Making sense of Craig

Publikation: KonferencebidragKonferenceabstrakt til konferenceForskningpeer review


The main effort in Craig’s original article ”Communication Theory as a Field” (Craig 1999) is the setting up of a matrix, a metamodel, which we can use as a tool for discussing the relations and interrelations between the seven initially identified communication theoretical traditions, viz., the rhetorical, the semiotic, the phenomenological, the cybernetic, the sociopsychological, the sociocultural, and the critical theory.

In 2009, however, Craig seems slightly dismayed because the field that he has defined does not seem to take to his metamodel (Craig 2009) and use it for theoretical and practical discussions of the communication field. In 2007 Craig integrates Russill’s suggestion of an eighth tradition (pragmatism) in the matrix (Craig 2007), and in 2015 (Craig 2015) he seems more confident that people have started using the vocabulary on offer in the metamodel.

When I first read Craig (Craig 1999) I was happy because finally I had found out how to sensibly talk about communication theory. Also, I thought, I had found out what communication studies is. But as I delved further into the text and into other related texts (Craig 2009, 2005, 2001, 2015; Myers 2001; Russill 2005, 2007), I found out that it is not that simple. Craig does not have the final say in what communication studies is (neither does he claim to have it), and even if his article is an insightful and awe-inspiring piece of work, it is no more than a sensible way in which we can begin to discuss communication theory.

Therefore, I decided to find out what I could use Craig’s insights for and basically decided that Craig’s original article is the perfect basis for a discussion of what communication theory is and how various approaches to communication theory can be used to piece together analytical approaches tailored to different analytical needs.

My argument is that whereas the metamodel is a very illustrative and informative way of visualising differences and similarities between the various traditions, it might not be the most ideal way of discussing those differences and similarities.

The reason for this discrepancy between visualisation and explanatory power, lies in the notion that it is not until we see the traditions in action that we can really appreciate their differences and thus need to discuss them, and that means that any meta-discussions of communication theory will take place where and when they are needed as situated discussions relating themselves to the analyses at hand and therefore the analytical tools needed.

What I aim to show in my presentation is how a modular approach to communication analysis makes it possible to formalise situated and informed discussions of the interrelationships between the different approaches belonging to different traditions, and thus to make these discussions based in the analytical needs the analyst may have. My approach is based in Craig’s identification of the seven traditions and inspired and informed by modular linguistics (Nølke 1993) and Louise Phillips’ IMFADIA model (Phillips 2011).
StatusUdgivet - 2018
BegivenhedEuropean Communication Conference (ECC): Centres and Peripheries: Communication, Research, Translation - Palazzo dei Congressi, Lugano, Schweiz
Varighed: 31 okt. 20183 nov. 2018
Konferencens nummer: 7


KonferenceEuropean Communication Conference (ECC)
LokationPalazzo dei Congressi

Citer dette

Pedersen, K. (2018). Making sense of Craig. Abstract fra European Communication Conference (ECC), Lugano, Schweiz.