Sociocultural Traditions - Essay Example

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Boston College
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The approaches to communication theory by use of sociocultural tradition is of necessity in addressing our different norms in enhancing communication. Though these theories explore different worlds, the reality is an object created through the interaction of cultures, communities, and groups, not something that is not within our reach. Categories used in processing information in communication is socially created.

The primary focus of sociocultural theories is on how identities are founded by social groups interacting with cultures and how it is argued from a particular situation to another. The merging of the individual self with social, cultural roles, community produces the identity. Although not always, social, cultural work is holistic because of culture and context. In a particular study some researchers in this tradition may target micro-level sections of the whole situation, but ultimately full acknowledge crucially of the more significant part. With various theorist within the sociocultural tradition, each view communication differently. Language game metaphor used by Wittgenstein discusses how individuals adhere to rules in doing things through the rules vary. Different language games exist, just as there are ranging chess and poker game rules.

Engaging in language game is the act of performing commands, questioning, stating and promising. Theorist J.L Austin, within this context, targeted the practical language use as speech tool to reveal performativity elements in using language. Ethnography, another crucial aspect (sociocultural), shows how real social groups through using linguistic and non-linguistic styles give meaning. It checks communication methods employed by particular social groups, words used and their significance to the group and the relationship with a variety of auditory responses, behavioral and visual. Cultural identity and identity negotiation theories (Mary Collier and Stella Ting-Toomey) are two samples in the sociocultural tradition. These approaches focus on how identities are built within social groups. That is identity construction is not a discrete process nor involving just an individual but relates to others sharing ones cultural society and language.

Critical tradition

Critical scholars focus on how privileges, power, and oppression are outcomes of specific outcomes of some of the communications forms across the society. Works of U.S Feminist, in Europe, by queer scholars, by post-colonial and post-modern discourses have much influence. Critical tradition focuses on understanding power structures ideologies and beliefs, forsaken systems dominating the society and to whom these power structures serve interests. Their interest is revealing social conditions that are oppressive and power arrangements promoting emancipation or as J. Robert and Pollock Della put it, reading the world aiming at shaping it. Marxism is the contemporary critical theory, meaning that nature economy forms the basis for social structures. In capitalist formations, production is driven by profits which in the end oppress labor. Tensions between individual creativity and social constraint results from practiced communication.

Individuals will genuinely be liberal when they freely express themselves openly and with reason. The language also hinders personal expression because of the dominant language class. Queer and Feminist theorist are examples in this critical tradition, they critique gender aiming at changing gender relationships. Rather than fixed, static and rigid construction these. The scholars explain gender in fluid, evolving term, rather than strict, static and fixed construction providing emancipation possibilities to oppressed social groups.

Sapir Edward (1884-1939) and Whorf Benjamin (1897-1941)

Structure of the Socio-cultural tradition

Sociocultural tradition focuses on the premise that as individuals communicate they reproduce and produce culture. Pioneers of this tradition were Linguistic Edward Sapir of Chicago University and Benjamin his student (Sapir, 1927). Their hypothesis states that a cultures language defines our reality and what individuals do or think. Our diverse cultures reflect our different languages. Social, cultural contemporary theorists suggest that through the communication process our fact is revealed, maintained, transformed or repaired. By interacting we build realities which found our cultures. Main patterns of interaction focus between people rather than individuals or mental models and the tradition assert more on communication process occurring in real situations. Interaction forms the site and means through which roles, regulations, cultural values, and meanings are worked out. Tradition is more interpretive than positivity and how it varies involves, construction, interactionism and social linguistic.

Ethnomethodology and ethnography are of significant influence on socio-tradition. The critical idea of symbolic interaction is that meaning and social structures formed are maintained (Chandler, 1994). Ethnography is the observation of how real cultural groups create sense by use of their linguistic behaviors while ethnomethodology is a careful observation of micro-behaviors in actual conditions Sociologist and Pioneers George Herbert and Blumer Herbert emphasized the Importance of communication observation as a method of defining social relationships (Sapir, 1927).

Social Constructionism, earlier known as reality social construction after works of Thomas Luckmann and Peter Berger, who investigated and researched on how human knowledge is made through social interaction. Sociolinguistics is the study of culture and language while the definition of a word depends on the actual use (Philosophy language). Works of Ludwig Wittgenstein, German philosopher claimed that speech-language is an act when one speaks actually performs an action. There Six Sociocultural Tradition theories: Social Constructionism, Symbolic Interactionism, Actor-Network Theory, Structuration Theory, Ethnography and Ethnomethodology of Communication. The two authors have the same opinion with regard to Socio-cultural tradition.

My Opinion

Communication practices are vital for self-development. How verbal and non-verbal messages work out in a society majors on sociocultural tradition. A cultures language structure defines what individuals do and think. Many of the theories are as a result of trying in understanding the vast communication nature and how a society or individuals use it, but due to the complexness of this topic, traditions formations guide in organizing and explaining various concepts and viewpoints. Craig Robert created a model that separated and labeled the communication field into7 traditions (Littlejohn & Foss 34). Socio-tradition has worldviews, and as whole studies, ones relationship holistically to a culture instead to individual differences. In our social realm tradition in creating our identities, social interaction is crucial, because we belong to the extended groups.


Chandler, D. (1994). The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis. Online documents at URL http://www. aber.

ac. uk/media/Documents/short/whorf. html.[30.06. 2004].

Sapir, E. (1927). The unconscious patterning of behavior in society. Selected Writings of Edward

Sapir in Language, Culture and Personality, ed. David E. Mandelbaum (Berkeley: U of California P, 1949), 556(11).

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