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Emergence and Human Communication

Emergence in research in human communication designates a variety of approaches to the question of what enables a common understanding among human beings. They see human understanding as the result of sense-making or meaning-making processes, which are embedded in individuals’ prior and momentary engagement with the material world and other individuals. This entry offers a short description of what unites emergent approaches to human communication but also of what divides them.

Emergent approaches are united in the view that meaning as a whole (X) emerges from a socially situated combination and coordination of a variety of materials (Ys), for example, the combination of colors, design and language of artifacts and the coordination of language, gesture, body posture, facial expression, and material artifacts in face-to-face interaction. They ...

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