarae and Paula Treichler have compiled a feminist dictionary that offers definitions for women’s words that don’t appear in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary and presents alternative feminine readings of words that do.
  8. Sexual harassment: Coining a term to label experience.
    1. The popularization of the term sexual harassment represents a great victory for feminist communication scholarship—encoding women’s experience into the received language of society.
    2. Although unwanted sexual attention is not new, until recently it went unnamed.
    3. The battle over sexual harassment is as much a struggle over language as it is over sexual conduct.
      1. Communication professor Ann Burnett (North Dakota State University) identifies similar confusion and powerlessness regarding date rape—an acute form of sexual harassment often directed at college women.
      2. Uncertainty favors men—and mutes women—before, during, and after date rape.
  9. Critique: Do men mean to mute?
    1. Feminist scholars insist that “the key communication activities of women’s experiences—their rituals, vocabularies, metaphors, and stories—are an important part of the data for study.”
    2. The theory has inspired many scholars to take the voices of women and other muted groups seriously.
    3. Few other interpretive theories in this book can claim such wide-ranging support and enthusiasm.
    4. Steeped in the critical tradition, muted group theory is exceedingly candid about trying to clarify values.
    5. So, can men be members of a muted group? Kramarae’s answer is yes, especially if those men identify with another marginalized group, such as the economically disadvantaged or an ethnic minority.
    6. Kramarae acknowledges that oppression is more complex than identification with any one group.
    7. Her perspective on men’s motives is contested by scholars such as Tannen.
    8. Kramarae thinks Tannen’s apology for men’s abuse of power is too simple.

Chapter 34—Communication Accommodation Theory

  1. Introduction.
    1. Howard Giles built communication accommodation theory (CAT) as an answer to questions regarding intent and perception of changing speech patterns, cultural group membership, and social consequences.
    2. Giles refers to his speech adjustments as accommodation, or changing communication behavior in a way that reduces social distance.
    3. In contrast, failing to alter one’s style (or any other communication adjustment that maintains or increases social distance) is nonaccommodation.
    4. The early research of Giles and his colleagues centered on interethnic communication, often between two bilingual groups in the same country.
    5. In the last three decades, however, CAT researchers have also shown consistent interest in exploring accommodation in an intergenerational context.
    6. Whether differences between people are generational, cultural, or from any other source, Giles thinks an understanding of CAT can help members of different groups communicate effectively with each other.
  2. How we accommodate (or how we don’t)
    1. Giles contrasts convergence and divergence, two strategic forms of communication used to interact with diverse others.
    2. Convergence
      1. Convergence is a strategy by which you adapt your communication behavior in such a way as to become more similar to the other person.
      2. Most of the time, we do it because we want to accommodate the other person.
      3. It is a form of audience adaption to reduce nonverbal differences.
      4. Discourse management, another way of adapting, is the sensitive selection of topics to discuss.
    3. Divergence
      1. Divergence is a communication strategy of accentuating the differences between yourself and another.
      2. Most of the time, the goal of divergence is nonaccommodation.
      3. Divergence may include counteraccommodation—direct, intentional, and even hostile ways of maximizing the differences between speakers.
      4. The elderly often increase social distance through the process of self- handicapping —a defensive, face-saving strategy that uses age as a reason for not performing well.
      5. Giles and his colleagues describe two other strategies similar to divergence that are a bit more subtle, but function as nonaccommodation.
        1. Maintenance is the strategy of persisting in your original communication style regardless of the communication behavior of the other.
        2. The other strategy that’s similar to divergence is overaccommodation, which may be well-intended, but has the effect of making the recipient feel worse.
  3. Different motivations for convergence and divergence.
    1. CAT theorists have always maintained that desire for approval was the main motivation for convergence
    2. But this doesn’t account for divergence, nor for when speakers act as representatives of a group.
    3. Social identity theory
      1. When communicators are aware of their group differences, that’s intergroup contact. Henri Tajfel and John Turner believed intergroup contact is common, and that our social identity is based upon it.
      2. We often communicate not as individuals but as representatives of groups that define us.
      3. Communication may be used to reinforce and defend ties to reference groups.
      4. When groups are salient at the start of an interaction with someone different, CAT claims that communication will diverge away from a partner’s speech rather than converge toward it.
