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Unit 2 Models of Communication

Recap the following theoretical issues.

A. Models of communication.

1. What is a model? How are models created?

2. Speak on the necessity to create a model in order to describe a phenomenon.

3. What do different communicative models focus on?

4. Dwell on the main disadvantages of models.

B. The psychological model.

1. Recall the elements of the psychological model of communication (sender/receiver, message, channel, encoding/decoding, mental set, noise, feedback). How does this model define communication?

2. According to the psychological model, in what case is communication considered to be unsuccessful?

3. What are the ways of improving faulty communication?

4. Dwell on the drawbacks and limitations of the psychological perspective.

C. The social constructionist model.

1. How is communication viewed from the angle of the social constructionist perspective?

2. Recall the cultural tools employed by the social constructionist perspective (symbolic codes, cognitive customs, cultural traditions, shared rules and roles). How is communication conducted according to the social constructionist model?

3. In what case is the communicative process considered to be a failure from the point of view of the social constructionist perspective? Dwell on the necessary preconditions for the communicative process to be successful.

4. What are the drawbacks of the social constructionist perspective?

D. The pragmatic model.

1. What is the main focus of the pragmatic model?

2. Recall the elements of the pragmatic model (partners, individual moves, an interact, payoffs, interdependence). How do we understand communication from the angle of the pragmatic perspective?

3. Prove that communicative process presupposes interdependence of the partners.

4. What are the ways to achieve success in the communicative process?

5. What are the disadvantages of the pragmatic perspective?

E. Hymes’ SPEAKING model.

1. Recall the elements of context according to Hymes’ model (speech community, speech situations, speech events, speech acts).

2. What are the specific elements of communication specified by Hymes? How should they be singled out and described (situations, participants, ends, act sequences, keys, instrumentalities, norms, genres)?

Task 1. Psychology

Ex. 1. Identifying aspects of communication. Read the story “Psychology” by K. Mansfield and get ready to dwell on the main elements of the communicative episode described in the text.

1. Do the participants of communication have similar mental sets?

2. Is this communication successful? If not, at what stage of the encoding/decoding process does this failure occur?

3. How could this communicative failure have been avoided?

4. What can be classified as communicative noise in this episode?

5. How does the tone of communication change when the woman switches to a different communicative channel (starts writing the letter)?

Ex. 2. Discussion. Express your own opinion about the following: a) “There was another way for them to speak to each other.” What way is meant? Is it a more effective means of communication? b) The problem of discrepancy between one’s intentions and their realization.

Ex. 3. Follow-up. Analyse the communicative phenomenon described in the story from the psychological perspective.

Task 2. On Time

Ex. 1. Identifying aspects of communication. Read the story “On Time” by J. O’Hara and get ready to dwell on the main elements of the communicative episode described in the text.

1. Are Frank and Laura a match (do they have similar mental sets)?

2. Why did Frank and Laura misinterpret each other’s behavior? What knowledge about the situation did they lack?

3. Did they manage to correctly understand each other’s behavior ten years later?

Ex. 2. Discussion. Express your opinion about the final scene of the story. Laura was heartless, cruel, but she got some comfort out of what she had said”, while Frank “couldn’t have her see what a hard blow it was for him”. Was trying to mislead each other and hide their real feelings the best solution in that situation?

Ex. 3. Follow-up. Analyse the communicative situation described in the story from the psychological perspective.

Task 3. Dear Sylvia. Dear Hugo

Ex. 1. Identifying aspects of communication. Read the stories “Dear Sylvia” and “Dear Hugo” by J.P. Donleavy and get ready to dwell on the main elements of the communicative episode described in the text.

1. How can you comment on the relations between the family members? What accounts for the rivalry between a) the spouses; b) Sylvia’s family and Hugo?

2. Why do you think Hugo repeats several times that it is not a letter of recrimination? What is his real communicative goal then?

3. How do the two letters differ in the tone and means of communication?

Ex. 2. Discussion. Express your opinion about Hugo’s choice of the channel of communication: I just want you to get the facts straight and understand my side of it.” Has he chosen it appropriately to achieve his goal?

Ex. 3. Follow-up. Analyse the communicative episode according to the psychological model of communication.

Task 4. En Garde!

Ex. 1. Identifying aspects of communication. Read the following article and get ready to dwell on the main characteristics of the communicative phenomenon under consideration.

En Garde!

