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Communication Theory and Millennial Popular Culture

Essays and Applications

Edited By Kathleen Glenister Roberts

Theories help to troubleshoot gaps in our understanding, and to make sense of a world that is constantly changing. What this book tries to do, in part, is blur the lines between the differences between today’s college students – the millennial generation – and their professors, many of whom hail from the Boom Generation and Generation X.
In the following chapters, contributors build upon what both parties already know. Writing in a highly accessible yet compelling style, contributors explain communication theories by applying them to «artifacts» of popular culture. These «artifacts» include Lady Gaga, Pixar films, The Hunger Games, hip hop, Breaking Bad, and zombies, among others. Using this book, students will become familiar with key theories in communication while developing creative and critical thinking. By experiencing familiar popular culture artifacts through the lens of critical and interpretive theories, a new generation of communication professionals and scholars will hone their skills of observation and interpretation – pointing not just toward better communication production, but better social understanding.
Professors will especially enjoy the opportunities for discussion this book provides, both through the essays and the «dialogue boxes» where college students provide responses to authors’ ideas.
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20. Social Penetration Theory and Relationship Formation in Harry Potter

Extract

CHAPTER 20

Social Penetration Theory and Relationship Formation in Harry Potter

Kelli Jean K. Smith & Sharmila Pixy Ferris

In this chapter, we discuss Social Penetration Theory (SPT), a theory about self-disclosure and relational development. Relationships are important to every one of us, from our first relationships in our families, to the friendships, romances, and work relationships we develop throughout our lives. SPT helps us better understand how these relationships grow and progress.

Social Penetration Theory has become part of the academic curriculum in Communication Studies in general, and the study of Interpersonal Communication in particular. Most undergraduate communication theory textbooks explain the theory in much the same way we do here. Although SPT was conceptualized before social media became common, the theory is still relevant today. The changes in self-disclosure, and the relational benefits that come with it, can be seen in online relationships, as well as offline (face-to-face) relationships.

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