      5. Tajfel and Turner pictured a motivational continuum with personal identity on one end of the scale and social identity on the other.
      6. If communicators feel the need for distinctiveness, then divergence is often the result.
      7. They hold out the possibility that a person could seek approval and distinctiveness within the same conversation when personal and social identities are both salient.
    4. Initial orientation
      1. Initial orientation is the predisposition a person has toward focusing on either individual identity or group identity.
      2. Five factors impact the perception of a conversation as an intergroup encounter.
        1. Collective cultural context.
          1. The we-centered focus of collectivism emphasizes similarity and mutual concern within the culture—definitely oriented toward social identity.
          2. The I-centered focus of individualistic cultures valorizes the individual actor—definitely oriented toward individual identity.
        2. If previous interactions were uncomfortable, competitive, or hostile, both interactants will tend to ascribe that outcome to the other person’s social identity.
        3. The more specific and negative stereotypes people have of an out-group, the more likely they are to think of the other in terms of social identity and then resort to divergent communication.
        4. Expectations of group norms can affect whether a member of one group regards a person from another group as an individual or as “one of them.”
        5. High group solidarity and high group dependence would predict that we have initial intergroup orientation.
    5. No single factor determines a person’s initial orientation, yet if all five factors line up in the direction of social identity, they make it almost certain that a communicator will approach it as an intergroup encounter.
  4. Recipient evaluation of convergence and divergence.
    1. People converge when they want social approval and diverge when they want to emphasize their distinctiveness.
    2. Giles and his colleagues still believe that listeners regard convergence as positive and divergence as negative.
    3. Convergent speakers are evaluated as more competent, attractive, warm, and cooperative compared to divergent communicators who are seen as insulting, impolite, and hostile.
    4. What is ultimately important is how the communicator is perceived.
      1. Objective versus subjective accommodation.
        1. A disconnect may exist between what is actually happening and what a listener perceives is happening.
        2. Speakers who converge may also misperceive the other’s style.
      2. Attribution theory.
        1. Heider and Kelley suggest that we attribute an internal disposition to the behavior we see another enact.
        2. Our default assumption is that people who do things like that are like that.
        3. Listeners’ evaluation is based on the other’s ability, external constraints, and expended effort.
        4. Overall, listeners who interpret convergence as a speaker’s desire to break down cultural barriers react quite favorably.
    5. The interpersonal tension created by divergence or maintenance can certainly block the formation of intergroup or intercultural relationships and understanding.
    6. But the upside for the communicator is the reaffirmed social identity and solidarity that comes from enacting a divergent strategy.
  5. Applying CAT to police officer-citizen interaction.
    1. CAT can be applied to any intercultural or intergroup situation where the differences between people are apparent and significant.
    2. Giles has employed CAT to analyze routine traffic stops for issues of accommodation and race.
    3. The goal of one CAT study was “to move beyond casual assumptions to systematically investigate the extent to which the race of interactants might influence the nature of police–civilian communication.”
  6. Critique: Enormous scope at the cost of clarity.
    1. CAT not only describes communication behavior, it explains why it happens.
    2. The theory has consistently predicted what will happen in specific situations.
    3. CAT is an extraordinarily complex theory presented in multiple versions that are sometimes offered simultaneously.
    4. The structure and underlying terminology are not always represented consistently with even the meaning of “accommodation” slippery.
    5. The complexity problem spills over into the possibility of being able to demonstrate that the theory is false.
    6. Tests of the theory have admirably used a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods.
    7. The theory provides practical insight into many situations where people from different groups or cultures come into contact.

Chapter 35—Face-Negotiation Theory

  1. Introduction.
    1. Stella Ting-Toomey’s face-negotiation theory helps to explain cultural differences in response to conflict.
    2. A basic assumption is that all people negotiate “face.”
      1. Face is a metaphor for our public self-image – the way we want others to see us and treat us.
      2. Facework refers to specific verbal and nonverbal messages that help to maintain and restore face loss, and to uphold and honor face gain.