The history of duelling

By A. Krystal

On the night of June 10, 1804, Alexander Hamilton seated himself at his desk in his home in upper Manhattan to finish a letter explaining why the following morning would find him in Weehawken, New Jersey, pointing a flintlock pistol at Vice-President Aaron Burr. He began by listing five moral, religious, and practical objections to dueling, but ruefully concluded, seven paragraphs later, that “what men of the world denominate honor” made it impossible for him to “decline the call.” Burr had placed him in an untenable position. If Hamilton ignored the challenge, Burr would “post” him – that is, publish his refusal in the newspapers – and his political career would effectively be ruined. The next morning, Hamilton had himself rowed across the Hudson.

“If we were truly brave, we should not accept a challenge; but we are all cowards,” a friend of Hamilton’s said after his death. He was thinking not only of Hamilton but of all men in public life whose reputations were at the mercy of political rivals and incendiary journalism. As Joanne B. Freeman makes plain in “Affairs of Honor” (2001), Hamilton and Burr belonged to a class for whom no public offense could go unchallenged even if one felt no personal outrage. Hamilton, too, had issued challenges and seconded other men – one way or another, he had been involved in more than ten “affairs of honor” – while Burr had been party to three duels, including one where he actually took the field. Neither of them was an exception among the Founding Fathers. Button Gwinnet, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, died of wounds received in a duel; and James Monroe refrained from challenging John Adams only because Adams was President at the time. Some years later, Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay took part in duels, and even the young Abraham Lincoln came very close to a sword fight with James Shields, a fellow-Illinoisan who eventually became a Union general.

Duelling is an anachronism, of course. This is true because it may still crop up. In 1954, Ernest Hemingway was challenged to a duel in Cuba, but declined. In 1967, two French politicians literally crossed swords in Neuilly. And four years ago a Peruvian legislator challenged his nation’s Vice-President to meet him on a beach near Lima. No one anticipates such shenanigans at Buckingham Palace, but the Queen, as it happens, still retains an official champion who stands ready to challenge anyone who disputes her sovereignty.

This rather daunting fact turns up in James Landale’s “The Last Duel: A True Story of Death and Honor”. Landale, a correspondent for the BBC, is descended from one of the two men who fought the last recorded fatal duel on Scottish soil. Relying on a trial transcript, newspaper accounts, bank documents, and the correspondence of the duelists, Landale elegantly reconstructs the circumstances that forced his ancestor David Landale, at the mature age of thirty-nine, to challenge his former banker, George Morgan. David Landale, a linen merchant from the coastal town of Kirkcaldy, just north of Edinburgh, was, if anything, more reluctant than Hamilton to pick up a pistol; he didn’t even own one. But the code of honor extended to wherever men conducted business, and honor dictated that Landale challenge Morgan. The two met in a field on the morning of August 23, 1826; only one left the spot alive.

The word “duel”, most likely an elision of the Latin duellum (war between two), entered the English language around the beginning of the seventeenth century. Single combat, of course, is as old as the hills where David slew Goliath, but no laws regulating its conduct existed until the beginning of the sixth century, when King Gundebald of Burgundy decided that irreconcilable differences could be settled through trial by combat. The judicial duel was, as its name implies, a legal practice, conducted before magistrate and public, whereas the duel of honor was private, secular, and, for most of its history, illegal. It emerged as an institution during the Italian Renaissance, when various aristocrats sought, by affecting an exaggerated sense of honor, to establish themselves as a social, as well as a military, class. Dozens of dueling codes, fencing manuals, and treatises on courtesy soon materialized, prescribing the dress, manners, and rules of combat appropriate to the courtier. In effect, they provided the ground on which abstract notions of honor coalesced into the precepts and axioms that enabled a man of the upper class to live a more noble life. Such a man would always keep his word, always rush to the aid of a comrade or a woman in distress, and never allow an insult or injury to himself or his family to go unrevenged.

The New Yorker. 2007, March 12

1. How do you understand the notion “anachronism”? Can dueling really be called this way?

2. What is “a code of honor”? Do all people have to follow it?

3. How was dueling spoken of in those days? What special terms were used to describe the process?

4. What role did the representatives of the press play in the history of dueling?

Ex. 2. Discussion. Express your opinion about the men who lived noble lives in the past. How has our modern understanding of “nobility” changed?

Ex. 3. Follow-up. Analyse the communicative phenomenon described in the article from the social constructionist perspective.

Task 5. The Luncheon

Ex. 1. Identifying aspects of communication. Read the story “The Luncheon” by W.S. Maugham and get ready to dwell on the main elements of the communicative episode described in the text.

