Communication Theory as a Field

In: English and Literature

Submitted By weezyfan95
Words 19908
Pages 80

Robert T. Craig

Communication Theory as a Field




This essay reconstructs communication theory as a dialogical-dialectical field according to two principles: the constitutive model of communication as a metamodel and theory as metadiscursive practice. The essay argues that all communication theories are mutually relevant when addressed to a practical lifeworld in which “communication” is already a richly meaningful term. Each tradition of communication theory derives from and appeals rhetorically to certain commonplace beliefs about communication while challenging other beliefs. The complementarities and tensions among traditions generate a theoretical metadiscourse that intersects with and potentially informs the ongoing practical metadiscourse in society. In a tentative scheme of the field, rhetorical, semiotic, phenomenological, cybernetic, sociopsychological, sociocultural, and critical traditions of communication theory are distinguished by characteristic ways of defining communication and problems of communication, metadiscursive vocabularies, and metadiscursive commonplaces that they appeal to and challenge.
Topoi for argumentation across traditions are suggested and implications for theoretical work and disciplinary practice in the field are considered. Communication theory is enormously rich in the range of ideas that fall within its nominal scope, and new theoretical work on communication has recently been flourishing.’ Nevertheless, despite the ancient roots and growing profusion of theories about communication, I argue that communication theory as an identifiable field of study does not yet exist.2 Rather than addressing a field of theory, we appear to be operating primarily in separate domains. Books and articles on communication theory seldom mention other…...

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