Comprehensive Communications Project

COMM 680


What is integrating theory and content?


I’ve had an opportunity to integrate theory and content learning by developing and completing a comprehensive communication project in my Master of Arts in Communications program at Queens University of Charlotte.


How did I apply integrating theory and content learning? (So what?)


In my final comprehensive communications project I was able to integrate theory and content learning. The best way to integrate theory with content is through completing a comprehensive literature review.


I used feminist standpoint theory in my final comprehensive communications project: One Mother Runner. I scoured over 60 resources for my initial project proposal and those sources included research from scholars on feminist standpoint theory, body image, motherhood in magazines and running communities. Through the research from other scholars, I was able to view the research through the lens of feminist standpoint theory.


For example, the research on feminist standpoint theory, aims to promote understanding that a “woman” is not just a body, but also is an unheard voice in a “man’s world” (Rakow and Nastasia, 2009, p. 267). The bottom line is that this theory believes it’s a man’s world, in which men’s language is preferred. I was able to use this theory to understand how body image, representation of motherhood in magazines and the running community, tie into the viewpoint promoted through feminist standpoint theory. Scholars agree that boys and girls are taught from childhood how to feel about their bodies. From a young age girls derive their self-esteem from their body weight and shape, while boys pull from a variety of attributes. This contributes to women feeling as if they have to adhere to the ideal of beauty. Women are constantly subjected to unrealistic body images and expectations of how they should diet and exercise more than men. Movies, advertisements and other mainstream media portray the female body as a sexual being. This ties into the research scholars asserted about the portrayal of women in fitness magazines. Researchers found that the act of framing women differently in fitness magazines strips them of power in both the sport and society. Lynn, Hardin and Walsdorf (2004) say, “Advertising serves a primary role in the maintenance of hegemonic order; gender roles and consumerism are reinforced,” (p. 336). This is referred to as commodity feminism.

noexcusesThrough this research, I had an “ah-ha” moment, which is the fact that women are portrayed as sexual beings in advertisements in fitness magazines to reinforce the unrealistic beauty ideals and suppress women’s self-esteem in an effort to promote products and encourage spending on products that promise to help women reach the “ideal” standard of beauty. This is directly tied to commodity feminism, as power, money and feminism are intertwined.


As I move into the analyzing phase of my comprehensive communications project, components that I’ve been blind to in the past are coming to light. For example, when I read Runner’s World, I see the overt demonstration of males in the sport of running and the devaluing of women. I see the advertisements that portray women in a position as a sexual being. I’ve begun the coding and content analysis and I’m already seeing the results of content aimed towards women that falls within the weight loss, body image and beauty messaging. However, the messaging to men is in the categories of performance and gear.

The advice and insight of Dr. McArthur, and all of my professors at Queens University of Charlotte, has helped me greatly in being able to view literature from the lens of theory and apply theory to content.



Now what?


I’ve created the website as a result of the research for this comprehensive communications project. While I’m in the analyzing phase now and I’ve launched a pilot of the site…this is only the beginning. I am looking forward to the continuation of developing the site and promoting content, images and inspirational stories with other mother runners to help them feel valued in the sport of running. I not only want to create an online community to fill the gaps in the literature for women runners, but I also want to draw attention to the issues pertaining to women in running and give them a voice. I seek to provide women with a voice in the running community and provide them with a forum to express issues pertaining to them and collaborate on solutions. I am evaluating other opportunities to engage the mother running community, including a fun run or 5K, partnerships with organizations that support women and running coaching for mother runners. This program ignited a spark in my passion for this topic and I’m excited to continue the learning opportunity and growth.







Communications Comprehensive Exam Study Guide

COMM 680




Comprehensive Exam

Theories & Concepts

Study Guide




May, 2015

Online Masters in Communication

Queens University of Charlotte








Table of Contents


Classic Management

Taylor’s Scientific Management                                               3

Fayol’s Classic Management                                                            4

Weber’s Notion of Bureaucracy                                                5

Human Relations

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs                                                            6-7

Hertzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory                                             7

McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y                                                   8

Human Resources

Blake & Moulton’s Management Grid                                        9-10

Likert’s System IV                                                                 11

Ouchi’s Theory Z                                                                   12

Systems Theory (Morgan, Wheatley, Senge)                                     13-14

Organizational Sensemaking (Weick)                                               15

Social Constructionism (Allen)                                                          16

Field & Capital (Bourdieu)                                                                        17-18

Social Capital, Institutionalization & Trust (Putnam)                                    19

Theory of Communicative Action (Habermas)                                             20-22

Structuration Theory (Giddens)                                                        23

Four Motifs (Berger)                                                                                24-25

Power-Language (Foucault)                                                                      26-28

Dramaturgic Metaphor (Goffman)                                                              29

Legitimacy (Weber)                                                                                 30-34

Post-Colonialism (Spivak)                                                                        35-36                   Feminism (Smith and others)                                                          37-38

Information Design Surveillence (Foucault’s Panopticon)                              39

Organizational Culture-Cultural Performance                                              40

Organizational Strategy & Cultural Alignment (7-S Model)                   41

Frames of Identity & Organization (Ashcraft)                                     42-44

Leadership & Communication

Trait Theory                                                                         45

Styles Perspective                                                                 46-47

Situational Contingency Model                                                48-50

Functional Theory                                                                  51-52

Transformational Leadership                                                           53-56

Servant Leadership                                                                        57

Organizational Identification (Cheney)                                              58-59

Corporate Colonization (Deetz)                                                        60

Hyperpersonal Computer-Mediated Communication                            61

Uses and Gratifications                                                                   62-64

Communication Privacy Management                                                65

Meaning Management (Fairhurst)                                                              66-67

Classic Management


Taylor’s Scientific Management


Notes by: Angela Stalcup

Course: COMM 610: Organizational Communication – Weller


Text: Eisenberg, E.M., Goodall, H.L. & Trethewey, A. (2010) Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint. (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Article: Modaff, D. P., DeWine, S., & Butler, J. (2008).  Organizational communication:  Foundations, challenges, and misunderstandings (2nd ed.).  Boston:  Pearson.


Classical Management approaches are based on the idea of “organizations as efficient machines” (Eisenberg, Goodall, & Tretheyway, 2010, p. 61). Taylor’s Scientific Management grew from a series of time and motion studies. The central assumption is that management is a science with “clearly defined laws, rules, and principles” (p. 65). This approach developed as a response to the “’survival of the fittest’ mentality” (p. 65) of the early Industrial Revolution where worker success or failure was based on the perception of moral strength—those who succeed were morally superior while those who failed were morally weak.

Four elements of Scientific Management:

  1. The scientific design of every aspect of every task
  2. The careful selection and training of the best workers
  3. Proper remuneration for fast and high-quality work
  4. Equal division of work and responsibility between worker and manager. (Modaff, DeWine, & Butler, 2008, p. 27)

Key take-aways:

  • “Taylorization”: “identifying the most effective way to complete a task in the shortest amount of time while conserving the most energy” (Eisenberg et al., 2010, p. 67)
  • “Design of work” (p. 65): work can be broken down into discrete units based on the skill level of a “competent worker” (p. 65)
  • “Systematic approach to division of labor” (p. 65)
  • Top-down communication—orders and instructions
  • Thinking work vs. doing work—managers think, workers do
  • Modern examples—benchmarking and analytics
    • Call centers, sales, customer service (Modaff et al, 2008)

Fayol’s Classic Management

Notes by: Sarah McClanahan

COMM 610 – Weller

Eisenberg, E., Goodall Jr., H., & Trethewey, A. (2010). Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Like other theories of classical management, this serves as a model for organizational action.  Henri Fayol is known most for articulating five elements of classical management: planning, organizing, commanding (goal setting), coordinating, and controlling (evaluation).  His principles can be grouped into four categories: structure, power, reward, and attitude.


Fayol advocates for a classic hierarchical pyramid.  This includes a strict hierarchy with a clear, vertical chain of command, also known as the scalar principle.  Each employee should have only one boss and be accountable to only one plan.  There ought to be a division of labor through departmentalization, grouping similar activities together.


Fayol calls for centralized decision-making and respect for authority.  Authority derives from one’s position and character- both of which must be present for obedience and discipline.


In order to avoid turnover, Fayol suggests that employers provide fair wages and stable tenure to their employees in exchange for their efforts.


Fayol recommends that employees should prioritize organizational interests over their personal interests.  Employees should also be encouraged to take initiative, seeing projects through to completion.  Management should continuously supervise and build positive employee morale.











Weber’s Notion of Bureaucracy


Notes by: Arwen McCaffrey

Class: COMM 610 (Weller); also briefly mentioned in our COMM 613 (McArthur) text

Texts: Eisenberg, E. M., Goodall Jr., H. L., and Trethewey, A. (2009). Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint (6th ed.). Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s. (pp. 69-70)

Waeraas, A. (2009). On Weber: Legitimacy and legitimation in public relations. In O. Ihlen, B. van Ruler, & M. Fredriksson (Eds.), Public relations and social theory: Key figures and concepts (pp. 301-322). New York, NY: Routledge.

Additional info found at

Weber’s notion of bureaucracy

Prior to the notion of bureaucracy, the workplace was defined by particularism: no job security, child laborers working long hours for paltry wages, and employee hiring and firing based on race, gender, relationships with employers, and so on.  Bureaucracy emerged from an ideological conflict between particularism and the democratic ideals of liberty and equality for all.  Bureaucracy itself is characterized by a fixed division of labor, hierarchy of offices, work performance governed by a set of rules, a division between work and personal life, hiring based on technical qualifications of candidates, and providing protection for employees against arbitrary firing.

Although critical of the concept, Max Weber viewed bureaucracy as the most superior form of organization available during his time, especially the idea of what he termed universalism, or equal treatment based on technical ability.  He further outlined what he believed were the six characteristics of the ideal bureaucracy:

  • A hierarchical organization
  • Clear divisions of authority and fixed areas of activity
  • Written rules as the basis of any action taken (which themselves should then be written down)
  • Expertly-trained officials
  • Rules implemented by these officials, who did so in a neutral fashion
  • Career advancement based on technical ability and determined by the organization, not individual members

Weber was concerned that the focus on rationality and calculation (versus emotions, values, and the like) that accompanied bureaucracy would threaten individual freedoms.  He referred to it as an iron cage in which individuals would become trapped.


Human Relations


Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs


Notes by: Wendi Muhonen

COMM610 – Weller

Eisenberg, E., Goodall, H., Jr., & Trethewey, A. (2010). Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint (6th Edition). Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s. pp. 75-76

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Abraham Maslow proposed that an individual’s basic needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter, must be satisfied before moving toward achieving his or her full potential. He called this idea the Hierarchy of Needs.

The hierarchy of needs functions as follows:

Level 1Physiological needs – food, clothing, etc.

Level 2Safety needs – shelter, security, employment, etc.

Level 3Love – belonging, affection, respect, etc.

Level 4Self esteem – salary, status, rank, responsibilities, opportunities, etc.

Level 5Self actualization – top level of the hierarchy – achieve full human potential

(diagram pictured on p. 76)

Key points:

  • Each individual strives for self-actualization
  • Lower-level needs no longer function as motivators once they are fulfilled


– Food will not motivated someone who is full/satiated

– Shelter will not motivate someone who just purchased a new home

  • Maslow argues that conditions favorable to individual health are also beneficial to the organization
  • Maslow argues the challenge for management is establishing social conditions within an organization in ways that align individual goals with organizational goals
  • “Maslow’s ideas permeate contemporary management theory and practice” (p. 76).
  • Successful people are never satisfied with the status quo and will strive to reach the top of the hierarchy. The workplace should become a setting that facilitates this


Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (continued)

  • Critics argue it is unlikely that all employees in an organization will have the opportunity to self-actualize, thus creating class-based divisions characterized by Taylor’s ideas
  • Paved the way for recent theories of employee performance and emotional intelligence



Hertzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory


Notes by: Sarah McClanahan

COMM 610 – Weller

Miller, K. (2009). Organizational communication: Approaches & processes. (5th ed.). NY: Wadsworth. Chapter 3.

In an effort to understand employee attitudes and motivation, Frederick Herzberg interviewed individuals to determine which factors in the workplace environment generated job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction.  The characteristics that were related to job satisfaction, which he deemed “motivators,” included responsibility, recognition, challenge, and advancement.  The characteristics that were related to job dissatisfaction, which he deemed “hygiene factors”, were company policy, supervision, relationship with one’s boss and peers, work conditions, job security, vacations, and salary.  Herzberg used the term “hygiene” because these were maintenance factors whose absence prompted dissatisfaction, but they did not lead to satisfaction.

