Chapter 2 - Chapter 2: Asking Questions About Communication...

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Chapter 2: Asking Questions About Communication I. Introduction A. Research begins with curiosity. 1. Researchers notice something about communication and wish to learn more about it. B. Researchers move from that sense of curiosity to formulating a question that can be answered by engaging in a research project. 1. The questions we ask suggest what information we will gather (“in”-put), and the conclusions we will draw (“out”-put) are based on that information. II. Defining Communication A. Defining the term communication is like trying to describe a three-ring circus to a child—how can we put into a sentence or two everything that goes on when so much goes on? 1. A variety of images come to mind when you tell people you are studying communication. a. They react so variably because communication is an umbrella term that covers numerous, apparently disparate, activities. 2. The term communication, historically, is derived from the Latin word, communis , which means “to make common.” 3. Today, most definitions of communication emphasize one of two different views about making things common. B. Those who focus on the process of making things common adopt what can be called an information exchange perspective. 1. They are primarily concerned with how communication can be used as a tool to transfer information from one person or place (a source) to another (a receiver). C. Those who emphasize that which is made common adopt what can be called a meaning-based or constitutive perspective . 1. They are concerned with how perceptions of reality are shaped by communication processes. D. We acknowledge these two views on “making things common” with our definition. 1. Communication refers to the processes by which verbal and nonverbal messages are used to create and share meaning. III. What Constitutes Communication Research? A. A traditional model of communication— people exchanging messages through channels within a context— provides a useful way to focus on the types of research done by communication scholars. 1. The model contains four important components: people, messages, channels , and contexts . 2. The pivotal element of the four is messages. a. Messages are the usual target of communication researchers—messages we send to ourselves, to others, within small groups or organizations, via the media, or within and between cultures. 3. The other three components of the model—people, channels, and contexts—are usually studied only as they influence messages. IV. Areas of Communication Research A. Message behavior covers a large array of processes and little can be said about “communication in general.” 1. Researchers’ first step involves carving out and defining the precise slice of the big communication pie they will investigate. a. They identify the
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Chapter 2 - Chapter 2: Asking Questions About Communication...

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