COM515 Communication Theory

By Ashley King,2014-06-29 06:06
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COM515 Communication Theory

    com515 communication theory

    the complete class notes box set

    Communication Theory 08.31.04

    The Public Sphere 09.07.04

    The Sociological Tradition 09.14.04

    Durkheim Tradition 09.21.04

    Media Effects 09.28.04

    Structuralism 10.05.04

    Information Theory 10.12.04

    Systems Theory 10.19.04

    Networks & Diffusion 10.26.04 Space, Time & Communication 11.02.04 Limited Effects of Mass Media 11.09.04

    course taught by dr. alex halavais

    study notes by kevin lim

    updated 11/14/04

    QuickTime?and aTIFF (Uncompressed) decompressorare needed to see this picture.

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    COM515 Communication Theory

    Communication Theory 8/31/04

    A syllabus for the class is available at:

One of the readings is a short article on communication theory in Wikipedia:

    The other two may be found in Adobe PDF format here:


    ; Get syllabus

    ; Buy books from Amazon: Severin & Tanker / Theories of Comm.

    ; Speed reading techniques

    ; Google readings

    ; Mark highlights in notes / Find passion

    ; Summarize / Find core argument

    ; Find connecting readings / concepts

    ; Bring knowledge to class

    ; Challenge the argument

    ; Response Papers due each Friday before class (Blog / 800 words)

    ; Cite reading to provide evidence

    ; White’s Writing Style Guide (online)

Communication is…

    ; Resistance to change over time

    ; Information shared between Systems

    ; Creating mutual understanding

    ; Noise to Meaningful

    ; Reduction of Uncertainty

    ; Increase utility / Shape Behavior

    com 515 class notes compiled by kevin lim

    updated 11/14/04

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    ; The Divides:

    o Intentional or Unintentional interaction

    o Non-human or human (preferred); has to be heard

    o Process (Transmission/Laswell) or Ritual



*What is Humanistic?

    Cyclic Process: Theory -> Hypothesis -> Testing -> Abstraction/Induction ->

    Theory explains why there is a causal relationship between two or more things.

    ; Prediction is not so important in social sciences

    ; Explanatory power is more important

    ; Falsifiability: possibility for other way (Freudian)

    ; Validity: Degree to which results lines up with real-world (whether

    it makes sense)

    ; Parsimony: simplest explanation

    ; Appropriateness: Does the theory makes sense to what you’re

    studying, with relevant process and assumptions

    ; Theoretical Scope: Generalizability (Structuration), Mutual

    uncertainty reduction between two strangers (Berger)

    ; Openness (compatibility): Good theories do not invalidate other

    theories as much

    ; Heuristic Value (expandibility): easy to turn into ideas for


    Epistomology - How to we know things? Study of Knowledge. Language. Ontological - Nature of Being/Material World. Saphire Worf/Language Axiological - Rules/Values, Habermaas (what’s the reason behind it?), Critical Studies

Covering Law (Berger): Always the case

    Rules: Norms/Regularities/not a law/negotiable over time (rules can change)

    com 515 class notes compiled by kevin lim

    updated 11/14/04

    Page 4 of 29

    Alex’s Oral Exam Questions (Littlejohn's definitions):

    ; What is communication? Skill is key!

    ; How do you determine a good theory?

    ; What if your criteria? Explain your criteria. ; Define Theory.

    ; How social science differs from natural sciences? ; How information plays in Communication? ; Transmission vs Ritual model?

    Upcoming Themes:

    ; Public vs Private (Habermas Public Sphere, Penny Press) ; Rise of the Mass

    ; General idea on Dewey

    ; Read Mills (skip last chapter), then Parsons (only needed)

    ; Get Broad Ideas

    com 515 class notes compiled by kevin lim

    updated 11/14/04

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Public Sphere


    for mediation, legitimating function of social policy Mutual Understanding


    enables and facilitates inquiry

    Mutual Growth

Social Inquiry


    Theory of communicative action

    Achievement of goals (strategic action) require inquiry Different from reason for the goals (communication action) - validity claims rather than common definition


    Successful resolution of situation more important than legitimacy If validity of norms and shared values in dispute, there is no common

    starting point for argument.

    com 515 class notes compiled by kevin lim

    updated 11/14/04

    Page 6 of 29

    COM515 Communication Theory

    The Public Sphere 9/7/04

    Keep a public academic journal (Mills)

    ; PhdBlogs, CANA, Mathmagenic (KM)

    Public Sphere

    ; Four sociological theories

    ; Birth of Sociology?

