Communication involves both behavior and meanings, and so the study of communication involves two basic perspectives -- a behavior-centered approach or a meaning-centered approach. Integrated approaches are also possible.
Communication occurs in social contexts, from the interpersonal to the institutional. In all of these contexts, communication researchers are interested in the nature of the interactions between individuals, the structures or patterns of communication within the context, and the meanings associated with elements of that context.
Here are some of the different sub-disciplines or areas of interest within communication scholarship:
Language and Symbolic Codes - use of verbal and non-verbal codes or symbol sets. Topics: developmental communication, intercultural communication, linguistics, nonverbal communication, semantics, semiotics.
Interpersonal - the study of verbal and non-verbal interactions in relationships. Topics: dyadic communication, gender and communication, instructional communication, interpersonal influence, interpersonal attraction, intrapersonal communication, relational communication
Small Group - interactions in groups of 3 or more people. Topics: small-group effectiveness, cohesion, conflict, leadership, group roles, consensus, productivity, group culture, problem solving, family communication.
Organizational - concerned with how organizations function, process information, and communicate, both internally and externally. Topics: organizational networks, systems, conflict, negotiation, superior-subordinate interaction, and other aspects of organizational life.
Public - nonmediated public settings (one-to-many). Topics: rhetoric, public speaking, speech analysis, persuasion, argumentation, debate, speaker credibility, ethics, interpreting literature, propaganda, political campaigns, and communication education.
Mass - mediated communication. Topics: media effects, history, policy, ethics, public opinion, message analysis, new technologies, popular culture, public relations, advertising, political economy of media institutions, media regulation.
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