    3. Our identity can always be called into question, which inevitably leads to conflict and vulnerability.
    4. Facework and corresponding styles of handling conflict vary from culture to culture.
    5. Face-negotiation theory postulates that the facework of people from individualistic cultures like the United States or Germany will be strikingly different from the facework of people from collectivistic cultures like Japan or China.
    6. Ting-Toomey suggests that face maintenance is the crucial intervening variable that ties culture to people’s ways of handling conflict.
  2. Collectivistic and individualistic cultures.
    1. Harry Triandis says that there are three important distinctions between collectivistic and individualistic cultures—the different ways members perceive self, goals, and duty.
    2. Japan and the U.S. represent collectivistic and individualistic cultures, respectively.
    3. Whereas Japanese tend to value collective needs and goals (a we-identity), Americans tend to value individualistic needs and goals (an I-identity).
    4. Whereas Japanese tend to perceive others in us/them categories and attach little importance to pursuing outsiders’ attitudes or feelings, Americans assume that every person is unique and reduce uncertainty by asking questions.
  3. The multiple faces of face.
    1. Face is a universal concern because it is an extension of self-concept.
      1. Ting-Toomey defines face as “the projected image of one’s self in a relational situation.”
      2. Penelope Brown and Stephen Levinson define face as the public self-image that every member of society wants to claim for himself/herself.
      3. Taiwanese writer Lin Yutang called face “a psychological image that can be granted and lost and fought for and presented as a gift.”
    2. The meaning of face differs depending on differences in cultural and individual identities.
    3. Face concern focuses on whose face a person wants to save.
      1. One can save one’s own face or the face of others.
      2. Those in individualistic cultures tend to be more concerned with preserving their own face, whereas people in collectivistic cultures value maintaining the face of the other party.
    4. Mutual face is where there’s an equal concern for both parties’ image, as well as the public image or their relationship.
    5. Face-restoration is the facework strategy used to stake out a unique place in life, preserve autonomy, and defend against loss of personal freedom.
      1. It is the typical face strategy across individualistic cultures.
      2. It often involves justifying one’s actions or blaming the situation.
    6. Face-giving is the facework strategy used to defend and support another’s need for inclusion.
      1. It means taking care not to embarrass or humiliate the other in public.
      2. It is the characteristic face strategy across collectivistic cultures.
    7. Although cultural difference is not absolute, people from collectivisitic and individualistic cultures tend to privilege other-face and self-face, respectively.
  4. Predicts styles of conflict management.
    1. Based on the work of M. Afzalur Rahim, Ting-Toomey identified five distinct responses to situations in which there is an incompatibility of needs, interests, or goals.
      1. Avoiding (withdrawal)
      2. Obliging (accommodating)
      3. Compromising (bargaining)
      4. Integrating (problem solving)
      5. Dominating (competing)
    2. Building from this work, Ting-Toomey and colleague John Oetzel (University of Waikato, New Zealand) have made their theory more complex, yet better able to explain and predict conflict behavior around the world.
  5. Self-construal: Varied self-images within a culture.
    1. Ting-Toomey recognizes that people within a culture differ on the relative emphasis they place on individual self-sufficiency or group solidarity.
    2. She discusses the dimension of self-construal (or self-image) in terms of the independent and interdependent self, or the degree to which people conceive of themselves as relatively autonomous from, or connected with, others.
      1. The independent self is more self-face oriented. This view of self is most prevalent within individualistic cultures.
      2. Conversely, interdependent self is more concerned with other-face and is closely aligned with collectivistic cultures.
    3. Individuals within a culture have different images of self as well as varied views on the degree to which they try to give others face or restore their own face in conflict situations.
    4. Ting-Toomey built her theory around the foundational idea that people from collectivistic cultures are different in the way they manage face in conflict situations than those from individualistic cultures.
  6. Refining the relationship between face concern and conflict style
    1. Since the turn of the century, Ting-Toomey, Oetzel, and many other intercultural researchers have identified three primary conflict styles: dominance, avoidance, and integration.
