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Social Science


Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences



Keyness in Texts  edited by  Marina Bondi and Mike Scott(Studies in Corpus Linguistics: John Benjamins) This is corpus linguistics with a text linguistic focus. The volume concerns lexical inequality, the fact that some words and phrases share the quality of being key – and thereby reflect or promote important themes – in some textual contexts, while others do not. The patterning of words which differ in their centrality to text meaning is of increasing interest to corpus linguistics. At the same time software resources are yielding increasingly more detailed ways of identifying and studying the linkages between key words and phrases in text databases. This volume brings together work from some of the leading researchers in this field. It presents thirteen studies organized in three sections, the first containing a series of studies exploring the nature of keyness itself, then a set of five studies looking at keyness in specific discourse contexts, and then three studies with an educational focus. More

Communicology: The New Science of Embodied Discourse edited by Deborah Eicher-Catt and Isaac E. Catt (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press)

In the social sciences, communication is often ignored or treated as a means to more substantive ends. Moreover, much work within discourse study proceeds on deeply held, culturally embedded ontological and epistemological assumptions about communication. Uncritical approaches to communication and discourse prevail. Communicology provides an alternative to readers curious about the fundamental nature of human communication rather than viewing this phenomenon as the mere vehicle for referents or thoughts.

Working within the European human science tradition and the philosophy of American pragmatism, the contributors included in Communicology apply a synthesis of semiotics and phenomenology to the study of the cultural and social conditions of communication. Framed by the themes of human agency and efficacy, these essays focus on the realms of conscious experience in intrapersonal communicology (the self-domain), interpersonal communicology (self-other domain), social communicology (group-organization domain), and cultural communicology (group-to-group domain, including mass media and trans-cultural communication).

Editors are Deborah Eicher-Catt, Assistant Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences at The Pennsylvania State University-York and Isaac E. Catt, author and founding member and Fellow of the International Communicology Institute. All contributors are elected Fellows or Scholars of the International Communicology Institute. The purpose of Communicology is to describe communicology by focusing on the core issues of agency and efficacy in human affairs. Most central to the book's theme is the idea that the signs and codes of which discourse consists impose constraints upon human agency and efficacy; yet signs and codes are also instrumental in our lives. Discourse constrains choice but is also the only means for its exercise of human potential. Above all, the contributors in this collection know that communication is a possibility, not a probability, of human expression and information exchange. They expose the semiotic and phenomenological conditions upon which that possibility is actualized.

According to the Catts in the introduction to Communicology, exhibiting postmodern theory, communicology is an idea whose time has come. At its heart of the designation is the refusal of the dominant Logos of discourse (as exemplified in most social science studies of communication) as the only legitimate expression of the humane. Communicology designates a holistic approach to communication, encompassing information theory and the diverse fragments of the field. It accomplishes this approach by calling attention to the fact that communication is first of all and inevitably a lived experience of the human body. Communicology is, therefore, a coherent theory and methodology that explores the existential ground from which subjectivity and intersubjectivity emerge as an embodied semiotic process.

Embodiment of signs has become more difficult to expose and comprehend, as the complexity and subtlety of semiotic constraints become part and parcel of the taken-for-granted information age. More than ever, there is a need to realize that, far from being identical with communication, information may further obfuscate or preclude communication. Foremost, communicologists know that communication is a possibility, not a probability, of human expression and information exchange. Each of the chapters in the book speaks to these issues.

Communicology is divided into four parts addressing, in turn, the levels described above. There are two exemplary research reports at each level. Moving from the self domain of intrapersonal existence to the intergroup domain of culture, contributors explore the theme of agency and efficacy in communicology. All the contributors are communicologists who employ semiotic phenomenology, through variations on a similar paradigmatic methodology, but with methods adapted to their specific research projects. All concentrate their work on issues of embodiment and disembodiment and provide constructive alternative perspectives to the dominant regime of communication.

