Chapter 1: Launching your study
What is a theory? What distinguishes a good theory from a bad theory?
A theory is a set of systematic informed hunches about the way things work. A good theory goes beyond accepted wisdom and offers explanations and speculations about phenomena. Additionally, a good theory consists of a system of concepts which means that the theorist were able to make connections among his ideas. A theory tends to shape our perception of reality and behaviour and guides us through unknown areas.
Images of theory:
1.) Theories as nets: Theories try to explain phenomena.
2.) Theories as lenses: our perception is shaped by the way we want to see things. Thus, we pay special attention to certain aspects of communication, while disregarding others. 3.) Theories as maps: Theories act like guides through unknown areas.
What is communication?
Communication is the process of exchanging information and ideas between at least two or more people. Communication consists of five elements:
1) Communication involves ‘messages’ in any medium such as talking, writing, listening and reading. A text (synonym for message) is a record of messages that can be analysed by others, e.g. books, films, recordings of a speech and so on. 2) When creating a message, the communicator makes a conscious choice how he sends his message, e.g. by meeting, phoning etc. 3) Since words offer various interpretations, meaning is not entirely encoded by words. The meaning arises out of the context and depends on the attitudes people have towards other people or things. 4) Communication is a relational process because it influences the relationship between the communicators. 5) A message in a successful communication stimulates the hearer(s) who receive it to create a response.
What is a communication theory?
A communication theory explains how the exchange of messages works and which factors influence the way we understand messages or rather assign meaning to them.
What are the essential components of the basic communication model?
The basic communication model consists of a speaker who is the sender. He has a thought and encodes his thought into a message (=text) with a medium such as words (noise source). The message is transmitted through a channel. The hearer or rather receiver decodes the message and then internalizes it and responds.
Chapter 2: Talk about theory
Ways of knowing
Epistemology: study of the origin, nature, method and limits of knowledge.
How does the objective approach to communication differ from the interpretive approach?
Objective approach: Behavioural scientists try to be objective and apply scientific methods to explain and predict human behaviour. They believe that truth is singular and can be found by impartial quantitative methods and direct observations such as experiments and surveys. In addition, they try to show cause-and-effect relationships and are determined that behaviour is caused by heredity and the environment. Objective researchers also try to establish universal laws of human behaviour that cover a variety of situations, e.g. if one knows how one group normally acts, one can conclude how other groups behave.
Interpretive approach: In contrast to behavioural scientists, a rhetorician examines how symbolic forms can be used to identify with people and how one can persuade others. Interpretive scholars regard truth as socially constructed through communication because they think that language offers multiple social realities. Truth is subjective and meaning is interpretative. The interpretive approach sets importance on emancipation. Critical interpreters value qualitative research that aspires to liberate people from any form of oppression because everybody should make consciously his/her own choices and has a free will. The purpose of a theory is to be an interpretive guide....