Employee attitudes could be classified four ways.  High hygiene and high motivation is ideal and indicates that the employee is highly motivated and has few complaints.  High hygiene and low motivation indicates that the employee has few complaints but is not motivated, most likely viewing the job as the key to a paycheck.  Low hygiene and high motivation indicates that the employee is motivated but has many complaints.  For example, he may find the job to be challenging, but also finds the salary to be insufficient.  Low hygiene and low motivation indicates that the employee is not motivated and has many complaints.

Herzberg concluded that the factors leading to job satisfaction were separate and distinct from the factors that led to job dissatisfaction.  In fact, Herzberg thought that this illuminated two different human needs: physiological needs that can be fulfilled with money and psychological needs that require achievement and growth.  Thus, eliminating the causes of dissatisfaction will not lead to satisfaction.  For example, fostering a healthy work environment is not enough to satisfy employees. The organization must also provide motivators such as advancement opportunities.




McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y


Notes by: Arwen McCaffrey

Class: COMM 610 (Weller)

Text: Eisenberg, E. M., Goodall Jr., H. L., and Trethewey, A. (2009). Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint (6th ed.).Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s. (pp. 77-78)

McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y

Along with Maslow and Likert, Douglas McGregor (1960) is one of the theorists at the heart of the human resources movement of organizational communication.  Human resources focuses on how organizational climates foster dialogue and participation among employees.

  • McGregor summarizes classic management theory as Theory X, defined by three characteristics:
    • The average person dislikes work and will avoid it if possible
    • Because of this, they must be coerced into working through external (structural) controls
    • The average person prefers this external direction because they lack ambition and responsibility and desire security
  • Thus, McGregor proposes his Theory Y, in which management is more participatory and values employees as human resources:
    • Physical and mental exertion is a natural human behavior
    • Employees will display self-direction and self-control as they work for their desired objectives
    • Employees become committed to these objectives through the rewards associated with them (including self-actualization)
    • Most people will exercise high levels of imagination and creativity, and will seek out responsibility, under proper conditions











Human Resources


Blake & Moulton’s Management Grid


Notes by: Sarah McClanahan

COMM 610 – Weller

Eisenberg, E., Goodall Jr., H., & Trethewey, A. (2010). Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

The Blake and Mouton Managerial Grid attempts to categorize leadership style based on two dimensions: concern for relationships (people) and concern for tasks (production).  Other variables such as gender, race, ethnicity, and class are absent from this model.

Country Club Management

This style is characterized by high concern for people and low concern for production.  Leaders pay attention to their employees’ needs, which contributes to a friendly organizational atmosphere.

Team Management

This style is characterized by high concern for people and high concern for production.  People feel as if they have a common stake in the organization, working interdependently and developing trusting and respectful relationships.

Organization Man Management

This style is characterized by moderate concern for people and moderate concern for production.  Mediocre performance is maintained by balancing the two dimensions.

Impoverished Management

This style is characterized by low concern for people and low concern for production.  Leaders exert the minimum effort required to sustain organizational membership.

Authority-Obedience Management

This style is characterized by low concern for people and high concern for production.  Leaders maintain high efficiency by neglecting employees’ needs.

The criticism of this theory centers on its rigidity.  Often times, leaders do not fit into one of five separate categories, but rather their behavior spans across multiple categories.  Moreover, leaders may have a dominant style, but they adapt their behavior to the given situation and their followers’ attitudes.





Blake & Moulton’s Management Grid (continued)























Likert’s System IV


Notes by: Jenna Wise

COMM610 – Weller

Eisenberg, E. M., Goodall, Jr., H. L., Trethewey, A. (2010). Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s. p. 78-79

Supplemental text: Miller, K. (2009). Organizational communication: Approaches & processes. (5th ed.). NY: Wadsworth. Chapter 3.


High-involvement organizations and the principle of supportive relationships: “All interactions within an organization should support individual self-worth and importance, with emphasis on the supportive relationships within work groups and open communication among them” (Eisenberg, et al, 2010, p. 78).

  • Open communication is one of the most important aspects of management
  • Favors general oversight rather than close supervision
  • Emphasizes role of supportive peer group in fostering productivity

Organizations can be divided into four-quadrant grid based on degree of participation:

System I: exploitative/authoritative | This system is made up of motivation through fear, poorly executed downward-only communication, orders given and control maintained without seeking employees’ input.

System II: benevolent/authoritative | This level is slightly improved from System I in that control and orders are not given without offering rewards that are monetary or recognition-based. This lessens the frequency of management taking advantage of the employees, but the control, communication, and decision-making, however, are still maintained from the top.

System III: consultative | This one takes a wide leap from the previous two systems, as it shows management being more considerate of employee opinions when making decisions. The higher levels of the hierarchy are seen setting goals and making decisions after this consultation takes place.

System IV: participative | This type of organization goes even further in encouraging employee participation. Any employee can make decisions, goals are set by groups of employees, communication flows freely in all directions, and employees benefit through not only monetary rewards but also self-actualizing needs. System IV exemplifies human resources driven organization.


Ouchi’s Theory Z


Notes by: Wendi Muhonen

COMM610 – Weller

Eisenberg, E., Goodall, H., Jr., & Trethewey, A. (2010). Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint (6th Edition). Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s. pp. 107-108


William Ouchi observed management techniques used by Japanese organizations during the 1970s when the United States experienced global competition. “Theory Z holds that the survival and prosperity of organizations depend heavily on their ability to adapt to their surrounding cultures” (Eisenberg, Goodall, & Trethewey, 2010, p. 107).

  • The term culture refers to national standards of organizational performance
  • Derived from observations that Americans placed emphasis on individual achievement while the Japanese emphasized collective well-being and performance
  • Theory Z proposes an organization that integrates individual achievement and advancement with a sense of community in the workplace
  • Capable of reducing negative influences by incorporating new cultural values
  • Aspects of the theory became less valuable during the 1980s as the economic climate changed and theorists realized the Japanese had relied on individual efforts, informal contracts, partnerships, and competitive strategies all along
  • As companies began to consider organizational change they began to consider the importance of organizational culture
















Systems Theory

(Morgan, Wheatley, & Senge)


Notes by: Dawn Parra

COMM 610 – Organizational Communication – Weller

Eisenberg, E. M., Goodall Jr., H. L., & Trethewey, A. (2010). Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint (6th ed). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

The Systems Perspective

The systems approach emphasizes the difference between a disconnected set of part versus a collection of parts that work together to create a functional whole.  A system is a complex set of relationships among independent parts or components.  Organizations are open systems and do not exist in isolation; open systems theory encourages individuals, departments and organizations to be mindful of the overall health of their industry environment.

Interdependence refers to the wholeness of the system and its environment, as well as to the interrelationships of individuals within the system.  Interdependent relationships between people are established and maintained through communication.  Failure to recognize interdependency and the weight of the consequences of one’s actions can devastate both the individual and the collectivity. Division of labor can distort people’s perception about the interdependent nature of their work.  Since no one part can stand alone in an interdependent system, any breakdown in communication in the system can be negative for the whole.

Goals are important to the systems perspective:

  • They are negotiated among interdependent factions in the organizations.
  • They are heavily influenced by the organization’s environment.
  • Goals of individuals are personal and highly variable, whereas goals individuals have for their organization are more likely to be shared.
  • Goals can differ across systems levels.

A system is not simply an interdependent set of components; it is also an interdependent collection of processes that interact over time.

Feedback is defined as a system of “loops” that connect communication and action.

  • Negative or deviation-counteracting feedback, often referred to a cybernetic, functions to reestablish the original goals.
  • Positive or deviation-amplifying feedback, often called second cybernetic, is designed to find new avenues of growth and development.

A more contemporary application of feedback loops focuses on counter-networking.

  • This approach suggests reversing the advice given to promote successful businesses in order to introduce insecurity and chaos into a network.
  • Notions of counter-networking might be of particular use for destabilizing terrorist networks.

The diverse environments across industries, companies, and regions often require unique organizing principles and solutions to accommodate various contextual and environmental factors.

Contingency theory is based on the idea of equifinality (the same goal may be reached in multiple ways) and can be summarized as follows:

  • There is no best way to organize
  • All ways of organizing are not equally effective.

Systems theory appeals to those who study organizational communication because it emphasizes the importance of communication processes in organizing, and unlike earlier theories, it is theoretically capable of capturing the complexity of these communication processes.

Systems theory has been disappointing in two ways:

  • Researchers have had difficulty translating the concepts of systems theory into research designs.
  • Based on the rarity of actual studies, systems theory has been characterized as an appealing but abstract set of concepts with little practicality to actual theory or research.

Management theorist Peter Senge’s learning organizations exhibit five features:

  1. Systems thinking: Combines holism and interdependence and claims that for any one member to succeed, all members must succeed.
  2. Personal mastery: Means that all members share a personal commitment to learning.
  3. Flexible mental models: Members of learning organizations must engage in self-reflection, allowing them first to understand and then to change the mental models that tend to guide their thinking.
  4. A shared vision: Tight hierarchical control is replaced by “concertive control, whereby members act in concert because they share a common organizational vision and understand that their own work helps us to build on that shared vision.
  5. Team leaning: Dialogue is emphasized as the key to team learning, allowing members in a learning organization to communicate in ways that lead the team to intelligent decisions.

Organizational Sensemaking



Notes by: Morgan Lloyd

COMM610 – Weller

Eisenberg, Goodall, & Trethewey. (2010) Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint. (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.


Individuals make sense of situations everyday. Organizational sensemaking refers to the environment that arise from interaction in the workplace. According to Weick, the workplace can have complex and unpredictable environment, which increases the need for equivocal reduction.

His theory proposes a three part model of organizing these situations. Enactment is the basic term to describe action. In enactment, individuals are forming events “through their actions and patterns of attention” (Eisenberg & Goodall, 2010, p.89). Next, individuals begin the selection process. During the selection process, individuals are using a variety of interpretations to make sense of the event. Finally, once the situation has been enacted and selection has been performed, retention takes place. Retention is the process where “successful interpretations are saved for later” (Eisenberg & Goodall, 2010, p.90).

Since Weick’s believed that people act first and then examine their actions, he grounded the model with these seven elements:


  1. Identity construction – An individual’s identity is visible in their thoughts and actions
  2. Retrospection – Being reflective about past behavior
  3. Enactment – Actions create events
  4. Socialization – Where you were raised, how you currently live, and the people you associate with play a role.
  5. Ongoing – Change is constant and so are our actions
  6. Extracted cues – Information you store a pertinent
  7. Plausibility – Believability

Other factors that play a role in organizational sense making are loose coupling and partial inclusion. Loose coupling means a connection exist but is weak. In Weick’s theory, loose coupling can be an advantage because it support further growth unlike a relationship with no ties. Partial inclusion deems to explain why certain strategies do not work. Partial inclusion refers to employees who do not engaged fully in organization culture. By not considered their activities outside of work, the action plan is failed from the start.

Social Constructionism



Notes by: ReNee Troy-Mebane

COMM601 – Pupcheck


Littlejohn, S. W., Foss, K.A. (2011). Theories of human communication. (10th ed.). Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc. pp. 322


Premise: Sociocultural approach to communication (originally called the social construction of reality) that investigates how human knowledge is constructed through social interaction.

Theory: Organizations are “fundamentally raced”.

  • Race is a separate, singular concept, of interest only to people of color, with the result that issues of race often are segregated in textbooks and confined to a chapter at the end.
  • Race is relevant when it serves organizational interests such as creatively or productivity.
  • Cultural/racial differences are seen as synonymous with international differences.
  • Racial discrimination stems from personal bias and the lack of racial minorities in the workplace (as numbers increase, discrimination will naturally diminish).
  • White workplaces and workers are the norm.



















Field & Capital



Notes by: Wendi Muhonen

COMM613 – McArthur


Ihlen, O (2009). On Bourdieu: Public relations in field struggles. In O. Ihlen, B. van Ruler, & M. Fredrikkson (eds.), Public Relations and Social Theory: Key figures and concepts. New York: Routledge. pp. 75-91

McArthur, J. (2014). Planning Strategic Communication: A workbook for applying social theory to professional practice. 

Bourdieu’s Field and Capital:

“According to Bourdieu, actors struggle and compete to position themselves in what he calls ‘fields’ with the help of different forms of symbolic and material resources (capital)” (Ihlen, 2009, p. 75).

Field – a social space or network of relationships on which actors hold positions of dominance, subordinance, or equivalence based on the resources they possess

Bourdieu’s perspective holds that “language structures our understanding of the world and that it is the medium by which these understandings are communicated” (p. 76). Therefore, language is a form of symbolic power

Habitus – a structuring mechanism through which actors relate to the social world; habitus constrains what people should and should not do

Capital – symbolic and material resources available to an organization – there are several types of capital including:

  • Economic capital – money, property, etc.
  • Cultural capital – knowledge, skills, educational qualifications
  • Social capital – connections, group memberships, etc.
  • Symbolic capital – prestige, honor

Key points about capital:

  • One must work for capital as it is not always a given
  • It is scarce, in demand, and creates differences

Actors are distributed in the field according to the significance of their capital

Institutionalization – the extent to which an organization has structures in place to provide stability and meaning

Field & Capital (continued)


One might arrive at a solution to address an organization’s communication needs by conducting a capital analysis. A capital analysis is “a broad survey of the symbolic and material resources available to an organization in a particular scenario” (McArthur 2014, p. 21).

