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Lecture 12: Communication

Communication: Who says what to whom in what channel with what effect’

The concept of communication originated and was developed in the 1940’s and the end of WWII

The nuclear bomb that was dropped on Japan by the Americans, was a result of a major miscommunication between nations, a break down through language barriers between the countries led to the disaster - The japanese were communicating a truce and suggesting that they end the war however the Americans heard or translated no, let the war continue we [Japan] are not backing down

The basis of communication theory is not defined by a single theory alone by many theories, these theories categorize themselves into seven categories (Cybernetic, semiotics, the Phenomenological tradition, Rhetorical, socio-physical, socio-cultural, critical theory)

There are however two main models - Transmissions (informational model) this model examines the transfer of information from mind to another

The Constitutive model - is concerned with the process of production and reproduction of a shared meaning, this model however has several limitations in that gaps occur when information is misunderstand due to changes in socio-cultural diversity

Shannon and Weaver Bell Laboratories 1949 developed a basic model for communication in which there is an information source that creates a message that moves through the transmitter which emits a signal that signal is then received by a receiver the message then reaches its destination 

The transmitter can be anything from the voice box transmitting a verbal message, to the body transmitting a message through body language

Noise - interference that can occur during the transmission of information that can alter the messages original quality leading to parts of the message being missing

Receiver - The receiver can ears receiving a verbal message or the eyes receiving a message of body language, it is also important to note that the receiver must be aware of the message in oder to receive it completely for example for the body must be awake and or if the body is sleepy the message will only be partly received

This model was later added to, but adding a feedback loop which connects the destination to the information source, this allows for a indication to be transmitted from the destination to the information source to tell the source how well the information was received, this feedback loop often comes in the form of a reply, response of question

There are three levels of communication problems, Level 1 problems - Technical Accuracy this occurs via systems of encoding and decoding and often problems occur due to compatibility of systems

Level 2 communication problems - Semantic - the precision of language - This is when a message is translated into another language but how much of the meaning is lost during this translation. Accent and Dialect can also effect this.

Level 3 communication problems - Effectiveness - Does the message affect behavior the way we want it to? What can be done if the required effect fails to happen?

Systems theory - the advantage of using systems theory is that is allows us to switch between mathematical, biological, psychological and sociological frames of reference. This system allows for these different frames of reference to be layered on top of each other and work together to create a framework for communication theory

Who are we communicating to? Perhaps the most important part of communication is understanding the audience that you are communicating to. There are many systems for defining audiences such as the National Readership Survey which is a system based on class, it is based on the old english class system which is no longer present in our society. The NS-SEC 2001 system is a system based on occupational reference as is the Registrar General's Social classes system.

Communication does not work unless we have a good, solid understanding of our audience, Audiences can also be defined and placed into certain categories based on attributes such as age or gender. These types of audience systems are often using in the broadcast media to create certain audience groups or demographics.

Media also plays a big role in communication and how messages are delivered to an audience for example the biggest form of media in Pakistan is the radio, whereas in Japan television and newspaper is also has great reach to an audience base.

As the citizens of less developed countries are increasingly viewed through the prism of consumerism, control of their values and purchasing patterns becomes increasingly important to multinational firms.
At its peak in mid-1990s, Baywatch was watched by more than 1 billion people a week in nearly 150 countries.

Semiotics works on three basic concepts: semantics which is concerned with defining what a sign stands for, Syntactic which is the relationships between the signs as signs are rarely viewed alone and Pragmatics which is the practical use and effect os signs upon and within a society. Semiotics is an example of constitutive communication theory.

Semiotics examines signs as if they are part of a language, Structuralists adopted language as their model in exploring a much wider range of social phenomena: i. e. culturally shared codes

The semiosphere is a reference to the world we live in, in which we are constantly surrounded by signs.

It is important to remember that you can’t use semiotics effectively unless you really understand the audience

Semiotics teaches us that reality can be read as a system of signs and can assist us to become more aware of reality as a construction and of the roles played by ourselves and others in constructing it. It can help us to realize that information or meaning is not 'contained' in art objects, design or audio-visual media. Meaning is not 'transmitted' to us - we actively create it according to a complex interplay of codes or conventions of which we are normally unaware.

The Phenomenological Tradition - This is concerned with the theory of perception and how our body is at the core of how we understand and interrupt things. Phenomenon refers to the appearance of an object, event or condition in one’s perception

The embodied mind - Communication seen as an extension of the nervous system. It starts with an awareness of the body. Language is seen as part of that system existing as as neuronal pathways that are linked within the brain. The key is a physiological classification of coding and encoding.

Furthermore paper is portrait like us [human beings] it is structured in a way that our eyes work and look in that an A4 page is like a head in size and shape.

The process of interpretation - Unlike the semiotic tradition, where interpretation is separate from reality, in the phenomenological tradition we are interested in what is real for the person. Interpretation emerges from a hermeneutic circle in which interpreters constantly go back and forth between experience and assigning meaning.

Threeschoolsofthephenomenologicaltradition - Classical phenomenology. Key thinker Edward Husserl, who states that it is highly objective and claims the world can be experienced, through bracketing, the putting aside of bias without the knower bringing his or her own categories to bear. This is often criticised as being an impossible task.

The phenomenology of perception. Key thinker Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Most contemporary phenomenology rejects the objectivist view and posits that we can only know things through our personal, subjective relationship to things.

Hermeneutic phenomenology, the interpretation of being, extends the subjective tradition even further by incorporating the communication system itself as a further interpretive mechanism.

Hermeneutics, can be thought of as a type of reading between the lines: Interpretations of interpretations, reflecting the fact that communication is a matter of dialogue and is multi-channel.

Rhetoric - Useful for thinking through how you are going to achieve certain effects on the ‘reader’ or audience. In particular if a ‘theatrical’ or ‘performative’ approach to communication is required. The key concept is the use of metaphor. Often used for propaganda.

In advertising often things are repeated this is done so that ideas put foward by the advertisement remain in our brains

‘A picture without context is meaningless’ suggesting how text can anchor an image, the meaning of the image is firmly anchor by providing text to create the context around the image

Metaphor; from the Greek: metaphora, meaning "transfer" is language that directly compares seemingly unrelated subjects or activities

The Sociopsychological tradition is concerned with the study of the individual as a social being, this is focussed by three main areas - behavioral, cognitive and biological. The socio-psychological tradition of communication is useful when used to study the development of a relationship

Psychological communication Communication as the act of sending a message to a receiver, and assessing the feelings and thoughts of the receiver upon interpreting the message and how these will effect an understanding of the message.

The sociocultural tradition - If defining yourself in terms of your identity with terms such as father, Catholic, student, lesbian, Asian, Yorkshire etc. you are defining yourself in terms of your identity as part of a group and this group frames your cultural identity. The sociocultural tradition looks at how these cultural understandings, roles and rules are worked out interactively in communication. Context is seen as being crucial to forms and meanings of communication.

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