Communication and How it Is Term Paper

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He is concerned that as the social sciences increasingly becomes more quantified, they loffer less understanding into the concepts behind symbols. This is especially of concern, since symbols have played such an important role throughout history. Duncan gives examples of symbol misunderstandings such as: confusion of the symbolic and subjective, failure to study symbolic forms, and sociologists' inability to use non-mechanistic models. Even worse, there is no agreement between scholars on how to define the concept of symbol nor explain the ambiguity of symbols. Is this lack of definitive agreement the reason why people perceive reality differently? Does this lead to misunderstandings and a failure to communicate?

Berger and Luckmann. Social construction.

QUESTION: Berger and Luckman state that society is a human product. Can it also be the product of lower animals? Recently, it was shown that chimpanzees actually are capable of culture or the passing of knowledge from one generation to another. Could social construction be used to understand the chimpanzee behavior, as it is used to explain human actions? Do chimpanzees have institutions that are formed through their views of realty?

Wikipedia: social constructionism

QUESTION: Likewise, social constructionism involves looking at the ways social phenomena are created, institutionalized and made into tradition "by humans." So, can one extend this search for constructionism to other animal forms? Are humans distinctly different in this regard, or are the rudiments of social constructionism seen in other animals, more so the apes?


This section deals with the scholar Kenneth Burke, who has been receiving renewed attention since his death a few years ago.

Kenneth Burke and Dramatism: A Puzzling Figure in Literary Criticism Is Suddenly Central

Kenneth Burke first became known because of his poetry, fiction, and essays. Later, however, his literary analysis included the most far-reaching ideas about language, power, and identity. The Symbolic, for example, made a major impact on scholars. During the 1920's, Burke's earliest critical essays analyzed the formal qualities of creative works -- their imagery and the rhythms of their language. Yet throughout the Great Depression, he paid ever more attention to the rhetorical dimension of writing: How texts hold readers' interest, persuading them to see the world in a particular way.

In the next couple of decades, Burke worked out a general theory of how people use language -- and the way they use vocabularies to make sense of the world that dominates them.

However, the most major development concerned his unpublished works called a Symbolic of Motives. The third part of a trilogy, sometimes call the "Motivorum," it was supposed to be the culmination of the theoretical system he called "dramatism."

In his work Burke suggests that everything in life, including communication, is a drama. His number-one concern is with the speaker's ability to identify with an audience. If there is a perceived similarity between the speaker and the listener, the audience is more likely to believe that the speaker is "talking sense." This is the key to persuasive speaking.

He identifies five crucial elements of our human drama or what can be seen as communication. The act is what is being done by the communicator. The scene gives the context or background surrounding the act. The agent is the person who performs the act. The agency is the means that is used to "get the job done." The purpose is the stated or implied goal of the address. In order to better understand communication through Burke's dramatism, it is necessary to analyze the situation through all five elements. He further argues that all public speaking is an attempt to purge oneself from an ever-present sense of guilt. The speaker has just two choices: Either to purge guilt through self-blame or blame his or her problems on someone else.

QUESTION: Is Burke a pragmatist, such as Mead and Dewey? In most of his works he favorably mentions the others pragmatists such as Pierce, Dewey, and especially Mead. He also analyzes philosophies of thought that measure right and wrong, or values, on how much they conform to a model of perfection. During his whole lifetime, he showed how an endless number of symbolic possibilities exist behind all forms of language, especially those that claimed to be "neutral."

Payne: Dramatistic Criticism

Since Burke has been "rediscovered," many other social scientists involved with communication and rhetoric have[continue]

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