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The journey of communication as an academic discipline
Communication, as an academic discipline or scientific field, has had a long career to be accepted as such, something that does not suffer as much fields and mathematics or other exact science. One of the difficulties that communication has is its ambiguity, which makes it more complex than you think. That is why several authors tried to understand the communication and the processes that lead to societies. Which resulted in a proliferation of theories that laid the foundations and foundations of communication. In that sense, understanding the basis of communication as a discipline will help to understand its importance in society. Sociology was fundamental in helping to lay the basis of communication as a discipline. Sources and Vidales explain it like this: “The starting point is sought in the first instance in the sociology of scientific knowledge to base, justify and expose its own approach to the structuring processes of the academic field of communication.”(Fuentes y Vidales, 2010, P.17). Which resulted in a bifurcation of different schools or sociological traditions. In that context, Thomas Kuhn’s proposal becomes a great contribution. Kuhn explains that the progress of science is not static, but is involved in a process of ruptures and continuities. The theory accepted within the scientific community is known as "paradigm". The paradigm will remain while the problems that arise can be solved. However, when problems appear that cannot be solved, the paradigm enters the crisis stage. Which leads to create a new paradigm, that is, there is a scientific revolution. Fuentes and Vidales relate it to communication as follows: among other possible options, the Kuhn paradigm concept has been taken as an axis for this initial review, since it allows to articulate around it the various ruptures (and continuities) and the main displacements (Y
reiterations) of the debates in that field in the last five decades. (Fuentes y Vidales, 2010, P.19) Understanding Kuhn’s paradigms within communication is fundamental, because it helps to understand that the theories raised by different authors or schools define concepts, conceptual frameworks, ideas, processes, however, they will never be static. Barry Barnes explains that scientific revolutions, however, created some controversies. The revolutions separated the academic interpretations of scientific research and was now observed on the social dimension that Kuhn introduced. In that context, in the field of sociology of science there was a methodological breakup, which gave way to new schools or currents. The sixties and sixty, for example, were reflected by schools in North America, England and the rest of Europe. The United States focused on the specialty, which helps organize a body of knowledge and competence, while, in Europe, the sociology of science first appeared and showed an interest in scientific knowledge, nature and the organization ofspecialties. Prior to this, sociological schools, which marked the bases or foundations of communication, arise in the socio -historical landscape of the first and second World War. Wars exposed the importance of communication very visible. Communication was always important, but it was in this panorama, that it was studied more carefully as a form of power. The new phenomena such as industrialization, urbanization and change in society gave way to new communication instruments. In the case of the First War, for example, the symbols fulfilled an important role, managed to move great masses for some specific purpose. After that, the mass media also acted as mediators, therefore, they had the power to unite or separate a society. In this context, three schools arise: the critical thinking of the Frankfurt School, British cultural studies and the Palo Alto school, the three emphasized the educational and cultural processes of communication. The mathematical theory of communication and cybernetics, on the other hand, were the two immediate background of these schools. The concept of "information", of mathematical theory and the "forms of behavior" that studies cybernetics, and in general the
Study of the communication process under the issuer, message and receiver formula gave the basis of sociological schools. The two theories explained processes that had not been studied, however, they did not incorporate a theory of significance, which made them insufficient to support communication as an academic discipline. Within this framework, Fuentes and Vidales expose it to this way: “The propositions that have a contribution of these models can tell us any number of things about communicative processes, but almost nothing about the world that surrounds them or produces them.”(Fuentes y Vidales, 2010, P.72). Theories that will put the method, theoretical approaches and the critical and interpretive approach will be schools after the two scientific theories. Although the mathematical theory of communication and cybernetic theory did not focus on the cultural or subjective field, the concept of information did not disappear. It is here, where interpretive theory, on the one hand, helps to understand communication and the communicative itself, on the other hand, the Frankfurt School, British cultural studies and the Chicago school focused on communication and culture. In this way, communication fulfilled another role that could be visualized very clearly in Latin America. Thus, cultural studies had a strong impact on the studies of Jesús Martín Barbero. Martín Barbero explains that culture significantly influenced Latin America. In this sense, a new paradigm is created where culture will have a leading role. Jesús Martín Barbero explains that communication in Latin America is closely related to culture. Latin America, in that sense, is a particular scenario, where the masses have preferences for audiovisual industries. It is at this point, where Martín Barbero visualizes the importance of culture and its influence on the different spaces. The cultural background of the British cultural studies and the proposal of Jesús Martín Barberto refute but that gives an account of a story that charges its own nuances in each geographical context as here has been shown, specifically as far as culture, communication and interpretation refers. (Fuentes y Vidales, 2010, P.78)
Culture, then, became part of communication and not only the context of a society. On the other hand, it was also present, within the theories, George H’s symbolic interactionism. Mead that emphasized the performance of the subjects. This theory was developed at the Palo Alto school in the United States. All these theories placed the foundations of the study of communication that helped the subsequent institutionalization. Regarding the institutionalization of communication, Wilbur Schramm was the main founder of this field, he left his legacy in the institutionalization of universities such as Iowa, Illinois and Stanford. United States, in that aspect, was the first country to institutionalize communication as an academic field. The investigation, however, was not the same in all schools or centers that appeared. In that sense, the investigation was divided, first in mass communication investigation, studied in the former journalism and second departments, the interpersonal research that arose from Speech departments. From the seventies, European research trends such as political economy and cultural studies were incorporated and growth became part of this academic field in the United States. In conclusion, understanding the history of the foundations and foundations of communication as a discipline helps us give an approach to the processes and ruptures of the different theories. Within that, understanding Kuhn’s theory, becomes indispensable in the development of communication, since, it becomes a process that never stops, new paradigms will always appear. In other words, the different schools that marked the basis of communication left a legacy that will be taken by subsequent schools or studies. In that sense, understanding the story will be the basis for understanding the future processes that communication will have and in their search to become a discipline or academic field.