1) This semester in Communication Theory we have studied the difference between objectivist and interpretivist theories. Some differences between these two perspectives within the communication discipline would be objectivist theories take a scientific approach, conducting experiments, surveys and being quantitative, meaning that you can physically count the evidence. Scholars using the objectivistic approach attempt to be objective and use scientific characteristics, for example, they look for universal laws; they test theories, and also make predictions. Scholars using the objectivist approaches do not share their values in their analysis (Griffin 2012). Interpretivist theories are subjective, which stresses the participation of the researcher in the process. Values are important in the interpretivist theories and the scholar must state his/her values, clearly (Griffin 2012). Scholars who attempt this study are more focused on the meaning. Scholars use qualitative analysis; therefore, they describe and interpret messages. Scholars also observe experiences from different cultures and their different meanings. Interprestivist theorists have rules for interpreting individuals and they look for the meaning of human existence. Two advantages for the objectivist theories are a hypothesis can be tested and there is explanation of data. These are advantages because when something is tested and proved to be right, then there is a conclusion. In class, we use the example of medicine. If you have a pain in your back and don’t know what it is or how to fix it, then you go to a doctor. The doctor looks at you, proceeds to do tests on you, and then comes up with a diagnosis. After the diagnosis is received, then you will be prescribed medicine to take care of the injury. Two disadvantages of objectivist theory is objectivity is seen as impossible and even though one might believe in something, it does not mean it is true, for example, if a person believes the earth revolves around the sun, it does not mean it in fact does. Two advantages for interpretivist theories are you will receive a new understanding of people. You can get a personal experience by giving in-depth interviews and getting a better look into what you are researching. This will also provide descriptions of experiences of others and their feelings. Another advantage of interpretivist would be the clarification of values. While doing research from an interpretivist point of view values are crucial and must be stated for the reader to know. The values are stated throughout the theory. Two disadvantages of interpretivist theories are for one, the scholar must get up close and personal to find out the research and some people may not want to cooperate. People may be less open and honest and you will not be able to get the research you desire. Also, while doing research on a group, you will use a sample size of the population and sometimes that research can be inaccurate of such a big population and it will not work with the theory. A theory that is primarily objectivist would be Rhetoric Theory, which is the discovering all available means of persuasion. A speaker supports that probability of a message by logical, ethical, and emotional proofs. Accurate audience analysis results in effective invention, arrangement, style, delivery, and, memory. The ultimate motive of Rhetoric Theory is the purging of guilt. Without audience identification with the speaker, there is no persuasion (Griffin 2012). An artifact for this theory would be a boy in high school named John who is taking an Oral Communication class. One of his speeches must be a persuasive speech and he thought he would talk about the dangers of texting and driving. He chose this topic because his best friend died in a car accident last year due to someone texting and driving. John gave his persuasive speech using both an emotional side and a logical side. It was emotional because he went into detail about the accident and how much he misses his best friend. By using the logical side he wanted the class to understand that you are not invincible and a text message can wait until you are not driving. Not only are you risking your life, but also you’re risking the lives of others. This artifact goes along with Rhetoric Theory because while giving a speech you must consider two things. The first is the audience and second using proofs in the presentation. While John thought of a topic to use for his persuasive speech, he took into consideration the audience and how he could relate to them. Since texting and driving is so popular between John and his classmates, he thought the subject was a relevant to this particular audience. John also took into consideration proofs for the presentation and how he could get the audience to listen and how to impact them. By using his best friend’s death as an example, I believe John hit home with his classmates, making them realize either they could end up like John’s best friend or someone they love could end up dead. This theory is non-actional because Rhetoric Theory systematically explores the effects of the speaker, the speech, and the audience, making the theory more scientific than artistic. A theory that is primarily interpretivist would be Symbolic Interaction Theory. Symbolic Interaction Theory is essentially the study of how humans act toward other people, events, and things based off the meanings they assign to them. Language is used to create these meanings when