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Introduction

Communication students frequently approach significantly to its development. All reviewers are
librarians seeking a source that will provide a ready also contributors.
summary of a particular theory or tradition. The entries are written for the introductory
Communication scholars also occasionally need a reader—students who have little or no background
good central reference for their teaching and in the topic. For the most part, contributors have
research. This encyclopedia provides a one-stop avoided unnecessary jargon and defined terms as
source for theories and theoretical concepts and a needed. Although many of the entries require
relatively comprehensive overview of the entire field attentive reading, serious readers will find them
of communication theory. It is a significant resource accessible and informative, and those who want
because it summarizes in one place the diversity of more advanced treatment can pursue further
theory in the communication field. Yet unlike larger readings or entries in the bibliography. Readers
topical encyclopedias that try to cover all topics in who may have trouble understanding an entry
many volumes, this is a relatively small set focused can move to related topics identified in the “See
just on theory. It will provide an excellent starting also” sections and then return to the more diffi-
place for individuals seeking information on the cult one.
various topics covered. Furthermore, readers will be We made the decision to feature elements, con-
able to see how topics relate to one another, get a cepts, dimensions, and traditions of theory, as well
sense of larger traditions and histories, and find a as to feature individual theories, as entries.
variety of bibliographical sources with which they Individual theorists are listed separately with refer-
can begin to expand their reading lists. ence to the entries in which their work is discussed.
Entries do not include citations, but each lists a few
key sources as Further Readings. Cross-references
About This Encyclopedia
are provided in the “See also” section at the end of
This encyclopedia is a two-volume set that, in each entry. A single classified bibliography of
more than 300 entries, offers current descriptions major theoretical works is also included. Readers
of the theories that explain numerous aspects of can access the information in a number of ways:
com­munication and present the background issues
and concepts that comprise these theories. These •• The alphabetical list of entries at the beginning
entries have been written by nearly 200 contribu- of each volume provides the easiest way for a
tors from 10 countries, including Australia, Canada, reader to identify topics of interest. Readers may
China, Denmark, India, Italy, Japan, Spain, the want to start here by scanning the list of topics
United Kingdom, and the United States. Entries to identify those most relevant to their research.
range in length—from 1,000 to 3,000 words, •• The Reader’s Guide at the beginning of the set
depending upon the scope and detail required. To provides a classified list of topics organized
ensure adequate coverage, an editorial board of 10 around 17 themes. With this guide readers can
members—also of diverse cultures and countries of begin with a broad theme and see which entries
origin—was formed to review the entries. All relate to it. This guide is also of value for
are recognized experts in several areas within showing connections among theories and for
communication theory and have contributed developing a sense of the field as a whole.

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lii Introduction

•• The alphabetical list of theorists adjacent to the credence to the contributions of psychology and
Reader’s Guide will be an important index for sociology for understanding human communica-
readers who wish to learn more about individual tive behavior. European scholars began to influ-
scholars and their work. This list identifies the ence communication theory in the United States
entries that cover each theorist’s work. after World War II as well; heavily influenced by
•• The Selected Bibliography of Major Works by Marxist theories, European scholars from a variety
Topic, located at the back of Volume 2, will be of disciplines have been responsible for the intro-
a vital resource for readers seeking original duction of critical–cultural theories and methods
works. Readers can scan the alphabetical into the study of communication.
listing of topics to find major works of interest. Gradually, however, separate communication
This tool comes with instructions on how best departments began to form. At first often referred
to use it. to as departments of speech communication to
•• The Chronology, located immediately after this reflect both the rhetorical and social scientific
introduction, lists major events in the history of roots, most departments today are simply called
communication theory. This tool facilitates an departments of communication or communication
understanding of the various developments in studies. In contrast to scholars in related disci-
the field of communication as a whole. plines who tend to consider communication a sec-
•• The index is an obvious method of accessing ondary process for transmitting information about
information. It is a detailed list of topics with the world, communication scholars see communi-
page references. cation as the organizing principle of human social
life: Communication constructs the social world
rather than simply providing the means for describ-
A Brief History
ing that world.
Communication as a concept always has been with Of course, theories of communication are not
us, but the origins of the discipline are more recent. distinctive to the Western tradition and the United
In the United States, the humanistic roots of the States. Virtually every culture has been concerned
discipline can be found in the study of rhetoric in with the nature and functions of communication,
ancient Greece and Rome, while the social scien- and communication scholars are beginning to
tific side typically dates its origins to the rise of integrate theories from a variety of countries and
studies of mass media, public opinion, propa- cultures. Feminist scholars have sought to describe
ganda, and persuasion early in the 20th century ways feminine worldviews might foster different
and especially during World War II. Both strands modes of communication since the 1970s.
had a decidedly pragmatic bent: The five canons of Afrocentric and Asiacentric communication are
rhetoric—invention, organization, style, delivery, perhaps the best articulated bodies of work to
and memory—were designed to help a speaker bet- date that describe the communication assump-
ter prepare for and argue a position in the court, tions and practices of African Americans and
the assembly, or at a ceremonial event. Social sci- Asians, respectively. Increasingly, then, communi-
entists had a similarly pragmatic concern in under- cation scholars are seeking to understand similari-
standing the functions and possibilities for ties and differences across cultures and to articulate
communication in advertising, media, and technol- more nuanced theories to reflect these more com-
ogy as well as in face-to-face contexts. prehensive understandings of how communication
Communication theory, then, followed from the works.
pragmatic concerns about the study of communi- Although the communication field now has the
cation. At first, communication scholars turned to legitimacy and coherence that comes from disci-
existing disciplines for theories—not surprising plinary status, it remains a continually evolving
since virtually every discipline concerned with the and changing discipline. This encyclopedia will
human being must study communication to some offer the student of communication a sense of the
degree. The recognition of social sciences as legiti- history, development, and current status of the
mate disciplines after World War II gave even more discipline with an emphasis on the theories that
Introduction liii

comprise it. We hope readers in communication at the University of New Mexico who provided
will engage these theories in a spirit of ongoing guidance and wrote contributions to this work.
inquiry that is crucial to the continued develop- This work is the product not only of authors and
ment of the field. And we hope those in related managing editors, but also of a team of profession-
fields will gain a better understanding of what the als at Sage Publications who made the successful
communication discipline is all about. completion of the project possible by their many
hours of work from its inception to final publica-
tion. We want to express particular appreciation
Acknowledgments
to these individuals: Jim Brace-Thompson, Yvette
We are indebted to our editorial board and to all Pollastrini, Laura Notton, Bonnie Freeman, Renee
of our contributors, listed by name at the beginning Willers, Kevin Gleason, Sandy Zilka Livingston,
of the encyclopedia. Their expertise, effort, and Joan Shapiro, and Kate Schroeder. Because of the
commitment contributed to the excellence of this efforts of all involved, we are confident that this
project. We are especially indebted to our colleagues encyclopedia will be an important resource about
in the Communication and Journalism Department and reference for communication theories.