Communication Theory

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Please answer these questions as detailed and thoroughly as you can. You will require access to this textbook: Theories of Human Communicationby Stephen W. Littlejohn, Karen A. Foss & John G. Oetzel (2017, 11th Edition) to answer most questions especially numbers 3, 7 and 8.

1. Explain why it is useful to think of a theory as being either a “lens” or a “tool” for researchers.

2. Explain what you believe are the relative contributions to communication research of the epistemological positions of positivism and anti-positivism.

3. Of the seven “traditions of communication theory” mentioned on pages 40-45, which one do you find the most appropriate and appealing for the type of research you envision yourself doing? What are the strongest aspects of this tradition, and how will these guide your inquiry into the areas of your greatest interest? Why?

4. Give a practical example of how a particular theory–or several theories–actually function in one or more of the ways that a theory can function. Consider each of the functions here, and refer to as many theories as necessary to give one practical instance of each of these functions taking place in research.

Functions: 1) define 2) describe 3) explain 4) conceptualize/visualize 5) organize 6) limit our thinking 7) expand our thinking

Example: Tell how schema theory helps us “visualize” how the human mind creates its own “reality,” even though we can’t see that happening–even with MRIs and EEGs of the human brain working. We can’t see thoughts or reality being created. How, then, does this theory help us visualize how it may be happening?

5. Explain why you think (or don’t think) each of the following theories is an adequate representation of the particular “effects era” in which it came about?

1) 1920s-40s “Powerful Effects Era”: Hypodermic Needle Theory

2) 1940s-60s “Limited Effects Era”: Uses and Gratifications Theory

3) 1960s-1980s “Moderate Effects Era”: Cultivation Theory

6. Explain how the three types of philosophical assumptions (epistemology, ontology, and axiology) individually and collectively determine the usefulness of a particular theory.

7. Why do you believe that Burrell and Morgan (and likely other researchers) have placed nomothetic and ideographic at the endpoints of a continuum (or, for that matter, on the same continuum at all)? Are they mistaken? And may this view of these concepts have detrimental effects on communication research? Why or why not?

8. In your own words, explain how each of the three points of “critical conceptual differentiation” that Frank Dance mentions contributes to our understanding of communication, both individually and together (with the other two). Do not repeat what the text says in answering this question.

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