Communication studies

Communication studies

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Communication Studies is an academic field that deals with processes of communication
Communication
Communication is the activity of conveying meaningful information. Communication requires a sender, a message, and an intended recipient, although the receiver need not be present or aware of the sender's intent to communicate at the time of communication; thus communication can occur across vast...

, commonly defined as the sharing of symbols over distances in space and time. Hence, communication studies encompasses a wide range of topics and contexts ranging from face-to-face conversation
Conversation
Conversation is a form of interactive, spontaneous communication between two or more people who are following rules of etiquette.Conversation analysis is a branch of sociology which studies the structure and organization of human interaction, with a more specific focus on conversational...

 to speeches to mass media outlets such as television broadcasting. Communication studies, as a discipline, is also often interested in how audiences interpret information and the political, cultural, economic, and social dimensions of speech and language in context.

Communication is institutionalized under many different names at different universities and in various countries, including "communication", "communication studies", "speech communication", "rhetorical studies", "communications science", "media studies
Media studies
Media studies is an academic discipline and field of study that deals with the content, history and effects of various media; in particular, the 'mass media'. Media studies may draw on traditions from both the social sciences and the humanities, but mostly from its core disciplines of mass...

", "communication arts", "mass communication", "media ecology,", "communication and media science" and sometimes even "mediology
Mediology
Mediology , broadly indicates a wide-ranging method for the analysis of cultural transmission in society and across societies, a method which challenges the conventional idea that 'technology is not culture'...

" although the latter is a different area of study. Communication studies often overlaps with academic programs in journalism, film and cinema, radio and television, advertising and public relations and performance studies. Recently, institutions have migrated towards the common term of "communication studies" to encapsulate and cohere the vast depth and breadth of the field.

In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, the National Communication Association (NCA) recognizes nine distinct but often overlapping sub-disciplines within the broader communication discipline: Communication & Technology, Critical-Cultural, Health, Intercultural-International, Interpersonal-Small Group, Mass Communication, Organizational, Political, and Rhetorical. The International Communication Association (ICA) recognizes a much larger and evolving list of sections, including among others Communication History; Communication Law and Policy; Ethnicity and Race in Communication; Feminist Scholarship; Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies; Global Communication and Social Change; Information Systems; Instructional/Developmental Communication; Journalism Studies; Language and Social Interaction; Organizational Communication; Philosophy of Communication; Political Communication; Popular Communication; Public Relations; and Visual Communication Studies.

Communication Studies is often considered a part of both the social sciences and the humanities, drawing heavily on fields such as sociology, psychology, anthropology, biology, political science, and economics as well as rhetoric, literary studies, linguistics, and semiotics. The field can incorporate and overlap with the work of other disciplines as well, however, including engineering, architecture, mathematics, computer science, gender and sexuality studies.

The vast breadth and interdisciplinary nature of communication studies has understandably made it difficult for both students and institutions to place it within the broader educational system. Despite intellectual incoherence, the field attracts and sustains large numbers of students, scholarly journals, professional associations, and lively discussions across the academy for researchers, educators, lawmakers, businesses, and reformers. Broadly understood, the contemporary study of communication per se interfaces and overlaps with areas such as business, organizational development, philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

, languages, composition, theatre, debate (often called "forensics"), literary criticism
Literary criticism
Literary criticism is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often informed by literary theory, which is the philosophical discussion of its methods and goals...

, sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

, psychology
Psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

, history, anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

, semiotics
Semiotics
Semiotics, also called semiotic studies or semiology, is the study of signs and sign processes , indication, designation, likeness, analogy, metaphor, symbolism, signification, and communication...

, international policy, economics
Economics
Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek from + , hence "rules of the house"...

 and political science
Political science
Political Science is a social science discipline concerned with the study of the state, government and politics. Aristotle defined it as the study of the state. It deals extensively with the theory and practice of politics, and the analysis of political systems and political behavior...

, among others. The breadth and the primacy of communication in many areas of life is responsible for the ubiquity of communication studies, as well as for the resulting confusion about what does and does not constitute communication. Ongoing debates rage whether communication studies can best be understood as a discipline, a field, or simply a topic.

Most U.S.
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 graduate programs in Communication today trace their history through speech to ancient rhetoric. Programs in Communication
Communication
Communication is the activity of conveying meaningful information. Communication requires a sender, a message, and an intended recipient, although the receiver need not be present or aware of the sender's intent to communicate at the time of communication; thus communication can occur across vast...

