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Discourse and communication are two interrelated concepts, intricately interwoven and grossly assumed as overtly synonymous. This study therefore, attempts to demystify these concepts and also aim to unearth the intricate relationship that exists between them .In this regard, the study discussed in detail the theoretical frameworks of discourse and communication and consequently established the fact that they are absolutely synonymous in every respect. To this end, the methodology is Content Analysis using discourse analytic tools of cohesion and coherence.


Language, it could be said, is as old as man but the central function of language is and remains communication. In other words, the whole essence of language boils down to communication and communication is or entails discourse. The centrality and significance of language in relation to mankind has made it the concern of linguists. Prior to modern trends in linguistics analysis, scholars were chiefly concerned with describing the structures and frameworks of languages, in this case, the traditional grammarians. However, the development of new approaches in language study shifted emphasis to functionalism, marking a quantum leap from linguistic prescriptivism to linguistic descriptivism. This brought about attempts to explain the roles or functions of language in different context, thus leading to new disciplines like discourse analysis and communication studies that view language as discourse and as a means to exchange ideas or knowledge.

Discourse can be regarded as communication because they are invariably linked such that the manifestation of one presupposes the occurrence of the other. This scenario could be likened to two sides of a coin; intricate parts of a whole. According to Wodak ‘discourse is a social performance, a relative social phenomenon that depends on a wide range of discipline…’ (49). Simply put, it refers to conversations or utterances in a social context. On the other hand, communication is an umbrella term for processes that involve the exchange of information and this includes conversations or utterances (discourse). Keyton (52) states that ‘communication presupposes discourse and all discourse forms’. In this regard, the concepts of discourse and communication will be examined in detail to further understand there interrelatedness and minor differences.


The term Discourse is broad with many definitions. It ‘integrates a whole palette of meanings’ (Horvath, npn). The Wikipedia states that the word discourse is derived from the Latin word discursus which means to and from’ (npn). Literally, discourse refers to communication of thought by words or a formal discussion of a subject in speech or writing. A plausible definition of discourse is offered by Stubbs as ‘language above the sentence or above the clause’ (2). In the same vein, Tenorio (4) states that discourse ‘is the highest unit of linguistic description; phonemes, morphemes, words, phrases, clauses, sentences and text are below’. This definition offers a syntactic description or explanation of discourse. Adopting a different view, Van Dijk asserts that discourse is ‘text in context’ (3). Dijk’s position offers a sociolinguistics outlook on the notion of discourse by taking cognizance of the situation it occurs. The context is very significant because discourse does not take place in a vacuum and must be by definite participants or interactants.

Despite the various definitions offered by linguists, Schiffrin conceives that ‘discourse can be interpreted in wider range than any other term in linguistic areas, yet it has been least accurately defined’ (40). This is relatively in consonance with Richardson’s view which implies that discourse is a term that is used fashionably in various disciplines and becomes ‘one of the most well used words in academics today’ (21). In other words, the term is frequently used and adopted in other academic fields, thus leading to its diverse definitions.  Paltridge (2) offers that Zellig Harris; a well known linguist was the first to use the term ‘discourse’ in 1952 during a paper he presented on Discourse Analysis. However, Discourse as a field only gained much interest during the 1970s when it eventually developed as a critique of cognitive process in communication. It is based on the notion that language needs a context for it to function properly. In this regard, Ahmad (1) stressed that it is ‘difficult to understand the linguistic items used in discourse without a context’.

The context is so relevant in discourse such that it is part of the three perspectives outlined by Van Dijk to define or critically understand discourse. They are: linguistic, cognitive and socio-cultural. First, he argues that discourse is described at the syntactic, semantic and stylistic levels (linguistics perspective). Secondly, he adds that it needs to be understood from the interlocutors’ processes of production, reception and understanding (cognitive) and finally he points to the social dimension of discourse which he sees as a sequence of contextualized, controlled and purposeful acts that occur in the society: context (socio-cultural). In sum, discourse is multidisciplinary. It is a social performance, an interpersonal activity whose form is determined by its social purpose.