A capital analysis consists of multiple phases, including analysis and strategy, which examine the following resources within an organization:

  • Institutionalization
  • Economic capital
  • Knowledge capital
  • Social capital
  • Symbolic capital

























Social Capital, Institutionalization, & Trust



Notes by: Morgan Lloyd

COMM613 – McArthur


Luoma-aho, V. (2009). Bowling together – applying Robert Putnam’s theories of community and social capital to public relations. In Ihlen, & Fredrikson (Eds.), Public Relations and Social Theory : Key Figures and Concepts, pp. 231-251. Lontoo: Routledge


Putnam argues that the decline of community is due to a lack of social capital. According to Luoma-aho (2009), “Social capital enables people to collaborate, socialize, establish communities, and live together” (p.243). Social capital is the connection between individuals and the value these connections bring to a group. Putnam suggests that civic duty is called into action when looking to increase social capital among a particular network. In order to achieve institutional success or reach a common goal, cooperation is imperative (Luoma-aho, 2009).

According to social capital theory, institutionalization is only successful when there is trust. Trust is a form of capital and is reflective in the closeness of a relationship. A sense of community ultimately develops based on the level of trust cultivated within the social group as well as other benefits. Putnam also believes there is be a link between trust and reciprocity. Meaning, in order to have trust, individuals must share norms of reciprocity (Luoma-aho, 2009).

Putnam’s theory of social capital places an emphasis on relationships. According to Luoma-aho (2009), “Bridging and bonding networks represent different types of relationships” (p.235). Bonding refers to sharing a sense identity, which can be very easy to accomplish since this relationship is based on individuals having similar perspectives. Bringing social capital is “relationships with those outside the group” (Luoma-aho, 2009, p.235). Bringing allows individuals to have different viewpoints and maintain a diverse group while maintaining fluency among the group. Simply put, bonding brings a group together and bridging brings groups together.







Theory of Communicative Action



Notes by: Kristin Ceneviva

COMM613; Dr. McArthur

Burkart, R. (2009). On Habermas: Understanding and Public Relations. In Public Relations and Social Theory: Key Figures and Concepts (pp. 141-165). New York: Routledge.


Understanding Habermas’ Theory of Communicative Action

“communication always happens as a multi-dimensional process and each participant in this process needs to accept the validity of certain quasi-universal demands or claims in order to achieve understanding” (p.146)

Individuals involved in the communication process must trust that the following claims are valid:

Intelligibility (being able to use proper grammar)

Truth (talk about something which the partner also accepts is in existence)

Truthfulness (honesty of individual/organization participating in communicative process)

Legitimacy (acting in accordance with mutually accepted values, beliefs, or norms)


Habermas translates these validity claims into three worlds:

  1. Objective world of external nature (about which true statements can be made with facts/evidence)
  2. Subjective world of internal nature (which is comprised of individual experiences that only the speaker can access)
  3. Social world of society (where social relations are controlled by certain values and norms)

Difference between strategic communication and communicative action is that strategic communication is “success-oriented” while communicative action is “consensus-oriented” (p.148). This means that communication is solely used for understanding, not influencing.


Public Relations as a Process of Understanding

“Especially in situations where conflicts are to be expected public relations practitioners have to take into account that critical recipients might question their messages” (p.149).  Utilizing the consensus-oriented public relations model, public relations practitioners can

Theory of Communicative Action (continued)


better predict whether the public will doubt/scrutinize the claims being made or find consensus with the claims presented.

Aims of Consensus-Oriented Public Relations (COPR)

COPR model was created to help “differentiate communicative claims” so that the “process of questioning can be analyzed more systematically” (p.149). This is especially applicable in public relations where managers know that audiences may question the messages presented.  PR managers utilize COPR to help address the questions that arise around a claim’s truth, truthfulness, and legitimacy.

“The overriding aim of consensus-oriented public relations is to facilitate what one hopes will be a smooth communication process between public relations client and the relevant members of the public” (p.150). There are three phases in COPR that can be analyzed in order to help cope with social conflict and foster “agreement” or “consensus” (agreement and consensus are meant to be understood as solely the agreement to the validity of claims). Reviewing all three stages can help to pinpoint where dissent enters into the equation.


Public Relations Aim: Information

Public relation managers need to clearly communicate validity claims about 1. what is being presented or discussed (i.e., facts, data) which aligns with the truth of the claim; 2. who is involved in the subject and the discussion (i.e., companies, individuals) which aligns with the truthfulness of the communicators involved as the reputations of those involved need to be indisputable; and 3. why the subject should be discussed (i.e., aims, interests of the discussion) which aligns with having a legitimacy of interests. If all these are included in a discussion, and all parties agree to the truth, truthfulness, and legitimacy of the discussion a consensus can be reached. A helpful graph of this can be found on page 151 in the text.


Public Relations Aim: Discourse

The discussion phase mentioned above can lead to communicative consensus, however with highly controversial issues it is more likely to lead to discourse. If this occurs, the PR individual needs to focus on where the dissent lies: 1. Doubts about the truth statements; 2. Doubts about the truthfulness of the communicators involved; or 3. Doubts about the legitimacy of the project and interests. (p.154)

Theoretical discourse addresses the truth and the truthfulness of claims. It involves debating the “evidence of truth objective judgments” or focusing on “disputed details

Theory of Communicative Action (continued)


(numbers/data/facts)” (p.154). In order to eliminate doubts, evidence must be presented to support objectivity and/or truth.

Practical discourse addresses the legitimacy of claims. It involves the justification of “interests, objectives, or decisions, whereby value-judgments are up for discussion” (p.155). Value-judgments are not provable in the same way as theoretical discourse factors are because they “are anchored in the appropriate context of social norms or result from moral rules or ethical principles” (p.155).


Public Relations Aim: Situation Definition

The last COPR phase establishes the status quo of the communication achieved and informs relevant members of the audience, which defines the attitudes or positions of individuals regarding the claim. PR managers work to check if any of the 1. Declared facts, or truth are still doubted (and to what extent); 2. Truthfulness of any of the individuals presented/involved are doubted (and to what extent); and 3. if the legitimacy of the presented interests or any debates presented are doubted (and to what extent). (p.155-156).

At this point in time, an organization can decide what it wants/needs to do regarding its claim. If the degree of agreement (consensus) is high and positive, the organization can proceed with its claim. If the degree of agreement (consensus) is low and negative, it can reorganize and then restart the COPR process again until consensus is achieved.

















Structuration Theory



Notes by: Arwen McCaffrey

Class: COMM 613 – McArthur



Falkheimer, J. (2009). On Giddens: Interpreting public relations through Anthony Giddens’s structuration and late modernity theory. In O. Ihlen, B. van Ruler, & M. Fredriksson (Eds.), Public relations and social theory: Key figures and concepts (pp. 103-118). New York, NY: Routledge.

McArthur, J. (2014). Planning for strategic communication: A workbook for applying social theory to professional practice.

Additional information found at:

Gibbs, B. (2015). Structuration theory. Encyclopedia Brittanica. Retrieved from

Giddens’s Structuration Theory

Structuration theory is Anthony Giddens’s expansion of the structure-agency duality in classic social theory.  Traditionally, institutions (or structures) and individuals (who exercise free agency) are positioned in social contexts together, with institutions seen as essentially fixed.  In structuration theory, Giddens posits that individuals and institutions in fact both influence each other.  Specifically,

  • Both structures and individuals are positioned in space and time in an open-ended system, and they interact with one another in relational way
  • The intersection at which an individual meets a structure is called structuration
  • Social structures are created by humans and are therefore not fixed, but may be replaced or altered through human behavior
  • Social structures are both mediums of human agency as well as the result of this agency

Giddens describes three types of social structures:

  • Signification, where meaning in positioned in language and discourse
  • Legitimation, where normative ideas are carried in social norms and value systems
  • Domination, which refers to the application of power, especially as it relates to the control of resources

Structuration theory is described as being optimistic in the sense that during times of crisis, the idea that institutions are not fixed can facilitate radical change.

Four Motifs



Notes by: Stacy Cacciatore

COMM 613 – McArthur


Ihlen, O., van Ruler, B., & Fredricksson, M. (2009). Public Relations and Social Theory: Key figures and concepts. New York: Routledge.

MacArthur, J. (2013). Strategic communication toolbox of theory. Retrieved from


Berger uses a social constructionist approach to strategic communication. Dr. McArthur (2013) explains applying Berger and how a communicator can evaluate a dominant message using one of the following motifs:

  • Debunking motif
  • Unrespectability motif
  • Relativization motif
  • Cosmopolitan motif

McArthur (2013) states that one can use the motifs to answer the question, “how can we debunk (for example) this perceived reality in our situation,” (p. 3).  In other words, use one or many of the motifs to examine the realness of the actual circumstances.

Berger (1963) presents the four motifs theory as a “form of consciousness”, in four motifs, which are all based in the belief that things aren’t always quit what they seem (Ihlen, Van Ruler and Fredriksson, 2009).

I will explain each motif so you can understand how to use them.

The debunking motif is used to look beyond a situation. The premise is that nothing is as it seems. The basis behind the debunking motif is to unmask the situation and see through the facades (Ihlen, Van Ruler & Fredriksson, 2009).

The unrespectability motif is used to evaluate reality for those not in the middle and upper class. This motif also divides culture between respectable sector, (middle class), and unrespectable (others) areas. Ihlen, Van Ruler and Fredriksson (2009) explain this as the “underdog perspective” (p. 47).

The relativization motif is the third motif and Berger explains it as the importance of seeing the world in a variety of ways. I think about this from the perspective of valuing diversity. A diversity of thought and opinion is beneficial. Different culture with different ways of understanding the world can provide a new view of reality.

 Four Motifs (continued)


The fourth and last motif is cosmopolitan motif. This motif is all about the openness to the world. Berger (1963) states, “sociologists ought to have an open mind and be interested in other cultures and eager to understand new horizons of human meaning,” (as cited in Ihlen, Van Ruler & Fredriksson p. 47).


This theory is excellent for applying to a situation in which we need to evaluating reality.


Ihlen, O., van Ruler, B., & Fredricksson, M. (2009). Public Relations and Social Theory: Key figures and concepts. New York: Routledge.

MacArthur, J. (2013). Strategic communication toolbox of theory. Retrieved from





























Notes by: Genevieve Bland

COMM 613


Public Relations and Social Theory: Key Figures and Concepts

Citation and Chapter

Chapter 5

Motion, J., & Leitch, S. (2009). On Foucault: A toolbox for public relations. In Ø. Ihlen, B. Ruler, & M. Fredriksson (Eds.), Public relations and social theory: Key figures and concepts (pp. 231-251). New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.


Foucault’s work focuses primarily on discourse, power/knowledge, and subjectivity from a critical theory perspective. In the context of public relations, Foucault’s theories examine meaning production, power effects, truth claims, and knowledge discourse. The critical component of his work identifies many of the existing tensions within the field of public relations, and offer insight into issues of change and discourse formation.

Research Approaches – Foucault used two primary research methods to investigate institutional and social problems, “archaeology” and “genealogy”.

Archaeology – examination of historical contexts of systems in order to identify and focus on “displacements and transformations of concepts” that occur during times of change, without engaging in causal theories of change.

Genealogy – A diagnostic tool used by Foucault to trace current practices and situations back to their roots in order to understand inherent political interest and the resulting institutional discourses and practices.

Problematization – A technique of reflection that emphasizes posing questions to understand how and why systems of thoughts and practices come to be; also identities paradoxes and shifts in existing discourse.