    2. She and Oetzel now use them as umbrella terms to designate 3 clusters of 11 specific facework strategies.
      1. Dominance
        1. Defend: Stand up for one’s opinion.
        2. Express emotion: Verbally express one’s feelings.
        3. Aggression: Make a direct or passive effort to hurt the other.
      2. Avoidance
        1. Give in: Accommodate the other person.
        2. Pretend: Act like the conflict doesn’t exist.
        3. Third party: Seek outside help to resolve the conflict.
      3. Integration
        1. Apologize: Say sorry for past behavior.
        2. Private talk: Avoid public confrontation.
        3. Remain calm: Stay composed during the conflict.
        4. Problem solve: Engage in behaviors to join perspectives.
        5. Respect: Demonstrate regard for the other by listening.
    3. The three clusters are important because Ting-Toomey and Oetzel claim that the type of face concern people have will best predict the type of facework they’ll employ in conflict situations. They found:
      1. Those most concerned with self-face will try to dominate.
      2. People with an other-face concern will attempt to avoid conflict.
      3. Parties with a mutual-face concern will favor integrating strategies.
    4. Oetzel and Ting-Toomey conducted a four-nation study to test their revised theory with Chinese, Japanese, German, and American students.
      1. As for the dominance tactics, self-face is linked with both defending and aggression, but not emotional expression.
      2. As predicted, all three of the avoidance strategies—giving in, pretending, and seeking third-party help—are associated with high other-face concerns.
      3. What wasn’t anticipated is that three of the behaviors presumably fostered by mutual-face concern are shown to be associated with other-face concern alone.
  7. Application: Competent intercultural facework.
    1. Ting-Toomey’s ultimate goal for her theory goes beyond merely identifying the ways people in different cultures negotiate face or handle conflict.
    2. She wants the theory to help people manage intercultural conflict effectively.
    3. She says there are three requirements.
      1. Knowledge is the most important dimension of facework competence.
      2. Mindfulness shows a recognition that things are not always what they seem. It’s a conscious choice to seek multiple perspectives on the same event.
      3. Interaction skill is your ability to communicate appropriately, effectively, and adaptively in a given situation.
  8. Critique: Passing the objective test with a good grade.
    1. Ting-Toomey and Oetzel have conducted extensive quantitative survey research to craft and test an objective theory that predicts that members of collectivistic cultures will manage conflict differently than members of individualistic societies will.
    2. Then they use the constructs of self-construal and face concern to explain why that’s so. Ting-Toomey has laid out “conflict face-negotiation theory” (which she now calls it) in 24 testable hypotheses.
    3. Given the complex nature of culture, she has made the choice to sacrifice simplicity for validity, which makes the theory tougher to grasp.
    4. For more than two decades as a third-party neutral mediator, Em has found the theory has practical utility.
 

Chapter 36—Co-Cultural Theory

  1. Members of co-cultural groups have less power than members of the dominant culture.
    1. Mark Orbe uses the term co-cultural to refer to marginalized groups of people who are typically labeled as minority, subcultural, subordinate, inferior, or nondominant.
    2. It’s a neutral term that designates significant differences from the dominant culture, but with no hint of contempt or condemnation.
    3. There are many varied co-cultural groups in the United States, such as women, people of color, the economically disadvantaged, people with physical disabilities, the LGBTQ community, the very old and very young, and religious minorities.
    4. Orbe sees co-cultural theory as an extension of both standpoint theory and muted group theory—two other theories concerned with unequal power.
    5. Orbe thinks it’s important to spend time and effort focusing on co-cultural communication—“communication between dominant group and co-cultural group members from the perspective of co-cultural group members.”
    6. Orbe has found that, to maneuver within the dominant culture and achieve some degree of success, co-cultural group members will adopt one or more specific communication orientations in their everyday interactions.
  2. Communication orientation: What they want and what they say to get it.
    1. Orbe claims there are nine communication orientations that different co-cultural group members adopt when trying to survive and thrive within the dominant group culture.
      1. Communication orientation is the term he uses to describe a co-cultural group member’s preferred outcome pursued through the communication approach he or she chooses to achieve that goal.
      2. The three goals—assimilation, accommodation, separation—describe the preferred outcomes co-cultural members might seek when face-to-face with members of the dominant culture.