1. Why does the woman keep repeating the words “I never eat more than one thing.” What is her communicative goal?

2. Do the young man and the woman understand these words in the same way?

3. Do the young man and the woman speak “the same language”? What accounts for this fact?

4. Does the man perceive the situation the same way as the woman does?

Ex. 2. Discussion. Express your opinion about the following situation. The young man tries to send the waiter a hidden message: “I tried with all my might to make him say no.” Why does the waiter readily understand everything that the woman says but seems to completely ignore the young man’s message?

Ex. 3. Follow-up. Analyse the communication described in the story from the social constructionist perspective.

Ex. 4. Problem-solving. When we are with people from different countries, we sometimes make mistakes, or have misunderstandings. Analyse the following communicative episodes and try to guess what caused misunderstanding in each case. How would you behave in each case in order to avoid communicative failures?

a) When I was at university in England, my English tutor invited a group of us to her home. I didn’t want to make any mistakes, such as staying too late. So when she brought us a drink before we began a meal, I said, “Thank you for inviting us to your home and for inviting us to dinner. Could you tell me when we can leave?” she laughed and said, “So, you can’t wait to leave?” Lu, China.

b) I was visiting Germany for the first time and I received an invitation to visit my most important customer in her house. I decided to take her a beautiful bunch of twelve red roses and her husband a bottle of wine. I gave her the flowers, but she just looked embarrassed. Douglas, Scotland.

c) A British colleague invited me to join his friends after work. We went to a pub where he bought me a drink and he suggested a meal in a restaurant. At the end of the meal, I was very surprised to see everyone take out their wallets to pay the waiter. My friend expected me to pay as well, but I feel it was very mean of him not to pay for me as he invited me. Kenji, Japan.

d) I was sitting in a bus in Bristol when an elderly lady got on the bus. It was crowded and there weren’t any seats. A middle-aged man said very loudly, “Wouldn’t you offer the lady your seat, please?” Why didn’t he give her his seat? Carlos, Spain.

e) I’ve only recently arrived in the USA and don’t have many friends so I was pleased to meet a really nice American in the college cafeteria the other week. We had a long conversation, she told me the story of her life, she showed me photos of her family, and she left me her address. The following week I saw her, but although she smiled and said “Hi!” in a friendly way, she went and sat with her other friends. I feel very hurt. Does she expect me to all on her? I feel I need an invitation. Hana, Lebanon.

Task 6. The BBC’s Digital Strategy in a World beyond Boundaries

Ex. 1. Identifying aspects of communication. Read the text and get ready to dwell on the main elements of the communicative episode under consideration.

The BBC’s Digital Strategy in a World beyond Boundaries

Speech given at Broadcast Digital Channels Conference 2008

by R. Keating, Controller, BBC Two

June 17, 2008

Good morning – and thank you to Conor and the Broadcast team for this invitation.

 When you’ve worked at the BBC for a while – which I suppose I have – you can become a bit, shall we say, conditioned to accept things as normal which to people on the outside probably seem barking mad.

 This struck me at a BBC conference a month or two ago when I realised that two of my distinguished colleagues, Jane Tranter and Tony Ageh, had never actually met.

So I decided to introduce them, and it seemed only right to use their job titles, and thus it was that I found myself introducing the Controller of Fiction to the Controller of the Internet. Only at the BBC. Shortly afterwards we were joined by the Director of Vision and the Controller of Knowledge.

 Now it may just be creeping megalomania that makes us come up with job titles that sound like they’ve come straight from the pages of a 70s science fiction novel, but to be fair I think it’s probably a consequence of the times we live in.

 It’s a bit of a sci-fi moment that we’re all living through right now, where a lot of our familiar universe seems to have been upended and mind-bending concepts become commonplaces with alarming regularity.

<…>  Time and relative dimensions in space. A line-up of apparently abstract concepts, signifying that this next phase of digital – for us at the BBC at least – is likely to be less about big new channel brands or service launches, and more about going back to first principles about what broadcasting really is these days, re-framing the question in a hunt for new ways to unlock value from the investments we and others are making.

 Let’s start with Time.

 We channel controllers tend to think we understand the concept of ‘time’ in broadcasting. It’s something we carve up neatly into schedules, and it has to be said, even in the mature age of multichannel the sheer power of premiere transmission can still be pretty formidable – on BBC Two I’m always amazed at the impact of an event like Springwatch, let alone the astonishing figures the two major channels have been delivering on Saturday nights recently.