Discourse Analysis is a cover term for the many traditions by which discourse may be analysed. Osisanwo (8) notes thus, ‘popular as discourse analysis is among modern linguists, coming up with a comprehensive and acceptable definition of the term has been a herculean task’. To solve this linguistics conundrum, Brown and Yule in Osisanwo provided an apt definition as ‘the analysis of discourse is necessarily the analysis of language in use’ (8). This definition implied that discourse overtly presupposes communication; therefore discourse analysis is the method of studying discourse. Stubbs in Osisanwo offered a syntax-oriented view of discourse analysis as an attempt to study ‘the organization of language above the sentence or above the clause, and therefore to study larger linguistic units, such as conversational exchanges or written texts’ (8).

Schriffin explains that ‘it is a critique of cognitivism (objective, observable/knowable reality) that developed from the 1970s onwards, although it has its roots in the turn to language in the 1950s’ (34). Crystal in Mills asserted that ‘discourse analysis focuses on the structure of naturally occurring spoken language, as found in such discourses as conversations, interviews, commentaries and speeches’ (3). This corroborates Van Dijk’s view on Discourse analysis as a modality for construction of theories in clarifying the existing relations between language use, thoughts or beliefs and social interactions. He goes further to correct the general misconception that discourse analysis can only be done on spoken language since there is an evident interaction between speakers. On the contrary, written materials can also be analysed because readers assimilate what they are reading in spite of what may seem as passive interaction between a reader and the text.

In a nutshell, Mills (135) agreed that ‘discourse analysis could be seen as a reaction to a more traditional form of linguistics (formal, structural linguistics) which focused on the constituent units and structure of the sentence and which does not concern itself with an analysis of language in use’. It is concerned with translating the notion of structure from the level of the sentence to the level of longer text.


A strategy ordinarily refers to a modality, procedure or method in achieving a set goal or aim. Van Dijk conceived strategy as ‘cognitive representations of action sequences and their goals’ (79). This means that one’s desires or wants are compared to what one knows about one’s abilities, the action, context, the possibilities and probabilities of outcomes and so on. In this regard, he viewed discourse strategies as ‘intuitive notions that underlie semantic relations between sentences and in terms of rules relating sentences with semantic macrostructures’ (80). These intuitive notions bring about proper linking of ideas or semantic relations in discourse. Therefore, the basic discourse strategies are cohesion and coherence.

2.1.1 Cohesion: This refers to the grammatical or lexical linking within a text or sentence that holds a text together and gives it meaning. There are two main types of cohesion: lexical and grammatical cohesion.

Lexical cohesion involves making use of the features of words as well as the group relationship between them. There are two main types of lexical cohesion which are: reiteration and collocation. Reiteration occurs in form of repetition, synonymy or hyponymy. On the other hand, collocation deals with words that co-occur in discourse.

Grammatical cohesion centres on the logical and structural form of words used in discourse. There are four main types of grammatical devices: reference, substitution, ellipsis and conjunction. Reference deals with definiteness and can be divided into two: anaphoric and cataphoric reference. Substitution entails replacement of linguistic element(s) while ellipsis involves outright deletion of these elements (words).

2.1.2 Coherence: This covers the semantic aspects of discourse. Simply put, discourse is said to be coherent when it makes sense. Coherence in discourse is achieved through syntactical features, cognitive processes and semantic relations such as the use of deictic, anaphoric and cataphoric elements, implications and presuppositions.

2.2 Critical Discourse Analysis

Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) is a contemporary approach to the study of language and discourses in social institutions. It focuses on the way and manner language exercises its power in the society. Critical Discourse Analysis began from the assumption that systematic asymmetries of power and resources between speakers and listeners, readers and writers can be linked to their unequal access to linguistic and social resources. It hinges on the notion that language use is a social practice which does not function in isolation but in a set of cultural, social and psychological frameworks. CDA accepts this social context and studies its connections with textual structures. It also takes the social context into account and explores the links between textual structures and their function interaction within the society. The terms Critical Linguistics (CL) and Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) are often used interchangeably. However, the latter is often preferred and used to denote the former theory previously identified as Critical Linguistics. CDA is a relatively new approach in discourse studies, whose emergence could be traced to a small symposium of discourse scholars in Amsterdam in 1990 and headed by Van Dijk. He views CDA as;

a type of discourse analytical research that primarily studies the way                       social power abuse, dominance and inequality are enacted, reproduced and resisted by text and talk in the social and political context. With such dissident research, critical discourse analysts take explicit position and thus want to understand, expose and ultimately resist social inequality. (23)

