Communication theory

Theory of communication . Theoretical base where terms, components, models, styles are defined in an interactive communication system.


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  • 1 Definitions of terms: communication, codes and language
  • 2 A model for the communication process
  • 3 Components of communication
  • 4 Fidelity and noise
    • 1 Factors that can increase the fidelity of the message
  • 5 Lasswell’s paradigm
  • 6 Communication classes
  • 7 Concept of ‘mass’
  • 8 The media and the transformation of society
    • 1 Cinema, radio, television and the Internet
  • 9 Sources

Definitions of terms: communication, codes and language

The word communication comes from the Latin “comunis” which means “common”. Hence, communicating means transmitting ideas and thoughts with the aim of putting them “in common” with another. This involves the use of a shared communication code.

A code is a set of symbols and signs which must be shared by the protagonists of the process. Can someone who cannot speak Tibetan understand what a Tibetan expresses in his mother tongue? Naturally, there will have been no communication in such a case. Thanks to the sharing of a code, messages are transmitted from person to person.

Language is generally thought of when talking about codes, but a code is a much broader concept. In addition to verbal codes (oral and written), there are others such as gestures, movements of the face and body, those given by shape and color (for example, traffic signs) or music (where there are rules that mark a structure). Naturally, non-verbal codes, like language, vary according to different cultures.

Thus, it is affirmed that language is just one more medium. The tendency to identify it with communication in its entirety is a consequence of it being the most suitable medium for the transmission of ideas.

If the concept of communication is considered from a broad sense, it refers to living beings that are related to their environment, but from scientific language it will refer to beings related to each other and capable of expressing internal processes and situations, of making known circumstances u encourage other creatures to a specific behavior.

A model for the communication process

When it is said that the concept of communication refers to a process, it refers to a phenomenon that continues over time. Within this concept, then, a dynamic situation can be expected, that is, the relationships that are established are continuously transformed into a permanent becoming. The components of a process “interact” since each of the parts influences the others.

The theory of communication thus reflects a concept of process. It is not possible to accept that the events and / or components can be separated from another event or component. Therefore, it is not possible to speak of the beginning or the end of the communication or to determine that a particular idea comes from a specific source because communication occurs in only one way.

Only once the concept of communication as a process is well defined can the study of the different components that make up the communication process model begin.

Communication components

It is said that all human communication has some source, that is, some person or group of people with the objective and the necessary reason to establish a communication. From this point the need for a second component arises.

The purpose of the font needs to be expressed in the form of a message. The translation of the ideas of the source in a message requires the encoding functions, assumed by the issuer of the process. In human communication, the encoding functions can be considered as a physical behavior since it involves physiological and motor (intellectual) actions. In the case of mass messages, specialized technologies are required: the source and the sender can often coincide, but in other cases they represent totally different dimensions.

The message is the content expressed and the medium or channel is the vehicle through which the message is conducted. The decoder function is the inverse process that the sender will carry out and is assumed by the receiver of the message. Finally, the receiver, who is the one who receives, can become a new sender by initiating feedback from the system through which the dynamics of the process is confirmed.

This description is naturally a simplification of the communication process whose purpose is clearly didactic. At the real level it is a much more complex system in which there are overlapping and parallel message networks that influence each other and make the communication dynamic.

Fidelity and noise

The concepts of fidelity and noise are closely related to the concept of communication. It is said that there is always a purpose, an intention in whoever initiates the communication, and this, in turn, will produce a response. This will mean that every communicator (sender) will wait for his message to arrive in a way that causes the desired response. It is said then that there is fidelity in the communication process when the one who interprets the message, performs it with absolute precision.

The concept of noise is introduced from communication using electronic technology. Noise is thus an interference that makes it difficult for messages to arrive properly, distorting the usual quality of a signal. In this way it is understood that fidelity and noise are two opposing aspects of the same phenomenon: The higher the noise, the lower the fidelity and the lower the noise, the higher. fidelity.

Factors that can increase the fidelity of the message

From the sender’s perspective, there are four factors that can help increase fidelity in a message:

  1. Communication skills: These are speaking and writing (encoders) and reading and listening (decoders), the fourth skill is the ability to understand or reflect, although this last skill is not necessary for the encoding-decoding process is essential is implicit in the communicational purpose.
  2. Attitudes: They affect the way in which the issuer communicates. The attitude influences in relation to the sender himself, in relation to the subject he is dealing with, and towards the receiver he is addressing
  3. Knowledge level: You cannot communicate what you do not know. Naturally, the greater the knowledge regarding the subject that occupies the message, the greater its fidelity.
  4. Sociocultural system: All those groups to which the issuer belongs have given it values ​​and norms that it has incorporated. The sender has his own perception of the place he occupies in the social world and this perception will influence his communicational behavior.