, Communication Arts
Communication Arts
Communication Arts is the largest international trade journal of visual communications. Founded in 1959 by Richard Coyne and Robert Blanchard, the magazine’s coverage includes graphic design, advertising, photography, illustration and interactive media. The magazine continues to be edited and...

 or Communication Sciences
Communication Sciences
Communication sciences refers to the schools of scientific research of human communication. This perspective follows the logical positivist tradition of inquiry; most modern communication science falls into a tradition of post-positivism. Thus, communication scientists believe that there is an...

 often include Organizational Communication
Organizational communication
Organizational communication is a subfield of the larger discipline of communication studies. Organizational communication, as a field, is the consideration, analysis, and criticism of the role of communication in organizational contexts....

, Interpersonal Communication
Interpersonal communication
Interpersonal communication is usually defined by communication scholars in numerous ways, usually describing participants who are dependent upon one another. It...

, Speech Communication (or Rhetoric
Rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western...

), Mass Communication
Mass communication
Mass communication is the term used to describe the academic study of the various means by which individuals and entities relay information through mass media to large segments of the population at the same time...

, and sometimes Journalism
Journalism
Journalism is the practice of investigation and reporting of events, issues and trends to a broad audience in a timely fashion. Though there are many variations of journalism, the ideal is to inform the intended audience. Along with covering organizations and institutions such as government and...

, Film criticism
Film criticism
Film criticism is the analysis and evaluation of films, individually and collectively. In general, this can be divided into journalistic criticism that appears regularly in newspapers, and other popular, mass-media outlets and academic criticism by film scholars that is informed by film theory and...

, Theatre
Theatre
Theatre is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music or dance...

, Political science
Political science
Political Science is a social science discipline concerned with the study of the state, government and politics. Aristotle defined it as the study of the state. It deals extensively with the theory and practice of politics, and the analysis of political systems and political behavior...

 (e.g., political campaign strategies, public speaking, effects of media on elections), or Radio
Radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

, Television
Television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

 or Film production. Graduates of formal communication programs can be found in a wide range of fields working as university
University
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

 professor
Professor
A professor is a scholarly teacher; the precise meaning of the term varies by country. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences; a teacher of high rank...

s, marketing
Marketing
Marketing is the process used to determine what products or services may be of interest to customers, and the strategy to use in sales, communications and business development. It generates the strategy that underlies sales techniques, business communication, and business developments...

 researcher
Researcher
A researcher is somebody who performs research, the search for knowledge or in general any systematic investigation to establish facts. Researchers can work in academic, industrial, government, or private institutions.-Examples of research institutions:...

s, media editor
Editing
Editing is the process of selecting and preparing written, visual, audible, and film media used to convey information through the processes of correction, condensation, organization, and other modifications performed with an intention of producing a correct, consistent, accurate, and complete...

s and designers, journalists, human resources
Human resources
Human resources is a term used to describe the individuals who make up the workforce of an organization, although it is also applied in labor economics to, for example, business sectors or even whole nations...

 managers, corporate trainer
Corporate trainer
A corporate trainer is a specialized skill development position in a corporation where the goal is to help improve the performance of the employees. The performance areas can range from "soft skills" or "people skills" to “hard skills” relating to specific technical tasks. The term is generic and...

s, public relations
Public relations
Public relations is the actions of a corporation, store, government, individual, etc., in promoting goodwill between itself and the public, the community, employees, customers, etc....

 practitioners, and media managers
Management
Management in all business and organizational activities is the act of getting people together to accomplish desired goals and objectives using available resources efficiently and effectively...

 and consultants in a variety of fields including, media production, life coaching, public speaking
Public speaking
Public speaking is the process of speaking to a group of people in a structured, deliberate manner intended to inform, influence, or entertain the listeners...

, organization
Organization
An organization is a social group which distributes tasks for a collective goal. The word itself is derived from the Greek word organon, itself derived from the better-known word ergon - as we know `organ` - and it means a compartment for a particular job.There are a variety of legal types of...

al, political campaign
Political campaign
A political campaign is an organized effort which seeks to influence the decision making process within a specific group. In democracies, political campaigns often refer to electoral campaigns, wherein representatives are chosen or referendums are decided...

/issue management and public policy
Public policy
Public policy as government action is generally the principled guide to action taken by the administrative or executive branches of the state with regard to a class of issues in a manner consistent with law and institutional customs. In general, the foundation is the pertinent national and...

.