 As I’ve said before, the linear TV channel – even as actual viewing habits shift – can continue to hold its place as what you might call the central organising principle of broadcasting, for audiences and professionals alike, the engine of instant, incremental scale and impact.

 But either side of that moment of premiere transmission, something weird is happening to our sense of time. It seems to be stretching and bending in unexpected ways. It’s no longer enough to ask of a particular programme ‘when is it on?’, because the lifespan of content is opening up in every direction.

 Increasingly, for instance, the public life of a programme is beginning long, long before the moment of transmission, or even the start of its marketing campaign.

 In the case of Ewan MacGregor’s and Charley Boorman’s Long Way Down adventure, we took a decision to open for business pretty much as soon as the show was commissioned, with a continuously updated website giving full details of the unfolding journey and regular blogs from the presenters. We didn’t just let it sit on the web either – we advertised the fact on air.

 I can’t pretend that this didn’t freak me out a bit. To effectively disclose in advance the whole narrative of a series like this ran counter to most of my established assumptions about the sanctity of first tx. Isn’t it insane to effectively tell people the whole story before we’ve even broadcast?

 But of course the opposite was true: the series massively outperformed expectations, bringing a pre-built audience of addicted fans who’d been spreading word of mouth and building expectation across the web.

 <…>  This stretching forward of the timeline of programmes ahead of their broadcast is significant enough, but it’s nothing compared with what’s beginning to happen at the other end of the process.

 The idea that a programme only has real value at its moment of transmission has been on life-support since the invention of the VCR, but – in our small universe at least – it feels like it died once and for all on Christmas Day last year with the full consumer launch of iPlayer.

 I don’t need to rehearse the statistics about the uptake of iPlayer so far – except to say that by this time next week we will have broken through the barrier of 100 million requests to view. It has indisputably, and almost instantly, made itself an icon for a new way of viewing.

 But one of the ironies about iPlayer is that it’s really bigger on the outside than the inside.

 What I mean is that for something which has had such impact on people’s habits and imaginations, the actual volume of content it can make available at any one time is pretty small by the standards of what’s about to hit us in the new world of non-linear media.

 As consumers have already learnt, most content disappears after a week and even with the new ‘series stacking’ provisions – which will keep a selection of series available for the duration of their run – iPlayer by itself will only ever boast a strictly limited inventory of programmes.

 Users will continue to encounter messages like this, apologising for the unavailability of a particular piece of content.


Commercial sites such as the proposed Kangaroo venture will of course go some way to meeting the pent-up demand, but our whole way of thinking about this kind of programme access is still based around a ‘windowing’ metaphor we’ve inherited from the last century.

 Now the concept of the ‘window’ has a long pedigree. It’s the basis on which the secondary market has flourished, and it’s the key mechanism by which producers have benefited from the value of their work and distributors and multichannel broadcasters in particular have built their businesses.

 Windows are not about to disappear, but they were only ever a device built to suit the nature of linear channels and the managed scarcity they represented. I’d say that we’re just beginning to see the first tremors of a new way of thinking about value – commercial and public value – in the aftermath of transmission.

 The internet has made us all greedier and more demanding for information and content of all kinds. Put it simply, if something’s published people increasingly want and expect it to stay published. Whether it’s ad-funded, subscription, license-fee funded or whatever is important, of course, but in some ways it’s a second-order issue: first and foremost they just want to be able to find it – and by and large they’ll expect it to remain accessible to them indefinitely.

 Whether you call it the principle of permanence, or perpetuity, or continuous availability, this feels like an emerging rule of media, and it’s something that will gradually affect all the key decisions we make about platforms and programmes.

 Some of our most common terms will change their meaning: ‘transmission’ will evolve into ‘release’, which in its turn is becoming something not unlike ‘publishing’.

Hence the new generation of ‘programme pages’ which Jana Bennett talked about at her Banff speech on Monday. The aim is to automatically generate one for every episode of every programme we broadcast, and after only a few months over 160,000 have been indexed by Google, with more appearing every day.

Free and in the public domain, this cumulative mass of information has the potential to become a great public resource – especially when we find ways to link it as seamlessly as possible with all the data we have in the Catalogue about the previous 80 years or so of BBC content.

<…> The prize here is the chance for TV to become, at last, a medium with a mature relationship to its own past – as opposed to one that either knows nothing about it at all, or keeps harking back to imaginary golden ages. It will also be a sure way to identify content with really lasting value, while in commissioning there’ll be an increasing premium for programmes that are genuinely built to last.