      3. The three communication approaches—nonassertive, assertive, aggressive—identify the verbal and nonverbal behavior co-cultural members might use to reach their chosen goal
      4. A three-by-three model (i.e., crossing preferred outcomes with communication approaches) yields nine communication orientations.
    2. Inside each of the nine communication orientation boxes are shorthand descriptors of communicative practices.
      1. These practices summarize the specific verbal and nonverbal actions that co-cultural group members take when interacting with members of the dominant culture.
      2. The cluster of terms labeling the practices in each box reflects how that orientation plays out in actual types of behavior.
    3. As Orbe listened to co-cultural group members talk about their interactions with the dominant culture, their words strongly influenced his recognition and interpretation of the three preferred outcomes, the three communication approaches, and the nine different communication orientations they form.
      1. A nonassertive approach is where “individuals are seemingly inhibited and nonconfrontational while putting the needs of others before their own.”
      2. An aggressive approach is behavior “perceived as hurtfully expressive, self-promoting, and assuming control over the choices of others.”
      3. Orbe pictures the nonassertive and aggressive approaches as anchoring opposite ends of a continuum on which an assertive approach (self-enhancing and expressive behavior that takes into account both self and others’ needs) falls roughly in between.
  3. Assimilation as a preferred outcome of communication.
    1. For co-cultural group members, assimilation means fitting into the dominant culture while at the same time shedding the speech and nonverbal markers of their group.
      1. Nonassertive assimilation: Co-cultural members attempt to meet their own needs as best they can by unobtrusively blending into the dominant society.
        1. Emphasizing commonalities—focusing on similarities; downplaying differences.
        2. Developing positive face—Being graciously attentive and considerate.
        3. Censoring self—Remaining silent to inappropriate or offensive comments.
        4. Averting controversy—Moving conversation away from risky or dangerous areas.
      2. Assertive assimilation: Co-cultural members with this orientation attempt to fit into dominant structures by “playing the game.”
        1. Extensive preparation—Preparing thoroughly prior to interaction.
        2. Overcompensating—Making a conscious and consistent effort to be a “superstar.”
        3. Manipulating stereotypes—Exploiting the dominant image of the group for personal gain.
        4. Bargaining—Making covert or overt arrangements to ignore co-cultural differences.
      3. Aggressive assimilation: This is a single-minded, sometimes belligerent approach, which seeks to be regarded as part of the dominant group and not as members of a co-cultural group.
        1. Dissociating—Trying hard to avoid the typical behavior of one’s co-cultural group.
        2. Mirroring—Adopting dominant communication codes to mask co-cultural identity.
        3. Strategic distancing—Stressing individuality by cutting ties with your own group.
        4. Ridiculing self—Taking part in discourse demeaning to one’s co-cultural group.
  4. Accommodation as a preferred outcome of communication.
    1. Rather than following the other guys’ rules as those trying to assimilate do, co-cultural members who seek accommodation work at changing the rules to take their own life experiences into account.
    2. As out-group members adapt their behavior to become more similar to that of the dominant in-group culture, they gain credibility for advocating at least incremental change.
      1. Nonassertive accommodation: By conforming to the norms of the dominant culture, co-cultural members desire to gain acceptance
        1. Increasing visibility—Maintaining co-cultural presence within the dominant group.
        2. Dispelling stereotypes—Changing images of the group by just being yourself.
      2. Assertive accommodation: Co-cultural members whose abilities and interpersonal skills are valued work cooperatively within the dominant culture, advocating for the needs of both cultures.
        1. Communicating self—Interacting with the dominant group in an open, genuine manner.
        2. Intragroup networking—Talking with co-cultural people with a shared worldview.
        3. Utilizing liaisons—Seeking support from dominant group members you can trust.
        4. Educating others—Explaining co-cultural norms and values to the dominant group.
      3. Aggressive accommodation: Working within the dominant culture, these co-cultural advocates offer a prophetic voice calling for major transformation of structures and practices that hold co-cultural groups down.
        1. Confronting—Asserting one’s “voice” in a way that may violate others’ rights.
        2. Gaining advantage—Calling out dominant group oppression to get a response.
  5. Separation as a preferred outcome of communication.
    1. The co-cultural group members who desire separation work to create and maintain an identity distinct from the dominant culture.