History, pre-20th century


Various aspects of communication have long been the subject of human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

 study. In ancient Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 and Rome, the study of rhetoric
Rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western...

, the art of oratory
Oratory
Oratory is a type of public speaking.Oratory may also refer to:* Oratory , a power metal band* Oratory , a place of worship* a religious order such as** Oratory of Saint Philip Neri ** Oratory of Jesus...

 and persuasion
Persuasion
Persuasion is a form of social influence. It is the process of guiding or bringing oneself or another toward the adoption of an idea, attitude, or action by rational and symbolic means.- Methods :...

, was a vital subject for student
Student
A student is a learner, or someone who attends an educational institution. In some nations, the English term is reserved for those who attend university, while a schoolchild under the age of eighteen is called a pupil in English...

s. One significant ongoing debate was whether one could be an effective speaker in a base cause (Sophists) or whether excellent rhetoric came from the excellence of the orator's character (Socrates
Socrates
Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of his contemporary ...

, Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

, Cicero
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

). Through the European Middle Ages and Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 grammar
Grammar
In linguistics, grammar is the set of structural rules that govern the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language. The term refers also to the study of such rules, and this field includes morphology, syntax, and phonology, often complemented by phonetics, semantics,...

, rhetoric
Rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western...

, and logic
Logic
In philosophy, Logic is the formal systematic study of the principles of valid inference and correct reasoning. Logic is used in most intellectual activities, but is studied primarily in the disciplines of philosophy, mathematics, semantics, and computer science...

 constituted the entire trivium, the base of the system of classical learning in Europe.

1900s–1920s


Though the study of communication reaches back to antiquity and beyond, early twentieth-century work by Charles Horton Cooley, Walter Lippmann
Walter Lippmann
Walter Lippmann was an American intellectual, writer, reporter, and political commentator famous for being among the first to introduce the concept of Cold War...

, and John Dewey
John Dewey
John Dewey was an American philosopher, psychologist and educational reformer whose ideas have been influential in education and social reform. Dewey was an important early developer of the philosophy of pragmatism and one of the founders of functional psychology...

 has been of particular importance for the academic discipline as it stands today in the United States. In his 1909 Social Organization: a Study of the Larger Mind, Cooley defines communication as "the mechanism through which human relations exist and develop—all the symbols of the mind, together with the means of conveying them through space and preserving them in time." This view, which has subsequently been largely marginalized in sociology, gave processes of communication a central and constitutive place in the study of social relations. Public Opinion
Public Opinion
Public Opinion , by Walter Lippman, is a critical assessment of functional democratic government, especially the irrational, and often self-serving, social perceptions that influence individual behavior, and prevent optimal societal cohesion...

, published in 1922 by Walter Lippmann, couples this view of the constitutive importance of communication with a fear that the rise of new technologies and institutions of mass communication allowed for the manufacture of consent and generated dissonance between what he called 'the world outside and the pictures in our heads' on a scale that made democracy as classically conceived almost impossible to realize. John Dewey's 1927 The Public and its Problems
The Public and its Problems
The Public and its Problems is a book by John Dewey, an American philosopher, written in 1927. In this work, Dewey touches upon major political philosophy questions that have continued into the 21st century, specifically: can democracy work in the modern era? Is there such a thing as a "public"...

drew on the same view of communications, but coupled it instead with an optimistic progressive and democratic reform agenda, arguing famously "communication can alone create a great community".

Cooley, Lippmann, and Dewey capture themes like the central importance of communication in social life, the rise of large and potentially powerful media institutions and the development of new communications technologies in societies undergoing rapid transformation, and questions regarding the relationship between communication, democracy, and community. All these remain central to the discipline of communication studies. Many of these concerns are also central to the work of writers such as Gabriel Tarde
Gabriel Tarde
Jean-Gabriel De Tarde or Gabriel Tarde in short French sociologist, criminologist and social psychologist who conceived sociology as based on small psychological interactions among individuals , the fundamental forces being imitation and innovation.- Theory :Among the concepts...

 and Theodor W. Adorno
Theodor W. Adorno
Theodor W. Adorno was a German sociologist, philosopher, and musicologist known for his critical theory of society....

, which has been central to the development of communication studies elsewhere.

The first decades of the twentieth century also saw the development of parallel currents of cultural criticism that drew less on the social sciences and more on the humanities. Though trained as a sociologist, the work of W. E. B. Du Bois on art and spirituals stands out here.