    ; Dewey said environment shaped the individual

    ; Question of Agency: Do we have power over our social system? ; Consequence of individual Decisions / Causes?

    o Concentrate on consequences rather than causes

    o Look for something observable (consequences easier than

    causes; humans are erratic)

    o Method

    ; Dewey: American Pragmatism, deductive nominalism ; How do humans organize? No clear difference b/w Private & Public ; Talcott Parsons: grandfather of cybernetics (focus on system over


    o For the individual: motivational forces and mechanisms

    o Reproduction: culture

    ; Human societies are different because of Self-Consciousness

    o Human individuals examines own behavior and adjusts it

    o Dewey on Friendship (1927, p. 26)

    ; Grounded Theory: Facts don’t reveal theory to you. You have to

    start with your own theory. Theory then strongly influences how

    you look at the world. The kinds of things you look for.

    o Observe consequences not causes (prevent poisoning)

    o Dewey’s Theory of the State (p. 18, 35)

    o A way of looking at the world, design theory to benefit from


    o Rather than looking at motivations (Parsons)

    ; What is structure?

    com 515 class notes compiled by kevin lim

    updated 11/14/04

    Page 7 of 29

    o It is the difference

    o Natural difference b/w man / woman is who works and who

    stays home

    o Desires may be decided by structure, not individual

    ; Talcott Parsons

    o Doesn’t like history (Unlike Spencer)

    o Marx: dialectic (Hagel)

    ; The process in Hegelian and Marxist thought, in which

    two apparently opposed ideas, become combined in a

    unified whole, the synthesis

    ; Marx thinks that material/technology determines our


    ; For Parsons, History doesn’t matter as much as


    ; Talking about relations with each other, whether to

    society or other things

    ; Institutions are functional in societies:




    ; Don’t need to understand behavior (brain as blackbox),

    to draw structure, and if drawn correctly, we will get a


    ; Theory’s Appropriateness, Generalizability, (No

    dynamics of society)

    ; Model vs Theory: Model social behavior to tell how

    elements relate. It is theory which you formulate which

    predict, model helps at a basic level.

    ; Parson’s theory seems more like a model

    ; Parsons knows that his theory isn’t really predictive

    o Mills (Closer to Dewey than Parsons)

    ; We cannot blackbox individuals

    ; If individuals fail to comply with system, there might be

    something wrong with the system

    ; Individual differences

    ; Systems approach too general

    com 515 class notes compiled by kevin lim

    updated 11/14/04

    Page 8 of 29

    ; Argues that small elite controls society (bad boy) ; Out of four schools, he is in conflict school (by himself) ; Wants to take in history

    ; Want something in the middle (b/w grand theory vs.

    little theory) Hard to get that distinction ; Thus sociological imagination, though it is hard in


    o Habermas

    ; Ultimately what we want is agreement, through rational


    ; Bourgeois owned their own tools of production ; Marxist Frankfurt School (effort to unite Freudian with


    ; Enlightenment

    ; Self-motivated educated individuals lead to ordered

    rational discussion rather than simply emotional


    ; Pre-conditions: Open to anyone rational

    ; Power is important to Mills, absent from Parsons

    com 515 class notes compiled by kevin lim

    updated 11/14/04

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    COM515 Communication Theory

    The Sociological Tradition 9/14/04

Communication with a toy

    Two school of symbolic interactionist

    ; Empiricalism

    ; Phenonelogical

20 Statement Test (TST)

    1. I am a human being

    2. I am a lover

    3. I am a mac fan

    4. I am caring

    5. I am evil

    6. I am cool

    7. I am not who I am

    8. I am me

Role vs Characteristics

    80% characteristics

Pierce’s theory of meaning

    ; Sophisticated three-pointed structure

Humans have local rationality, depends on local interactions. One might get

    irrational in other environments.

Theory of history or time, and the “Generalized Others”

    Chicken and Egg question is where does it all start?

    Symbol and Responses

    Structuration: fractal in nature

    com 515 class notes compiled by kevin lim

    updated 11/14/04

    Page 10 of 29

    COM515 Communication Theory

    Durkheim Tradition 9/21/04

    In simplest terms, why was the press the way it is today? ; The Press always takes the form and coloration of the society today. ; The readers take it more critically than in the early days, more


    ; Conglomerates buying over presses, less room for


    ; Same for smaller radio stations

    ; Fox = conservative, good because we have another point of view ; Network news = no clear liberal slant, report as they see

    Is the thesis on the press related to the Durkheim’s theory?

    ; Which comes first, Liberalism the cause or the consequence? ; Power? Durkheim = idea to structure

    ; Colins: How are structures formed?

    ; Durkheim: Structure through collective consciousness ; Cause and Consequence

    ; Last week, Blumer & Mead = Individual focused

    ; This week, Durkheim = groups & masses

    ; Durkheim “scientific theory of religion” (pg. 149)

    ; Social density vs Connectivity; which leads to more suicides? ; Perhaps the quality of connectivity? City vs. Countryside? ; Division of Labor leads to interdependence on people ; Dependence on oneself maybe less if you can be replaced (i.e. city)

    Search for the Truth

    ; Structure defines the people

    ; Structure vs. Individual

    ; Milton was confident that Truth was definite and demonstrable and

    that it had unique power of survival when permitted to assert itself

    in a “free and open encounter.” (Pg 44)

    ; Belief shapes people, societies

    com 515 class notes compiled by kevin lim

    updated 11/14/04

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