    2. Separatist speech is akin to what Giles labeled divergent communication (see ch. 34) and is used to accentuate differences between the two cultures.
      1. Nonassertive separation: These co-cultural members have an inherent belief that their lives will be more tolerable when they “stick to their own kind.”
        1. Avoiding—Staying away from places and situations where interaction is likely.
        2. Maintaining personal barriers—Using verbal and nonverbal cues to stay aloof.
      2. Assertive separation: Co-cultural members with this orientation make a strategic decision to remain separate from an oppressive dominant culture.
        1. Exemplifying strengths—Making the group’s strength, success, and contribution known.
        2. Embracing stereotypes—Putting a positive spin on the dominant group’s biases.
      3. Aggressive separation: This is often employed by a powerful co-cultural group leader when segregation from the dominant culture seems imperative.
        1. Attacking—Inflicting psychological pain through personal attack.
        2. Sabotaging others—Undermining the benefits of dominant group membership.
  6. Phenomenology—Tapping into others’ conscious lived experience
    1. Orbe is convinced that the goals of co-cultural group members and the different styles of communication they adopt are the key factors because he has great confidence in the research method that revealed them—phenomenology.
      1. Phenomenology is a research commitment to focus “on the conscious experience of a person as she or he relates to the lived world.”
      2. Orbe enlisted the help of nearly 100 marginalized people from a variety of co-cultural groups and listened to their stories of interactions with people in the dominant culture.
      3. This inductive type of qualitative research is akin to what Baxter did with relationship partners in developing relational dialectics theory (ch. 11), and how Deetz partnered with corporate employees to form his critical theory of communication in organizations (ch. 21).
    2. It’s a multiple-step process.
      1. First, Orbe invited his co-researchers (his phenomenological term for “participants”) to describe their experiences within the dominant culture, recorded everything they said, and later made a word-for-word transcript.
      2. Next, Orbe pored over this record, looking for repeated words, phrases, or themes that described and gave meaning to their communication.
      3. He conducted this phenomenological interpretation by finding meanings that weren’t immediately apparent in the first two steps.
      4. Through this process, he also identified four other factors that influence how members of co-cultural groups interact with members of the dominant society: Field of experience, situational context, ability, and perceived costs and rewards.
  7. Quantitative research supports a qualitative theory.
    1. Cultural phenomenologist Orbe teamed up with Michigan State University behavioral scientist Maria Knight Lapinski to create self-report scales that measure the two most important dimensions of co-cultural theory.
    2. They asked co-cultural members to respond to a variety of statements about their preferred outcome and communication approach when they are the only co-cultural person at a dominant culture gathering.
    3. The researchers then ran a sophisticated statistical test to determine that co-cultural group members saw the three preferred outcomes—assimilation, accommodation, separation—as distinct from each other.
    4. For scientific scholars, the results of this quantitative analysis offer assurance that Orbe’s qualitative interpretation of what his original co-cultural researchers said was on target.
    5. Another fascinating result was the positive relationship between a co-cultural group member’s desired goals and choice of communication style.
      1. Co-cultural respondents who sought assimilation into the group favored a nonassertive approach.
      2. Those whose aim was to get those members of the dominant culture to accommodate their beliefs and practices tended to prefer being assertive.
      3. Co-cultural group members who desired separation were more likely to adopt an aggressive style.
  8. Critique: An interpretative theory both ambitious and limited.
    1. Mark Orbe uses the criteria set forth in Chapter 3 to favorably evaluate his interpretive theory.
    2. His phenomenological methodology is prototypical qualitative research.
    3. To read what his co-cultural researchers said is to gain a new understanding of people who are trying to survive and thrive in a dominant culture created by privileged men who at least tacitly work to maintain the status quo.
    4. Clarity and artistry are the two faces of aesthetic appeal.
      1. As for clarity, It’s hard to see how the four additional factors of field of experience, situational context, ability, and perceived costs and rewards fit into the framework of the theory.
      2. As for artistry, Em regards many of the quotes from co-cultural group members as found art.
    5. Orbe’s stated indebtedness to muted group theory and standpoint theory gives co-cultural theory a built-in community of agreement among communication scholars who take a critical approach.
