Exploring Communication

-Part 1.5A 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:
– Identify the central dimension of comm… – …but remain versatile enough to apply to the diversity of comm…

Such As:
•Face to face •Verbal interaction •Non verbal behavior •Symbolic interaction •Traditional media ie radio, tv •Group exchanges •Technology •Emerging venues for interaction •Electronic systems and infrastructure •With animals •Within specific contexts –Organizational –Health –Political

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 involved:
– 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 act.

Elements of Communication: Something being communicated
Can be spoken or written words, nonverbal 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 way)

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 phenomena

Elements of Communication:
What Surrounds Communication …
Environment - the context within which the systems interact
– Comm is always influenced by its environment – Can be tangible (eg. physical surroundings) or intangible (eg. mood culture) in form.

Our General Definition of Communication:
• 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 definition

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 exchange

Issues to Consider in Formulating Specific Definitions
• Contexts /Environment specific influences of surroundings • Intentionality is intent necessary?