2.2.1 Theories in Critical Discourse Analysis

Based on Wodak’s submissions, there are about six (6) known theories of Critical Discourse Analysis. These theories are often referred to as approaches and shall be subsequently discussed. Dispositive Analysis: According to Carbon, Foucault conceptualizes the term dispositive as a ‘decidedly heterogeneous ensemble of elements ranging from buildings to laws to scientific statements… but also for example, the users exclusive knowledge of a code’ (2). Carbon notes that one important aspect of Foucault’s definition is the importance of connections between elements. Using Jager’s taxonomy, Carbon outlines three elements which she considers as the bedrock of dispositive analysis. They are: discursive practices, non-discursive practices (actions) and physical objects. Discursive practices addresses or refers to processes by which cultural meanings are produced and understood. The basis of discursive practices is the insistence that discourse is action and not merely representation. In this regard, attention must be given to what is accomplished through discourse. For instance, proverbs are treated not just as bits of cultural wisdom but as resources available for use in certain situations. The emphasis will be on how are proverbs used and not what they mean or say. The key objective of discursive practices is to understand and develop techniques relevant to the analysis of meaningful behaviour in actual situations.

The non-discursive practices refer to actions which are accompanied by knowledge. For instance, the act of going to a particular location requires a perfect or partial knowledge of the area. The third element literally refers to the place or role of physical objects in deciphering meaning. This brings about the idea of referent in the real world. Although not all words have exact referents, which is of course one of the limitations of the theoretical aspect. Other approaches in CDA are:

          ● sociocognitive approach: centres on the socio-psychological aspect of CDA for explaining phenomena of social reality based on the triad of discourse, cognition and society;

          ● discourse historical approach: it establishes the relationship between fields of action, genres, discourses and text, focusing on issues of nationalism and national conscientisation;

           ● corpus-linguistics approach: a linguistic extension of CDA which deploys the use of linguistic devices for analysis;

           ● social actors approach: a merger of sociological and linguistic theories which explains actions in order to establish social structure; and

          ● dialectical-relational approach: focuses on social conflict in tandem with Marxist traditions and tries to detect its linguistic manifestations in discourse with interest on elements of dominance, difference and resistance. The approach holds that every social practice (productivity, means of production, social relations, social identities and cultural values and consciousness) has a semiotic element.


 Chandler defined semiotics as ‘the study not only of what we refer to as signs in everyday speech but of anything which stands for something else’ (56). In a semiotic sense, signs take the form of words, images, sounds, gestures and objects. In discourse analysis, semiotics comes to play because every text is a semiotic element in every respect because it communicates with a target or general audience. Semiotics looks at the science of signs and symbols in relation to the meanings they express and discourse analysis shares this concern as well. In other words, discourse and semiotics are interrelated.


The word communication was derived from the Latin word communis which denotes common. According to Keyton in Lunenburg, communication is ‘the process of transmitting information and common understanding from one person to another’ (25). This definition underscores the fact that unless a common understanding results from the exchange of information, there is no communication. Communication like any other skill requires practice. It is a process that requires the effective participation of all parties (elements) involved.

3.1 Basic Forms of Communication

The basic forms of communication are of two types: verbal and non-verbal communication. This could be in form of meetings, speeches or writings, gestures or expressions.

3.1.1 Non-Verbal Communication: This is a primitive or crude form of communication that does not involve the use of words. Rather, it uses mediums like gestures, cues, body movements, vocal qualities and spatial relationships to convey message(s). It is commonly used to express emotions like love, respect, dislike and unpleasantness. Non-verbal communication is less structured compared to verbal and often spontaneous. As it is not planned, sometimes it is considered more reliable because it reflects communicator’s true feelings. Also, it enhances the effectiveness of the message as gestures and body language are registered quicker and easier with a perceived than verbal communication. However, when combined with verbal communication, it is more effective and has greater impact(s).