Discourse Production and Transformation

  • Discourse is embodied in sets of statements that formed the objects, concepts, subjects, and strategies to which they refer
  • Discourses are “governed by analyzable rules and transformations”

Foucault’s Power-Language (continued)

  • These rules constitute “systems of thought” that dictate what can be said, who can speak, which viewpoints are relevant, and which institutions are represented
  • Discourse transformation sorts out the above factors into a system of power relations, “separating out from among all the statements which are possible those that will be acceptable
  • Because particular statements are given priority, this generates production of powerand the propagation of knowledge
  • Examining existing power structures reveals what is at stake, vested interests, acts of resistance, and contested truth claims
  • Examining the propagation of knowledge leads to the identification of concepts and theories that have been normalized and legitimized


Power/Knowledge and Truth

  • “Power” traditionally carries a negative connotation; however, Foucault noted that power can also be positive and productive to individuals and society
  • Foucault sought to explore sites of modern power
  • Interrelationship exists between power and knowledge
  • Foucault challenged the accepted view that knowledge was power and argued instead for the inseparability of power and knowledge
  • “The exercise of power perpetually creates knowledge and, conversely, knowledge constantly induces effects of power”
  • Power is both a creator of, and a creation of, knowledge, leading to the concept of “power/knowledge
  • Foucault introduced the concept of strategy: individuals and organizations utilize discourse strategies to conform with, circumvent, or contest existing power/knowledge relations
  • Through strategy, existing relationships of power/knowledge can be created, maintained, resisted, and transformed
  • Operations of power = “games of strategy”; microlevel “games of truth” are linked to existing discourse and power

Governmentality – Foucault’s exploration of the increased centralized role that governments assume in the governing and regulation of individuals. For


Foucault’s Power-Language (continued)


example,Biopower – the emphasis placed by governments on regulating the biological well-being of humans through the institutionalized public health care system

Subjectivity – Ultimately, Foucault’s perspective is that “everybody both acts and thinks”’; i.e. individuals are able to conceptualize beyond the existing subject positions within a particular discourse. Power resides within relationships, and the existence of this power can lead to resistance.

An Ethic of the Self – Individuals are able to cultivate an ethic or “care” of the self; the self is created as a work of art. Individuals with an “ethic self” are bound as ethical subjects to the practice of a moral code. As beings with agency, individuals are capable of making choices.

Technologies of the Self – Foucault identified 4 discourse “technologies” that aided in individual understanding and subsequent transformation: technologies of production, sign systems, power, and the self. He questioned how discourses and practices come to be accepted as true or legitimate

Technologies of Production: contribute to the constitution of a public identity for the self or subject

Technologies of Sign Systems: discourse strategies and practices that construct meanings

Technologies of Power: create sets of rules and norms for controlling and regulating individuals

Technologies of Self: chosen by subjects to construct, modify, or transform identity


Potential Applications of Foucault’s Theories

Meaning production and social change, relationship management, and identity work


Transforming Discourse and Mapping Social Change

From a public relations perspective, Foucault’s theories offer groundwork for “changing the way people understand sociocultural and political phenomena by creating new meanings and rules”; also, Foucault’s work can be used to analyze “deliberate attempts to transform discourse in order to engineer sociocultural change”.




Dramaturgic Metaphor



Notes by: Angela Stalcup

COMM613 – McArthur


From course text: Johansson, C. (2009). Researching Relations with Erving Goffman as Pathfinder. In Ø. Ihlen, B. van Ruler, & M. Fredriksson (Eds.), Public relations and social theory: Key figures and concepts (pp. 118-139). New York: Routledge.

Text: McArthur, J. (2014). Planning for strategic communication: A workbook for applying social theory to professional practice. Printed manuscript.


Goffman’s Dramaturgic Metaphor began as an examination of interpersonal relationships through a drama metaphor, suggesting that face-to-face interaction is a performance, with actors playing roles in front of audiences. The drama metaphor includes four key concepts:

  • Impression management: desired/undesired impression made to audience through information selected for presentation either front stage or backstage
  • Framing: context, lens, setting, background: gives meaning to the performance
  • Footing: roles of author, animator, and principal
    • Author: the person who chose and/or created the content being communicated
    • Animator: person doing the actual speaking (the face of the message
    • Principal: the “person who is behind the utterance and whose attitudes are brought forward” (Goffman, 1981, as cited in Johansson, 2009, pp. 124, 125)
  • Face: negotiation of positive and negative face
    • Positive face: communications that try to influence through creating goodwill
    • Negative face: communications that try to influence through power and dominance

This theory has been extended to organizations, where organizations “can be seen as ‘actors’ engaging in ‘performances’ in various ‘settings’ before ‘audiences’” (Allen & Caillouet, 1994, as cited in Johansson, 2009, p. 129).  Organizations, just like individual actors, must navigate two levels of communication: “the expression that the individual gives, and the expression that is given off” (Johansson, 2009, p. 121).

Goffman’s Dramaturgic Metaphor can be used to conduct an impression analysis that focuses on:

  • Strategies to enhance messaging through impression management.
  • Strategies to enhance messaging through framing.
  • Strategies to enhance messaging through footing.
  • Strategies to enhance messaging through face. (McArthur, 2014, p. 42)




Notes by: Dawn Parra

COMM610 – Organizational Communication

& COMM613 – Constructing Messages

Eisenberg, E. M., Goodall Jr., H. L., and Trethewey, A. (2010). Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint (6th ed). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Ihlen, O., van Ruler, B., & Fredriksson, M. (Eds.). (2009). Public relations and social theory: Key figures and concepts. New York, NY: Routledge.


Max Weber, as a German social theorist, saw the organization as having a primary role in society. He felt there was a need to separate public roles from private and personal life. He developed the idea of bureaucracy as a system to protect against particularism. Rules and regulations were created to protect the employee. These rules have now come to be known as “red tape” (exemplary of bureaucracy) in many organizations, but at the time, it was a reaction to incredibly unfair work conditions.

Defining legitimacy as the justified right to exist, Weber observed that any formal system of organization or domination needs legitimacy.  He also noted that any such system must base its existence on a principle of legitimation, either the legal-rational, traditional, or the charismatic.  Legitimacy has also been defined by Weber as “a value whereby something or someone is recognized and accepted as right and proper” (Weber, 1968).  In political science, legitimacy usually is understood as the popular acceptance and recognition by the public of the authority of a governing régime, whereby authority has political power through consent and mutual understandings, not coercion. As stated above, the three types of political legitimacy described by Weber are traditional, charismatic, and rational-legal:

  • Traditional legitimacy derives from societal custom and habit that emphasize the history of the authority of tradition.  Traditionalists understand this form of rule as historically accepted, hence its continuity, because it is the way society has always been. Therefore, the institutions of traditional government usually are historically continuous, as in monarchy and tribalism.


  • Charismatic legitimacy derives from the ideas and personal charisma of the leader, a person whose authoritative persona charms and psychologically dominates the people of the society to agreement with the government’s régime and rule. A charismatic

Legitimacy (continued)

government usually features weak political and administrative institutions, because they derive authority from the persona of the leader, and usually disappear without the leader in power. However, if the charismatic leader has a successor, a government derived from charismatic legitimacy might continue.


  • Rational-legal legitimacy derives from a system of institutional procedure, wherein government institutions establish and enforce law and order in the public interest. Therefore, it is through public trust that the government will abide the law that confers rational-legal legitimacy.


Weber proposed that societies behave cyclically in governing themselves with different types of governmental legitimacy. That democracy was unnecessary for establishing legitimacy, a condition that can be established with codified laws, customs, and cultural principles, not by means of popular suffrage.  That a society might decide to revert from the legitimate government of a rational–legal authority to the charismatic government of a leader; i.e., the Nazi Germany of Adolf Hitler, fascist Italy under Benito Mussolini, and fascist Spain under General Francisco Franco (Wiki, 2015).

Weber focused on the voluntaristic elements in legitimacy. He comes close to defining legitimacy in his first use of the term under the concept of legitimate order in Economy and Society (Weber, 1968):

“Action, especially social action which involves a social relationship, may be guided by the existence of a legitimate order. The probability that action will actually be so governed will be called the “validity” of the order in question. The validity of the order means more than the mere existence of a uniformity of social action determined by custom or self-interest. . . . When a civil servant appears in his office daily at a fixed time, he does not only act on the basis of custom or self-interest which he could disregard if he wanted to, as a rule, his action is determined by the validity of an order (viz., the civil service rules), which he fulfills partly because disobedience would be disadvantageous to him, but also because its violation would be abhorrent to his sense of duty (of course, in varying degrees).”


Legitimacy as claimed while the “validity” of a legitimate order is ultimately based on the consent or voluntary obedience of followers, it is necessary to note that legitimacy is always claimed by a political, military, or religious leader or his staff. Weber, again, used the term claim in almost every discussion of legitimate domination:

Legitimacy (continued)


“Experience shows that in no instance does domination voluntarily limit itself to the appeal to material or effectual or ideal interests as a basis for its continuance. In addition every such system attempts to cultivate the belief in its legitimacy. But according to the kind of legitimacy which is claimed, the type of obedience, the kind of administrative staff, and the mode of exercising authority will differ fundamentally. Equally fundamental is variation in effect. Hence, it is useful to classify the types of domination according to the claim to legitimacy typically made by each” (Weber, 1968).


If we take the two separate concepts of legitimacy used by Weber (as in the above quotations), legitimacy as claimed and legitimacy as believed, we begin to perceive the beginnings of the Weberian “system of thought” in this area. In almost every theoretical discussion of legitimacy, Weber used the concept of the claim for legitimacy— charismatic, rational-legal, or traditional—or he used a synonym for the term. He used such terms as expected, duly to recognize a claim, compliance, demands, must obey, obedience is expected, conduct is conditioned or habituated to compliance and obedience, the governed must submit, and submission to authority. The point here is that in each statement a demand by those who claim authority is imposed upon subordinates who are expected to submit voluntarily.


Typical statements are:

“Every such system (of domination) attempts to establish and cultivate belief in its legitimacy . . . according to the kind of legitimacy claimed. The charismatic leader does not derive his claims from the will of the followers in the manner of election: rather it is their duty to recognize his charisma. . . . The genuine prophet like the genuine military leader and every true leader in this sense creates or demands new obligations. If the state is to exist, the dominated must obey the authority claimed by the powers that be. Finally, there is the dominance by virtue of belief in the validity of the legal statute and functional competence based on rationally created rules. In this case obedience is expected in discharging statutory obligations. Organized domination which calls for continuous administration requires that human conduct be conditioned to masters who claim to be bearers of legitimate power. To begin with, in principle, there are three inner justifications, hence basic legitimations of domination. First is the authority of the ‘eternal’ yesterday, i.e., the mores sanctified through unimaginably ancient recognition and habituation to conform” (Weber, 1968).


Legitimacy (continued)

Weber used a wide variety of terms to describe this acceptance. They include emotional surrender, belief, emotional faith, rational faith deduced from an absolute, what is believed to be, derives from voluntary obedience, is held to be legitimate, acceptance, established belief in the sanctity of tradition, devotion to exceptional sanctity . . . of a heroic person and compliance to rationally determined rules, and habituation to conform.

What are the conditions for and the processes of the granting or denying of legitimacy to a regime, according to Weber:

“Only then will a legitimate order be called “valid”—if the orientation toward (determinable) maxims occurs, among other reasons, also because it is in some appreciable way regarded by the actor as in some ways obligatory or exemplary for him. What is important is the fact that in a given case the particular claim to legitimacy is to a significant degree treated as “valid”; that this fact confirms the position of the persons claiming authority” (Weber, 1968).


Weber’s five different meanings of legitimacy:  

  1. The belief in a political or social order.
  2. A claim for the right to rule over a political and social order.
  3. A justification for an existing form of political domination.
  4. The promises (actual or implied) that a given order of political domination will contribute to the well-being (political, religious, economic, material, or psychic) of the underlying population.
  5. The self-justification by the ruling strata for its “good fortune” in securing or monopolizing an unequal share of favored values, rights, privileges, and opportunities in a society.

The basic substantive theorem in the entire theory of legitimacy is the following idea: legitimacy is a claim for power that is made “valid” to the extent that its claimants can induce belief in its tenets. The idea that legitimacy is an implied or actual promise is perhaps a more specific and extreme statement of the idea of legitimacy as claim, but legitimacy as promise suggests the parallel idea of legitimacy as validated by the fulfillment of promises. The idea of legitimacy as justification of a system of domination also raises the question of fulfillment. The idea of legitimacy as self-justification is not of the same order. It does not have the same external referents as do the other senses of the concept.


Legitimacy (continued)

Legitimacy as self-justification is only validated inwardly. We can restate Weber’s “theory” paradigmatically by considering each meaning as an idea communicated and received.

Legitimacy (continued)

While Weber ultimately defined legitimacy in terms of the capacity of a populace to believe in or accept claims, promises, and justifications, virtually his entire work in this area is concentrated on the presentation of claims, promises, and justifications, and not on their acceptance. If Weber had applied his original concept of the validity of legitimacy as the belief or acceptance of claims, that application would have required an analysis of the populations to which the claims, promises, and justifications were addressed.

Instead, Weber concentrated his work on the formal presentation of claims, promises, and justifications as presented but not received. This focus made it virtually impossible to raise the question, with the exceptions noted, of the conditions for the fulfillment of communicated claims.


Weber in Practice

Weber’s understanding of “claims of legitimacy” is rather abstract and theoretical. Most of his theory was inferred from his ideological descriptions.  However, the survival of the system’s legitimacy must be ensured by continuously enabling the support and endorsement of the subjects, ensuring that they perceive the system as “worthy” of voluntary compliance…for example, existing and acting as a ruling government, or as any organization, is sort of a privilege that must be justified.  Anyone who is more favored feels “the never ceasing need” to see his or her position as legitimate and deserved (Weber, 1968).  Consequently, to survive, every system develops some sort of myth that “cultivates the belief in its legitimacy,” functioning as justification of the system’s existence (Weber, 1968).  Thus for Weber, a myth is a story that successfully justifies the system’s privilege of existing and conducting operations (Waeraas, 2009).



