What does it mean to argue that communication is organizing? Or ritual? Or failure? What is at stake in choosing one metaphor or stance over another? What is gained and what is lost - for the field, for the theories themselves, and especially for humans communicating in everyday contexts? In Communication as…: Perspectives on Theory, editors Gregory J. Shepherd, Jeffrey St. John, and Ted Striphas bring together a collection of 27 essays that explores the wide range of theorizing about communication, cutting across all lines of traditional division in the field.
The essays in this text are written by leading scholars in the field of communication theory, with each scholar employing a particular stance or perspective on what communication theory is and how it functions. In essays that are brief, argumentative, and forceful, the scholars propose their perspective as a primary or essential way of viewing communication with decided benefits over other views.
Compares and contrasts different metaphorical views on the theory and practice of communication, challenging students to develop their own argument about communication theory; Promotes an alternative way of examining communication problems - through the engaged interplay of a diversity of positions - encouraging readers to think through contemporary problems and questions in the field; Compels readers to confront competing theoretical positions and their consequences head-on rather than outlining theories in ways that might separate them from their real-world consequences
Communication as… is an excellent textbook for advanced undergraduate and graduate courses on communication theory in the fields of Communication, Journalism, Sociology, and Psychology.
Chapter 27: Communication as Failure
Communication as Failure
My essay begins not with communication theory, but with American literature. I want to discuss the New York—based writer William Gaddis, who between 1955 and his death at age 75, in 1998, penned five novels (1955, 1975, 1985, 1994, 2002a). In my reading, Gaddis's books collectively posit one darkly comic claim, bitter but brilliant: that communication is best understood as failure. I think that a wealth of clues in his books suggest two main reasons why he held this view. First, I believe he was convinced that the average person in our society fears failure intensely. Second, I think he also thought that because we tend to avoid what we fear, we are doubly distanced from a serious and ...