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Social Approaches to Communication

Edited by Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz

260 Pages
Size: 6" x 9"
Paperback
July 1995
ISBN 978-0-89862-873-9
Cat. #2873
Price: $32.00 $27.20
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“...Provides a good introduction to efforts within Interpersonal studies to retain this traditional focus and yet to move beyond behaviorism toward interpretive, contextually-sensitive approaches. As such, it will serve mass communication scholars well by forcing us to think about the relationship between macro-structures and the actual process of making meaning....our field could benefit from more dialogue between interpersonal and mass communication scholars. This book is an excellent starting point for such conversations.”

—Beverly James, Associate Professor of Communication, University of New Hampshire, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly


Social Approaches to Communication is a comprehensive collection of social approaches to interpersonal communication that demonstrates their fecundity in both intellectual sources and consequences for empirical research. The term 'social approaches' is interpreted very widely by the editor—though social constructionism, systems theory and ethnography tend to be most prominent. By stressing both the unity of social approaches in comparison to the quantitative, mainstream approach and their internal diversity, the book outlines very usefully an emerging paradigm that will influence and perhaps dominate empirical studies and intellectual debates in the future. Most important, the collection situates current communication research in relation to contemporary trends in philosophy and the social sciences, thereby ending once and for all the intellectual isolation of the field that has rendered it unable to make substantial contributions to wider social theory. Social Approaches to Communication makes a significant contribution to the current rethinking of the procedures and purpose of the social sciences. It will be of special interest to communication researchers designing new research projects, those interested in theoretical debates in communication, and those of us in teaching.”

—Ian Angus, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia


“This volume is something of a landmark. Its panel of distinguished contributors offer a total reconstruction of the whole field. They not only suggest viewing all events of importance in interpersonal relations as occurring between people, but suggest also, that the same change focus applies to new methods of inquiry as well as to their grounding—all should be seen as socially constructed. This, however, does not so much replace established theories and methods as give them a place within a now enlarged social context. Indeed, in looking to possible constructions in the future as well as back to those already existing, it enlarges our concerns further...an altogether important volume charting the way ahead in interpersonal relations research.”

—John Shotter, Ph.D., Full Professor of Interpersonal Relations, Univ of New Hampshire


“I have long awaited a volume like Social Approaches to Communication. Against the waning backdrop of objectivist science, this book signifies the growing sea-change in how we study communication processes. It is a timely volume that offers the reader an expansive array of social/relational intelligibilities. Already there is a move afoot to critically examine the utility of science in understanding human affairs. As the momentum and excitement created by this wave expands, the present volume will be central for it offers a variety of alternatives for those who are hungry for conceptual, theoretical, and methodological challenges to objectivist, individuals social science. Leeds-Hurwitz has assembled an impressive collection of scholars who are already well known for their contributions to interpretive approaches to communication. This volume is undoubtedly a major contribution to the social constructionist voice.”

—Sheila McNamee, Ph.D., University of New Hampshire


Social Approaches to Communication contains an exciting and timely collection of essays that questions the relevance of traditional theoretical assumptions and research methods and reconstructs the interpersonal communication process as central to our understandings of practice and theory. All the chapters in this book reflect, to a greater or lesser extent, the broader philosophical revolution underway oriented to the reconceptualization of communication as the basic problematic in the human/social sciences. “There are many 'beauties' of this book. It includes not just one, but varied approaches within the broad rubric of `social.' It addresses a diverse range of important issues: from the philosophical foundations to fundamental research implications to the exciting array of how social approaches can be done. And it includes a number of significant writers who have long struggled with the issues at stake here. “This book is both a statement of where we are now in communication theory and research and points provocatively and excitingly to where we could and should go.”

—Robyn Penman, Ph.D., Director, Communication Research Institute of Australia
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