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::::: Paradigms and Communication Theory:::::

What is Communication?

First, let me define “communication”. It occurs when humans manipulate symbols to stimulate meaning in others. It is a process in which a person, verbally and/or non verbally, consciously or not consciously but intentionally, conveys meaning to another in order to affect change. Lets try to clarify this hard-to-define concept. First, let me outline some elements used to understand the meaning of communication. It is a symbolic process; it requires mutual awareness (between participants); it involves intentionality; it has a shared meaning; it has an individual interpretation of meaning, so it has a degree of variability; and is shaped by the context surrounding it.

If you wish to know the Latin roots of communication, click here!


What Theory means?

I want to consider its broadest definition, which is “any organized set of concepts and explanations about a phenomenon.”* There are important elements to emphasize in the definition of “theory”: it describes “what”; it explains “how” and “why”; it predicts.


What is Communication Theory?

It describes, explains and predicts social interaction involving the process of symbols manipulation in order to stimulate meaning in others. Theories in Communication and other fields tend to group in families. These families are called “paradigms”.

Looking for a Journal in Communication Theory? Visit the journal published by the Oxford University Press web site.


What are paradigms?

They are “grand models” or sets of perspectives shared by many theories. It defines the questions to be asked and the methods of discovering the answers to these questions. Because human communication and interaction is such a complex and multifaceted phenomenon, communication researchers use theoretical perspectives to help them find the proper answer to their specific query. There are three principal paradigms: Positivist, Interpretative, and Critical.

*Based on Littlejohn, S. (2000). Theories of Human Communication. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Created by Danna Carballo, Fall 2003

Internet Research @ Suffolk University