The study of American public address began during this time frame. In 1925, Herbert A. Wichelns published the essay "The Literary Criticism of Oratory" in the book Studies in Rhetoric and Public Speaking in Honor of James Albert Winans. Wicheln's essay attempted to "put rhetorical studies on par with literary studies as an area of academic interest and research." Wichelns wrote that oratory should be taken as seriously as literature, and therefore, it should be subject to criticism and analysis. Although the essay is now standard reading in most rhetorical criticism courses, it had little immediate impact (from 1925–1935) on the field of rhetorical studies.

1930s–1950s


The institutionalization of communication studies in U.S. higher education and research has often been traced to Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

, the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

, and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where early pioneers and institutionalizers like Paul F. Lazarsfeld, Harold Lasswell
Harold Lasswell
Harold Dwight Lasswell was a leading American political scientist and communications theorist. He was a member of the Chicago school of sociology and was a professor at Yale University in law. He was a President of the American Political Science Association and World Academy of Art and Science...

, and Wilbur Schramm
Wilbur Schramm
Wilbur Lang Schramm is sometimes called the "father of communication studies," and had a great influence on the development of communication research in the United States, and the establishing of departments of communication studies in US universities.Schramm was born in Marietta, Ohio...

 worked.

The Bureau of Applied Social Research
Bureau of Applied Social Research
The Bureau of Applied Social Research was a social research institute at Columbia University which specialised in mass communications research. It grew out of the Radio Research Project at Princeton University, beginning in 1937. The Bureau's first director was Austrian sociologist Paul Lazarsfeld...

 was established in 1944 at Columbia University by Paul F. Lazarsfeld. It was a continuation of the Rockefeller Foundation-funded Radio Project that he had led at various institutions (University of Newark, Princeton) from 1937, which had been at Columbia as the Office of Radio Research since 1939. In its various incarnations, the Radio Project had involved Lazarsfeld himself, and people like Adorno, Hadley Cantril
Hadley Cantril
-Biography:Born in Utah, he was educated at Dartmouth College and received his Ph.D. from Harvard. He joined the faculty of Princeton in 1936 and later became chairman of Princeton University Department of Psychology...

, Herta Herzog
Herta Herzog
Herta Herzog-Massing was an Austrian-American social scientist specializing in communication studies. Her most prominent contribution to the field, an article entitled "What Do We Really Know About Daytime Serial Listeners?", is considered a pioneering work of the uses-and-gratifications approach...

, Gordon Allport, and Frank Stanton
Frank Stanton
Frank Nicholas Stanton was an American broadcasting executive who served as the president of CBS between 1946 and 1971 and then vice chairman until 1973. He also served as the chairman of the Rand Corporation from 1961 until 1967.Along with William S. Paley, Stanton is credited with the...

 (who went on to be president of CBS). Lazarsfeld and the Bureau mobilized substantial sums for research, and produced, with various co-authors, a series of books and edited volumes that helped define the discipline, such as Personal Influence (1955) which remains a classic in what is called the 'media effects'-tradition. At Columbia, communications studies have traditionally been closely aligned with sociology, and people like Robert Merton and others from the sociology program were at times involved. The university did only recently, in the 1990s, establish an actual degree-granting graduate program in communications, illustrating how much important research on communications continues to take place outside the discipline that carries the name. The Bureau, and Lazarsfeld's research more generally, exemplifies the close relations that have sometimes existed between communication studies and the media industries.

From the 1940s and onwards, the University of Chicago was home to several temporary but important committees and commissions on communications, programs that also educated several leading communication scholars. In contrast to what took place at Columbia, these programs explicitly claimed the name 'communications' for themselves. The Committee on Communication and Public Opinion, also funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, was staffed with, in addition to Lasswell, people such as Douglas Waples
Douglas Waples
Douglas Waples was a pioneer of the University of Chicago Graduate Library School in the areas of print communication and reading behavior. Waples authored one of the first books on library research methodology, a work directed at students supervised through correspondence courses...

, Samuel A. Stouffer
Samuel A. Stouffer
Samuel Andrew Stouffer was a prominent American sociologist and developer of survey research techniques. Stouffer spent much of his career attempting to answer the fundamental question - How does one measure an attitude?Dr...

, Louis Wirth
Louis Wirth
Louis Wirth was an American sociologist and member of the Chicago school of sociology.-Life:Louis Wirth was born in the small village of Gemünden in the Hunsrück, Germany. He was one of seven children born to Rosalie Lorig and Joseph Wirth. Gemünden was a pastoral community, and Joseph Wirth...

