COMMUNICATION THEORY AND SCHOLARSHIP

 

Weighing the Words Chapter Two      4th edition

Weighing the Words Chapter Three    5th edition

 

Em Griffin takes Ernest Bormannís Symbolic Theory as a test case.

 

Will not spend too much time on this theory. What we can say is

that Bormannís Symbolic Theory links dramatic imagery and members

of a social system.

 

A sort of cause and effect. This theory holds true for all groups no matter who they are, where they meet, or why they get together.

 

Symbolic Theory makes references to the groups past, and

speculation about what may happen in the future. Told in the form

of jokes or stories. The sharing of common experiences that is

emotionally invested by the group.

 

A sense of community, sense of group consciousness. Bormann calls this SYMBOLIC CONVERGENCE.

 

Symbolic convergence goes beyond the small group and includes

symbolic interactionism right through to the spread of a

rhetorical vision through the reinforcement of media messages.

 

SCIENTIFIC STANDARD 1: EXPLANATION OF THE DATA

 

A good scientific theory explains an event or behaviour. A good theory clarifies how something works. How different parts of the communication process act together.

 

Group discussions are often chaotic. The explanatory power or Bormannsí symbolic convergence theory is that it accounts for a chain analysis of the evolution and development of dramas that occur when people get together and changes their behaviour.

 

Explains WHY as well. It is the group or individuals relieve tensions, find solutions to conflict.

 

   SCIENTIFIC STANDARD 2: PREDICTION OF FUTURE EVENTS

 

A good scientific theory predicts or controls what will happen.

 

Prediction involves projecting what will happen to a phenomena under specified conditions or when exposed to certain stimuli.

 

Control is the use of explanations and predictions to govern what phenomena actually do. A good theory is one that allows us to forecast what will happen under certain conditions and/or if certain other actions are taken.

 

Prediction is related to control, since we can control outcomes if we can predict what causes them.

 

Human behaviour is very hard to predict. Talk in terms of probability and tendencies and not absolute certainty. Unlike the hard sciences. Bormannís symbolic convergence has a soft predictive power.

 

He states than rhetorical fantasy visions can motivate or prompt true believers to act out a fantasy. Look at how groups set goals.

 

SCIENTIFIC STANDARD 3: RELATIVE SIMPLICITY

 

When it comes to theory, complexity is not always desirable. The term parsimony refers to appropriate simplicity.

 

A good scientific theory is as simple as possible. The rule of parsimony

is that given two plausible explanations for the same event, we

should accept the simpler version.

 

This leads us to a path of truth based on the most direct, simple and concise explanation.

 

Among theorists it is widely believed that the best theory is the one that is capable of describing, explaining, understanding and perhaps predicting future events.

 

Bormannís theory is simple: The sharing of group fantasies creates symbolic convergence.

 

     SCIENTIFIC STANDARD 4: HYPOTHESIS CAN BE TESTED

 

Another good criterion for evaluating theories is testability, which asks whether the claims advanced by a theory can be investigated to determine whether they are accurate or not.

 

Conducting observations or experiments can test the accuracy of the theory.

 

Bormannís theory falls down here. It is difficult to measure the fantasies of a group and then predict the groupís behaviour.

 

Hard to prove. Big in scope. Explains and describes a wide range of    phenomena.

 

     SCIENTIFIC THEORY 5: PRACTICAL UTILITY

 

Theories are also measured by their utility or practical value. A good scientific theory is useful. It gives insight into human behaviour.

 

Bormannís theory is useful in explaining conversation and individual behaviour.

 

CLIP FROM TWISTER

 

WHAT MAKES GOOD HUMANISTIC THEORY?

 

INTERPRETIVE STANDARD 1: NEW UNDERSTANDING OF PEOPLE

 

Humanistic scholarship is good when it offers fresh insight into the human condition.

 

Bormannís theory explains peopleís behaviour.

 

     INTERPRETIVE STANDARD 2: CLARIFICATION OF VALUES

 

A good humanistic theory brings peopleís values into the open.

 

Many humanistsí value equality and freedom Critical theorists say that everyone and their actions are influenced by political or economic behaviour. Cannot avoid the power structure in our society.

 

    INTERPRETIVE STANDARD 3: AESTHETIC APPEAL

 

Another criterion for evaluating a theory is heurism, which refers to the degree in which a theory provokes new ideas, insights, research and thinking. A good humanistic theory looks at material in a new way.

 

    INTERPRETIVE STANDARD 4: A COMMUNITY AGREEMENT

 

We can judge a good humanistic theory by the amount of support it

generates in the academic community among reputable scholars.

 

We talked about Wilbur Schramm and the founding fathers. Some believe he got the other four scientists on side to boast his own credibility and views. This is called validity where a body of work is debated in the marketplace of ideas to see if it is VALID.

 

External validity refers to the generalizability of a theory across contexts or whether it applies to the real world.

 

INTERPRETIVE STANDARD 5: REFORM OF SOCIETY

 

An important goal of humanistic theory is to actively pursue positive social change.

 

The emphasis on reform is a relatively new trend in theoretical scholarship.

 

Traditionally, description, explanation and prediction were the foci of theory.

 

In recent years, a number of scholars have challenged these conventional views of theorizing and have argued, persuasively, that theories should make a difference in the real world.

 

Instead, many scholars believe they should be part of the world, not removed from it.

 

CLIP CONTACT

 

Bormannís theory of sharing fantasies (whatever they are) tends to draw people together (whomever they are) makes symbolic convergence theory a general theory of communication.

 

It is both scientific and humanistic.

 

CLIP FALLEN

 

See chart

 

4th edition p. 483

5th edition p.510

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SOURCES:

 

Griffin, E.M.(2003). A First Look at Communication Theory. 5th  Edition     McGraw Hill.

 

Griffin, E.M.(2000). A First Look at Communication Theory. 4th  Edition     McGraw Hill.

 

Griffin, E.M.(1997). A First Look at Communication Theory. 3rd  Edition     McGraw Hill.

 

Wood, Julia 1997. "Communication Theories in Action". Wadsworth Publishing Company.

 

 

 

SCIENTIFIC STANDARD 1: EXPLANATION OF THE DATA

 

SCIENTIFIC STANDARD 2: PREDICTION OF FUTURE EVENTS

 

SCIENTIFIC STANDARD 3: RELATIVE SIMPLICITY

 

SCIENTIFIC STANDARD 4: HYPOTHESIS CAN BE TESTED

 

SCIENTIFIC THEORY      5: PRACTICAL UTILITY

 

    

 

 

 

 

INTERPRETIVE STANDARD 1: NEW UNDERSTANDING OF PEOPLE

 

INTERPRETIVE STANDARD 2: CLARIFICATION OF VALUES

 

INTERPRETIVE STANDARD 3: AESTHETIC APPEAL

 

INTERPRETIVE STANDARD 4: A COMMUNITY AGREEMENT

 

INTERPRETIVE STANDARD 5: REFORM OF SOCIETY