Kinesics and Context: Essays on Body Motion Communication

Kinesics and Context: Essays on Body Motion Communication

Kinesics and Context: Essays on Body Motion Communication

Kinesics and Context: Essays on Body Motion Communication

Synopsis

"Ray Birdwhistell... is the first to have built a bridge between anthropology and the world of contemporary arts."--Marshall McLuhan "Few brilliant pioneer workers have the opportunity that Professor Birdwhistell has had to see his unique observations validated through technical innovation. So he was able to develop kinesics, which has now become part of a systematic anthropological investigation."--Margaret Mead Ray L. Birdwhistell, in this study of human body motion (a study he terms "kinesics"), advances the theory that human communication needs and uses all the senses, that the information conveyed by human gestures and movements is coded and patterned differently in various cultures, and that these codes can be discovered by skilled scrutiny of particular movements within a social context.

Excerpt

These essays are based on the conviction that body motion is a learned form of communication, which is patterned within a culture and which can be broken down into an ordered system of isolable elements. This book is not a journal of completed research. Nor is it designed as a textbook in kinesics. Neither is it a manual of instruction for those who would memorize annotational conventions and, without other training, buy a tape recorder or a motion analyst projector and turn movies into scientific documents. It is a book about the study of body motion, communication, and the need for the location of natural contexts of occurrence in the study of human behavior. These essays, an edited assemblage of published and unpublished writings, are not intended to be a finally integrated or comprehensive statement of kinesics and communication. It is my hope, however, that they will introduce the reader not already committed to particular lines of research or reasoning to the conception that the investigation of human communication by means of linguistic and kinesic techniques is desirable and relevant.

By 1959 systematic review of filmed material had provided evidence which supported the emergent assessment of kinesic morphology. The intense sessions at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in which linguists (Norman McQuown and Charles Hockett), anthropologists (Gregory Bateson and Ray Birdwhistell), and psychiatrists (Henry Brosin and Frieda FrommReichmann) participated had produced a mass of data which demonstrated the interdependence of visible and audible behavior in the flow of conversation. Equally intense analysis and review sessions at the University of Buffalo, with the wise and talented assistance of H. L. Smith, Jr., and G. L. Trager, confirmed the conviction that it was not only possible but desirable to study interactional behavior by the exhaustive techniques of linguistics and kinesics. The advantages of working with naturalistic settings seemed to be demonstrated, too, by this devoted and concerted effort.

During the course of investigation, techniques were developed that reduced recording and analysis time (when working with con-

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