The Missing Essential in Public Communication
1. The fundamental role of communication and voice
· 1 · the fundamental role of communication and voice To be means to communicate dialogically. When dialogue ends, everything ends. —(Mikhail Bakhtin, 1963/1984, p. 252, writing about human society) Communication theorists and sociologists identify communication as “the organizing element of human life” (Littlejohn & Foss, 2008, p. 4) and the basis of human society (Carey, 1989/2009; Dewey, 1916). John Dewey said “soci- ety exists … in communication” (1916, p. 5) and famously added that “of all things, communication is the most wonderful” (1939, p. 385)—albeit Dewey’s statements are often misinterpreted, as noted by James Carey (1989/2009). Dewey was not suggesting that communication is easy or that it is always a satisfying experience. Raymond Williams also wrote effusively about the importance of communication in creating and sustaining communities and societies, echoing Dewey in saying “society is a form of communication” (1976, p. 10). Other scholars note that humans “cannot not communicate” (Watzlawick, Beavin, & Jackson, 1967, p. 48). Even silence communicates— an important principle informing this analysis. 8 organizational listening Public Communication in Society Communication between two individuals (dyads) and within small groups, referred to as interpersonal communication, is a long-standing field of study in which there is a substantial body of literature. Some interpersonal com- munication is private, while in other cases it deals with matters of public concern. Communication is also essential inside organizations such as govern- ment departments, corporations, and institutions such as schools, universities, and hospitals. This is commonly referred to as organizational communication, although it would be more accurately...
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