Communication Theory : Epistemological Foundations book cover
1st Edition

Communication Theory
Epistemological Foundations

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ISBN 9781572300835
Published July 17, 1996 by Guilford Press
259 Pages

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Book Description

This book provides a thorough analysis of the scientific, critical, and cultural questions at the foundation of theory-building in communication and other social sciences. Any claim to knowledge, the author explains, can be analyzed in terms of a series of characteristics: the object of its explanation, the explanatory form and evidentiary method employed, its characteristic explanations, the scope of its performance, and its consequences of value. From identifying basic epistemological questions to exploring the impact of the knowledge industry on society, the volume offers readers the analytical tools to understand, compare, and evaluate theories and their use both inside and outside the classroom. The book also includes a systematic analysis of communication's most influential theories and traces their genealogies across different content fields and disciplines.

Table of Contents

1. On Reading This Book
2. The Nature of the Phenomenal World
3. Our Manner of Engagement of the Phenomenal World
4. The Nature of the Individual
5. The Character of the Justified Argument
6. The Character of the Practical Argument
7. The Relationship between Theory and Method
8. Scholarship in Society
9. Communication Theory Analysis

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James A. Anderson is Professor of Communication at the University of Utah and Editor of the International Communication Association journal, Communication Theory. He is the author of Communication Research: Issues and Methods and coauthor of Mediated Communication: A Social Action Perspective.


Communication Theory is a smart and innovative text. Its publication marks a significant departure from naive and often simplistic reviews of the literature. Anderson demonstrates convincingly that epistemological hegemony has passed. Unlike in the past, knowledge claims in communication studies today are contested at an assumptive level. If productive discussions are to be had in this new pluralistic environment, careful understanding of basic assumptions and alternative forms of reasoning are necessary. Anderson's metatheoretical position enables an insightful investigation of knowledge claims in communication studies and of how scholars write and justify their claims. I disagree with the analysis at places, but I was consistently impressed with the rigor of the investigation and carefulness of the arguments. I consider this text to be essential reading for all graduate students and scholars who want to understand contemporary controversies in the field. The issues are sophisticated and the positions somewhat radical, but the text reads well and would stimulate productive discussions in most seminars and over coffee. --Stanley Deetz, Ph.D., University of Colorado. President of the International Communication Association, 1996-97

This book (Anderson) treats us to a tightrope walk between communication theories and the communication practices of communication scholars. Instead of providing simple answers to the epistemological questions theories inevitably raise, it (he) draws numerous distinctions between communities of scholars that claim to have them, and thus shows us how communication scholarship is made in the process of communication of communication. --Klaus Krippendorff, Ph.D., Professor of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania

Anderson's book stands alone; it's one of a kind. I know of no other single text that is as comprehensive in its treatment of communication theories. The range of the work is remarkable. It is not merely a comprehensive review of communication theories, it is the way Anderson grounds them in the philosophy of science that is the noteworthy contribution. --Leonard C. Hawes, Ph.D., University of Utah