, and Herbert Blumer
Herbert Blumer
Herbert George Blumer was an American sociologist. Continuing the work of George Herbert Mead, he named and developed the topic of symbolic interactionism. According to Blumer himself, his main post-graduate scholarly interests were symbolic interactionism and methodological problems...

, all of whom held positions elsewhere at the university. They formed a committee that essentially served as a scholarly and educational extension of the federal government’s increasing interest in communications during times of war, and was in particular closely linked to the Office of War Information. The committee is a reminder of connection as important as the Bureau’s with the industry, namely the connection between communication studies and government interests and funding. Chicago later provided an institutional home for The Hutchins Commission on the Freedom of the Press and the Committee on Communication (1947–1960). The latter was a degree-granting program that counted Elihu Katz
Elihu Katz
Elihu Katz is an American and Israeli sociologist.-Biography:Katz has spent most of a lifetime in research on communication, his main focus being the interplay between media, conversation, opinion, and action in the public sphere...

, Bernard Berelson
Bernard Berelson
Bernard Reuben Berelson was an American behavioral scientist, known for work on communication and mass media.He was a leading proponent of the broad idea of the "behavioral sciences", a field he saw as including areas such as public opinion...

, Edward Shils
Edward Shils
Edward Shils was a Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Social Thought and in Sociology at the University of Chicago and reputedly an influential sociologist. He was known for his research on the role of intellectuals and their relations to power and public policy...

, and David Riesman
David Riesman
David Riesman , was a sociologist, attorney, and educator....

 amongst its faculty, and produced graduates like Herbert J. Gans
Herbert J. Gans
Herbert J. Gans is an American sociologist who has taught at Columbia University since 1971, retiring in 2007.One of the most prolific and influential sociologists of his generation, Gans came to America in 1940 as a refugee from Nazism and has sometimes described his scholarly work as an...

 and Michael Gurevitch. The committee also produced publications like Berelson and Janowitz
Janowitz
- Czech Republic :* Janowitz an der Angel, German name of Janovice nad Úhlavou* Markt Janowitz, German name of Vrchotovy Janovice** Schloss Janowitz, German name of Vrchotovy Janovice Castle...

Public Opinion and Communication (1950) and the journal Studies in Public Communication.

The Institute for Communications Research was founded at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1947 by Wilbur Schramm, who was a key figure in the post-war institutionalization of communication studies in the U.S. Like the various Chicago committees, the Illinois program claimed the name 'communications' and granted graduate degrees in the subject. Schramm, who, in contrast to the more social science-inspired figures at Columbia and Chicago, had a background in English literature, developed communication studies partly by merging existing programs in speech communication, rhetoric, and, especially, journalism under the aegis of communication. He also edited a textbook The Process and Effects of Mass Communication (1954) that helped define the field, partly by claiming the Lazarsfeld, Lasswell, Carl Hovland
Carl Hovland
Carl Iver Hovland was a psychologist working primarily at Yale University and the US Army during World War II who studied attitude change and persuasion....

, and Kurt Lewin
Kurt Lewin
Kurt Zadek Lewin was a German-American psychologist, known as one of the modern pioneers of social, organizational, and applied psychology....

 as its founding fathers. He also wrote several other manifestos for the discipline, including The Science of Human Communication 1963. Schramm and the Institute moved on to Stanford University in 1955. Many of Schramm's students, such as Everett Rogers
Everett Rogers
Everett M. Rogers was a communication scholar, sociologist, writer, and teacher. He is best known for originating the diffusion of innovations theory and for introducing the term early adopter....

, went on to make important contributions of their own.

1950s–1960s


From the 1950s onwards, communications studies branched out in several new and often very different directions. Numerous new programs opened up at various universities, and new journals were established.

The work of what has been called 'medium theorists', arguably defined by Harold Innis
Harold Innis
Harold Adams Innis was a Canadian professor of political economy at the University of Toronto and the author of seminal works on media, communication theory and Canadian economic history. The affiliated Innis College at the University of Toronto is named for him...

' (1950) Empire and Communications grew increasingly important, and was popularized by Marshall McLuhan
Marshall McLuhan
Herbert Marshall McLuhan, CC was a Canadian educator, philosopher, and scholar—a professor of English literature, a literary critic, a rhetorician, and a communication theorist...

 in his Understanding Media (1964). This perspective informs the later work of Joshua Meyrowitz
Joshua Meyrowitz
Joshua Meyrowitz is a professor of communications at the department of Communication at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. He has published works regarding the effects of mass media, including No Sense of Place: The Impact of Electronic Media on Social Behaviour, an analysis of the effects...

