Comm Notes - What is Theory Any attempt to explain or...

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What is Theory? Any attempt to explain or represent a phenomenon More specifically: o Set of concepts and their relationships o Based on systematic observation o To tell us how and why events occur Why Communication Theory? Enables us to be better communicators Allows us to interpret communication events Approaches to Communication Theorizing Paradigms—a scholar’s intellectual “world view”-philosophy of life Implied because influence kinds of theories and the way we use them Two broad Paradigms: Science & Humanities Communication Scholars Some are “social scientists” Others are “rhetoricians” or “critics” Some draw from both traditions Extreme Differences Ontological Differences (how does human nature/behavior work?) o Scientific theorizing: emphasizes “determinism” Explain social behavior in terms of causes & effects Goal is to develop understanding of each unique experience o Humanistic theorizing: emphasizes “free will” Explain actions as individual choices/rules Goal is to develop understanding of each unique experience Epistemological Differences (how do we know/study human reality?) o Scientific theorizing: reality is “out there” to be “discovered” Observe attitudes/behaviors “objectively” Try to control personal biases o Humanistic theorizing: reality is “created” and “interpreted” Reasearchers and subjects are inseperable
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“subjective” interpretations important o Neither approach attempts to prove TRUTH Axiological Differences (whatw e do with values?) Science—keep values distant Humanism—bring values to bear (esp. critical theories) Where do Communication theories fit into these extremes? Three types of Comm Theories “Covering laws” Theories Attempt to create general explanations hat apply widely across many situations Very scientific (aka “postivistic”) Typically use quantitive, empirical methods to test hypothesis Ex: URT, CAT, EVT, etc/ “Rules” Theories Attempts to identify rules people use to regulate their own behavior (in specific, individual contexts) Ex: groups have own personal rules by which they govern themselves Draws upon: o Humanistic focus on choice o But also science (regularities of observed behavior) o Called “interpretive” approach Typically use qualitative methods Ex: CMM (coordinate manage of meanings), structuration “Systems” Theories Attempt to explain behavior as interdependent relationships within a system Ex: everbody’s behavior in a family affect everybody’s behavior (system is here where one changes the rest; everything is connected) Draws from some science and humanism Use qualitative and quantitative methods (depends…) Ex: interational view, organizational networks, etc.
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