Of Paradigms, Theories, and Models: A Conceptual Hierarchical Structure for Communication Science and Technoself

Of Paradigms, Theories, and Models: A Conceptual Hierarchical Structure for Communication Science and Technoself

Luciano L’Abate
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2211-1.ch005
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This chapter attempts to define and clarify differences among paradigms, theories, and models in communication science according to a hierarchical conceptual structure or pyramidal flowchart. A paradigm is an overarching, speculative world-view that represents the value system of researchers and scholars who claim to follow it loyally. A theory is a conceptual framework that is amenable to indirect empirical evaluation through interrelated models. A model is a construct defined and evidenced by one or more dimensions that are amenable to empirical verification. Examples of such structure are provided from a general example, from Family Communication, from Communication Science in general, and more specifically from Relational Competence Theory (RCT). Models from RCT are then related to models from Communication Science, including also written communication. Writing allows to link models of RCT to specific workbooks or interactive practice exercises that permit evaluation of models in a more dynamic manner than inert psychological tests. Communications based on distance writing are becoming an important component of techno-self in their multifarious applications to mental health, including promotion of health and prevention and treatment of mental illnesses. From a past auditory/ verbal self, these applications imply a present/digital/visual self.
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Of Paradigms, Theories, And Models

This chapter attempts to fulfill at least six distinct purposes. The primary purpose is to differentiate among paradigms, theories, and models in communication science (CS) according to a hierarchical flowchart or pyramidal framework. A secondary purpose is to show conceptual and empirical relationships between models of Relational Competence Theory (RCT; Cusinato & L’Abate, 2012; L’Abate, 2005; L’Abate & Cusinato, 2007; L’Abate, Cusinato, Maino, Colesso, & Scilletta, 2010) and recent communication paradigms, theories, and models (Baxter & Breaithwaite, 2008; Greene & Burleson, 2003; Knapp & Miller, 1994; Segrin & Flora, 2005; Turner & West, 2006; Whaley & Samter, 2007). A tertiary purpose of this article is to attempt an integration of a hierarchical structure in written communication with RCT and communication science. A fourth purpose is to integrate a model of written with verbal communication. On the basis of this integration, a fifth purpose of this chapter is to connect theory with practice through programmed writing. A sixth purpose is to connect programmed writing within to the wider technoself context of this volume.

Certain models of RCT has already been expanded to cover alexithymia (Cusinato & L’Abate, 2011), intimacy and hurt-feelings (L’Abate, 2011a), play (L’Abate, 2009g), self-help (Harwood & L’Abate, 2010), and generational and relational models of psychopathology as well (Hooper, L’Abate, Sweeney, Gianesini, & Janckoski, 2012). Whether RCT can be successfully expanded in this chapter to encompass communication paradigms, theories, and models remains to be seen in this chapter. Nonetheless, an attempt will be made, first to clarify theorizing in CS according to a conceptual hierarchical framework presented in Table 1, second and third, linking models of RCT with selected models of CS (Tables 2, 3, and 4), fourth, attempting to construct a hierarchical structure for written communication that would allow to allow an expansion of oral to written communication (Table 5), fifth, expand such a structure to model-derived programmed workbooks or interactive practice exercises in Tables 6 and 7, and sixth, link distance writing and programmed writing to a new definition of self according to recent advances in information processing and science, that is: the technoself.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Emotionality: The basic, essential nature of our existence, the experience of feelings.

Operational: A particular type of paradigm defined by specific operations, such as reductionism, information processing, interactionalism, and essentialism (L’Abate, 2012).

Relational Competence Theory (RCT): A theory devoted on classifying effective and non-effective relationships according to specific, verifiable, applicable, and redundant models.

Equipotentiality: One cause may produce a various of outcomes or results.

Classification: Any practical or theoretical framework that helps to distinguish among categories, degrees, or dimensions of any human and theoretical enterprise.

Reactive-Repetitive: One borderline style in intimate relationships derived from a continuum of Likeness or Resemblance (see creative-conductive and abusive-apathetic styles).

Resemblance: See Likeness.

No-Self: A particular, mostly dysfunctional propensity of RCT found in severe psycho-pathology (see Selfhood).

Content: The actual nature of a message or components of a verbal, non-verbal, and written communication.

Description: A verbal, nonverbal, or written depiction of a particular event or object.

General-Integrative: A particular type of paradigm according to a classification of paradigms, such as interbehaviorism, constructivism, and materialism (L’Abate, 2012).

Paradigm: A speculative set of values on how to see reality (see meta-theoretical).

Explanation: Describing antecedents, causes, or components of a particular behavior, relationship, or object.

Selflessness: One functional propensity of Selfhood.

Likeness: A curvilinear, developmental, and dialectical continuum defining self-identity or resemblance that includes at least three different styles in intimate relationships.

Model: A verbal or visual construct defined by empirically verifiable and applicable dimensions.

Dimension: An empirically established and verifiable continuum that together with other dimensions defines a model.

Symbiosis: One mostly extreme merging of one person with another with minimal boundaries between the two.

Hierarchy: A pyramidal flowchart or structure that allows to allocate who is in authority and who is responsible in a given system, the functions of a system, who makes decisions and who carries them out.

Theory: Any theoretical framework that lends itself to empirical verification through its models.

Equifinality: Many causes may lead to the same outcome result.

Selfulness: One particular, mostly functional, propensity of Selfhood.

Meta-Theoretical: Any construct that is above and beyond a theory (see paradigm).

Selfhood: One specific, integrative model of RCT composed of four propensities, one clarly dysfunctional, two borderline, and one clearly functional.

Identity: The essence of who we are.

Selfishness: One particular, mostly borderline, propensity of Selfhood.

Process: The flow of any entity or relationship among human and non-human beings, what is happening when one acts on something or somebody else.

Generality: Extreme of dimension used to describe allocation of authority and responsibility in a hierarchy (see specificity).

Context: Whatever surrounds the proximal and distal circumstances of any situation.

Alienation: One extreme in a continuum of likeness or resemblance.

Specificity: One end of a dimension defined by generality in evaluating paradigms, theories, and models (se Generality).

Abstraction: One dimension of how authority and responsibility are used in a hierarchical structure, both human and theoretical (see concreteness).

Communication Science (CS): Whatever is exchanged among human beings, verbally, non-verbally, and in writing.

Rationality: A term denoting cognition, planning, and thinking.

Creative-Conductive: A functional style in a continuum of likeness or resemblance.

Intimacy: The sharing of joys as well as hurts and fears of being hurt.

Concreteness: One dimension of how authority and responsibility are used in a hierarchical structure, both human and theoretical (see abstraction).

Workbook: A composite of written, interactive practice exercises in mental health.

Priorities: A motivational model of RCT that includes rank-ordering of attitudes, desires, goals, and wants.

Particular-Specific: A particular type of paradigm included in a classification of paradigms, such as behaviorism, cognitivism, humanism, and existentialism (L’Abate, 2012).

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