Communication Studies: Theories Essay

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Section A

a) What are the principle functions of communication? You should answer with references to communication in at least two different contexts.

There are two competing theories regarding what the principle functions of communication are. The first views communication as a process through which information is transmitted and is known as the process theory, whereas the semiotic approach perceives communication as the generation and sharing of meaning. To put this in context, if a friend tells us they are depressed, from the viewpoint of the process school we are solely being informed that they are depressed and that was the sole function behind the act of communication. Semiologists would assert that the message could be polysemic i.e. have more than one meaning and they could be telling us they crave emotional attention or are after help or advice. However, it is generally accepted that communication can be defined as 'the passing of ideas, information and attitude from person to person' and in this sense, the function of communication can be seen as both social and essential; it is ''at the heart of our lives'' (Beck) because it is fundamental to the advancement and continuation of the human race. One important function of communication is to fulfill social needs such as affection, inclusion and control. These are needs that must be filled, and only communication with others can satisfy that need. Anthropologist Walter Goldschmidt terms the communication drive as the "human career" because we are endlessly seeking meaning and acceptance from others. The importance of communication has been recognised globally with the charity UNICEF going as far as stating that 'the denial of communication is the most violent form of torture'. We acquire values, roles and norms through our upbringing and institutions such as the mass media and are socialized to accept how things are in the world. Marxists believe that it is through socialisation that we are...
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