List The Seven Traditions Of Studying Human Communication Outlined Originally By Robert Craig And Then Stephen Littlejohn And Karen Foss

Traditions Of Studying Human Communication Outlined Originally By Robert Craig

Question 1.

Seven traditions of studying human communication outlined originally by Robert Craig and then Stephen Littlejohn and Karen Foss

  1. Rhetorical
  2. Cybernetic – systems
  3. Sociopsychological
  4. Semiotic
  5. Phenomenological
  6. Sociocultural
  7. Critical

Rhetoric comprises of three elements namely logos, ethos and pathos. It also entails the five canons invention, arrangement, style, delivery and memory. It is manly developed for persuasion and it does not find it unethical; persuasion essential when it comes to teaching, disseminating important social information and also for defending someone in court as well as during argument. However, in the contemporary society rhetoric has a pejorative meaning and it is associated with the empty promise flowery talk and hyperbole. As mentioned by Littlejohn and Foss rhetoric is a human symbol use for they use the symbols like images and words to communicate their ideas as well as to persuade others (Littlejohn & Foss, 2011).

Cybernetic – systems developed from basic systems theory which is grounded in science. Cybernetic is a system consists of the feedback which are collected in a constant loop and multiple transmissions. It is said that the theories of communication evolved from systems theory and the cybernetics which is inclusive of input process output models, information integration, and consistency theory among others. Cybernetics is seen as problematic for they ignore the cognition of individual, the semiotics, experience, social interactions and culture. Nevertheless cybernetics still remains a common conceptualization of communication in the contemporary world.

The worldviews of modernization and the science narratives influences the Sociopsychological. The theories of Sociopsychological are developed within a social science approach to scholarship and it heavily relies on the empirical data particularly from the experiments plus other researches. It also draws for sociology and psychology as it seeks to develop a science communication that aims at predicting and planning communication as it tries to fully understand the way the human mind operates.

It also focuses on the individual and the internal influences such as the attitudes, memories, and information processing.

Semiotic tradition mostly relates to language as a fundamental facet of the human society. This language constitutes of signals and symbols which mediates meaning. Signs and the symbols become the signifiers and they depict meaning; using the signs the signifier directly refers to the signified. The signs and symbols includes the denotive and the connotative meanings and the poststructuralists developments views the language with its constituent elements of signs and symbols where symbols are socially situated as well as socially constituted. Signs and symbols can be associated with the visual languages which are mostly used in public communications.

Phenomenological is the one that takes the human experience as the site of meaning making. According to Husserl one of the classical phenomenology proposes that a human interprets phenomena as they do so by objectively analyzing them. The dialogue is very crucial in phenomenology for it is the one means which people experience others and it is therefore considered as the form of human experience.

Social cultural gets its influence form the world vies of postmodernism and poststructuralism. The theories of socialcultural are developing with a humanist approach to scholarship. The most key influences are the social constructionlism and the symbolic interaction among others. In addition, the key theories of the sociocultural tradition are the symbolic convergence theory, face negotiation theory and the structuration theory (Littlejohn & Foss, 2011).

Critical focuses on the imbalances of power and the inequities in the society which is made up and continued by the economic systems, the institutions, and discourses among others. Communication and the mass media mostly perpetuate and create power imbalances as well as the social injustices. The early critical theory was mostly based on Marxism and Neomarxism and the contemporary is influence by the worldviews of postmodernism and the postructuralism. However, they are both developed with a humanist approach to scholarship.

Question 2

Systems/cybernetics approach to human communication from the perspective of understanding meaning making has its strengths and weaknesses . the strengths comprises of  the ability to examine the biological and neurological system and networks to try and understand the manner in which communication works in human brains. It also studies the relationship between the elements in systems and networks. It also comprises of closed and open systems which works in correspondence to help accept and respond to the environment.

However, systems/cybernetics approach weakness is that it ignores individual cognition, signs and languages, experience social interaction and culture among others. This tradition informs communication by using the feedback loop which is vital in telecommunications and human communications. This stems from the fact that without feedback no confirmation that the message signal is received. But is this tradition has its shortcoming in that it can contain noise which can rather block signals especially when used in  long distance communication. Therefore, the communication cannot be said to flow systematically and without any blockages (Paul,2011).


Social science is influence with the worldviews of modernism and the narratives of science while as the humanist approach is influence by the worldviews of postmodernism and the philosophy of poststructuralism. Social science seeks its knowledge through the empirical data whereby the data is gained through quantitative research wheres humanist focuses on the interpretation and its data is gained through qualitative research. In communication social science believes that the data can be objectively collected in order to explain and predict human attitude and behavior. Humanist in communication sees humans as subjectively constructing identities and realities and especially using their interpretation of experiences, interactios, dialogue and conversation. Finally, the major social sciences are psychology, sociology and anthropology whereas humanist deals cultural studies and feminist studies (Rubin et al, 2010).

Question 4.