In part 1, Frank J. Macke and Eric E. Peterson concern themselves with intrapersonal communicology. At this level of discourse, some of the primary concerns include thought processes, identity formation, subjectivity, embodiment, and consciousness. Both articles are very much focused on embodiment. Each author draws a contrast of communicology with dominant methodologies by which we typically understand everyday discourse.

In "Intrapersonal Communicology: Reflection, Reflexivity, and Relational Consciousness in Embodied Subjectivity," Macke describes the intersubjective matrix in which subjectivity is nested by juxtaposing George Herbert Mead's views with continental philosophy. The second essay, "My body Lies over the Keyboard: Agency and Efficacy in Weblog Storytelling" is Peterson's examination of the order of expression in relation to the order of experience, a recursion that implicates the body's participation in "Weblogging."

Part 2 of Communicology takes readers from the self-domain of intrapersonal to the self-other domain of interpersonal relations. At this level of discourse, primary concerns revolve around the self/same and other/different ratio. How is a self distinguished from others while creating a continuity of relations? The two authors here tack back and forth between the cultural semiotic and the embodied phenomenological, dual aspects of conscious experience. Semiotics reveals what we have in common, but equal in importance is what we phenomenologically experience as embodied and distinctive. In "Agency and Efficacy in Interpersonal Communication: Particularity as Once-Occurrence and Noninterchangeability," Corey Anton emphasizes the importance of the unique, singular, and existential in interpersonal communicology. Richard Lanigan describes "Verbal and Nonverbal Codes in Communicology: The Foundation of Interpersonal Agency and Efficacy" in the succeeding essay.

Part 3 moves from the interpersonal to the group-organizational domain of social communicology. At this level of discourse, in addition to the problematics forecast by the previous two levels, the contributors are interested in how the complex interrelationships within organizations and institutions are intrapersonally and interpersonally negotiated. The two essays here thus illustrate communicology as a critical theory of discourse. Both authors are interested in revealing what philosopher and social theorist Pierre Bourdieu has called the illusio, the discursive system beneath the everyday lies that we must tell ourselves to maintain and propagate the structure and institutionalized order of things. In "Communication Is Not a Skill: Critique of Communication Pedagogy as Narcissistic Expression," Isaac E. Catt interrogates the commonsense assumption, reflected in the academy, that communication is identical with self-expression. In "Delegitimizing Violence: Resistance as Communicative Practice in Authoritarian Regimes," Andrew Smith explores issues of symbolic violence and possible emancipatory resistance strategies within restrictive governmental regimes, especially relying on his fieldwork in Morocco.

Part 4 of Communicology brings us into the intergroup cultural domain of discourse. At this level of discourse, the authors are concerned primarily with the interrelations established between and among members of cultural groups including how cultural values, attitudes, and beliefs shape daily existence and how intersubjective communicative praxis shapes culture. The two articles representing this level have different themes, but they are illustrative of how a communicologist might conceive the interplay of the cultural and the personal. Both chapters interweave the public and private spheres of influence.

From the very beginning of communication inquiry in the modern era, the metaphor of health was central to understanding the human experience of communication. Igor Klyukanov reminds us of this repressed metaphor in "Culture in the Context of Communicology." Continuing analysis of the cultural-public sphere, two feminist communicologists, Deborah Eicher-Catt and Jane S. Sutton, explore tropology, the logic of tropes, in "A Communicology of the Oval Office as Figural Rhetoric: Women, the Presidency, and a Politics of the Body."

This first anthology of its kind offers a new way of thinking about communication that moves beyond normative perspectives. The eight essays presented in Communicology are examples of communicology, committed to bracketing the dominant paradigm's commonsense understanding of communication as merely a fact of life. Exhibiting postmodern theory, communicology is an idea whose time has come. The extraordinary depth of philosophical and interdisciplinary theoretical grounding of the communicologists who contributed to Communicology is readily apparent in a brief perusal of the bibliographies for each chapter of this book. Each contributor makes a unique and erudite contribution, illustrating communicology's range of inquiry to be identical with the range of conscious experience and human behavior.


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