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comm3210rdg#1-5 - THEORY IN THE PROCESS OF INQUIRY The...

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THEORY IN THE PROCESS OF INQUIRY The nature of theory - Theory: any conceptual representation or explanation of a phenomenon - Communication theories: attempts of various scholars to represent what is conceived as important in the process of communication - Two generalizations about theories: o All theories are abstractions Every theory is partial – leaves something out Theories only focus on certain aspects while leaving the other out No single theory will ever reveal truth o All theories must be viewed as constructions Theories are created by people Theories represent various ways in which observers see their environments Theories are not reality BASIC ELEMENTS OF THEORY Concepts in theories - First and most basic aspect of a theory: o Concepts Our entire symbolic world stems from concept formation Process of conceptualizing consists of: Grouping things and events into categories according to observed commonalities A goal of a theory is to present useful concepts - An important part of conceptualizing is: o Labeling Mark our concepts by symbols (usually words) - Taxonomies: theories that stop at the concept level, providing only a list of concepts and definitions without explaining how the concepts interrelate or affect one another o Introductory communication texts often include basic taxonomies that list the “parts” of the communication process including such concepts as: Source Message Receiver Feedback Explanations in theories - Second element common to many theories: o Explanation Identifies regularities in the relationship among variables Accounts for an event by referring to what is going on within that event or between it and some other event Answers the question
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Relies primarily on the principle of necessity - The principle of necessity o Causal necessity: explains events in terms of cause effect Behavior is seen as an outcome of causal forces Explains behavior as a response to stimuli
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