Eisenberg, E. M., Goodall Jr., H. L., and Trethewey, A. (2010). Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint (6th ed). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Waeraas, A. (2009). On Weber: Legitimacy and Legitimation in Public Relations. In Ihlen, O., van Ruler, B., & Fredricksson, M. (Eds.), Public Relations and Social Theory: Key figures and concepts (pp. 301-305). New York, NY: Routledge

Weber, M, (1968). Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology, Roth, G. and Wittich, C. (eds.), 3 vols. New York: Bedminster Press. p. 31.

Wikipedia (2015). Legitimacy. Retrieved from:




Notes by: Dawn Parra

COMM613 – Constructing Messages

Ihlen, O., van Ruler, B., & Fredriksson, M. (Eds.). (2009). Public relations and social theory: Key figures and concepts. New York, NY: Routledge.


Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak is known for her cultural and critical theories that challenge the “legacy of colonialism” in the way readers engage with literature and culture. She often focuses on the texts of peoples who are typically marginalized by dominant western culture, including immigrant, working class, women and other subaltern populations.

Postcolonialism or postcolonial studies is an academic discipline featuring methods of intellectual discourse that analyze, explain, and respond to the cultural legacies of colonialism and imperialism, to the human consequences of controlling a country and establishing settlers for the economic exploitation of the native people and their land.

Postcolonialism questions and reinvents the modes of cultural perception, or the ways of viewing and of being viewed, and it records human relations among the colonial nations and the subaltern peoples exploited by colonial rule, and additionally it presents, explains, and illustrates the ideology and the praxis of neocolonialism.

In 1985, Spivak published her landmark essay ”Can the Subaltern Speak?” about the inability of the powerless to express themselves.  This piece was considered a founding text of postcolonialism.  Her reference to the “subaltern” was concerning the oppressed, anonymous and mute.   Often they are the underserved, the exploited, those who live in poverty, or are affected by inequities in global distributions of resources.  Postcolonial theorists seek to study and understand the processes underlying colonization, and are also committed to an emancipator politics that attempts to undo these processes of colonization, and create spaces for listening to the voices of the subaltern sectors of the globe (Dutta, 2009, p. 278).

Spivak is well-known for her modern cultural and critical theories to challenge the effects of colonialism.  A key focus for her is on the cultural language of those who are marginalized by dominant western culture; such as women, the indigent and other members of voiceless groups.  Spivak encourages political statements to be made through aesthetic representations, or the utilization of art in many forms such as graffiti, street theatre, performance or music videos to communicate resistive messages, and offer spaces for communicating resistive politics (Dutta, 2009, p. 281).  She advocates strongly for the “disrupting of the status quo”, and in fact feels that communicators have a responsibility to develop sophisticated ways in which to question and challenge it (Dutta, 2009, p. 282).

Post-Colonialism (continued)

However, Spivak suggests that in order for communicators to give a voice to the voiceless, they must first “unlearn their privilege”, so that they may see through the eyes of the oppressed (Dutta, 2009, 285).  She refers to “unlearning one’s privilege” as critiquing and challenging the history that has closed the opportunities for alternative knowledge, other options, and other possibilities; therefore, unlearning one’s privilege is in a way putting one’s social power aside, and creating open spaces for dialogue (Dutta, 2009, p. 285).  Spivak expresses that “much of what constitutes public relations is representation of various stakeholder groups,” and that “through the questioning of these very representations…opportunities can be opened up for interrogating neocolonial structures” (Dutta, 2009, pp.287-288).

Additionally, on the issue of offering a voice to the voiceless and how those changes are to be made become problematic in light of Spivak’s caution on the risk of “erasing the subaltern” by framing them as victims and the question of Western intervention (Dutta, 2009).  She advises against the utilization of an extremely broad application of the term, because:

“. . . subaltern is not just a classy word for “oppressed”, for [the] Other, for somebody who’s not getting a piece of the pie. . . . In post-colonial terms, everything that has limited or no access to the cultural imperialism is subaltern — a space of difference. Now, who would say that’s just the oppressed? The working class is oppressed. It’s not subaltern. . . . Many people want to claim subalternity. They are the least interesting and the most dangerous. I mean, just by being a discriminated-against minority on the university campus; they don’t need the word ‘subaltern’ . . . They should see what the mechanics of the discrimination are. They’re within the hegemonic discourse, wanting a piece of the pie, and not being allowed, so let them speak, use the hegemonic discourse. They should not call themselves subaltern.”  — Interview with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak: New Nation Writers Conference in South Africa (1992)


Dutta, M. J. (2009). On Spivak: Theorizing Resistance–Applying Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak in Public Relations. In Ihlen, O., van Ruler, B., & Fredricksson, M. (Eds.), Public Relations and Social Theory: Key figures and concepts (pp. 278-300). New York, NY: Routledge










(Smith and Others)


Notes by: Stacy Cacciatore

Feminist Standpoint Theory


Feminist standpoint theory is just one theory in the set of standpoint theories (Wood, 2005). The other standpoint theories look at race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. The feminist standpoint theory was developed by Dorothy Smith (1987), Hillary Rose (1983), Patricia Hill Collins (1986), Donna Haraway (1988, 1997), Sandra Harding (1991, 1993) and Nancy Hartsock (1983). The feminist standpoint theory takes a cue from Marxist ideas. Marxist theory looks at how capitalism naturalizes class divisions. Similarly, feminist standpoint theory analyzes how  women are subordinate to men, and how the patriarchy between men and women makes this division seem natural and unremarkable (Wood, SS). The feminist standpoint theory starts from the conditions of women’s lives and assumes that women’s lives are systematically different from men’s lives, and as  result, the two sexes have different knowledge. Wood (2005) makes a clear distinction in feminist standpoint theory from other standpoint theories by stating, “A feminist standpoint grows out of (that is, it is shaped by, rather than essentially given) the social location of women’s lives. Feminist standpoint can, but does not necessarily arise from being female,” (p. 62). This is important to note because the social component is not as important as the lens of the experience of a female in this particular theory.


Let me note a few important points that Wood exerts regarding feminist standpoint theory:

  • This theory assumes that men are the dominant group – The feminist standpoint theory is centered on the belief that men and women have different power in society and women are the marginalized group
  • The lower the social class, the more likely the party is to acknowledge the truth that there are inequalities. There are several reasons for this, including the fact that more privileged groups have a vested interest in not seeing the inequality and less powerful groups are more inclined to see the social location of the privileged rather than the inverse.
  • Being an “insider” is a great way to observe and understand the privileged group. Wood (2005) uses an example of a live-in Latina maid, as she has access to the privileged group, but she is not a member herself, meaning she can see the inequities more easily.
  • Standpoint doesn’t come from simply being female, it is earned from struggle and resistance to the dominant worldview.
  • One can have multiple standpoints, relating to race, gender, social class and/or sexuality.


Feminism (continued)

The bottom line for the feminist standpoint theory is that it’s a theory of knowledge (Epistemological theory) that focuses on how one’s gender shapes their knowledge. This theory also critiques the power relations between men and women.


Wood, J. T. (2005). Feminist Standpoint Theory and Muted Group Theory: Commonalities and Divergences. Women & Language, 28(2), 61-64.



































Information Design Surveillance

(Foucault’s Panopticon)


Notes by: Genevieve Bland



Organizational Communication: Balancing Creativity and Constraint

Citation and Chapter

Chapter 5

Eisenberg, E. M., Goodall Jr., H. L., & Trethewey, A. (2010). Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint (6th Ed.). Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s.


Foucault’s examination of the history of prison systems revealed that surveillance is a primary tactic used to control behavior. To best depict this, Foucault referenced the panopticon, a structure present in eighteenth-century philosopher Jeremy Bentham’s concept of an ideal prison. In such a prison, a tower in the center houses guards. Prison cells surround the tower, and are backlit so that the prisoner is constantly visible. Because the prisoners have no visibility to the guards in the core of the panopticon, they are unable to know if they are being watched, but the assumption is that at any moment, surveillance is a possibility.

Modern-day iterations of the panopticon in organizationas include “secret shoppers” and quality assurance phone monitoring. In organizational contexts, the panopticon metaphor extends as a method of behavioral control over employees, who assume that they are being monitored (even if they are not) and adjust their behavior accordingly. Advances in technology have assured that active monitoring of employees is an ongoing dilemma in organizations, leading to questions of whether such systems hamper productivity or are ethical.











Organizational Culture & Cultural Performance

(Pacanowsky & O’Donell-Trujillo)



Notes by: Morgan Lloyd

Organizational culture theory deems to make sense of organizational culture and created an understanding for the organization in question. Organizational culture is formed by “individual and collective symbolic practices” (Eisenberg & Goodall, 2010, p.105). The symbolic elements, as defined by Pacanowsky and O’Donnell-Trujillo, are:


  • Metaphors: figures of speech used to compare two unlike experiences in order to show a connection. An example would be comparing an organization to a family.
  • Rituals: Routines or patterns used day to day that unify a group.
  • Stories: Stories here serve as a guide for how a group or organization functions.
  • Artifacts: Physical features that add to the culture
  • Heroes and heroines: Role models
  • Performances: Communication behaviors and leadership
  • Values: Beliefs

These symbolic elements makeup the unique features of any organization. Thus, supporting the idea that every organization is inherently different because of its diversity. The element listed above are example of how cultural performances are created.



Eisenberg, Goodall, & Trethewey. (2010) Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint. (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.










Organizational Strategy & Cultural Alignment

(7-S Model)


Notes by: Jenna Wise

COMM610 – Weller


Eisenberg, E. M., Goodall, Jr., H. L., Trethewey, A. (2010). Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s. pp. 287-292


Strategic alignment: Companies must provide evidence of a strategic claim for it to be effective, so organizational systems and structures must support the competitive claim. If there is no alignment, then the strategy is worthless and the desired image is impossible to achieve. Strategic alignment helps to provide a consistent message and allows an organization to focus their efforts.

7-S model was developed by McKinsey & Company and presents seven interrelated factors involved in strategic alignment:

  • Strategy: common purpose for employees and stakeholders; the competitive differentiator; “focuses on reliable information about the future and aims to focus and invigorate the company” (p. 290)
  • Superordinate goals: Collins & Porras’s (1994) “big hairy audacious goals” – the broad outcomes that all org members are motivated to achieve, e.g. increased market share or customer loyalty
  • Structure: meaningful reporting relationship hierarchy – should reflect strategy and be symbolic of company values, e.g. team-based organization or putting the customer at the top of the pyramid
  • Systems: manage the flow of information throughout an organization, ranging from formal to informal including media, operations, procedures, and emergent networks; must support the strategy, so some strategies can be used with only certain types of systems
  • Staffing: hiring practices are related to the strategy; the right people fill the right roles
  • Skills: employees’ technical and interpersonal skills support the strategy, e.g. customer service as a differentiator requires employees with above average interpersonal skills
  • Style: includes management/leadership style and organizational culture; how the company treats its employees and enforces the competitive differentiator makes a difference, e.g. how can Disney be called “The happiest place on earth” if they mistreat their employees?

Frames of Identity & Organization


Notes by: Jenna Wise

COMM610 – Weller


Eisenberg, E. M., Goodall, Jr., H. L., Trethewey, A. (2010). Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint (6th ed.) Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s. pp. 177-195

(Note: We were briefly introduced to Ashcraft in Comm601 in our Littlejohn & Foss text, p. 322)

Karen Ashcraft takes a feminist stance regarding organizational communication scholarship, addressing questions related to the public and private spheres, work-life balance, and gender concerns. She developed four frames through which to consider the relationships among communication, gendered identity, and the organization. The frames serve as a construction of the “problem” of gender and suggest a solution for that “problem” in the workplace. These frames can also be used as tools to consider race in the workplace as well.


Four frames:

  1. Gender Differences at Work


  • Assumption: gender is a socialized but fixed identity.
  • Men use report talk to seek status vs. women use rapport talk to build relationships (Tannen, 1990)
  • Men see orgs as having a leader at the top of a pyramid; women see orgs as networks surrounding a leadership center (Helgeson, 1990)
  • Concept of “second shift” (Hochschild, 2003) – women work at work and work at home; significant domestic labor even if they work as many hours outside the home as their partners; fewer leisure hours or breaks than male counterparts
  • Negotiating work-life balance in light of new communication technologies that allow paid work to be completed from anywhere (working from home); women still expected to manage childcare and domestic labor
  • Frame 1 is “problematic because it assumes that perceived differences between men and women or whites and nonwhites are innate, highlights those differences rather than similarities, and often reinforces the idea that white males’ ways of speaking and being are more powerful than others’, particularly in organizational contexts” (p. 183).


