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Week Two: Metatheory

A metatheory is a theory whose subject matter is some other theory. In other words it is a theory
about a theory. Statements made in the metatheory about the theory are called metatheorems.
Chapter 4
Thus, my aim is to develop a metatheory out of which theories will emerge to explain
intercultural interactions. ~ Molefi Kete Asante
Chapter 5
A metatheory or paradigm is a conception that includes a multiplicity of theories; as such, it
allows us to develop better interpretations, fuller understandings, and more effective articulations
of the meaning of human goals and interactions. A metatheory suggests the character and content
of theories by prescribing what a theory should explain . . . and what analytical tools are required
for revealing and establishing concepts. . . . A metatheory, then, is the product of decision rather
than discovery, and it is justified by the theories that are consonant to it. ~ Molefi Kete Asante
(1998, p. 45)
In an attempt to propound an alternative metatheory that guides such Asiacentric inquiries into
Asian communication, the present essay stipulates its research objectives, content dimensions,
and methodological considerations. These three components of the metatheory specify why,
how, and what kind of communicative knowledge from Asia ought to be pursued. Along with the
theoretical assumptions outlined elsewhere (Miike, 2002, 2003ab), they envision the contours of
an Asiacentric communication paradigm.
Other sources
In the language of Little John, metatheory is “…a body of speculation on the nature of inquiry
that is above the specific content of given theories. It addresses such questions as what should be
observed, how observation should take place, and what form theory should take. Metatheoretical
debates are a natural consequence of uncertainty over the status of knowledge in a field.”

value having no dominant ideologies and structures From attached PDF Document: Theories of Media and Communication: Histories and Relevance (Read Pages 11 – 15): Theory is a coherent set of ideas and concepts of how the world (or parts of it) can be explained or understood (’the world’ in the very broadest sense. a certain pair of glasses (the form and grinding of spectacle lenses) which give a certain view of the world. proceeds towards it) and one looks through certain optics. theory and method.Meta-Theory of Communication presented by Majid Tehranian What is a Theory? There are four disciplinary approaches that we can use to look at Communication: 1.value liberty and ideals Marxist. social sciences and the humanities? What is interdisciplinarity? What is a model? What is a hypothesis? Are the different sciences/studies defined by their object or by their method? What is quantitative/qualitative? What is a fact. ’the individual human being’. A method is the way in which one proceeds when attempting to explain/understand the world. moral force (Political Science. ’nature’. 3. 3). etc.value community Postmodernist. Analysis is the process where a given procedure (the method) and a given understanding (the theory) are united and confronted with the world. representativity.).value equality Communitarian. 3. which is what one sees.? (in some traditions part of meta-theory is called the philosophy of science and treats of questions such as how it is at all possible to maintain the validity of science/studies. Liberal. ‘man-made artefacts’. 4. what is reliability. etc. 4. and how are they related? What is explanation and understanding? What is the relation between science. Meta-theories will typically treat of general epistemological questions such as: What is knowledge? What is science/what are scholarly studies? What is the object of science/scholarly studies? What are analysis. One could also say that in analysing the world one observes it with a certain gaze (the way the eye scans the world. 2. . thus leading to a result of the analysis. myths Socialization: passing on skills from generation to generation Legitimization: political function. e. accumulation of resources There are four main groups of theories: 1. Signification: science. Sociology) Accumulation: Economic production means. this is marked with the box at the bottom of Fig. symbols. 2. ’groups of human beings’.g.

there 2 are different types of theories: Scientific or Philosophical. and conversely. also connected. . First. After analysing over 20 different definitions of the term “metatheory” Steve Wallis presented a compound definition of his own: Metatheory is primarily the study of theory. the theories of methods and of understanding will include specific transformations of the general questions of the meta-theories. we may reasonably conclude that studies of theory are at the core of metatheory. and most simply. the meta-theories are often ‘fed’ by the theories of methods and of understanding (the object of meta-theories is general questions from the other two types of theories). Basically.Each of these three types of theories can be studied as individual fields. Metatheory analyses these theories by asking general questions about these theories. From attached PDF Document: Toward a Science of Metatheory (Read page: 78) First. including the development of overarching combinations of theory. as well as the development and application of theorems for analysis that reveal underlying assumptions about theory and theorizing. of course. metatheory is focused on the analysis of theories. but they are.