3.1.2 Verbal Communication: This involves the arrangement of words in a structured and meaningful manner to convey a message or exchange information between communicators in spoken or written form. The spoken form (oral communication) is effective in reaching a focused target audience as it affords the speaker the opportunity of interacting with the perceived audience while the written form is suitable when trying to reach a large audience that is concentrated in a place or due to proximity challenges. On the whole, verbal communication does have significant advantages over the non-verbal communication. Perhaps, this explains why it is the most adopted form in recent times.

3.1.3 Oral Communication: This is the process of verbally transmitting information and ideas from one individual or group to another. With advances in technology, there are new forms of oral communication like video phones and video conferencing (teleconferencing). Other modern forms of oral communication include Podcasts (audio clips accessible on the internet) and Voice-over-internet Protocol (VoIP) which allows phone users to communicate over the internet and avoid telephone charges. Example is Whatsapp, Facebook, etc. Oral communication can be either formal or informal. Formal type of oral communication refers to presentations at business meetings or seminars, classroom lectures or speeches. The informal type of oral communication includes face-to-face conversations or telephone conversations.

3.1.4 Written Communication: This involves any type of message or information transfer that makes use of symbols or words (printed or handwritten). It is the most important and effective of any mode of business communication. Written communication is the opposite form oral communication. Examples of modes of written communication are proposals, lecture notes, seminar papers, postcards, brochures, press releases, memos, etc.


The term theory is a multi-faceted term as this implies that it means a number of things depending on the context. In other words, there is no exact definition of the word ‘theory’. Dixon defines theory as;

a provisional explanatory proposition or set of propositions concerning some natural phenomena and consisting symbolic representations of the observed relationships among (measured) events, the mechanisms or structures presumed to underlie such relationships or observed data in the absence of any direct empirical manifestation of the relationships. (240)

Similarly, Kerlinger defined theory as ‘a set of interrelated constructs (concepts), definitions and propositions that present a systematic view of phenomena by specifying relations among variables with the purpose of explaining and predicting the phenomena’ (36). In line with the definitions of the term theory, communication theory could be defined as a set of constructs linked together, relational statements consistent with each other that explains what happens in communication. A set of propositions that show the relationship between the various variables that are at work in the communication process. Theories are very important in communication because they provide a foundation upon which the practice of communication operates. Communication requires very sound theories for there to be an effective communication process. Hence, Kerlinger asserts that ‘there is nothing so practical as a sound theory’ (38).

In communication studies, there are many theories of communication which can be collapsed into five broad types. They are: normative theories, media and culture theories, active audience theories, sense theories and behavioural theories of mass communication.

3.2.1 Normative Theories (Theories of the Press)

According to Siebert et al, (45) the normative theories ‘describe the way an ideal media system should be controlled and operated by the government, authorities, leaders and the public’. These theories are basically different from other communication theories because normative theories of press do not provide any scientific explanations or predictions. Otherwise known as the ‘four theories of the press’, these theories do not have a single source. In other words, media practitioners, social critics and academics were involved in the formulation of the normative theories. The normative theories comprise the following theories: authoritarian media theory, libertarian media theory, soviet communist media theory and social responsibility media theory. These theories will be discussed based on Siebert et al submissions. Authoritarian Media Theory: Developed in the 16th and 17th century Europe (England), this theory stemmed from the authoritarian philosophy of Plato who thought that the state was safe only in the hands of a few wise men. It also had the backing of British academic; Thomas Hobbs who argued that the power to maintain order was sovereign and individual objections was to be ignored. It upheld the absolute power of the monarch where the state is the master. According to this theory, mass media, though not under the direct control of the state, had to follow its bidding. In other words, those who control the government have monopoly of the truth and of information approach. The media in this set up (private or public owned) worked to protect the interest of the government in power. The implication was that the media was not to publish anything that is under censorship and anyone who did otherwise was punished severely. Under an authoritarian approach in Europe, freedom of thought was jealously guarded by a few people (ruling class) , who were concerned with the emergence of a new middle class and were worried about the effects of printed matter on their thought process. Hence, steps were taken to control the freedom of expression. The result was advocacy of complete dictatorship. Libertarian Media Theory: This theory originated in England in the 17th century and spread to America. It stemmed from enlightenment thoughts and natural rights. This theory was also informed by Milton’s idea of the self-right process of the free market place of ideas. This meant that good ideas would outlive and outwit bad ones if all ideas were guaranteed free expression. The underlying principles of the theory can be summed up as follows:

      attacks on government, official party or political party should not be punishable,

       no media organization should be compelled to publish anything

        no media restriction should be placed on any legal means of eliciting information and

   there should be no restrictions on sending or receiving messages across national frontiers.

Apart from Milton, other exponents of this theory are John Locke, Adam Smith, Lao Tzu and John Stuart Mill. In the nutshell, the theory advocates power without social responsibility. Soviet Communist Media Theory: This theory originated from the former USSR in the 20th century and stemmed from the ideologies of Marx and Engel that the ideas of the ruling classes are the ruling ideas. It was a modification of the authoritarian theory. The aim of the press under this system is to support the Marxist (socialist) system and ensure the sovereignty of the working class (proletariat) through the Communist party. In this scenario, the media is theoretically owned by the people but controlled by the Communist party. The media cannot criticize party objectives. Rather it propagates party them. This theory differs from the authoritarian model because the Soviet media is not subject to arbitrary and unnecessary interference of the government. The principles of this theory can be summed up thus:

        media should serve the interest of the working class

        media should not be privately owned

        media should present a complete and objective view of the society and the world according to Marxist Leninist principles.

The advocates of this theory were Karl Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Gobarchev, Castro and Mao. Meanwhile, this theory is still practiced in Communist countries like China, North Korea and Cuba. Social Responsibility Media Theory: This theory was developed in the mid 20th century in United States of America. It stemmed from the virulent criticisms of the libertarian theory and based on the recommendations of Commission of The Freedom of Press in the US in 1949. The commission found out that the free market approach to press freedom (Libertarian Theory) had only increased the power of a single class (wealthy) and had not served the interests of the less privilege or lower class. This theory therefore, was formulated to reconcile independence with obligation to societies. It advocated some obligation on the part of the media to society. It emphasized that ownership and control of the media should be seen as a kind of stewardship; serving and promoting the interest of the public. Hence, the press should be opened to anyone who has something to say. The theory hinges on the notion that the social responsibility of the press is more important than its freedom. The essence of the theory is premiered on plurality of the press in and a duty to one’s conscience which is the primary basis of the right to free expression.

In sum, the Soviet Communist and Social Responsibility theories were derivations of the Authoritarian and Libertarian theories respectively. Therefore, these four theories are sometimes called the ‘four-in-two press theories’. However, there are other subsequent additional theories by scholars.

3.2.2 Media and Culture Theories

Baran & Davies classify the media and culture theories into the following categories: spiral of silence theory, knowledge gap theory, media dependency theory and modernization theory. Spiral of Silence Theory: Propounded by Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann (a German political scientist), the focus of the spiral theory is on how public opinion is formed. The theory states that the media publicizes opinions that are mainstream and people adjust their opinions to avoid being isolated. It explains why people feel often feel the need to conceal their opinions, preference or views, especially when they fall within or belong to a minority group. This implies that individuals who perceive their own opinion as being accepted will express it while those who think themselves as minorities will suppress theirs. The tendency of one to speak up and the other to be silent starts off a spiral process which increasingly establishes one opinion as prevailing one. In this regard, the media which wields power can canvass popular views so that individual views in opposition of the media become unpopular. Knowledge Gap Theory: This theory explains the distribution of knowledge in the society and the role of the mass media in this distribution. It posits that as the infusion of mass media information into a social system increases, those in the upper socio-economic class tend to acquire or access this information faster than those in the lower socio-economic class. This leads to a gap in knowledge between both classes. The propositions of this theory can be summarized thus:

     a. people in a society exhibit great psychological differences due to socio-economic classes.