 (No Sense of Place, 1986).

Two developments in the 1940s shifted the paradigm of communication studies in the 1950s and thereafter toward a more-quantitative orientation, or at least the inescapable need to consider such an orientation. One was cybernetics, as formulated by Norbert Wiener
Norbert Wiener
Norbert Wiener was an American mathematician.A famous child prodigy, Wiener later became an early researcher in stochastic and noise processes, contributing work relevant to electronic engineering, electronic communication, and control systems.Wiener is regarded as the originator of cybernetics, a...

 in his Cybernetics: Or the Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine. The other was information theory, as recast in quantitative terms by Claude E. Shannon and Warren Weaver
Warren Weaver
Warren Weaver was an American scientist, mathematician, and science administrator...

 in their Mathematical Theory of Communication. These works were widely appropriated to, and offered for some the prospect of, a general theory of society.

The tradition of critical theory
Critical theory
Critical theory is an examination and critique of society and culture, drawing from knowledge across the social sciences and humanities. The term has two different meanings with different origins and histories: one originating in sociology and the other in literary criticism...

 associated with the Frankfurt School
Frankfurt School
The Frankfurt School refers to a school of neo-Marxist interdisciplinary social theory, particularly associated with the Institute for Social Research at the University of Frankfurt am Main...

 was, as in Europe, an important source of influence for many researchers. While done out of sociology departments, the work of Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas is a German sociologist and philosopher in the tradition of critical theory and pragmatism. He is perhaps best known for his theory on the concepts of 'communicative rationality' and the 'public sphere'...

, the US-based Leo Löwenthal
Leo Löwenthal
Leo Löwenthal was a German-Jewish sociologist usually associated with the Frankfurt School.-Life:Born in Frankfurt as the son of assimilated Jews , Löwenthal came of age during the turbulent early years of the Weimar Republic...

, Herbert Marcuse
Herbert Marcuse
Herbert Marcuse was a German Jewish philosopher, sociologist and political theorist, associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory...

, and Siegfried Kracauer
Siegfried Kracauer
Siegfried Kracauer was a German-Jewish writer, journalist, sociologist, cultural critic, and film theorist...

, as well as earlier figures like Adorno and Max Horkheimer
Max Horkheimer
Max Horkheimer was a German-Jewish philosopher-sociologist, famous for his work in critical theory as a member of the 'Frankfurt School' of social research. His most important works include The Eclipse of Reason and, in collaboration with Theodor Adorno, The Dialectic of Enlightenment...

 continued to inform a whole tradition of cultural criticism that often focused both empirically and theoretically on the culture industry
Culture industry
Culture industry is a term coined by critical theorists Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer , who argued in the chapter of their book Dialectic of Enlightenment, 'The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception' ; that popular culture is akin to a factory producing standardized cultural goods...

.

In 1953, to address growing needs in industry, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Stephen Van Rensselaer established the Rensselaer School on November 5, 1824 with a letter to the Rev. Dr. Samuel Blatchford, in which van Rensselaer asked Blatchford to serve as the first president. Within the letter he set down several orders of business. He appointed Amos Eaton as the school's...

 began offering a master of science
Master of Science
A Master of Science is a postgraduate academic master's degree awarded by universities in many countries. The degree is typically studied for in the sciences including the social sciences.-Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay:...

 degree in technical writing
Technical writing
Technical writing, a form of technical communication, is a style of writing used in fields as diverse as computer hardware and software, engineering, chemistry, the aerospace industry, robotics, finance, consumer electronics, and biotechnology....

. In the 1960s, partly because of the need to represent that the degree incorporated training in oral and audiovisual communication, the degree title became technical communication
Technical communication
Technical communication is a method of researching and creating information about technical processes or products directed to an audience through media. The information must be relevant to the intended audience. Technical communicators often work collaboratively to create products for various...

. It was the brainchild of longtime RPI professor and administrator Jay R. Gould.

1960s–1970s


In the 1960s Gould and his colleagues experienced increasing demand for doctoral-level studies in technical and business communication. As result, in 1965 RPI
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Stephen Van Rensselaer established the Rensselaer School on November 5, 1824 with a letter to the Rev. Dr. Samuel Blatchford, in which van Rensselaer asked Blatchford to serve as the first president. Within the letter he set down several orders of business. He appointed Amos Eaton as the school's...

 began its Ph.D. program in communication and rhetoric. This Ph.D. degree program became a prototype for other technologically oriented programs in the United States and other industrialized countries.

