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Exploring Communication

-Part 1.5-
A Definition of Communication
Our Approach:

Communication as a set of
interrelated concepts that
vary somewhat depending on
the particular phenomena ,
but which share certain
unifying dimensions
Definition Goals
• Our definition must: Such As:
•Face to face
•Verbal interaction
•Non verbal behavior

– Identify the central dimension of •Symbolic interaction

•Traditional media ie radio, tv

comm… •Group exchanges

•Emerging venues for interaction
– …but remain versatile enough to •Electronic systems and infrastructure
•With animals
apply to the diversity of comm… •Within specific contexts
How do we meet this goal?

• Isolate the common elements

• Use flexible but meaningful

terms to construct our definition
Elements of Communication
Think back to our Comm Jeopardy examples. Each

– A combination of various factors …

• Something bring communicated

• Some means by which comm was occurring

• Someone or something doing the communication

• Various events surrounding and influencing that comm

– …which combined to :
Elements of Communication:
A combination of elements ...
One way to represent this quality is to use
the term process

• Process comm is multifaceted ,

dynamic , & involves change over time.

– Comm is not a single element, instance, or

Elements of Communication:
Something being communicated
Can be spoken or written words, non-
verbal cues, symbols, electrical
impulses, etc.

• Information - what is being exchanged.

– Also described as a message or as ‘that

which reduces uncertainty’

– When humans are involved, meaning is

attached to information
Elements of Communication:
A means by which comm occurs

I.e. a way for information to be sent &

received; a method of exchange

• Exchange a multidirectional flow

between parties involved

– In some situations comm is comm is

constrained primarily to transfer (one
Elements of Communication:
Something doing the Communicating
Various entities ranging from individuals to
computers to animals to larger collections
like groups and organizations

• System set of interdependant components

– Underscores that these entities are complex

Elements of Communication:
What Surrounds Communication …
Environment - the context within
which the systems interact

– Comm is always influenced by its


– Can be tangible (eg. physical

surroundings) or intangible (eg.
mood culture) in form.
Our General Definition of
• Communication is a process by which
information is exchanged among two or
more systems within a larger supra-system
(the environment )
Moving Forward:
As we move among various domains of
comm (e.g. mass, interpersonal) we’ll
formulate more specific and
meaningful definitions, but they’ll
always connect back to this general
Issues to Consider in Formulating
Specific Definitions
• Breadth what is or is not included

• Origination the source

• Directionality nature of flow

• Channel means of information

Issues to Consider in Formulating
Specific Definitions
• Contexts /Environment specific
influences of surroundings

• Intentionality is intent necessary?