Structuration theory was developed by Antony Giddens and it was applied to communication by Marshal Scott and it mostly recognizes the structure and social interaction. The organization is made up of both its formal structure and the stories that people engage with inside and outside the organization which mostly tells about the organization it’s self. The formal structure is the management, job description and the operating procedure and the stories entail the organizational culture and the values among others.

For example structuration theory can be seen in a school environment whereby the staff and their daily undertakings becomes its formal structure and the manner in which they relate to each other in terms of work in the school and the guidelines from the higher authority becomes their story. This theory can be applied in the public communication practice for it involves everything a person engages with and the stories they relate to in the environment and the fields of their work.

Symbolic interactionism theory relates to how people anticipate the reactions of other people as well as how they interpret things and behave  while they interact and have their social interactions. Mostly people are influenced by the interaction with orientational others so people look up to , admire and find a connection with.  In symbolic interaction people do self-regulation; for example they modify the attitude or behaviors so that they can be able to comply with norms and expectation derived from orientational others. 

One perfect example can be alluded from the South African icon Mr. Nelson Mandela who really was a very peaceful man he self-regulated himself from acting with animosity towards his enemy which made the South African to also do the same. This theory can be applied in the society and in any given country whereby people will be helped to look up to the former citizens who acted in a heroic manner towards a certain problem and so conquered a certain problem. While this is passed on to generation it can help them to be good in the manner they behave and react in differing situations.

Symbolic convergence theory shows that humans tend to adopt popular and widely accepted symbols, meanings and the narratives. Meaning that they adopt certain fantasy themes like the one in the Bible like the encounter of David and Goliath which shows how a mighty person can be brought down by a very weak person.  For example the well known story in the world today is how Osama who was so influential was attacked and killed. This theory is very applicable in the word today especially where there is so many problems like the economical crises and the immorality. People can adopt some symbols as they continue to hustle in order to make it in life and also overcome certain temptations.

Question 5

Information processing is influence by the structure and the format of the available product information the like of the alternatives and the attributes. It can be influence by the fact that the human beings have a tendency of processing the information they receive instead of responding to the stimuli which means that eh human mind is equated to computer. This indicates that the people can be highly influenced by how they decode and encode the information which is being passed on to them. The information maybe in form of signals, symbols or spoken one and it also depends on how the media interprets certain information.

Question 6

Elaboration likelihood theory belongs to the information processing and cognitive theory as well as the systems/cybernetic tradition. It mostly deals with how people approach persuasion; the persuasion takes place when the listener learns the message that is being communicated. Therefore, it means that learning enables a person to remember and the idea in the message persuades him/her.

Nevertheless, it should be noted that it is not always that the learning becomes part of persuasion, for example when it comes to advertisement. An advertisement can be so annoying which makes us never to forget it and it can make us to hate the advertised product and even the company sponsoring it. When the advert is so interesting we tend to do the vice versa and so this theory can be used to inform the public on the good and the bad things that are happening in the world and dictate how they react on it. This theory is very advantageous for it can help to persuade people to either act against or for something that can be good or harmful to the society.

Cognitive dissonance theory belongs to the information processing and cognitive theory as well as the systems/cybernetic tradition. In this theory Festinger suggests that a person is supposed to keep his cognition in a harmonious state using the innate drives and thus avoid the dissonance. This means that every individual has the responsibility to deal with  the conflict that they encounter and so there is no need to panic but to try and go back to  harmonious state. This can be so essential in public relations and most essentially where there is conflict between a group of people. It will be so advantageous for it will compel people to be responsible in the manner of their behavior and attitude.

Question 7:

Gadamer is very sound in the phenomenological tradition of human communication theory for his call for openness. By openness Gadamer means that people should be able to express themselves in a manner that should be understood by others. People should be open to the world and people around them for when a person is closed she restricts experiences and also narrows the lens of interpretation experience. When a person is open as Gadamer explains he is in need of knowing others and their experiences, can ask questions, engage in conversation and also accept other people point of view.  Openness is very essential in public communication for it helps to understand and grasp the message that is being expressed (Paul,2011).

Question 8

Bakhtin’s theory of dialogism and Buber’s theory of monologue and dialogue inform and guide public communication practice because they help people to understand the importance of authentic dialogue which means that the monologue or mologue disguised as dialogue should not be entertained. Dialogue brings out a conscious experience and it helps to understand the meaning in which things exists in its potential in the other persons.

Language can most importantly be expressed through dialogue it is notable that language is the vehicle of meaning and so when people dialogue authentically they exchange experiences and views which the other person can be able to relate with.  When it comes to monologue a person converses with himself or soliloquizes which means it only helps that particular person to internalize the concept of his discussion.

When it comes to dialogue this means that each person is narrates his views and experiences to  others helping them to be able to understand the position of his argument and helps the people to communicate the same information to others. While this happens this dialogue continues to enlighten and influence the people’s behavior towards others and even circumstances.

Question 9

Political economy critical view of media and public communication suggests that there is a great power in politics and economics especially in a capitalist society. The media is seen as the transformative and democraticising which helps people to resist the power and also have the voice to express their feelings

Political economy informs communication practices by the manner in which it manifests the minds of the politicians and the other people.