The 1960s and 1970s saw the development of cultivation theory
Cultivation theory
Cultivation theory is a social theory which examined the long-term effects of television on American audiences of all ages.Developed by George Gerbner and Larry Gross of the University of Pennsylvania, cultivation theory derived from several large-scale research projects as part of an overall...

, pioneered by George Gerbner
George Gerbner
George Gerbner was a professor of Communication and the founder of cultivation theory.Born in Budapest, Hungary, he immigrated to the United States in late 1939. Gerbner earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley in 1942...

 at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania
Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania
The Annenberg School for Communication is the communications school at the University of Pennsylvania. The school was established in 1958 by Wharton School's alum Walter Annenberg as "The Annenberg School of Communications." The name was changed to its current title in the late 1980's.Walter...

. This approach shifted emphasis from the short-term effects that had been the central interest of many earlier works on the media, and instead tried to track the effect of exposure to, for instance, television over time on viewers' perceptions of reality.

1970s–1980s


Neil Postman
Neil Postman
Neil Postman was an American author, media theorist and cultural critic, who is best known by the general public for his 1985 book about television, Amusing Ourselves to Death. For more than forty years, he was associated with New York University...

 founded the media ecology
Media ecology
Media ecology is a contested term within media studies having different meanings within European and North American contexts. The North American definition refers to aninterdisciplinary field of media theory and media design involving the study of "symbolic environment, or the socially constructed,...

 program at New York University
New York University
New York University is a private, nonsectarian research university based in New York City. NYU's main campus is situated in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan...

 in 1971. Media ecologists draw on a wide range of inspirations in their attempts to study entire media environments in an even broader and more cultural fashion than the work done in the Canadian medium theory tradition. This perspective is the basis of a separate professional association, the Media Ecology Association.

In 1972, Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw published a path-breaking article that offered an agenda-setting theory
Agenda-setting theory
Agenda-Setting Theory states that the news media have a large influence on audiences, in terms of what stories to consider newsworthy and how much prominence and space to give them. Agenda-setting theory’s main postulate is salience transfer. Salience transfer is the ability of the news media to...

 of media effects that gave new ways of conceptualizing the short-term media effects that earlier work had generally deemed limited. This approach, organized around additional ideas such as framing, priming, and gatekeeping, has been highly influential, especially in the study of political communication and news coverage.

The 1970s also saw the development of what became known as uses and gratifications
Uses and gratifications
Uses and gratifications theory is an approach to understanding mass media and mass communication. The theory discusses how users proactively search for media that will not only meet a given need but enhance knowledge, social interactions and diversion It assumes that members of the audience are...

 research, developed by scholars such as Elihu Katz
Elihu Katz
Elihu Katz is an American and Israeli sociologist.-Biography:Katz has spent most of a lifetime in research on communication, his main focus being the interplay between media, conversation, opinion, and action in the public sphere...

, Jay G. Blumler, and Michael Gurevitch. Instead of looking at communications processes simply as a one-way flow from senders to receivers, this approach began scrutinizing what audiences get out of communications, what they do with it, why they engage with it—especially with mass media.

History, Germany


Communication studies in Germany has a rich hermeneutic heritage in philology, textual interpretation, and historical studies. The post-world war II era, however, has seen the rise of a number of new paradigms.

Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann
Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann
Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann was a German political scientist. Her most famous contribution is the model of the spiral of silence, detailed in The Spiral of Silence : Public Opinion – Our Social Skin...

 pioneered work on the spiral of silence
Spiral of silence
The spiral of silence is a political science and mass communication theory propounded by the German political scientist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann...

 in a tradition that has been widely influential across the world and has proven to be easily compatible with the dominant paradigms in, for instance, the United States.

In the 1970s, Karl Deutsch
Karl Deutsch
Karl Wolfgang Deutsch was a Czech social and political scientist from a German speaking family. His work focused on the study of war and peace, nationalism, co-operation and communication...

 came to West Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

, and his cybernetics
Cybernetics
Cybernetics is the interdisciplinary study of the structure of regulatory systems. Cybernetics is closely related to information theory, control theory and systems theory, at least in its first-order form...

 inspired work has been widely influential there as elsewhere.

