In a bold attempt to redirect the ways theories of communication are conceived and research on communication processes are conducted, this volume questions prevailing communication scholarship that emphasizes the cultural, psychological, and sociological variables that impact on, and/or are impacted by, communication. Instead of focusing on the consequences of communication, this books urges readers to examine the consequentiality of communication -- what it is about the communication process that enables it to play a defining role in our lives. Communication is not a neutral conveyor of meanings derived from culture, cognition, or social structure, and is not explained by correlations with external variables. Meaning emerges from the communication process itself; it is dependent upon what transpires during the real-time moments of communicators behaving with each other. To properly study this new paradigm, a new vocabulary for thinking about the consequentiality of communication is needed and proposed.
Four theoretical orientations are used to stake out this new territory: coordinated management of meaning, neo-rhetorical theory, conversation analysis, and social communication theory. While there are points of agreement and overlap on the need to study communication as inherently consequential, there are also differences across the four theories -- in the value of "rules" as an explanatory concept, on the relationship between structure and process, and on the very constitution of a "theory." Thus, this book has the benefit of articulating a new paradigm for communication scholarship without losing sight of the discipline's rich diversity.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction. S.J. Sigman, Toward Study of the Consequentiality (Not Consequences) of Communication. Part I: Four Perspectives on Consequentiality. V.E. Cronen, Coordinated Management of Meaning: The Consequentiality of Communication and the Recapturing of Experience. R.E. Sanders, Neo-Rhetorical Theory: The Enactment of Role-Identities as Interactive and Strategic. W.A. Beach, Conversation Analysis: "Okay" as a Clue for Understanding Consequentiality. W. Leeds-Hurwitz, S.J. Sigman, S.J. Sullivan, Social Communication Theory: Communication Structures and Performed Invocations, a Revision of Scheflen's Notion of Programs. Part II: Reformulating and Critiquing the Four Perspectives. V.E. Cronen, Commentary. R.E. Sanders, A Retrospective Essay on The Consequentiality of Communication. W.A. Beach, Maps and Diggings. S.J. Sigman, W. Leeds-Hurwitz, (Re)Situating Social Communication in Consequentiality.
"You will never sit down at dinner with your family again, without thinking of this book. It shows how the simple act of sharing a meal can be a mechanism for teaching children, for expressing one's identity, and for transmitting one's culture."
"Sigman has brought together a distinguished group of authors who propose four distinct approaches to the consequentiality of communication. The theoretical dialogue that emerges in the pages of this book is itself a powerful illustration of the consequentiality of communication. The Consequentiality of Communication is a book that will have important consequences for our field."
—Robert T. Craig
University of Colorado, Boulder