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A First Look at Communication Theory



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The most widely-used textbook for the communication theory course, A First Look at Communication Theory analyzes the major communication theories at a level that is appropriate for both lower- and upper-level courses. The 33 theories represented in the text reflect a mix of foundational and recent scholarship and strike a balance of scientific and interpretive approaches.

Table of Contents

Division One: Overview


1. Talk About Theory

2. Mapping the Territory

3. Weighing the Words of Symbolic Convergence Theory

Division Two: Interpersonal Communication

Interpersonal Messages

4. Symbolic Interactionism (Mead)

5. Coordinated Management of Meaning (Pearce & Cronen)

6. Expectancy Violations Theory (Burgoon)

7. Interpersonal Deception Theory (Buller & Burgoon)

Ethical Reflections

Kant’s Categorical Imperative

Augustine’s Divine Will

Bok’s Principle of Veracity

Relationship Development

8. Social Penetration Theory (Altman & Taylor)

9. Uncertainty Reduction Theory (Berger)

10. Social Information Processing (Walther)

Relationship Maintenance

11. Relational Dialectics (Baxter & Montgomery)

12. The Interactional View (Watzlawick)

Cognitive Processing

13. Constructivism (Delia)


14. Social Judgment Theory (Sherif)

15. Elaboration Likelihood Model (Petty & Cacioppo)

16. Cognitive Dissonance Theory (Festinger)

Ethical Reflections

Buber’s Dialogic Ethics

Nilsen’s Significant Choice

Division Three: Group and Public Communication

Group Decision Making

17. Functional Perspective on Group Decision Making (Hirokawa & Gouran)

18. Adaptive Structuration Theory (Poole)

Organizational Communication

19. Information Systems Approach to Organizations (Weick)

20. Cultural Approach to Organizations (Geertz & Pacanowsky)

21. Critical Theory of Communication Approach to Organizations (Deetz)

Public Rhetoric

22. The Rhetoric (Aristotle)

23. Dramatism (Burke)

24. Narrative Paradigm (Fisher)

Ethical Reflections

Aristotle’s Golden Mean

West’s Prophetic Pragmatism

Division Four: Mass Communication

Media and Culture

25. Semiotics (Barthes)

26. Cultural Studies (Hall)

Media Effects

27. Cultivation Theory (Gerbner)

28. Agenda-Setting Theory (McCombs & Shaw)

29. Spiral of Silence (Noelle-Neumann)

Ethical Reflections

Habermas’ Discourse Ethics

Christians’ Communitarian Ethics

Division Five: Cultural Context

Intercultural Communication

30. Anxiety/Uncertainty Management Theory (Gudykunst)

31. Face-Negotiation Theory (Ting-Toomey)

32. Speech Codes Theory (Philipsen)

Gender and Communication

33. Genderlect Styles (Tannen)

34. Standpoint Theory (Harding & Wood)

35. Muted Group Theory (Kramarae)

Ethical Reflections

Gilligan’s Different Voice

Benhabib’s Interactive Universalism

Division Six: Integration

Communication Theory

36. Order Out of Chaos

Appendix A. Abstracts of Theories

Appendix B. Feature Films that Illustrate Communication Theory

Appendix C. National Communication Association Credo for Ethical Communication


Credits and Acknowledgements


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