Communication
Phenomenon, Process & Idea
HB Mokros
Rutgers University
Course 194:694:601--Fall 2005
Lecture 1--9/14/05
Communication
as Phenomenon

Behavior


Outcome

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Talk in conversation
Good, efficient
Intention

Goals and strategies
Communication
as Process

Function



Transaction

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Informing, influencing, persuading
Evocative, relational, phatic, poetic
Exchange
Reciprocity
A A A
B B B
Interaction



Mutual influence
Sequence & Coactivity
Attunement
Communication
as Idea


Native and Privileged Theory

Everyday commonsense understanding

Scholarly and institutional understanding
Implicit and Explicit Worldviews

Invisible, possibly recoverable analytically

Stated, public, referred to, known
Fundamental Techniques of
Communication

Primary Processes


communicative in character
observable in all societies and cultures


Evolved universals
Secondary Techniques


facilitate the process of communication
inventions of sophisticated civilizations

Technological innovations
Primary Processes
LANGUAGE
Gesture
imimitationitation
social suggestion
explicit <--------------------------------> implicit
Language
Language, the most explicit primary process:
“consists in every case known to us of an
absolutely complete referential apparatus of
phonetic symbols which have the property of
locating every known social referent, including all
the recognized data of perception which the
society that is serves carries in its tradition.” (p.
105)
Language, Thought & Reality


Edward Sapir, Ph.D. (Columbia, 1910)
Franz Boas, Mentor



The Boasian Tradition


from (Physics) “Why is seawater green?”
to (Anthropology) The worldview of the native
Cultural Relativism
The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

Linguistic Relativism (Language & Thought)
Language & Culture
[(in?) communication]
“whatever may be the shortcomings of primitive
society judged from the vantage point of
civilization, its language inevitably forms as sure,
complete, and potentially creative an apparatus of
referential symbolism as the most sophisticated
language we know.” (p. 105)
Signs (ala Charles Peirce)

Signs and their Objects


Icon (resemblance: “Bang”)
Index (pointing: “here/there”, “a/the”


Shifters (speech situation: I/you)
Symbol (conventional: “blue sky”)
Gesture I

Nonverbal communication


Hand, head, body & eye movements
Voice qualities: Intonation, Rasp, Silence


Paralanguage (Trager & Smith, 1958)
Use of Space/Time

Proxemics/Coenetics
Gesture II:
From reference to inference

Stand in for words


Coordinated with talk (& thought as action)



Reinforcing of talk (rhythm)
Conceptual expression (spatial expression)
In contradiction to talk (veracity)


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Emblems, Pointing
“do you love me”
“you know I do” (watching TV, no eye contact)
Exposing to view (psychological self)

Blush, raspy voice, tremble
Overt Imitation

Primary condition for social consolidation



Not communicative in intent



taken for granted customs and habits, conformity
shared practices, ordinary, commonsense
communicative in action, copying, mimesis
sameness of custom &habit, identity, “us”
Rationalized through language


“that’s just the way it is, that’s what we do”
“we don’t put our feet on the coffee table”
Social Suggestion

Meaning through difference



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Proper/Improper
Order/Chaos
Same/Different
Us/Them
Good/Bad
Social Distance &
Communication Style
“the smaller the circle and the more complex
the understandings already arrived at within
it, the more economical can the act of
communication afford to become.” (p. 106)
Relationships as Contexts of Communication Style
Strangers---Intimates
Explicit---Implicit
Propositional---Presupposed
Secondary Processes
Facilitation of Primary Processes
Language Transfers


writing, Morse code
Signaling in Technical Situations


signal lights, smoke signals (yes/no)
Extending Opportunity for


railroad, airplane, radio, telephone
The Radius of Communication

Traditional societies


Modern civilizations

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Geographically bounded fashion/taste, culture,
language
Geographic diffusion of fashion/taste, culture,
language
Progressive increase historically of the reach
of communication

Erosion of Space/Time
Impact of the Proliferation of
Communication Technologies


Increased radius of communication
increased sense of global community
Decreased importance of geography of
local culture
“The weakening of the geographical factor in social
organization must in the long run profoundly modify our
attitude toward the meaning of personal relations and of
social classes and even of nationalities.” (p. 108)
Consequences of the Ease of
Communication

Difficulty of containing communication


Create new obstacles to communication


Reply to all, printing off at public printer
Fire walls
The problem of a good thing
“The fear of being too easily understood may, in many
cases, be more aptly defined as the fear of being
understood by too many--so many, indeed, as to
endanger the psychological reality of the image of the
enlarged self confronting the not-self.” (p. 108)
Dream of Communication

Communication Problem

Translation and Transfer of Information
“On the whole, however, it is rather the obstacles to
communication that are felt as annoying or ominous.”

Perceived Solution

Intercommunication language for denotive
purposes pure and simple
Dream of Communication II

Shared Reality
 Mutual Understanding
 Relational Harmony
 Oneness
 Eternal Return
The Dream of Communication
and the Product of its Desire
the
erasure
of
DIFFERENCE
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Primary Processes - Rutgers University School of