• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

The discipline of communication has grown in popularity from the time professors of journalism and speech decided, in the mid-1960s, that the term “communication” was an excellent general descriptor for the theory and research that each group aspired to create.  Over time, the two groups grew closer and recognized significant overlap in their theoretical and research interests, but there were also differences in their traditions that kept them apart.  While both groups agreed that communication is a practical discipline, journalism professors focused a great deal of their attention on the education of media professionals.  Speech professors, on the other hand, often were more oriented to the liberal arts and valued the fact that communication could be approached from a variety of traditions, including the arts, ...

Philosophical Approaches to Communication
Philosophical approaches to communication

The philosophical approaches in play in any field appear in the knowledge claims that mark the epis-temological contribution of the field. For their part, these knowledge claims arise out of the theories that constitute the subject matter of the field. This entry, then, takes on the topic of communication theory. An entry on communication theory has three responsibilities: first, to define what theory is; second, to discuss the field of theory; and third, to explore what makes a theory a communication theory.


Theory is a way of thinking about something. It is a set of instructions that tells what and why things are (the way they are); how and why they function (the way they function); and the value ...

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