Digging Deeper Into Communication Models Cultural Studies Essay

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Digging deeper into communication models, the research done by theorist and communication experts alike has helped the future generation to at least have a brief idea of what a communication model is. In this era, whereby the world is getting smaller coined the "Global Village" (Marshall McLuhan) communication has risen to new heights due to its importance. The understanding of communication would further enhance a man's understanding of how to communicate with efficiency and efficacy. The rise of the Internet has also changed how communication works whereby the former and commonly used type was direct communication (face-to-face) and it changed into communication that was based more on writing as more and more people are hooked to the Internet.

A communication model would help with discovery of the difference in relationships between the different types of communication and how manipulative variables change efficiency, reach etc. A communication model would also clarify complex understanding of communication into a more disciplined, order and simple form of communication. Though models of communication has its advantages yet because of its simple nature could lead to oversimplifications, such as quoted "There is no denying that much of the work in designing communication models illustrates the oft-repeated charge that anything in human affairs which can be modeled is by definition too superficial to be given serious consideration." Duhem (1954) thus a model may attempt to mirror real life information but in reality it is impossible to truly model real life communication.

Therefore, communication models are generally divided into two, linear model and non-linear model, the former neglecting feedback of receivers, external factors etc. The linear model adapted a mathematical approach to communication based on codes that are decoded and encoded. The model dictates communication is possible only if two people share the same code whereby in this case is the same language. Language is the bridge that connects human thoughts into strings of sound, syllables and words and like any other 'computer' in order to translate it requires the same code system. This means, an example if a person wants to transfer his/her thoughts it would be encoded into language then the message is delivered through a channel that is later on decoded by the receiver/recipient.

Thus the introduction to the encode-decode model of communication, the linear model though revolutionary in communication introduced by Lasswell and later on enhanced by Shannon-Weaver model (Shannon, 1948) including noise into the communication. The main defect of these models are that it is linear and 'robotic', dictating that communication has a beginning and ending while in reality communication does not have such limited specifications under communication. Linear models do not generally take into account how humans interpret meanings…the encode-decode model "assumes that meaning is objective and can be captured in a fixed correspondence between aspects of the world and some system of representation" (Lund and Waterworth) Thus, Schramm introduced the circular model that acknowledges communication is not linear and that emphasizes the circular nature of human communication, in which the roles of source/encoder and receiver/decoder interchange. In furtherance of analysis, the sample used is the Circular/Interactive Model of Osgood and Schramm.


Wilbur Schramm and Osgood introduced the Circular Model, 1954 were one of the first to alter the mathematical model of Shannon and Weaver. The reason behind Schramm coming up with the circular model was to overcome the limitations of linear models. "In fact, it is misleading to think of the communication process as starting somewhere and ending somewhere. It is really endless. We are little switchboard centers handling and rerouting the great endless current of information...."(Schramm W. (1954) quoted in McQuail & Windahl (1981).

All communication process starts with a person that has a thought or information to pass on to other people. In the interactive model, that thought would first go through an element called the encoder, which will change our thought into codes. Encoding is actually an act of translating specific thoughts into codes (message) that is then transferred to another person, which will decode the codes (message), and interpret the meaning. The second part of the communication, is the feedback/response of the person to the particular code (message) that goes through the process of encoding, and then delivered back to the original sender.

The difference here is that the circular model acknowledges the circular nature of human communication that is endless. An enhancement of previous linear models whereby the sender and receiver vice versa changes role depending on the communication. This helps improve the understanding of communication between two people rather then a one way linear model that does not represent the nature of communication in real life.

The Circular Model is a dynamic model that shows how a situation can change and that communication is not generally one sided. The Circular Model also raises the importance of redundancy and that it is an essential part of communication, due to the fact that communication moves in a circular manner. Another advantage of the model is that it does not separate between sender and receiver, both sender and receiver is the same person. A more active communication models rather then the linear model that assumes passive receivers. The Circular Model emphasizes on the feedback feature to be central of the communication model, where models before failed to incorporate.

