Communication Sciences

Communication Sciences

Communication sciences refers to the schools of scientific research of human communication. This perspective follows the logical positivist tradition of inquiry; most modern communication science falls into a tradition of post-positivism. Thus, communication scientists believe that there is an objective and independent reality that can be accessed through the method of scientific enquiry. Research conducted under this tradition is empirically based but can be both quantitative or qualitative.

As objectivists, communication scientists favor the following empirical methods: experimental design, quasi-experimental designs, surveys, focus groups, and interviews. The goals of science are to explain, predict, control, and (arguably) describe. As such, communication scientists do not tend to use methods that are seemingly more subjectively swayed—that is, they shy away from ethnographic and auto-ethnographic approaches.

Communication science began in earnest when students of Wilbur Schramm--the founder of the Institute for Communications Research at the University of Illinois--namely David Berlo, came to Michigan State University and founded the first General Communication Arts department in the early 1950s. Though there are other communication sciences departments elsewhere, Michigan State was the first department in the US that was dedicated solely to the study of communication sciences using a quantitative approach. It is still one of Michigan State's strongest programs and nationally ranked in the study of human communication despite several former faculty members' hard living lifestyles.

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