If these same factors are considered from the point of view of the receiver, it is observed that they are the same factors on which the fidelity of the message depends. Communication has been seen to be a dynamic process since the roles of sender and receiver are reversed and provide feedback.

Lasswell’s paradigm

In 1948 , Lasswell accurately summarized two sociological orientations regarding the study of the effects of communication. Lasswell established that a convenient way to write a communication act is by answering the following questions: Who? What does it say? Where? To who? With what effect?

This paradigm allows us to analyze more accurately who is intervening in the communication process and what is the particular situation in which they are involved, without forgetting the dynamic nature of communication.

Communication classes


Interpersonal communication

Communication is classified mainly in two modalities: interpersonal and collective. While in the former there is only a small group of recipients, in collective communication there is a massive reception of the message, which implies a large heterogeneous and anonymous group. Interpersonal communication is direct, since both the sender and the receiver share space-time, which does not happen in collective communication, imagine for this a TV channel, a program with your work team, and a family that meets ready to see ” The round table by Cubavisión .

Another important point to consider regarding communication classes arises from the possibility of immediate response. It is known that the dynamic nature of the communication process is given by the existence of interchangeable roles between both ends of the process. But collective communication differs from interpersonal communication precisely because of the complexity of the mechanisms that enable the response. On the other hand, interpersonal communication is private, the receiver is previously chosen by the sender. While in the collective, communication is totally open to those who want to receive the messages.

Concept of ‘mass’

The abbreviated Oxford dictionary defines mass as an aggregate in which individuality is lost and this definition approximates the meaning that sociologists have assigned to the word especially when applied to audiences.

The term mass collects several features of the new public or audience of Cinema and Radiothat were missing or are not linked in any of the three existing concepts. This audience used to be very large; larger than most groups, crowds or audiences. It was extraordinarily dispersed and its members did not know each other as a general rule, nor were they known to whoever gave rise to its existence. He lacked self-awareness and self-identity and was unable to act together in an organized way to achieve his goals. It was characterized by a changing composition within changing limits. It was heterogeneous, consisting of a large number of people from all social strata and demographic groups, but homogeneous in its behavior of choosing a certain object of interest and in the perception of those who would like to ‘manipulate’ it.

The media and the transformation of society

As history progresses, man develops The Alphabet , in this way he can preserve knowledge through shared symbols and meanings. This is important for the development of written language. The first media to emerge were stone, wood and papyrus (in Egypt ), even the Mayans , made a similar material. The appearance of these means allows the preservation of culture although only an elite could interpret the meanings. Only those that belonged to the administrative, political and / or religious sphere. In this type of society, most of the people did not have access to the media.

Later, the 15th century , Gutemberg , favored by the appearance of paper (paper had been discovered in China by Ts’ai Lun , in the 1st century . The invention, kept secret for more than 700 years, was introduced in the West by the Arabs after the conquest of Samarkand in 704 BC In the 9th century the Moors took this technique to Spain) as a substitute for expensive papyrus, he is remembered as the “inventor of the printing press.” What Gutemberg actually devised was a system of movable characters that allowed them to be worked separately, grouped together to form words and reused many times. These characters were first made in wood and then, around 1450 , in metal. Thus in 1456 he printed the 42-line Bible , the first printing with movable metal type. This fact represents a historic milestone in the history of Social Communication Media (MCS), so although Gutemberg was not actually the inventor of the printing press, since the idea of ​​reproducing texts through a printing system is attributed to the Chinese (about1000 years BC , the Chinese began to produce by means of a printing system that consisted of carving relief in a softwood block of pear, cherry or boxwood, with writings or illustrations that after inking were pressed on parchment paper or fabrics), it was the first to disseminate the procedure, for which the historical fact is attributed. But even after the advent of the printing press, it would take many years for printed messages to reach large numbers of people.

The appearance of MCS is taking place gradually. In the first place, the books appear, whose contribution is considered revolutionary if we compare it with the manuscripts, since it allowed the reproduction of a large number of editions. Later the first antecedents of newspapers, news letters and other informative pamphlets emerged. But it is finally in the 16th century that the newspaper made its formal appearance. It is striking to note that, since the diffusion of the printing press, 200 years had already passed.

Cinema, radio, television and the Internet


Social media

At the beginning of the century the Cinema and later the radio emerged . Television is a very recent medium, although its diffusion occurs at a dizzying pace. Its development began in the United States in the 1940s and 5 years later it had already become a mass medium, having reached its saturation point in the 1960s. Nowadays there are new media, among which the Internet deserves a special mention as it involves the total integration of information through a single route. Enabling simultaneity and overabundance of data. This phenomenon represents a totally mediated society.


by Abdullah Sam
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