Frames of Identity & Organization (continued)


  1. Gender Identity as Organizational Performance
    • Gender is an ongoing accomplishment, identity through ‘doing’ not ‘being’
    • Micropractices: moment-to-moment behaviors, actions, and communication messages that we use to bring ourselves into being in everyday life
    • Goffman ideas come into play here: gender is part of a character played on a stage using a gendered script (works with race, too)
    • Gender, race, sexuality, and age are identity components (re)negotiated daily; performances adapt based on context
    • Successful gendered performance is richly rewarded and poor performers are punished
    • Emotion labor: (Hochschild) employees are paid to create a ‘package’ of emotions such as flight attendants putting on their happiest faces to ensure customer comfort and happiness; prolonged emotional performance can cause damage, stress, burnout, estrangement
      • Women also expected to practice emotion labor at home as the nurturer, supporter, and relationship manager


  1. Gendered Organizations
    • Assumption: Org forms/structures are always in process, brought to life and evolved by employees; orgs also guide interaction and reward certain behaviors and practices
    • Reflect and reproduce patriarchy or systemic privileging of masculinity
      • See p. 187 for the five processes from which the gendered organization emerges
      • Domesticity/femininity/private sphere devalued, seen as less than ideal or abnormal and this is reinforced and reflected in the org hierarchies (bottom of the org chart; less career advancement potential)
      • Gender inequitable policies: pregnancy seen as abnormal and maternity leave framed as a benefit or bonus; fathers left out of the story altogether
      • Implication: identities can’t be changed thru individual choices/performances, but  systems/structures/policies reflecting the inequities must be changed



Frames of Identity & Organization (continued)


  1. Gendered Narratives in Popular Culture
    • This frame shifts attention from communication within orgs to communication about organization; moves outside org context to social discourses that shape gendered identities and org forms
    • Assumption: social texts (books, movies, TV, web) that exist outside the org reveal and reproduce cultural understandings about the nature of work, life, and identity
    • Social texts become discursive fragments/raw materials used to construct our gendered identities every day
    • Culturally conditioned identity
      • Consumption: cultural practice through which individuals craft a self; our consumptive choices contribute to our identity performance
      • Discourse of self-help industry reinforces women’s beliefs that women must overcome barriers (wariness of power, conflict, success) that keep them from reaching their full potential; see relationship maintenance as a drawback to success
      • Personal brand: self as value-added commodity – entrepreneurial stance that may affect family/relationships
        • Encourages women to be everything all at once (beautiful, ambitious, supportive and nurturing but not bossy while working harder than their male counterparts) and if they fail it’s their own fault.


A table breaking down these frames can be found on p. 195 of Eisenberg, Goodall, Jr., and Trethewey.












Leadership & Communication


Trait Theory


Notes by: Peggy McGill

COMM629 – Leadership, Empowerment, and the Management of Meaning – Leadership and Communication: Styles Perspective


Leadership: A Communication Perspective

Citation and Chapter

(2009). Traits, Situational, Functional and Relational Leadership. In M. Hackman, & C. Johnson, Leadership: A Communication Perpective (pp. 72-99). Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.


  • In 1948, Ralph Stogdill published a review of 124 studies that had appeared in print between 1904 and 1947, with a focus on traits and personal factors related to leadership. The strength of a relationship between a given trait and leadership prowess varied significantly from study to study. Stogdill concluded, “A person does not become a leader, by virtue of the possession of some combination of traits, but the pattern of personal characteristics of the leader must bear some relevant relationship to the characteristics, activities and the goals of the followers.
  • In 1974 Stogdill remained convinced that personality traits alone did not adequately explain leadership. He concluded that both personal traits and situational factors influenced leadership.
  • Stogdill states that different leadership skills and traits are required in different situations. Example: The behaviors and traits enabling a mobster to gain and maintain control over a criminal gang are to the same as those enabling a religious leader to gain and maintain a large following.Certain characteristics such as courage; fortitude and conviction appear to characterize both.
  • The updated analyses suggest that personal characteristics do have an influence on leadership behavior and perceptions. Certain traits may be important in explaining leadership effectiveness and who is perceived as a leader.
  • The assumption that leaders are born is not accurate. A more reasonable assumption is that leaders are made through training and experience.

Styles Perspective


Notes by: Peggy McGill

COMM629 Leadership, Empowerment, and the Management of Meaning – Leadership and Communication: Styles Perspective


Leadership: A Communication Perspective

Citation and Chapter

(2009). Leaderhsip and Followership Communication Styles. In M. Hackman, & C. Johnson, Leadership: A Communication Perpective (pp. 39-70). Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.



  • One factor that contributes to variations in leader effectiveness is communication style. Leadership communication style is a relatively enduring set of communicative behavior in which a leader engages when interacting with followers.
  • The communication style that a leader selects contributes to the success or failure of any attempt to exert influence.
  • These varying styles can be pared down to primary models of communication; one model compares authoritarian, democratic, and laissez-faire styles of leadership communication


Democratic Authoritarian Laissez-Faire
Involves followers in setting goals Sets goals individually Allows followers free rein to set their own goals
Engages in two way open communication Engages primarily in one way downward communication Engages in noncommittal superficial communication
Facilitates discussion with followers  Controls discussion with followers Avoids discussion with followers
Solicits input regarding determination of policy and procedures Sets policy and procedures unilaterally Allows followers to set policy and procedures
Focuses interaction Dominates interaction Avoids interaction
Provides suggestions and alternatives for the completions of tasks Personally directs the completion of tasks Provides suggestions and alternatives for the completion of tasks only when asked to do so by followers.
Provides frequent positive feedback Provides infrequent positive feedback Provides suggestions and alternatives for the completion of tasks only when asked to do so by followers
Rewards good work and uses punishment as a last resort Rewards obedience and punishes mistakes Avoids offering reward or punishment
Exhibits effective listening skills Exhibits poor listening skills May exhibit either poor or effective listening skills
Mediates conflict for group gain Uses conflict for personal gain Avoids conflict





























Situational Contingency Model


Notes by: Wendi Muhonen

Note: We were exposed to situational leadership in two of our courses. First, we discussed it briefly in COMM610 with Dr. Weller, then we discussed in more depth in COMM629 with Dr. White. I will address these separately below according to course and text.


COMM610 – Weller

Eisenberg, E., Goodall, H., Jr., & Trethewey, A. (2010). Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint (6th Edition). Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s. pp. 253-255

COMM629 – White

Hackman, M. & Johnson, C. (2013). Leadership: A communication perspective. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc. pp. 77-81


From COMM610:

“Situational leadership suggests that appropriate leadership emerges from behavior that is responsive to varied situations” (Eisenberg, Goodall, & Trethewey, 2010, p. 253).

  • Systems theory moved toward suggesting that responding to a given situation entailed reading and responding to contingencies more than reacting to fixed conditions, traits, or styles
  • Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard determined the effectiveness of a leader had to do with the maturity of the group
  • Hersey and Blanchard developed four categories of situational leadership based on a group’s maturity
    • Telling
    • Selling
    • Participating
    • Delegating
  • Situational leadership eventually moved away from a focus on group maturity and toward an emphasis on an individual’s or group’s readiness to perform a particular task
  • As groups change in their level of readiness leaders adapt their leadership style to meet the group’s needs
  • Criticism of this model holds that it makes it difficult for organizations to identify potential leaders or those who adapt their communication style effectively

Situational Contingency Model (continued)

From COMM629:

  • Situational approaches to leadership are often called contingency approaches
  • One of the earliest forms of situational leadership is Fiedler’s contingency model
  • Theory stems from interest in interpersonal communication in a therapeutic relationship- competent therapists viewed themselves as more similar to their patients than less competent therapists
  • Developed a measure of assumed similarity between opposites
  • Ratings of least-preferred coworkers (LPC) are primary element in contingency model
  • According to Fiedler, ratings of others we do not like provide valuable information about our leadership styles, which helps identify the situation in which one can most effectively lead others

Note: We completed the LPC self-assessment in COMM629 – see p. 79 of the Hackman and Johnson text

Key points about the LPC assessment:

  • Mostly negative evaluations of least-preferred coworkers results in low LPC score
  • Mostly favorable evaluations of least-preferred coworkers results in high LPC score
  • Low LPC leaders are more concerned with tasks, whereas high LPC leaders are more concerned with relationships

“The effectiveness of a leader in a given situation is influenced by three primary factors that control the amount of influence a leader has over followers. These are: (1) the leader’s position power, (2) task structure, and (3) the interpersonal relationship between leader and members” (Hackman & Johnson, 2013, p. 80)

  • Position power: Leader gains power because of his or her position in a group or organization and the extent to which he or she can either reward or punish others within the same group
  • Task structure: Tasks are either structured or unstructured
    • Structured tasks have specific procedures, pre-determined outcomes, and are easily measured or evaluated (objective)
    • Unstructured tasks can be accomplished a number of different ways and are more difficult for a leader to measure or evaluate (subjective)
  • Leader-member relations: Refers to how a leader builds relationships with his or her followers; Good relationships are characterized by loyalty and respect whereas poor relationships are characterized by a lack of motivation or engagement

Situational Contingency Model (continued)


  • Fiedler plotted the three situational variables on a continuum from favorable to unfavorable to develop his contingency model

Note: See figure 3.1 on p. 81 of the Hackman and Johnson text

  • The most favorable conditions for leaders exist when: (1) a good relationship exists between leader and followers, (2) the task is highly structured, and (3) the leader has strong position power
  • The least favorable conditions for leaders exist when: (1) a poor relationship exists between leader and followers, (2) the task is highly unstructured, and (3) the leader’s position power is weak




























Functional Theory


Notes by: Peggy McGill

COMM629: Leadership, Empowerment, and the Management of Meaning – Leadership and Communication: Styles Perspective


Leadership: A Communication Perspective

Citation and Chapter

(2009). Traits, Situational, Functional and Relational Leadership. In M. Hackman, & C. Johnson, Leadership: A Communication Perpective (pp. 72-99). Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.


  • The functional approach looks at the communicative behavior of leaders.
  • The functional approach suggests that it is the ability to communicate like a leader that determines leadership. By performing the functions of leadership, an individual will be viewed as a leader by others.
  • One of the earliest contributions to the functional approach was Chester Barnard’s 1938 classic, The Functions of the Executive. Barnard’s work isolated communication as the central function of organizational leadership.
  • One of the earliest contributions to the functional approach was Chester Barnard’s 1938 classic, The Functions of the Executive. Barnard’s work isolated communication as the central function of organizational leadership.
  • Kenneth Benne and Paul Sheats were pioneers in the classification of functional roles in groups. After analyzing group communication patterns they identified three types of group’s roles: task related, group building and maintenance an individual.
  • Task related roles contribute to the organization and completion of group tasks. There are six task related roles:
    • The Initiator – defines the problem, establishes the agenda and procedures
    • The Information/Opinion Seeker – solicits ideas, asks questions about information proved by others and asked for evaluations of information and procedure.
    • The Information/Opinion Giver presents and evaluates facts and information and evaluates procedure.
    • The Elaborator – provides examples and backgrounds as a means for clarifying ideas and speculates how proposed solutions might work.
    • The Orienter/Coordinator – summarizes interaction, looks for relationships among ideas and suggestions and focuses group member on specific issues and tasks.
    • The Energizer – stimulates or arouses the group to achie4ve excellence and promotes activity and excitement.
  • Group Building and Maintenance roles contribute to the de4gelopment and maintenance of open, supportive and healthy interpersonal relationships among group members.
    • The Encourager – support and praises the contributions of others, communicates a sense of belonging and solidarity among group members and accepts and appreciates divergent viewpoints.
    • The Harmonizer/compromiser – mediates conflict, reduces tension through joking and attempts to bring group member with opposing points of view closer together.
    • The Gatekeeper – encourages the involvement of shy or uninvolved group members and proposes regulations of the flow of communication through means such as time and topic limitations.
    • The Standard Setter – expresses group values and standards and applies standards to the evaluation of the group process
  • Individual Roles –  not supportive of task or group relationships can minimize group effectiveness. Although a certain degree of individuality is healthy individual-centered behaviors do not contribute to task completion or relationship development and maintenance. Five possible disruptive individual roles are here:
    • The Aggressor attacks the ideas, opinions and values of others
    • The Blocker resists the ideas and opinions of others and brings up dead issues after the group has rejected them.
    • The Recognition Seeker relates personal accomplishments to the group and claims to be more expert and knowledgeable than other group members on virtually every topic.
    • The Player maintains a non-caring or cynical attitude and makes jokes at inappropriate times.
    • The Dominator lacks respect for the views of others, disconfirms the ideas and opinions of others and frequently interrupts











Transformational & Charismatic Leadership


Notes by: Kristin Ceneviva

COMM629 – White

Hackman, M. Z., Johnson, C. E. (2013). Leadership: A Communication Perspective. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.: Kindle Edition.


