Towards a phenomenological theory of interpersonal communication
The aim of the present study is to explore the metatheory of interpersonal communication research. It will be shown by bibliometrical analysis that three theories dominate the field. The uncertainty reduction theory of Charles Berger and Richard Calabrese, constructivism as represented by Jesse Delia, and James McCroskey's communication apprehension are clearly the key theories of interpersonal communication research. These theories are epistemologically very different. Berger and Calabrese rely on empiricism, Delia is an interpretive scholar, and McCroskey stresses practical values. According to recent articles on the epistemology of human communication research, this difference implies certain problems in the field. Most significantly, it seems to be difficult to develop new theories in a field which is so metatheoretically fragmented. I will argue that phenomenology may offer an useful perspective on this problem. Phenomenology provides a large scale view of such issues as uncertainty, constructions, and apprehension. In doing so, it clarifies the question of why theories are different. Furthermore, phenomenology opens the way to new theories. It will be shown that phenomenology is, in this sense, not only an interesting tradition, but also a practical framework for the new wave interpretive scholars in the field. ...
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