Communicology: The New Science of Embodied Discourse

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Isaac E. Catt, Deborah Eicher-Catt
Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press, 2010 - Philosophy - 242 pages
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This book offers a new way of thinking about communication that moves beyond normative perspectives. Exhibiting postmodern theory, communicology is an idea whose time has come. Working within the European human science tradition and the philosophy of American pragmatism, the authors included in this first anthology of its kind apply a synthesis of semiotics and phenomenology to the study of the cultural and social conditions of communicative praxis. Framed by the themes of human agency and efficacy, these essays focus on the realms of conscious experience in intrapersonal communicology (the self-domain), interpersonal communicology (self-other domain), social communicology (group-organization domain), and cultural communicology (group-to-group domain, including mass media and trans-cultural communication).

It is the usual case in the social sciences that communication is ignored or treated as a means to more substantive ends. Moreover, much work within discourse study proceeds on implicit, deeply held, culturally embedded ontological and epistemological assumptions about communication that are positivistic. Hence, uncritical and non-reflexive approaches to communication and discourse prevail. This book provides an alternative to readers curious about the fundamental nature of human communication rather than viewing this phenomenon as the mere vehicle for referents or thoughts. A designation first introduced in the United States in the 1950's by founders of the International Communication Association, the term communicology is now used to define the parameters of a unique research endeavor. At its heart is the refusal of the dominant logos of discourse as the only legitimate expression of the humane.

Broadly defined as the study of human discourse, this critical-interpretive approach interrogates the reversible, reciprocal, and reflexive nature of the "expressive and perceptive body," understood as the point of mediation between us and the cultural signs and codes of discourse in which we live. Communicology is a coherent theory and methodology that explores the existential ground from which subjectivity and intersubjectivity emerge as an embodied semiotic process. Thus, the paradigm exemplar of communicology is semiotic phenomenology, a synthetic logic of discourse that combines the wisdom and methodologies of two great human science traditions.

The purpose of this book is to describe communicology by focusing on the core issues of agency and efficacy in human affairs. Most central to the book's theme is the idea that the signs and codes of which discourse consists impose constraints upon human agency and efficacy; yet signs and codes are also instrumental in our lives. Discourse constrains choice but is also the only means for its exercise of human potential. Above all, the authors in this collection know that communication is a possibility, not a probability, of human expression and information exchange. They expose the semiotic and phenomenological conditions upon which that possibility is actualized.

About the Editors

Deborah Eicher-Catt is Assistant Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences at The Pennsylvania State University-York.

Isaac E. Catt is author of over 100 academic papers and founding member and Fellow of the International Communicology Institute.

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A Reflexive Human Science
Reflection Reflexivity
Agency and Efficacy
Critique of Communication
Resistance as Communicative
Culture in the Context of Communicology
Notes on Contributors

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