chapter02theory - • What is Theory? …and how does it...

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Unformatted text preview: • What is Theory? …and how does it fit into the study of communication o All theories • Lay vs. Scholarly Theory • Speculation, conjecture, informed guesses, and intuition about how and why things work as they do how o Lay/commonsense theories • Individuals formulate to make sense of their worlds • May or may not be “good” theory o Working Theories • Guidelines for behavior in specific contexts o Scientific/scholarly theories Scientific/scholarly • Similar to lay and working theories, but: o Based on research/evidence beyond personal experience experience o More formally specified o Tested and validated/questioned rigorously o Usually apply more broadly/generally -may be must more specific ex . superstitions but as to whom • What is Theory? o Comes from Greek term meaning “a view” or “to see” o As in our definitions of “communication” there is no single “correct” definition • Definitions of theory will depend largely on assumptions of theorist theorist • There are points of convergence and divergence • Communication theories share common goal “of attempting to answer questions regarding how and why communicative answer processes work in the ways they do” (Miller, 2005, p. 24). processes • Points of Convergence o Theory is an abstraction of the social world Theory abstraction • Not the same as empirical observation o Theories are constructions of people o As much lenses to see the world as they are mirrors of the world o Only as good as they are practical • “There is nothing so practical as a good theory” o Useful theories are rarely easy to develop • Divergence Points o Criteria for “good” theory • Falsifiability? Generalizability? • Meaning of criteria from book not agreed upon o Theory vs. Theory • model/framework-treat as ways to get at things that are like Generalizability theories theories • typology/taxonomy-simpler ex. Lists. Aren’t theories but function like theories o How much should we rely on theory? -Theory help guide us that may lead us to ask certain questions and approach research in a certain way, so it SHOULD help us better understand. Can have their limitations: be in so reliant that they mislead us Theories as Tradeoffs Theories Simplicity Accuracy o Tradeoffs are made between accuracy, generalizability, and simplicity . ex. Increase in generalizability and accuracy decreases simplicity. Once you increase one it in decreases the others • What are “Parts” of a Theory? o Most scientific theories include: Description of phenomena (concepts, terms, definitions, etc.) Relationships among these phenomena (propositions about patterns/regularities) patterns/regularities) An underlying “storyline” that describes mechanisms at work (why? motives or other forces) motives Links between the abstract theory and observed phenomena • How are Theories Developed? o Deductive approach to theory building: • Abstract theories are developed early in process, then tested with empirical observations with o Inductive approach to theory building: • Theoretical abstractions are grounded on extensive empirical observation observation o Key part of inquiry process • Theory leads to hypotheses to test • Results support/refute and thus refine theory • Key Functions of Theory o Address Problems: arranged in order of complexity of achieving (as go down more powerful) powerful) o Primary Goal: • Organize ex. Listings • Describe Describe • Explain ex. Some may help reputations other may not. Trying to figure out underline mechanism for them. Is the organization truthful? figure Why something is happening? • Predict ex. What will happen? Predict • Control ex. More idea to manipulate, control behaviors through things such as campaigns ...
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This note was uploaded on 01/26/2012 for the course COMM 200 taught by Professor Theiss during the Spring '07 term at Rutgers.

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