Transformational Leadership Approach to Leadership

First outline by James McGregor Burns, transformational leadership arose during the 1970’s. Burns described both transactional and transformational leadership in comparison to traditional leadership.

Transactional leadership provides motivation that appeal to our basic human needs (i.e., physical, logical, safety, and belonging). This type of leadership is considered to be passive and often offers rewards in exchange for desired outcomes.

Transformational leadership provides motivation that appeal to our higher needs (i.e., self-esteem and self-actualization). This type of leadership is considered to be active/engaging and allows individuals to become empowered and inspired by providing motivation and morals.

*See figure 4.1 on page 100 in the text to examine Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs to better break down basic and higher needs.

According to Burns, the distinction between transactional and transformational leaders is “dichotomus- leaders are either transactional or they are transformational” (p.101).

Transformational leadership is characterized by FIVE traits: creativity, interactivity, vision, empowerment, and passion. (p.103)

Creativity: “Transformational leaders are innovative and foresighted. They constantly challenge the status quo by seeking out new ideas, products, and ways of performing tasks” (p.103). Most creative leaders follow a creativity process, as defined by George Graham Wallas, which includes:

-Preparation: a conscious attempt to define or solve a problem or issue. This is considered the research and information gathering portion of the process.

-Incubation: where the mind’s focus shifts to other interests and responsibilities. In doing so, the subconscious can work to make new connections/associations which can lead to a creative solution or idea.

-Illumination: a version of “sudden inspiration” or insight that incites action.

-Verification: the development of ideas from the previous three phases. This is the actual production phase of the process.

Transformational & Charismatic Leadership (continued)

While transformational leaders can also come up against various types of roadblocks, they often exhibit a “problem-finding orientation” in their demeanor. This can help them identify new problems and then create solutions.

Interactive: Transformational leaders are able to articulate and define ideas and concepts that escape others” (p.109). They often transmit their ideas through images, models, metaphors, and stories that organize meaning for their followers (p.109). In order to communicate meanings effectively, a transformational leader must be cognizant of the needs and motivations of others. To know this, a leader must interact and be involved with his/her followers by “listening, teaching, and helping” (p.109).

Additionally, a transformational leader encourages open communication between leader/followers, as well as follower/follower communication. Open communication helps to foster ideas and insights, as well as increase employee participation, which can affect employee satisfaction. However, open communication should not be limited to just leader/follower, but a leader must also connect with customers, suppliers, competitors, investors, etc. in order to gain feedback and further insight.

Visionary: “Communicating a vision to followers may well be the most important act of the transformational leader” (p.112).  Research has found that transformational leaders spend a lot of time speaking with and working with various individuals before developing a vision for their organization. An effective vision should: 1. Attract commitment and energize individuals; 2. Create meaning for followers; 3. Establish a standard of excellence; 4. Bridge the present and the future (p.112-113).

Empowering: Transformational leaders help to empower others by encouraging participation and involvement. “Transformational leaders know how to give power away and how to make others feel powerful” by providing “access to the funds, materials, authority, and information needed to complete tasks and to develop new ideas” (p.114-115). Empowerment relies on multiple factors: for employees to take responsibility of their work and decisions, as well as know that there is a level of trust within their organization.

There are FIVE dimensions to organizational trust:

  1. Competence- viewing the leaders, coworkers, and organization as effective
  2. Openness and Honesty- the perceived amount, accuracy, and sincerity of communication
  3. Concern for Employees- perceived feeling of care, empathy, tolerance, and concern for safety
  4. Reliability- viewing the leaders, coworkers, and organization as consistent and/or dependable
  5. Identification- having common goals, values, norms, and beliefs that align with organization’s culture


Transformational & Charismatic Leadership (continued)


Passionate: Transformational leaders “love their jobs and have a great deal of affection for the people with whom they work. This passion and personal enthusiasm motivates others to perform at their highest levels as well. Transformational leaders are able to encourage others because they, first and foremost, encourage themselves” (p.120).  Examples are Pike place Fish market in Seattle, and FedEx.


Charismatic Leaders

Normally applied to well-known political, business, or social leaders who “have a significant impact on the lives of others” (p.121). A charismatic leader needs to “periodically demonstrate his or her exceptional personal gifts in order to maintain power over followers” (p.121).


Sociological Approach

Harrison Trice and Janice Beyer have developed FIVE components of charismatic leadership:

  1. Someone with extraordinary talents
  2. An unstable crisis situation
  3. A radical vision for providing a solution to said crisis
  4. A group of followers who are attracted to the extraordinary leader because of their belief that they also have these “powers” because of their connection to the leader
  5. Validation, through repetitive successes, of the leader’s powers


Behavioral Approach

Robert Howard and Bernard Bass believed that the actions of charismatic leaders could be grouped into three categories:

  1. Leader behaviors- strong power needs, high self-confidence, competent, serve as a role-model, have high expectations, argue effectively
  2. Leader/follower relations- create a sense of excitement and adventure amongst their followers by capitalizing on widely shared beliefs, goals, and values.
  3. Elements of charismatic situation- most likely appear when groups are under stress, i.e., war, oppression, bankruptcy, etc.


Transformational & Charismatic Leadership (continued)


Attribution Approach

Jay Conger and Rabindra Kanungo defined an attribution approach to charismatic leadership. Because charisma can be defined by the perceptions of followers, these researches claim that certain leader behaviors motivate followers to regard them as charismatic. There are FIVE characteristics:

  1. Possess a unique, yet attainable, vision.
  2. Act in unconventional, counter normative ways.
  3. Demonstrate personal commitment and risk taking.
  4. Demonstrate confidence and expertise.
  5. Demonstrate personal power.

Communication Approach

Charisma is the product of communication; therefore, charismatic leaders need to excel in FOUR functions of communication:

  1. Must be Relationship builders- skilled at linking with others, and characterized by strong emotional connections.
  2. Must be Impression Managers- utilize framing, scripting, staging, performing, and facework.
  3. Must be Visionaries- they excel at creating and communicating symbolic visions.
  4. Must be Influence Agents- masters and influence and inspiration, sometimes to the point that followers do not question their decisions or the directions placed on them.


Both transformational and charismatic leadership share similar qualities, however, “leaders are frequently destructive. Selfish, exploitive leaders can use transformational strategies to achieve unworthy objectives; some of the most terrifying leaders in history were considered to be charismatic” (p.129). Researchers have developed the terms transformational and pseudo-transformational leadership to help distinguish between authentic and self-serving leaders. Please refer to Box 4.9 on page 129 of the text.









Servant Leadership


Notes by: Kristin Ceneviva

COMM629 – White


Hackman, M. Z., Johnson, C. E. (2013). Leadership: A Communication Perspective. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.: Kindle Edition.


Servant Leadership (found In Chapter 11 of the text)

Servant leadership was coined in 1970 by Robert Greenleaf to describe his model of leadership for leaders who put the concerns of their followers first. “Servant leaders put the needs of followers before their own needs. Because they continually ask themselves what would be best for their constituents, servant leaders are less tempted to take advantage of followers, act inconsistently, or accumulate money and power for themselves” (p.358).

Originally, servant leadership was merely anecdotal, however more empirical testing has been conducted and has found servant leadership to be effective and ethical. Individuals working for servant leaders “indicate that they are more satisfied, believe that their needs are being met, declare that they will stay with their organizations, think their organizations are more effective, put forth extra effort, and report that they are justly treated” (p.358).

There are FOUR founding principles for servant leadership:

  1. Concern for people: an extension of altruism, servant leaders tend to believe that healthy organizations care for their workers (and stakeholders). “Servant leaders argue that the measure of a leader’s success lies in what happens in the lives of followers- not in what the leader has accomplished” (p.359).
  2. Stewardship: servant leaders act on the behalf of others- followers, society, stakeholders, etc. They are also indebted to their followers for having entrusted them with leadership responsibilities.
  3. Equity or Justice: by viewing followers as partners, servant leaders “make a concerted effort to create a level playing field by distributing resources fairly” (p.360). They also create a culture that fosters empowerment wherein individuals can exercise their talents, share information, and earn more responsibility.
  4. High moral character: “Servant leaders possess such virtues as integrity, empathy, honesty, and wisdom” (p.361). Additionally, servant leaders utilize self-understanding wherein they “analyze their motives, seek out opportunity for personal growth, and regularly take time to examine their attitudes and values” (p.361).

Please see Box 11.7 on page 360 of the text for further review of Servant Leadership qualities.

Organizational Identification



Notes by: Jenna Wise

COMM610 and COMM664 – Weller


From 610 || Cheney, G., Christensen, L. T., Zorn, Jr., T. E., & Ganesh, S. (2004). Organizational communication in an age of globalization: Issues, reflections, practices. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.

From 664 || Cheney, G.(1983). The rhetoric of identification and the study of organizational communication. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 69(2). 143-158.


Identity is what we as living systems do to maintain ourselves and our boundaries, how we define ourselves. It’s what we like or don’t like, the things we do or don’t have in common, how we are related to others, our roles and positions, what separates us from others and makes us who we are (and who we are not), and it’s our associations.

Organizations are living systems that require maintenance of their sense of self. They are dependent on their surroundings in that they must find their competitive advantage or differentiator. They also spend lots of money through advertising making sure their identities are recognized in a marketplace saturated with visual symbols.

Part of their identity strategy is to create specific identities for their members (Cheney, Christensen, Zorn, & Ganesh, 2004).

  • Internally, think Foot Locker’s referee uniforms or Starbucks baristas’ green aprons.
  • Externally, think “Are you a Mac or a PC?” or the attributes that may lead someone to choose Target over Walmart.

Organizations want to encourage their employees to identify with the company. They use identification as a form of control because encouraging loyalty and commitment is ultimately better for the organization. When an employee identifies with a company, they are more likely to act in the best interests of the organization.

Organizational identification can come through internalization of values, mission, vision, beliefs, ideologies and is supported by visual symbols as well – uniforms, etc.

  • Employees transition from “me” to “we” – a feeling of oneness
  • Orgs want this loyalty, commitment, and oneness to happen beyond the walls as well



Organizational Identification (continued)

Consequences & Challenges of Organization Identification

  • Can lead to overconformity, lack of flexibility and creativity, tyrannical or dictatorial leadership
  • Must constantly reevaluate images and values to avoid these
  • Identities often conflict
  • Oversaturation of messages in the marketplace might make it difficult for orgs to be heard
  • Blurred boundaries
  • Stakeholder scrutiny

Organizational Identity Programs/Structures (Cheney, Christensen, Zorn, & Ganesh, 2004, pp. 124-125)

  1. Monolithic: one name, one style
  2. Endorsed: one umbrella brand under which several brands operate; both brands frequently used together
  3. Branded: company operates thru a collection of often unrelated brands that operate independently from the corporation























Corporate Colonization



Notes by: ReNee Troy-Mebane

COMM601 – Pupcheck


Littlejohn, S. W., Foss, K.A. (2011). Theories of human communication. (10th ed.). Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc. pp. 319-320.


Premise: Corporate Colonization refers to the domination of corporate interest over those of the individual, especially how corporations have taken over functions that in earlier times would have been dominant in ordinary life, such as religion, family, and community.

Theory: Contemporary organizations privilege managerial interests over the interests of identity, community, or democracy.

  • Deetz calls for a democracy of everyday action as an alternative, an “ongoing accomplishment” in which stakeholders can reclaim responsibility and agency in the corporation. Democracy should occur in the daily practice of communication, and it is here that change in organizational cultures begins.
  • The normal discourse of organizations tends to be one of domination and constitute a systematically distorted communication that serves the needs of managerial capitalism.
    • Naturalization: the assumption of truth on the part of powerful stakeholders. Players assume that what they believe about organizations, its goals, and its structure of organizations is natural, normal, and accepted by all. EX–the organizational ethic that management sets priorities.
    • Neutralization: the idea that information is neutral, or value free. EX–An e-mail from HR describing a new health-insurance program invites the assumption that it is just “neutral” information that in no way asserts power.
    • Legitimation: the attempt of the organization to privilege one form of discourse as the voice of authority within the organization. EX–(Weber’s idea of legitimate authority) the management perspective is considered authoritative over other perspectives.
    • Socialization: the ongoing process of “training” employees to accept and follow the moral order of the organization. EX–indoctrination and training programs.
  • Managerial Capitalism: permeates the modern organization and aims to reproduce the organization for the ultimate survival of management itself. EX–forms, rules, codes, and policies.
  • Solution: create an “ideal speech situation” (originally proposed by Habermas) in which all discourses are legitimized in open dialogue. EX–A manager who invites employees to collaborate on goal setting and negotiating work priorities.