The Circular model is not free from defects; one being the most highly criticized is that it does not incorporate the noise feature included in Shannon-Weaver model (Shannon, 1948). Noise is anything that influences effective communication and the interpretation of the code (message). Noise may have profound effects on interpretation of communication but is usually overlooked.

Noise can be divided into three categories, which are Semantic Noise, Psychological Noise (internal noise) and Physical Noise (external noise). Understanding noise is essential in improving further the communication models.

External Noise is anything outside the person that may distract the efficiency of communication, such as sight, sound, smell, and environment such as crowded environment. While's Internal Noise is anything that influences thoughts, feelings during communication such as hunger, headaches and fatigue. The final one is Semantic Noise which encoding errors by the sender which is not understood by the receiver such as writings in articles by the use of jargons or unnecessary technical language.

Application of the circular model would most probably mirror communication limited to only 2 people. The Circular model is limited to that specific use since it fails to incorporate context and the surrounding nature and growth development of the individual.

Room for improvement of the Circular Model (1954) has been made through the Helical Model (1967) attempting to show that the growth of communication is forever evolving and limitless. The extent of its growth depending on the development of the individual throughout his life and including individual factors such as environment, economic and relations change over time. As communication moves forward so does the form of such communication, therefore it is a need to take into account of the different for such as the epidemic growth of social media changing the communication as there is more reliance of the things said rather then the non-verbal messages sent in the past with direct communication.

Based on extended reading, improvements of the Circular model taking into account present communication settings.

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Based on the Communication Model above, it clearly looks similar to the Circular model. The difference is the enhancement of noise in the middle section of the model. Message is changed into distortion; to infer that noise plays a part in the message sent thus naming it distortion. What this model represents is a more suitable approach to real life communication, as it incorporates the underlying factors of intention, perception, relationship and the context of communication while acknowledging all three types of noise.

First of all, intention of the communication does have significance as if the intention was transactional it is specifically goal-oriented thus would affect interaction to achieve such goals. On the other hand, if the intention were of socializing purposes and demonstrating social intimacy with the receiver/counter-initiator thus the distortion (message) would be interpreted differently. As an example, the differences of response to sellers as compared to friends and family. The attention span/level is also based on such intentions. Intentions can also recognized as inference. Inference in this sense means 'humans communicate far more meaning than they ever encode linguistically'. A perfect example is the use of the word 'Its gone', the ambiguity of linguistics fail to define the complete meaning of intention in language and the interpretation is inferred by the receiver/counter-initiator.

Next, the relationship between initiator and receiver also governs the communication model such as symmetric power relationship between to friends, both with equal rights to speak as compare to a asymmetrical power relationship between and employee and employer would change the distortion (message) taking into measure the authority of the employer. Furthermore, the context is a combination of both the intention and relationship mixed with the location, time and noise during the communication thus turns into a major influence as how distortion (message) is received and the response given. An example to display such context, is the comparison of initiators/rebound distortion (message) during at work with a colleague compared too the distortion at home with a family member, while in both cases explaining the accident that took place while on the way to work. The context changes so much that the variables are limitless, while at the office the explanation of such event may be more dramatized and exaggerated since it just happened, and also the fact that the receiver/counter-initiator is a colleague while at home the explanation of the same event would be shorter due to the redundancy, fear of the family member's response and so fourth.

The nuclear signed used was to signify the limitless boundaries of such context and the different combinations that may occur combined with the different types of noise that play a subtle role in influencing communication. The model incorporates all three types of noise that is semantic, external and internal. What differs from other models is it also features other major factors such as perception outwards toward the each other and perception inward of oneself. Example, if we perceive of what we are listening too in the radio is false thus the whether it is true we tend to ignore the distortion (message) this is called selective perception.

Schramms model though outdated and has been improved with numerous other models; it remains to be the cornerstone of communication models, with the model centered on the theory of feedback. Schramms model is of use in today's social media lifestyle since social media relies mainly on the two-way circular nature of communication.