     b. individuals with sound or more education tend to have better developed cognitive and communication skills, broader social spheres and more diverse social contacts than those with less educative irrespective of their social-economic class. Media Dependency Theory: This theory was originally proposed by Sandra Ball- Rokeach and Melvin DeFluer in 1976. The key idea behind this theory is that audiences depend on media information to meet needs and reach goals and social institutions and media systems interact with audiences to create and imprint needs, interests and motives in them. Therefore, the more a person depends on the mass media for self fulfillment, the more important the media will be to that person. According to Rokeach and DeFluer, three media needs determine how important media is to a person at any given moment. These needs are:

     a. the need to understand one’s social world (surveillance)

    b. the need to act meaningfully and effectively in that world (social utility)

    c. the need to escape from that world when tensions are high (fantasy-escape)

Furthermore, the theory states two specific conditions under which people’s media needs and dependency are heightened. They are: (a) when the number of media and the functions of media in the society are high (e.g. as a tool for information dissemination, entertainment, escape, etc) and (b) when a society is undergoing social change like protest, uprisings, instability and conflict. Modernization Theory: This theory looks at the effects of the modernization process on societies or human communication. It explains the changing ways of communication and media use in traditional and (post)modern societies. It is also an attempt at identifying the social variables which may contribute to social progress and development of societies. Baran & Davis assert that the modernization theory has evolved in three waves: first wave, second wave and third wave. The first wave centres on the role of the mass media in economic development, literacy and cultural development and national identity development; all between the 1950s-60s. The second wave was popular in the 70s and 80s and it criticized the influence of western cultural and economic imperialism. The third was moderate in approach on international influences on emerging societies. It was prominent during the 90s.

3.2.3 Active Audience Theories

Siebert categorizes the audience theories into three sub-types: uses and gratification theory, diffusion of innovations theory and cultivation theory. Uses and Gratification Theory (Functional Theory): Propounded by Katz, Blumler and Gurevitch in 1970, it is concerned with how people use media for gratification of their needs. The theory aligns with Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in the sense that people choose what they want to see or read and the different media compete to satisfy each individual’s needs. According to the theory, media consumers have a free will to decide how they will use the media and how it will affect them. In general, researchers have found four kinds of gratification: information, personal identity (looking for role models), integration and social interaction and entertainment. Diffusion of Innovations Theory (Multiple Step Flow Theory): Pioneered by Bryce Ryan and Neil Gross of Iowa University in 1943, the theory traces the process by which new idea (innovation) is communicated through certain mediums over time among members of a social system. The media and interpersonal communication are active and potent instruments in spreading information on a new idea or innovation and also influence people to adopt the innovation. Greg in Siebert (89) notes that ‘successful efforts to diffuse an innovation depend on characteristics of situation. To eliminate a deficit of awareness of an innovation, mass media channels are most appropriate’. Also opinion leaders influence the diffusion of innovation because they provide advice and information about an innovation to members of a social system. The opinion leaders have this advantage because they serve as a model for others and also support the norms of the social structure. Rogers summarizes members of the social system innovative decision as a five step that includes:

      a. Knowledge- person becomes aware of an innovation and has some idea of how it functions,

      b. Persuasion- person forms a favourable or unfavourable attitude towards the innovation,

      c. Decision- person engages in activities that lead to a choice to adopt or reject the innovation,

       d. Implementation- person puts an innovation into use and

      e. Confirmation- person evaluates the results of an innovation-decision already made. Cultivation Theory: This theory explains how television shapes concepts of social reality. This implies that the more people are exposed to television, the more it shapes their perception social reality and influences their conformity to what is spread by the television.          Propounded by George Gerbner et al, the theory stresses that television exerts a great tremendous influence by altering individuals’ perception of reality. Gerbner stressed that the television, among modern media, has acquired such a central place in daily life, asserting that ‘the television set has become a key member of the family, the one who tells most of the stories most of the time’ (56). It is assumed that the more time people spend watching television, the more their world-views will be like those spread by the television.

