The Discipline of Communication

The Discipline of Communication deals with how humans use verbal and non-verbal messages to create meaning in various contexts. This can be from one person to another, from person to groups, in a government setting, private sector setting, civil society setting, school setting, community setting to mass audiences across cultures using a variety of channels and media. This discipline is also interested in the impact that communication has on human behavior.

There is no way to enable others to know what is going on in our minds—our need to reach out and to be reached out to—unless communication occurs between them and us. The discipline of communication is very broad. It can include: the study of communication in interpersonal relationships, groups, organizations, and across cultures; rhetorical theory and criticism; performance studies; argumentation and persuasion; technologically mediated communication; and popular culture. Essentially, this discipline provides us with understanding of how we construct the world of meanings and be able to both send and receive the same. The dynamic process of sending and receiving information or messages, and the meanings that they contain needs to be understood. In this way, we can further appreciate the process, the content, and the effects of communication in all its various forms.

Definition of Communication

The processes that bond humans together are founded on communication. It is by communication that one opens up to another and receives confirmation of some kind. Communication in this sense is essentially transactional, giving and receiving content, which may take a wide variety of forms. What we communicate is meaning but communication simultaneously involves the construction of meaning. It constitutes both the construction of meaning and the exchange of meaning. Unlike other forms of exchange, communication accounts for so many other elements, which make the study of communication a fascinating task. The context, the culture, the relationship, the society, the message, and the medium—all form part of the communication process. Communication involves acting on information, responding to stimulus, a creative act, making sense of the world, assigning meaning to experience and feelings, and can also be intentional as well as unintentional. 

Alberts, Nakayama, and Martin (2007) defines communication as a “transactional process in which people generate meaning through the exchange of verbal messages in specific contexts, influenced by individual and societal forces and embedded in culture.” Culture here is considered as the provider of patterns of perceptions, values, and behavior that the group transmits and makes a shared heritage. Context tends to be culturally defined so much that the individual is made to discern from the given options available to society; hence, culture provides the strongest fabric to societal forces. Therefore, the role of culture cannot be underestimated, “culture affects all or almost all communication interaction” (Alberts, Nakayama, & Martin 2007).

The human communication factors include the important role of individual and societal forces, contexts, and culture that shape and give coherence to the communication process. It is possible and very common to analyze the communication process on the technical level, the semantic level, and the pragmatic level. 

On the technical level, we can understand the message by ascertaining the extent to which information or message is clearly or not clearly transmitted. 

On the semantic level, we can understand the unity of communication by clarifying the extent to which the intended meaning of the information or message being transmitted is understood or misunderstood by the receiver due to all forms of noise. 

On the pragmatic level, we can understand a unit of communication by gauging the kind and extent of the actual impact, effect,.or outcome or result of the communication process including the relationship field of experience and the sender-receiver dynamics. 

Communication as a transaction, going by the above definition, requires a more comprehensive consideration for the specific context, the individual and society forces, and the culture itself as a semantic unit.

Simply put, when two or more persons interact, communication structure is created and a system of relationships is formed within a cultural context. That is what communication is and does.