Communication: Strategic Action in Context

Communication: Strategic Action in Context

Communication: Strategic Action in Context

Communication: Strategic Action in Context

Excerpt

This book attempts to outline a descriptively adequate basis for the study of human communication. It does so by advocating a pragmatic approach to communication, an approach based on the study of language use in context. This approach provides a basis for integrating the study of verbal communication across diverse settings, tasks, and participants. In addition, this approach may provide a basis for studying nonverbal communication as well because many scholars suggest that nonverbal communication is organized like verbal communication and that both communicative systems complement one another. A pragmatic approach thus offers a perspective through which an integrated study of human communication processes is possible. However, pragmatics, as an approach to the study of human communication, is distinct from pragmatics as a sub-area of linguistics.

As such, this book is broad in its scope and goals. It covers work on verbal communication in many disciplines, and represents a variety of underlying assumptions and methods of analysis. However, as I argue in chapter 1, important common assumptions underlie research on pragmatics and it is this convergence, I believe, that offers the promise for an integrated study of human communication.

A promising convergence is also occurring within the social sciences. The convergence of concepts, assumptions, and methods from multiple disciplines is an exciting intellectual phenomenon. Some of this convergence is due to a sense of crisis in the social sciences; increasing attention is being given to basic reformulations concerning the nature of knowledge itself and concerning the conduct of social science research (Foucault, 1972; Giddens, 1976, 1979, 1982; Kuhn, 1970). Increasingly, scholars are . . .

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