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



Positivist Paradigm

Interpretative Paradigm

Critical Paradigm


Interpretative Paradigm

Human beings cannot be studied using models developed for the physical sciences because humans are qualitatively different from natural events. The interpretative paradigm supports the belief that reality is constructed by subjective perception and predictions cannot be made. Researchers who agree with this paradigm are interested in the social construction of meaning. People have free will, purposes, goals, and intentions, so people should be studied as active agents.

"The basic premises are:

-People make decisions and act in accordance with their subjective understandings of the situations in which they find themselves.

-Social life consists of interaction processes rather than structures and is therefore constantly changing.

-People understand their experience through the meanings found in the symbols of their primary groups, and language is an essential part of social life. 

-The world is made up of social objects that are named and have socially determined meanings. 

-People’s actions are based on their interpretations, in which the relevant objects and actions in the situation are taken into account and defined. 

-One’s self is a significant object and like all the social objects is defined through social interaction with others" ( Littlejohn, S. (2000). Theories of Human Communication. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth)

 If you are interested in reviewing a theory from the interpretative paradigm go to the Anthony Giddens and Structuration web site. 



Created by Danna Carballo, Fall 2003

New Media and New Markets @ Suffolk University