Communication under the Microscope: The Theory and Practice of Microanalysis

Communication under the Microscope: The Theory and Practice of Microanalysis

Communication under the Microscope: The Theory and Practice of Microanalysis

Communication under the Microscope: The Theory and Practice of Microanalysis

Synopsis

Social interaction in recent years has become the focus of systematic scientific research in a wide variety of academic disciplines. In Communication under the Microscope, Peter Bull shows how communication has become an object of study in its own right, which can be dissected in the finest detail through the use of film and recording technology. In so doing he provides a clear and valuable introduction into the theory and practice of microanalysis.Bull argues that microanalysis is both a distinctive methodology and a distinctive way of thinking about communication. He then focuses on the two principal elements of face-to-face communication: speech and non-verbal behaviour. Communication in particular social contexts is also addressed with related chapters on gender and politics. Finally, the practical aspects of microanalysis are discussed.This unique and thorough review of microanalysis integrates different approaches and draws together research literature which is often diverse and disparate. Presented in a clear and focused style, this book will be of interest to psychologists, social scientists and all students and researchers in the field of communication.Communication is central to many aspects of human life, yet it has only recently become the focus of systematic scientific investigation within a wide variety of academic disciplines. Communication has now become an object of study in its own right, and can be dissected in the finest detail with the use of recording technology (film, audiotape and videotape). This approach has become known as 'microanalysis', and forms the principal theme of Communication under the Microscope.

Excerpt

Communication is of central importance to many aspects of human life, yet it is only in recent years that it has become the focus of systematic scientific investigation. Such research has been conducted in a wide variety of academic disciplines, most notably social psychology, psychiatry, anthropology, linguistics, sociology, ethology and, of course, communication. Despite substantial disagreements and differences in emphasis, there is also sufficient common ground between scholars to discern distinctive similarities in approach. In particular, the key feature is the belief in the value of studying the fine details of social interaction through the detailed analysis of film, audiotape and videotape recordings. Because such research is based on the detailed (‘micro’) analysis of both speech and nonverbal behaviour, it will be referred to as the microanalytic approach.

Thus, the theme of this book is the microanalysis of interpersonal communication. Despite many differences and disagreements, it seeks to show that modern communication scholars do also share a number of common assumptions. In the cut and thrust of academic debate, differences tend to be sharpened, points of contact overlooked. But points of contact are also important, in this context they have come to represent a novel way of thinking about communication. This is the perspective that makes this book distinctive.

The first chapter seeks to outline the different modes of thought that have contributed to the microanalytic approach. Chapters 2 and 3 seek to present some of the main findings concerning the two principal elements of face-to-face communication, namely, nonverbal behaviour and speech. In Chapters 4 and 5, two examples of microanalytic research are discussed: gender and political communication. The final chapter seeks to evaluate the practical significance of microanalysis.

There must be—at the very least—tens of thousands of publications concerned with communication. Hence, by its very nature, any review of this kind is inevitably selective. Each of the six chapters could merit a book in itself; there could easily have been twice as many chapters; many other topics could have been discussed in depth: communication in organizations, health communication, new communication technologies,

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