communicating with others (interpersonal) and when they speak to themselves or their private thought (intrapersonal). By using language, people are able to develop a sense of self and interact with other people in society (Turner & West 2009). An artifact for this theory would be graduating from college, applying for jobs, and landing one. Imagine yourself getting ready for your first day of work. You’re nervous and you don’t know what to expect, but you walk out the door and start heading to work. On the way to work, you think about how you are the first person in your immediate family to graduate from college and how proud of your family are of you. This helps you calm down and gives you more confidence as you walk through the doors of the office. The receptionist takes you to the conference room where ten other new employees sit. The boss comes in, gives as speech, and leaves the new employees to get to know each other. You start talking to another employee and come to find out you have a lot in common with this person. This makes you feel better about being nervous and you just found a new friend. As you get ready for your first day and speaking with your new co-worker, you are engaging in the exchange of symbols. People act based on the symbolic meanings that arise in a given situation (Griffin 2012). This is an interpretivist theory because symbols are seen as more of an art than a science. 2. Muted Group Theory says that language serves the ones who created it. Specifically, Muted Group Theory points to men as the creators of language and other groups as weaker, and therefore not served well by language, and therefore are disempowered. Meta Theoretical Assumptions:
Ontology: The ontological assumption is actional because of its humanist perspective. It views the nature of reality as constructed, not discovered. Epistemology: Muted Group Theory is a critical theory and falls within Worldview II in that it sees communication as subjective. Axiology: Muted Group Theory is value driven. The underlying value is pluralism and is part of a Marxist morality. More specifically, Marx was concerned with the uneven distribution of power. Kramarae focuses on feminism; however, other weakened groups can be represented. This theory in action would be a single mom going back to college at the age of 40. This theory asserts, as a female, a single mom, and as a person of low income, she is a member of several groups whose experiences are not well served by her language system. Due to this, she is muted because their native language often does not provide a good fit with their life experiences (Griffin 2012). 7. Understanding communication theory cultivates critical thinking skills, helps you recognize the depth of research, helps to make sense of personal life experiences, and helps with self-awareness. The limitations with communication theory are theories do not work with everyone. Some people study theories for a living and have explanations for certain life experiences. However, for others, they do not believe in theory and have other explanations for situations and circumstances. Theory is valuable, but once again it depends on who is studying theory and if they believe in it. Theories are valuable to a person because it helps them find answers and grow more as an individual, not only physically, but mentally as well. If I had to explain to my friends what I studied in Communication Theory I would tell them we studied various theories that are either scientific or artistic, put them in meta theoretical assumptions, which means we basically dissected the theory to understand it more clearly. We gave presentations on the theories to help us as well. We learned how to critically think and work in teams. We also wrote an application and theory paper on a specific theory of our choice and gave a presentation on the theory at the end of the semester. This class was worthwhile. It took a while to start understanding what was actually going on, but once you started to get the hang of the theories it started to get better. 6. “The critical tradition finds that openly questioning the assumptions that guide a society is legitimate. Communicators expose the beliefs and values that guide their decision-making and actions” (Griffin 2012). Critiquing the social order and imposing structures or individuals on that order are at the heart of critical theory (2012). The Muted Group Theory falls within the critical tradition. The Muted Group Theory focuses on groups within our society that is muted or goes unheard, mainly focusing on women that are muted. Women cannot express their ideas fully by using the language created by men. The theory requires the Marxist morality. No, this theory cannot be divorced from the Marxist morality because the muted group theory is about women and men being unequal when it comes to power and speaking up and Marxist theory is about power inequities. An artifact used for Muted Group Theory could be a wedding ceremony. The groom stands at the front and the bride is brought to the groom, the groom stands on the right, which is a stance for higher status. The groom sights his vows first, the bride wears a veil and white gown meaning she has preserved herself for the groom, they are announced as man and wife, and usually the wife takes the last name of them man (Griffin 2012).
Turner, L.H, & West, R. (2009). Introducing Communication Theory. (4th ed,. pp.410-426). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.