theories of interpersonal communication 1

Directions: Respond to two of the four questions in well-organized essays. As always, view your response as an argument. A good argument will demonstrate effective use of class concepts and will be well-written, thorough, and integrate the diverse theories mentioned in each question. Remember that this kind of writing typically requires multiple drafts of responses and editing is an important part of the writing process. Do not focus your attention on the length of your response. Instead focus on responding thoroughly to each question. If you feel the need to shorten a question you can do that as part of the normal editing process. I will not set an upper page limit to the question. But a well-written and well-edited response might be 7-8 pages. 20 points each (40 points total).

Question 1

Across your many communication classes you have learned to think of many things as cultures (organizations, relationships, neighborhoods, etc.). Assume that the town of Mystery constitutes a culture. Describe this culture in detail by identifying and discussing the various structures that constitute this culture (e.g., roles, rules, stories vocabularies, etc.). Your description of the town culture should help someone who reads your essay to understand who these people are, what they are like, how they communicate, how they relate to one another, and what they value. How does your understanding of this culture change throughout the movie? What causes these changes? Does your understanding of the culture change over the course of your analysis/critique? Your discussion could come from our discussion of the cultural structures in the ethnography lecture but you should supplement this discussion with concepts from Tracy’s chapter on talk, selected concepts from Goffman, Brown and Levinson’s Politeness Theory, and/or Social Dialectics, Social Exchange Theory, and/or speech acts. The best responses to this question will be comprehensive (draw on a broad range of theories) and will integrate concepts from different theories (e.g., how talk “frames” validate certain forms of talk with how talk contributes to a “definition of the situation”).

Question 2

We have discussed several theories of interpersonal communication. We have learned that one of the factors that distinguishes each of these theories is the feature of interpersonal communication that the theory explains (the process of making attributions, message production competence [constructivism], identity [symbolic interactionism, Tracy’s work on talk and identity, politeness theory], relational communication [social exchange theory, dialectics], speech acts). Develop a new theory that is a unique hybrid of different theories have read and discussed. You should begin by identifying what it is about interpersonal communication that you want to explain. Then you should synthesize relevant concepts from different theories that help you to better understand and explain that feature of interpersonal communication. Be sure to identify, define, and discuss each concept. Your goal should be to create something unique from your combination of these concepts. That is, your theory should not simply be an aggregate of concepts but a true synthesis of these concepts. Your discussion of this synthesis should also include examples of the interpersonal communication behavior that is the focus of your theory. Does your new theory have a name? We also discussed a variety of characteristics of theories and ways they might be evaluated. How would you evaluate your new theory? What characteristics are you using to render this judgment?

Question 3

Across your many communication classes you have learned to think of many things as cultures (organizations, relationships, neighborhoods, etc.). Assume that the house Monty shares with his roommates in With Honors constitutes a culture. Describe this culture in detail by identifying and discussing the various structures that constitute this culture (e.g., roles, rules, stories (e.g., “Boz”), vocabularies, etc.). Your description of the house culture should help someone who reads your essay to understand who these people are, what they are like, how they communicate, how they relate to one another, and what they value. How is this house a subculture of the larger Harvard culture? How does the subculture change throughout the movie? What causes these changes? Your discussion could come from our discussion of the cultural structures in the ethnography lecture but you should supplement this discussion with concepts from Tracy’s chapter on talk, selected concepts from Goffman, Brown and Levinson’s Politeness Theory, and/or Social Dialectics. The best responses to this question will be comprehensive (draw on a broad range of theories) and will integrate concepts from different theories (e.g., how talk “frames” validate certain forms of talk with how talk contributes to a “definition of the situation”).

Question 4

Take the basic concept of “identity.” Identity has played a unifying role in the field of Communication. It has been important to Interpersonal Communication, Organizational Communication, Rhetoric, Performance and Media Studies. In Theories of Interpersonal Communication, we have talked about identities from different theoretical perspectives. Consider our discussions of Goffman, Ethnography, Social Exchange Theory, Politeness Theory. How is identity defined by each of these theories (or how the theory would define identity if they explicitly addressed the concept). Describe how each of these theories treat “identity” (or how they would treat identity if identity is not discussed explicitly by a particular theory). The point here is for you to understand and describe what features of identity are emphasized in some theories or deemphasized in other theories. As you describe and analyze these features, be sure to recognize points of similarity and dissimilarity among different theoretical perspectives.

 

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