The cultural studies perceive power as inclusive of the discourse and as a fluid which means that it is not fixed. It suggests that there can be power when resistance occurs. It can inform communication practice for it can be able to show them how there exists the tensioned struggle between groups such ass the elites with marginalized people. By so doing the public can be informed on how to react in different situations (Littlejohn & Foss, 2011).

Question 10:

  • Mark Poster’s theory of the First Media Age and Second Media Age . second media age is  a very transformative and democratizing meaning that it help a person to experience a transformation and to experience democracy. It is very helpful to the public practices for it can help them to resist the power and have a voice. The mass media of the first media age is very oppressive of people and it turns them to be consumers and so it promotes the views of the power elites. This is can inform the contemporary public communication practice for they can be able to learn the consequences of their behaviors (Littlejohn & Foss, 2011).
  • Jean Baudrillard’s notion of simulacra and the related notion of hyperreality

This theory as expressed by Jean sees mass media and mass communication as misleading and deluding to people. It is can inform the contemporary public communication practice especially those with an open mind to avoid it for it can desensitize and tranquilize people (Littlejohn & Foss, 2011).

  • Leslie Baxter’s theory of relationships suggests that people should have co- orientation as well as mutuality. This can help the contemporary public communication practice for they will learn to be so consideration when it comes to deal with other people. It will help to deal with people in s holistic approach by directing them to act in a manner that shows they have a direction and purpose in life (Littlejohn & Foss, 2011).
  • Bourdieu’s cultural capital discuses how individual accumulate social capital and cultural capital as well as economic capital. If is consciously acquired and passively inherited properties such as the cultural knowledge, confidence and self belief and dress, style, speech and physical appearance. It can be used in the in public communication practice to help people engage with others in order to learn the criteria of accumulating the social capital and cultural capital in an authentic way (Kasper  & Kellerman, 1999)


Human agency in terms of communication means that it is mostly associated with people. In order to communicate a agent should be capacitated to do so and so human beings have the agency to communicate. systems and cybernetics theories recognizes agencies.  Agencies can apply in public communication practice by influencing the attitude and behaviors o people. For example in a bad situation agency can peple react and cause a  positive change (Paul,2011).

Question 12:

Relationship theory is a theory of human communication that practitioners can apply to ensure that public communication is ethical. This theory requires co orientation and mutuality which means that it requires a practice as the PR and advertising contains codes that should seek ethical behavior. The social cultural theories are also a theory that practitioners can apply to ensure that public communication is ethical. This theory engages people making meaning via social interaction and social constructionlism. Therefore, it can be used for it in to help people make meanings from each other.

Question 13

Hermeneutics means the theory of text interpretation. It involves the audiences interpreting information depending on personal experiences, memoirs and attitudes among others. It is very essential in traditions of studying human communication and it has an important concept in communication because it helps people not to just accept or agree with everything they are told but to interpret in order to act accordingly.

Question 14

Rhetoric approach to communication involves human communication and it is given different meanings in the contemporary society . for example it is given the pejorative meaning  which means an empty rhetoric with empty promises.  Apart from the three elements ethos, logos and pathos which are linked to rhetoric it is also associated with social position and relationship to audience. It also entails the five canons invention, arrangement, style, delivery and memory. It is manly developed for persuasion and it does not find it unethical; persuasion essential when it comes to teaching, disseminating important social information and also for defending someone in court as well as during argument. However, in the contemporary society rhetoric has a pejorative meaning and it is associated with the empty promise flowery talk and hyperbole. As mentioned by Littlejohn and Foss rhetoric is a human symbol use for they use the symbols like images and words to communicate their ideas as well as to persuade others.

Rhetor calls for the five elements and it is the combination, which appeals to all the senses and the parts of brains which makes rhetoric persuasive. Example of Rhetor is the advertising, PR and political campaign. The strength of using Rhetor for communicating the message is that it involves reasoning, both inductive and deductive, and evidence. It also dialogic, Nevertheless, the use of Rhetor for communication has its weakness for it can make people to spend most of their time in analyzing the message communicated instead of engaging with the interactions.

Question 15:

 Drawing is an example of the symbol which is used for public communication and it mostly influences the meaning as the people use denotation and connotation to stimulate the meaning. The drawing helps people to use their senses in order to understand what it aims to convey. It persuades the people to engage with it for a particular message which can be shared by many people. Nonetheless, a picture can be tricky for it gives different meaning to different people {Denton & Holloway, 2003).

Question 17:

Relationship theory is a human communication theory that informs how public communication can be conducted ethically. This is because it has a direct relevance to relationship building in organization and groups and to public relations and to dialogic theories of PR. It is essential to note that the ethical theories  has no lies, transparency and honesty though  they should be there although they are breached and should not be enforced. This makes even the communication practitioners not to always practice communication in an ethical manner that is responsible open and involves the public interest. Relationship theory should involve and distinguish the propaganda from persuasion. This means that people should not be forced to follow a particular route or decision because they are compelled to but because they have decided to do so. This can only by prevented through relationship theory and others which involves the human agency and encourages dialogic approach.

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