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The following text is part of a Course on offer at the TNOU and is being taken up now for practising WikiEducator


Communication can be broadly described as a process by which we assign and convey meaning in an attempt to create shared understanding. This process requires a sound repertoire of skills in intrapersonal and interpersonal processing, listening, observing, speaking, questioning, analyzing evaluating. Communication processing is developmental in nature and spreads to all areas of life: home, school, community, work and beyond. It is through communication that collaboration and cooperation occur.

Academic programmes in Communication, Communication Arts or Communication Sciences, often, include Organizational Communication, Interpersonal Communication, Speech Communication (or Rhetoric), Mass Communication and sometimes Journalism, Film Criticism, Theatre, Political Science (e.g., political campaign strategies, public speaking, effects of media on elections) Media Studies/Sciences (e.g., Radio, TV and Film production, etc.)

As a result, we could find graduates of communication programmes in a wide range of fields working as academics, market researchers, media editors and designers, media analysts, speech therapists, journalists, human resources managers, corporate trainers, public relations practitioners, media managers and consultants in a variety of fields including media production, life coaching, public speaking, organizational behaviour political campaign, issue management and public policy.

Our need for communication is as strong and as basic as our need to eat, sleep and love. As much as it is an individual need, it is a social need as well. This basic human need for communication can perhaps be traced to the process of humankind’s evolution from lower species. Animals, for instance, have to be in sensory communication with their physical and biological surroundings for food, security and reproduction. The inability to hear a predator, for example, results in loss of life!

And, humans when kept in isolation for a period of time from others are known to have experienced nightmarish hallucinations. However, too much of communication can be as disorienting an experience as lack of it!. In fact, the apparent effects of sensory deprivation as well as sensory overload lead to identical responses including anxiety, apathy, impaired judgment, strange visions, etc.

In this Course entitled Introduction to Communication Studies, we will touch upon the various aspects of communication, which is generally defined as the sharing of meaningful signs and symbols between members involved. In other words, it deals with the transmission of messages from one point to another through some medium.

You must note that different people use different nomenclatures to refer to the discipline of Communication Studies. Some of these nomenclatures include ‘communications’, ‘communication studies’, ‘mediology’, ‘speech communication’, ‘communications science’, media studies’, ‘mass communication’ and so on. Note also that this discipline overlaps with such disciplines as Journalism, Film and Cinema, Radio and Television, Advertising and Public Relations, Fine Arts, Performance Studies, Linguistics, English Language Teaching, etc.

The field of communication study, thus, is remarkably inclusive and integrates theoretical perspectives originally developed in a range of other disciplines. Some consider it a part of Social Sciences, while some others align it with Humanities. However, the truth is that it draws on other disciplines including Engineering,Architecture, Mathematics, Sociology, Psychology, Computer Science, Gender and Sexuality and Economics as well. The interdisciplinary nature of Communication Studies has understandably made it difficult for students to place it within the broader educational system.

Against this backdrop, in this Course, we will give you some basics of the field by explaining some of the major theories and models of communication. However, the Course does not pretend to make you communication specialists! But, as students of English language and literature, we must know the healthy nexus between language and communication, and this essentially is the focus of this Course.

Accordingly, in the first Unit of this Course, i.e., Unit 1, we will provide you with an outline of the discipline under study. We will begin the Unit by giving a working description of the concept ‘communication’ and during this discussion, we will explain the processes in and types of communication. We will then trace the history of communication with particular reference to North America and Germany. It does not however mean that there wasn’t any communication related studies elsewhere. We will subsequently take up the various methods of studying communication and establish the link between media and communication. Finally, we will touch upon the pedagogical value one devices from communication theories and models. Learning Objectives