3.2.4 Sense Theories

These comprise of play theory, media richness theory, medium theory and reflective projective theory. Play Theory: Proposed by British psychologist; William Stephenson in 1967, the theory focuses on the division of man’s activities. The basic assumption of the theory is that people are divided into work and play. Work involves serious activities while play is not too serious an activity like entertainment and relation. Stephenson explained that people use the media for play rather than work because they see it as a means of entertainment and pleasure than a means for information and improvement. He posited that the most significant function of the media is to facilitate subjective play to give people pleasure, an interlude from pressing issues that concerns them most of the time. He viewed the media as serving two basic functions. The first is to provide play, influence customs, normalize manners and give people something to talk about while the second function is to help shake up society. Reflective Projective Theory: This posits that the media is the ‘mirror of the society’. The theory explains that though the media mirrors society, the mirror they present is an ambiguous one. The media reflect society as an organized group while the audience or members project their own individual reflections into the images presented. For instance, people get different satisfaction from the same programme watched on television as a result of their attitude, sex, mood, experience and ethnic differences. The overall implication of the media as a mirror is that the media has the ability to form or make somebody into nobody and otherwise. Medium Theory: Postulated by Marshal McLuhan, the theory focuses on the characteristics of each medium that make it physically, socially and psychologically different from each other. It also examines how communication through a particular medium affects face-to-face interactions. This theory was borne out from McLuhan’s challenge of conventional definitions by claiming that the medium is the message. With this claim, he stressed how channels differ not only in terms of their content but also in regard to how they awaken thoughts and senses. He distinguished the media by the cognitive processes each requires. Thus, the medium theory looks at the relationship between human senses that are required to use a medium and the structure (face interaction, visual, etc) of the medium itself. Media Richness Theory: The pioneers of this theory are Daft and Lengel in 1984 and it is based on the Contingency theory and Information Processing Theory. The theory posits that the effectiveness of communication is based on the effectiveness of the media used to relay the message. In other words, the richer the media; the nearer the top of the continuum. Daft and Lengel presented a richness hierarchy which incorporates four media classifications: face-to-face, telephone, addressed documents and unaddressed documents.

3.3 The Communication Process

Human beings are neither passive nor predictable in terms of interpreting meanings and reacting in a specified way. Also, communication is not a passive or predictable one way event. Rather, it could be viewed as an active process influenced by all the complexities and ambiguities of human behaviour. It is also fraught with potential points of breakdown. Clampitt in Dixon notes ‘we actively construct meanings within a unique vortex that includes the words used, the context of the utterances and the people involved’ (238). It is more simplistic to look at the communication process as a cyclic process where information is generated from an element and transferred to another element through a medium with corresponding effects in terms of a feedback. On the contrary, there would be no communication process without the role of key elements like the sender, message, medium, receiver, feedback, context and noise. Dixon argues that ‘many models have been developed to simplify and summarize the complex reality of the communication process and to aid our understanding. Some of these are helpful but all have their shortcomings’ (239). To solve this conundrum, she adopts Clampitt communication model which is presented below.


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Human beings are neither passive nor predictable in terms of interpreting meanings and reacting in a specified way. Also, communication is not a passive or predictable one way event. Rather, it could be viewed as an active process influenced by all the complexities and ambiguities of human behaviour. It is also fraught with potential points of breakdown. Clampitt in Dixon notes ‘we actively construct meanings within a unique vortex that includes the words used, the context of the utterances and the people involved’ (238). It is more simplistic to look at the communication process as a cyclic process where information is generated from an element and transferred to another element through a medium with corresponding effects in terms of a feedback. On the contrary, there would be no communication process without the role of key elements like the sender, message, medium, receiver, feedback, context and noise. Dixon argues that ‘many models have been developed to simplify and summarize the complex reality of the communication process and to aid our understanding. Some of these are helpful but all have their shortcomings’ (239). To solve this conundrum, she adopts Clampitt communication model which is presented below... Click here for more

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