Introduction to Communication Theory/Introduction

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Introduction[edit | edit source]

With every interaction, whether active or passive, we find ourselves communicating with other people. Even our silence connotes some intention, which others may interpret at their discretion. Whether by artifact or by attendance, every human being constantly participates in the process of communication. The field of Communication Theory exists at a crossroads of Psychology and Sociology, borrowing heavily from each, illuminating a process that defines what it is to be human.

Defining Communication[edit | edit source]

Reasonable men and women have put forth plenty of definitions. However, the field and the process are not so easily defined by curt declarative statements or laconic aphorisms. Within every research direction, we discover a new means to describe communication and a new method of investigation. Ironically, many academics encourage their students to develop their own, personal, definition of communication. There is no proper perspective of what communication is, just as there is no limit to the potential of what it is to be human. In this textbook you will be exposed to various perspectives, with which you may find varying concordance. Your role is to approach them with an open but critical mind. Like other Social Sciences, the field of Communication theory is a soft science.

communication means exchange of ideas, views, opinion, understanding, feelings, emotions, facts or information between two or more persons by any sources or medium

Early Mistakes[edit | edit source]

Early theorists of human interaction believed such activity could be measured and predicted with similar methods to those used in physics and chemistry. Positivism within the social sciences often drove the ridiculous notions of determinism rampant in the 19th and early 20th century. Auguste Comte, while an invaluable contributor to Sociology, derogated woman to a position of innate intellectual inferiority. Whether by biology or ethnology, positivists often asserted the superior nature of one class over another. Biological determinism was heavily referenced within eugenics movements, and remains a hot topic issue in regard to gender imbalances in academia, business and politics. While the laws of physics provide scientists with exact predictive formula, there are no analogous laws to human behavior, only correlates (or probabilities). One can certainly state that in all likelihood upper class children will display superior cognitive abilities to those raised in slums. One could argue that the higher instance of men in engineering professions and women in secretarial positions are correlated with gendered brain chemistry. However, these remain correlates. To state that women are inferior in math to men, that poor children (who by majority are of non-European descent) are intellectually inferior, or simply that children who learn to read earlier in life than others are somehow deficient, is to step beyond correlation into prediction. It is to these ends that many scientific endeavours step far out of science and into fallacious reasoning. Just as I.Q. tests presume to measure intelligence, positivists presumed to measure all sorts of amorphous properties, predicting far beyond reasonable evidence.