The work of the Frankfurt School has been a cornerstone of much German work on communication, in addition to Horkheimer, Adorno, and Habermas, figures like Oskar Negt
Oskar Negt
Oskar Negt is a philosopher and social theorist in the tradition of critical theory. He is Professor of Sociology at the Universität Hannover....

 and Alexander Kluge
Alexander Kluge
Alexander Kluge is an author and film director.-Early life, education and early career:Kluge was born in Halberstadt, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany....

 has been important in the development of this strand of thought.

An important competing paradigm has been the systems theory developed by Niklas Luhmann
Niklas Luhmann
Niklas Luhmann was a German sociologist, and a prominent thinker in sociological systems theory.-Biography:...

 and his students, such as Dirk Baecker and others.

Finally, from the 1980s and onwards, people like Friedrich Kittler
Friedrich Kittler
Friedrich A. Kittler was a literary scholar and a media theorist. His works relate to media, technology, and the military.-Biography:Friedrich Adolf Kittler was born in 1943 in Rochlitz in Saxony...

 has led the development of a 'new German medium theory', aligned partly with the Canadian medium theory of Innis and McLuhan and partly with post-structuralism
Post-structuralism
Post-structuralism is a label formulated by American academics to denote the heterogeneous works of a series of French intellectuals who came to international prominence in the 1960s and '70s...

.
Saa Muli
Holder of Bsc. Computing and Information System London Met University

Professional associations

  • National Communication Association
    National Communication Association
    The National Communication Association is the largest national organization to promote communication scholarship and education. A non-profit organization that has over 8,000 educators, practitioners, and students who work and reside in every state and more than 20 countries...

     (NCA): The main national professional organization covering many of the areas of communication studies in the U.S.
  • International Communication Association
    International Communication Association
    The International Communication Association is a non-profit academic association founded in 1950 as the National Society for the Study of Communication , whose members are interested in the study, teaching, and application of all aspects of human communication." The Association maintains an...

     is the main international association for communication studies, which combines an older focus on quantitatively based social science studies with newer critical and cultural studies of communicative phenomena.
  • Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication
    Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication
    The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, or AEJMC, is a major international membership organization for academics in the field, offering regional and national conferences and refereed publications. It has numerous membership divisions, interest groups, publications and...

  • Association for Business Communication
    Association for Business Communication
    The Association for Business Communication is the primary academic organization for the field of business communication scholarship, research, education and practice...

     (ABC)
  • International Association of Business Communicators
    International Association of Business Communicators
    The International Association of Business Communicators is a leading association for business communication professionals. IABC has approximately 16,000 members in more than 100 chapters in over 80 countries....

     (IABC)
  • Society for Technical Communication
    Society for Technical Communication
    The Society for Technical Communication is a professional society for the advancement of the theory and practice of technical communication.-Overview:...

     (STC)
  • Public Relations Society of America
    Public Relations Society of America
    The ' , based in New York City, is the world's largest organization for public relations professionals. The organization has more than 21,000 members, including professionals from public relations agencies, corporations, government, health care institutions, military, professional services firms,...

     (PRSA)
  • European Communication Research and Education Association / ECREA is the main European association for communication studies.
  • European Association for the Teaching of Academic Writing (EATAW) is the main European association for writing studies.
  • Association for Teachers of Technical Writing (ATTW)
  • International Association for Media and Communications Research (IAMCR) is a large international association for communication studies.
  • IEEE Professional Communication Society

See also

  • Communication basic topics
  • Communication sciences
    Communication Sciences
    Communication sciences refers to the schools of scientific research of human communication. This perspective follows the logical positivist tradition of inquiry; most modern communication science falls into a tradition of post-positivism. Thus, communication scientists believe that there is an...

  • Mass communication
    Mass communication
    Mass communication is the term used to describe the academic study of the various means by which individuals and entities relay information through mass media to large segments of the population at the same time...

  • Media ecology
    Media ecology
    Media ecology is a contested term within media studies having different meanings within European and North American contexts. The North American definition refers to aninterdisciplinary field of media theory and media design involving the study of "symbolic environment, or the socially constructed,...

  • Media studies
    Media studies
    Media studies is an academic discipline and field of study that deals with the content, history and effects of various media; in particular, the 'mass media'. Media studies may draw on traditions from both the social sciences and the humanities, but mostly from its core disciplines of mass...

  • Social Science
  • Text and Conversation Theory
    Text and conversation theory
    Text and conversation is a theory in the field of organizational communication illustrating how communication makes up an organization. In the theory's simplest explanation, an organization is created and defined by communication. communication “is” the organization and the organization exists...


External links