 It’s that blue box again. One way or another we’re all going to have to get a lot more comfortable with the idea of time travel, because we’ll be living and working in a TV world where past, present and even future content will increasingly co-habit in exactly the same media space. It’s an editorial, navigational and technological challenge whose significance is only just beginning to sink in.

 So much for Time – but what about those Relative Dimensions in Space?


This is where it gets really complicated. When you work at the BBC, boundaries between different kinds of space tend to loom pretty large. We all have a very clear mental map – public here, commercial there – and a real, geographic one, where the borders of the UK have traditionally marked the clearest possible boundary between the BBC as a public broadcaster and the BBC as a commercial entity.

 All of that still applies, but – as with Time and those blurring ‘windows’ – the internet is testing us all the time, forcing a re-imagining of almost every boundary we thought we understood – and in some cases the whole idea of ‘boundaries’ itself.

 There’s that simple business of UK and global, for instance. Even in what’s currently still a relatively unconnected global TV world it’s striking how the public service impact of programmes can cross continents.

<…> I strongly suspect our audience has an increasingly ‘whole earth’ mindset, even if we sometimes don’t. One way or another the power of the web will render our industry global, and if we don’t anticipate that now and find ways to get UK content of all kinds findable by audiences right across the planet, then other powerful voices will begin to crowd us out.

<…> Tim Berners Lee’s vision of the World Wide Web was based on an equally idealistic vision of the power of electronic media to create public value – in this case by allowing free, equal connectedness between all participants.

Our recent White Season brought these two kinds of public space together – a season of linear documentaries in a classic BBC Two tradition coupled with an innovative use of the web to create a zone for public engagement both with the films themselves and the issues they raised.

We knew this was controversial territory, but we also had a sense that the BBC was one of the few places a debate like this could be held without being hijacked either by political interests or extremists – a real test of what public space on the web looks like.

Out of this came White Spectrum – a series of online debates around each of the films which offers itself back to the audience in a completely different way from the usual scroll down and hope for the best format.

As contributions came in they weren’t just moderated – they were re-presented back to the audience as a kind of visual map of their own emotional response – clustered and searchable not just by region (pretty interesting in itself) but by the feelings they evoke: confusion, fear, anger, happiness and so on.

At the heart of projects like this is a move to ever greater ‘openness’.

<…> My colleagues in BBC News have been the pioneers here. The News Editors’ blog has already become something of a byword in the industry for what you might call proactive candour, with senior figures cheerfully admitting to varying degrees of error or cock-up, usually before the outside world has even noticed.

This shift towards openness is about more than just showing our workings as journalists and producers and commissioners – important as that is.

It’s about challenging ourselves to rethink some of our own institutional boundaries. Only two weeks ago the Trust challenged us to increase the volume of our external links on the web.

<…> This isn’t just a timely shift of emphasis. It’s a direct consequence of the connected world we inhabit now, where go-it-alone initiatives will have less and less salience, and success for everyone – and certainly for the UK industry on the global stage – is more and more likely to depend on the smart intertwining of interests and talents.

For the BBC it’s a journey towards a rather different kind of public institution, better aligned with others’ interests – and more supportive of them – and drawing on creative energies from an even wider pool of talent.

 One of the best bloggers on these topics, Tom Coates, formerly of the BBC, now at Yahoo, once advised anyone contemplating a web start-up to think less about immediate profit and more about how to ‘make the whole web better’. The BBC’s hardly a start-up these days, but that’s still not a bad aspiration I think…


1. What major principles of modern television broadcasting are described? How has the viewers’ perception of these principles changed through years?

2. How can you characterize the communicative means used by the speaker? Can they be easily understood by a wider (non-professional) audience?

3. Do “television people” and viewing audience perceive modern broadcasting principles in the same way? What accounts for this fact?

Ex. 2. Discussion. Express your opinion about the following. Were such job titles as Controller of Fiction, Controller of the Internet, Director of Vision, Controller of Knowledge possible some time ago? Why have such titles become possible now?

Ex. 3. Follow-up. Analyse the text from the point of view of the social constructionist model, paying attention to values, beliefs, symbolic codes etc. in the past and in the present. What concepts have changed?

Task 7. Faith and the Media

Ex. 1. Identifying aspects of communication. Read the text and get ready to dwell on the main elements of the communicative episode under consideration.

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