    6. Orbe doesn’t call for reform of society or take on the role of advocate. Co-cultural theory seems descriptive rather than prescriptive.
    7. As for clarification of values, rather than show either pity or scorn for those who are marginalized in the United States, Orbe expresses admiration for how his co-researchers use or don’t use communication in order to cope as outsiders within a dominant culture. 

Chapter 37—Common Threads in Comm Theories

  1. Introduction.
    1. This chapter seeks to integrate the theories in this book with each other and with major communication concepts.
    2. The chapter identifies 10 recurring principles that in one form or another appear in multiple theories.
    3. A thread must be a significant feature in at least six different theories.
    4. Consistent with the critique sections that close each theory chapter of the text, discussion of each thread ends with a cause-for-pause reservation that those who warmly embrace the thread might ponder.
  2. Motivation.
    1. Communication is motivated by our basic social need for affiliation, achievement, and control as well as our strong desire to reduce our uncertainty and anxiety.
      1. Uses and grats points out that people use media to gratify their felt needs, but these needs vary from person to person.
      2. Social exchange theory holds that relationships develop based upon the perceived benefits and costs of interaction (and this logic is used by social penetration theory).
    2. Need for affiliation: In media multiplexity theory, Haythornthwaite makes a distinction between weak ties and strong ties in our relationships, claiming that the more types of media both parties use to connect with each other, the stronger and closer their bond will be.
    3. Need for achievement: Functional perspective on group decision-making claims that groups must accomplish the requisite functions to reach a high-quality decision.
    4. Need for control: Unjust communication and control are central to critical theories. Hall argues that corporately-controlled media shape the dominant discourse of the day.
    5. Need to reduce uncertainty: Uncertainty reduction theory suggests that the motive of most communication is to gain knowledge and create understanding in order to increase our ability to predict how future interaction with others will go.
    6. Need to reduce anxiety: Dramatism claims the only way to get rid of the noxious feeling of guilt is through mortification or victimage.
    7. Cause for pause: If it’s true that all of my communication—including this book—is undertaken solely to meet my own personal needs and interests, then I am a totally selfish person.
  3. Self-image.
    1. Communication affects and is affected by our sense of identity, which is strongly shaped within the context of our culture.
    2. Symbolic interactionism claims that our concept of self is formed through communication.
    3. According to Aronson and Cooper’s revisions of cognitive dissonance theory, dissonance negatively impacts our self-image until we find a way to dissipate this distressing feeling.
    4. In face-negotiation theory, face is defined as our public self-image.
    5. Cause for pause: humans naturally commit a fundamental attribution error by being less stringent on themselves and more judgmental of others. As a corrective to this biased perception, perhaps we should consider giving others the benefit of the doubt while holding ourselves to a more rigorous standard of accountability.
  4. Credibility.
    1. Our verbal and nonverbal messages are validated or discounted by others’ perception of our competence and character.
    2. Aristotle used the term source credibility (ethical proof) to describe the credibility of a speaker that increases the probability of a speech being persuasive.
    3. The second level of agenda-setting theory involves noting the affective tone of references to candidates made in the media.
    4. Standpoint theory suggests that marginalized members may have low credibility but a less false view of social reality.
    5. Cause for pause: Focus on the source of a message may cause us to lose sight of the intrinsic value of what’s being said.
  5. Expectation.
    1. What we expect to hear or see will affect our perception, interpretation, and response during an interaction.
    2. Burgoon’s expectancy violations theory suggests we respond to a violation of our expectations depending on the violation valence and communicator reward valence.
    3. Expectation of future interaction heightens the motivation to reduce uncertainty in Berger’s uncertainty reduction theory, and is also central to Walther’s hyperpersonal perspective regarding online interpersonal communication.
    4. Cultivation theory maintains that media creates an expectation of violence and general mistrust of others.
    5. Cause for pause: It is easy to confuse expectations (projections of past perceptions into the future) with perceptions (interpretations of sensory experiences occurring in the present).
  6. Audience adaption.
    1. By mindfully creating a person-centered message specific to the situation, we increase the possibility of achieving our communication goals.
