Human Communication Theory and Research: Concepts, Contexts, and Challenges

Human Communication Theory and Research: Concepts, Contexts, and Challenges

Human Communication Theory and Research: Concepts, Contexts, and Challenges

Human Communication Theory and Research: Concepts, Contexts, and Challenges

Synopsis

Human Communication Theory and Research introduces students to the growing body of theory and research in communication, demonstrating the integration between the communication efforts of interpersonal, organizational, and mediated settings. This second edition builds from the foundation of the original volume to demonstrate the rich array of theories, theoretical connections, and research findings that drive the communication discipline. Robert L. Heath and Jennings Bryant have added a chapter on new communication technologies and have increased depth throughout the volume, particularly in the areas of social meaning, critical theory and cultural studies, and organizational communication. The chapters herein are arranged to provide insight into the breadth of studies unique to communication, acknowledging along the way the contributions of researchers from psychology, political science, and sociology. Heath and Bryant chart developments and linkages within and between ways of looking at communication. The volume establishes an orientation for the social scientific study of communication, discussing principles of research, and outlining the requirements for the development and evaluation of theories. Appropriate for use in communication theory courses at the advanced undergraduate and graduate level, this text offers students insights to understanding the issues and possible answers to the question of what communication is in all forms and contexts.

Excerpt

The study of communication theory asks that for a moment we step back and look at the field. It forces us to consider what communication is, where it occurs in relatively unique contexts, and how it affects people. We also realize that people affect it. Communication is a process that changes because of how people use it. Communication is often very much taken for granted. Why study communication when everyone can communicate? Does one need special insight to understand communication? Is a scholar's insight better than a person's who is not specially trained in research and the study of theory?

In 1993, Robert Craig asked, why are there so many communication theories? He hoped that the discipline would have fewer theories and would find integration instead of differences. He offered a challenge:

Dialogue in the discipline will be advanced as we reflect on the various modes of theory and their characteristic biases and limitations. Situated within such a dialogue, work in our field cannot fail to engage with issues of broad concern through the human sciences. (p. 32)

This book does not make particular efforts to reconcile differences, but it does suggest where theories work together and at odds. It also looks for some molar concerns: the human desire to reduce uncertainty; the desire to influence and the willingness to yield to influence; the desire for quality, satisfying relationships; and the desire to entertain and be entertained.

This volume introduces students to the growing body of theory and research regarding communication. In the past half century, communication has come to be a particularly important and fruitful topic of research. It has drawn the attention of hundreds of scholars who have devoted thousands of hours to unlocking its mysteries.

The design of this book is simple. We have sought to draw together the best ideas on theory and research. We want to chart developments and linkages within and between ways of looking at communication. Topics selected for discussion in this book reflect the desire that students will understand and appreciate the difficulties of making discoveries that can help them to increase their insights into communication, one of the most unique qualities of the human species. What is discussed here has implications for how individuals relate to one another as well as for the development of public policy regarding the effects media have on society.

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