    2. Social judgment theory suggests influencers are most effective if they first figure out the other’s latitude of acceptance and craft their message accordingly.
    3. Petty and Cacioppo’s elaboration likelihood model suggests that the persuader first assess whether the target audience is ready and able to think through issue-relevant arguments that support the advocate’s position.
    4. Burke’s dramatism is concerned with the speaker’s ability to successfully identify with the audience; without it, there is no persuasion.
    5. Giles’ CAT focuses on parties’ adjustment of their speech styles.
    6. Cause for pause: Too much adaptation may mean we lose the authenticity of our message or the integrity of our own beliefs.
  7. Social construction.
    1. Persons-in-conversation co-construct their own social realities and are simultaneously shaped by the worlds they create.
    2. CMM directly embodies this thread.
    3. McPhee’s communicative constitution of organizations clearly indicates that an organization is what it is because communication has brought it into existence—a particular type of social construction.
    4. Mead’s symbolic interactionism denies that there is a real “me” that I can know through introspection. He insists that my self-concept is constituted by how others look at me, what they say to me, and how they act toward me.
    5. McLuhan’s media ecology describes a more subtle construction process summed up in his statement that we shape the tools and they in turn shape us.
    6. Cause for pause: Is there a foundational reality that language can describe, however poorly?
  8. Shared meaning.
    1. Our communication is successful to the extent that we share a common interpretation of the signs we use.
    2. Geetz and Pacanowsky’s cultural approach to organizations describes culture as webs of significance, or systems of shared meaning.
    3. Bormann's symbolic convergence theory says shared group fantasies create symbolic convergence--shared meaning.
    4. Barthes described how the mass media are powerful ideological tools that frame interpretation of events for the benefit of the haves over the have-nots.
    5. Cause for pause: Shared interpretation is an accomplishment of the audience rather than the clarity of the message.
  9. Narrative.
    1. We respond favorably to stories and dramatic imagery with which we can identify.
    2. According to Fisher, almost all communication is story that we judge by its narrative coherence and fidelity.
    3. Bormann’s symbolic convergence theory predicts then when group fantasies are shared, the result is symbolic convergence—a common group consciousness and often a greater cohesiveness.
    4. Gerbner’s cultivation theory says that television is dominant because it tells most of the stories, most of the time.
    5. Tannen’s genderlect styles theory sees disparity between men and women in how they tell stories.
    6. Cause for pause: There are bad stories that can effectively lead people astray or destroy others; well-told tales are inherently attractive, but they might not all be good.
  10. Conflict.
    1. Unjust communication stifles needed conflict; healthy communication can make conflict productive.
    2. Deetz’s critical theory of communication in organizations believes that organizations would be well served by more conflict rather than less.
    3. A core principle of Petronio’s communication privacy management theory warns that when co-owners of private information don’t effectively negotiate and follow mutually held privacy rules, boundary turbulence is the likely result.
    4. Cause for pause: Although honest straight talk is an effective way to reduce conflict in an individualistic society, it may be counterproductive in collectivistic cultures.
  11. Dialogue.
    1. Dialogue is transparent conversation that often creates unanticipated relational outcomes due to parties’ profound respect for disparate voices.
    2. Baxter’s relational dialectics theory describes dialogue as an aesthetic accomplishment that produces fleeting moments of unity.
    3. Pearce and Cronen’s coordinated management of meaning contends that dialogic communication is learnable, teachable, and contagious.
    4. In muted group theory, Kramarae suggests that it’s difficult for women to take part as equal partners in a dialogue while speaking in a man-made language and where the rules for its use are controlled by men.
    5. Orbe’s co-cultural theory extends this idea to all groups of marginalized people. He claims the entrenched power disparity between members of co-cultural groups and members of the dominant culture make dialogue between them almost impossible.
    6. Cause for pause: Dialogue is hard to describe and even more difficult to achieve.
  12. Unraveling the threads.
    1. At this point the 10 threads may be tangled together in your mind like pieces of string jumbled together in a drawer.
    2. Figure 37-1 shows each thread and the associated theories.
    3. The sense of discovery that comes from figuring out where to place additional knots can be quite satisfying and has practical benefits.

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