Hyperpersonal Computer Mediated Communication



Notes by: Morgan Lloyd

COMM655 – White


The study of how computer mediated communication can develop relationship through virtual interaction that is even more personal than face-to-face. The theory follows these four components to analyze the communication process:

  1. Receiver – Receivers are presented information by another user and have to create their own impression based on the traits revealed. There is a lack of social cues due to the interaction taking place in a virtual space, so there are certain characteristics that will be left out. Therefore the receiver will fill in any gaps the sender does not share to create their impression.
  2. Sender – As a sender, you are able to choose what information you want to share in the virtual space. Most senders try to manage what image they are presenting by highlighting traits and leaving out others. The sender’s goal is to present their best possible self while managing with the lack of social cues that would be present in face-to-face interaction.
  3. Channel – The platform where the interaction or impression management takes place. An important factor when noting the channel is that the virtual environment allows individuals to view the information on their own time, unlike face-to-face interaction.
  4. Feedback – There are several effects relating to feedback under the hyperpersonal model. One might experience behavioral confirmation, which is when the impression is accepted and the behavior of the individual changes to mirror the approve impression. An individual can also experience disconfirmation where “one individual anticipates an unpleasant interaction with a target person and, to avert the unpleasantness, over accommodates in order to improve the person’s demeanor” (Walther, 2011, p.463)



Walther J.B. (2011). Theories of computer-mediated communication and interpersonal relations. In M.L. Knapp & J.A. Daly (Eds.), The Sage handbook of interpersonal communication (4th ed.). (443-479). SAGE Publications, Inc.






Uses & Gratifications


Notes by: Angela Stalcup

Course: COMM 624: Communication and Culture in a Networked Society – Nathaniel



Textbook: McNeill, J. (2013). Concepts in new media: Online communication, culture, and community. Boston, MA: Pearson Learning Solutions.

Article: Papacharissi, Z. (2008). Uses and gratifications. In M. Salwen and D. Stacks (Eds.) Uses and Gratifications. An Integrated Approach to Communication Theory and Research (pp. 137-152). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. (attached)

Additional courses: COMM 601: Intro to Theory – Pupchek; COMM 638: Strategic Communication for Global Audiences –  el-Nawawy

References (both are from course textbooks):

Littlejohn, S.W., & Foss, K.A. (2011). Theories of Human Communications. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.

Straubhaar, J. D, (2007).Beyond media imperialism: Asymmetrical interdependence and cultural proximity. In Y. R. Kamalipour (Ed.), Global Communication (2nd ed., pp. 133-156). Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.



Uses and gratifications (U&G) examines how individuals use mass media. U&G suggests that “individuals select media and content to fulfill felt needs or wants” (Papacharissi, 2008, p. 137), or more simply, “individuals use media and experience related gratifications” (p. 137).

Unlike other mass media frameworks, U&G emphasizes the individual (as opposed to society) and is audience-centered (what the audience does with the media rather than what the media does to the audience). This theory asserts that “motives, attitudes, and behaviors related to media consumption will vary by individual and group” (p. 137). This stands in contrast to the “hypodermic needle” approach of propaganda studies. U&G relates to “active audience” theories as studied in COMM 638.




Uses & Gratifications (continued)


Five assumptions of U&G:

  1. “communication behavior, including media selection and use, is goal-directed, purposive, and motivated;”
  2. “people take the initiative in selecting and using communication to satisfy felt needs or desires;”
  3. “a host of social and psychological factors mediate people’s communication behavior;”
  4. “media compete with other forms of communication (i.e., functional alternatives) for selection, attention, and use to gratify or needs or wants;”
  5. “people are typically more influential than the media in the relationship, but not always” (A. M. Rubin, 1994, p. 120). (Papacharissi, 2008, p. 139)

Scholars usually examine the key concepts of motives, social and psychological antecedents. and consequences or effects. Additionally, they look for gratifications sought versus gratifications obtained.

Additional comments:

I set up the case study for the team project on Uses and Grats (and I lost points for my team for making it too hard), so I have this outline that I created based on Papacharissi (2008) that outlines how one might do a U&G analysis on a blog. I’m attaching it here for anyone who may be conducting a U&G analysis.

To assist you as a researcher, you can use the following outline to frame your own approach to a U&G case study.

  1. Explore the following questions related to the blog or social media posting you choose:
    • How is the blog put to use? (frequency of posting, categories of content)
    • What factors mediate that use?
    • What strategies does she use for self-expression?
    • What consequences result/follow from that use?
  2. Identify motives (a combination is possible)
    • Interpersonal: expression, inclusion, social interaction.
    • Mediated: surveillance, information seeking, pass time, habit
    • Blog specific: curiosity, self-absorption, trend follower, desire to imitate friends, or any other motive you may identify not listed here (p. 145)
  3. Consider socio-psychological factors
    • Convenience of the Internet?
    • Anonymity?
    • Functional alternative to in-person interaction (due to geography, mobility, other issues)

Uses & Gratifications (continued)

  • Unwillingness or discomfort at expressing feelings in face-to-face environment
  • Lack of other channels/opportunities for personal expression (p. 146)
  1. Patterns of blogging (for larger studies)
    • Are there patterns among individuals who have created similarly-themed blogs?
    • Without directly asking the blogger, you may not be able to assess if the gratifications sought are the gratifications obtained or if the blog met the needs of the blogger; however, you may be able to find indicators of gratifications in the text.

























Communication Privacy Management


Notes by: Genevieve Bland

COMM 616

Communication Ethics Literacy: Dialogue and Difference

Citation and Chapter

Waters, S., & Ackerman, J. (2011). Exploring privacy management on Facebook: Motivations and perceived consequences of voluntary disclosure. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 17(1), 101-115. doi:10.1111/j.1083-6101.2011.01559.x


Sandra Petronio’s communication privacy management theory, developed in 1991, assesses the natural tensions that exist between disclosing personal information and the desire for privacy. There are five principles that make up the key components of this theory, including private information, privacy boundaries, control and ownership, rule-based management systems, and privacy management dialectics (Waters & Ackerman, 2011). Connected to these principles are rules that determine how and at what rate private information is disclosed. These rules include, culture, gender, motivation, context, and risk-benefit ratio. Differences in disclosure exist between close friends and less personal acquaintances, the former being primarily relationship maintenance, while the latter relates to impression management.

CPM examines why individuals choose to reveal or conceal information. Petronio utilizes a boundary metaphor to explain the process by which individuals make these decisions. This management system dictates levels of self-disclosure.

Key principles of CPM:

  • People believe they own/have a right to control their private information
  • Control is determined by personal privacy rules
  • When private information is shared with others, it becomes co-owned information
  • Co-owners must negotiate acceptable rules about communicating private information to others
  • Boundary turbulence results when co-owners of private information do not appropriately treat private information


Private information is protected by individual boundaries. Boundaries are permeable, but are considered “thick” when only one individual is the keeper of private information. As information is shared, boundaries become “thin” and more permeable. Boundary linkage refers to the associations between owners of private information, while boundary ownership refers to the ability of owners to control the spread of private information.

Meaning Management



Notes by: Stacy Cacciatore

Course: COMM 629



Benoit, W.L. (1997). Image repair discourse and crisis communication. Public Relations Review, 23, 177-186.

Fairhurst, G. T. (2010). The Power of Framing: Creating the Language of Leadership (J-B US non-Franchise Leadership). San Francisco, CA: Wiley. Kindle Edition.

Markel, H. (2014, September 29). How the Tylenol murders of 1982 changed the way we consume mediation. PBS. Retrieved from

Ulmer, R. R., Sellnow, T.L., & Seeger, M. (2008). Post-crisis communication and renewal: Understanding the potential for positive outcomes in crisis communication. In R. L. Heath & H. D. O’Hair (Eds). Handbook of risk and crisis communication (pp. 302-322).


There are a several important items to note in Fairhurst’s meaning management.

First, let’s talk about framing. Fairhurst (2010) says that a frame is a way of thinking that offers structure to the subject. Our reality is constructed from the frame of our beliefs and environment. Framing is a critical component of meaning management. Fairhurst (2010) defines six construction rules to create reality.

The first reality construction rule is to control the context. Fairhurst (2010) says “leader’s can’t control events, but they can control the context under which events are seen if they recognize a framing opportunity,” (p. 266).

The second rule is “define the situation” (Fairhurst, 2010, p. 3). When a leader takes charge to define a situation, they can shape the meaning of the subject at hand.

The third rule is to apply ethics, which allow leaders to lead with ethical choices.

Fourth is to interpret uncertainty, which focuses on the here and now.

The fifth reality construction rule is design the response. Leaders must design their response in the context of the current situation.



Meaning Management (continued)

Reality construction rule #6 is “control spontaneity” (Fairhurst (2010, p. 12). Fairhurst (2010) says,” Effective framing requires that leaders be able to control their own spontaneous communications,” (Fairhurst, 2010, p. 12). They must plan for spontaneity.

Fairhurst also says, “Language becomes a key issue not just in our own sensemaking,”  (Fairhurst, 2010, p.4). When looking at meaning management, we must ensure we are cognizant of what we are saying and the impact the words have on others.


In meaning management, it’s also important to understand priming. Fairhurst (2010) says, “Leaders can prime their mental models either by reflecting on them or by communicating them to others,” (p. 86). One way leaders can prime is through rehearsal. Fairhurst (2010) says “the key to priming is conscious, systematic rehearsal,” (p. 84). This also speaks to the reality construction rule #6 regarding controlling spontaneity, by practicing the spontaneous response. Fairhurst (2010) also says “priming after mistakes and gaffes” can help create new mental train tracks for your brain to follow in the instance of a similar event you’ve already experience (p. 140).


The other components of meaning management that I think are relevant are regarding the mortification strategy. Benoit (1997) states mortification is “the final general strategy for image restoration,” (p. 181). Benoit says a company should apologize for any wrong doing, not only because it’s the right thing to do morally, but because it is essential for image repair.


Secondly, the meaning management principle prospective versus retrospective vision, is particularly useful in understanding meaning management. Ulmer, Sellnow and Seeger (2009) state the prospective vision is focused on the future, rather than the past.


Take, for example, the leadership response during Tylenol crisis in 1982, in which consumers died from cyanide laced Tylenol capsules. After this incident, Tylenol influenced how consumers purchase over-the-counter medications across the industry (Markel, 2014). Tylenol implemented new tamper-proof packaging and a new “caplet” pill form to prevent similar incidents from occurring. They didn’t just implement these improvements at their own company, they partnered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to implement these improvements across the industry. This is a great example of meaning management and a prospective vision.


Cacciatore Final Exam – Master of Arts in Communications

COMM 680


Stacy Cacciatore

Final Exam – May 30, 2015

Queens University of Charlotte


The theory I believe would best be applied to the Starbucks breastfeeding issue is Erving Goffman’s dramaturgic metaphor. Goffman’s (1959) sociological background provides the context for his contributions to public relations. What’s interesting is that Goffman’s (1959) theory outlines that identity and personal relationships are constructed through face-to-face interaction. Goffman (1959) provides a theoretical framework that includes impression management, framing, footing and face (Johansson, 2009). The reason I believe Goffman’s dramaturgic metaphor fits this situation the best is because this theory is all about the interaction played by actors in front of audiences. Goffman took his ideas of this theory using the metaphor of dramatic scenes on stage and how there are several actors that play a role in the bringing the story to life. He uses this metaphor of the stage to demonstrate how society is a drama and our social interactions are like the intricate relationships, symbols and dialogue among actors in a play.

Therefore, using the example of the Starbucks case study, I will outline why I think Goffman’s dramaturgic metaphor fits this situation and each player’s “role” in the communications situation. First, Goffman (1959) discusses both the frontstage and backstage as part of the communication interaction. Frontstage and backstage refer to the thought that people use communication deliberately and strategically to create an image of themselves (Johannson, 2009)

The backstage of Starbucks is their corporate office, back office functions and internal policies. As Audrey walks into the communications strategy meeting, she is prepared to discuss the approach with backstage members. The backstage members are comprised of Human Resources, Corporate Communications, Legal, Compliance, Risk and company executives that form the strategy and policies of the company. They are not seen in the public, but they are the backbone of the organization. In the backstage, Audrey can relay the facts of the situation and the team can openly debate the pros and cons of allowing breastfeeding in their stores. The backstage conversations will not be relayed to the public, so this is a place where open dialogue can occur without fear of the information negatively impacting the company’s impression to the public.

Audrey, the spokesperson for Starbucks and the barista’s who interact with customers are at the frontstage. Audrey plays a unique role as the company’s spokesperson because she is an “insider” member of the backstage and she also is the face of the organization to the public. The baristas at Starbucks are truly the “frontstage”. The frontstage is what is presented to others that observe. The baristas will have to present the policy of breastfeeding to the customers, enforce it, and take the feedback from the customer’s on their thoughts of the policy.

Within the “stage” of the Starbucks breastfeeding incident, let’s also explore how impression management plays a role. Audrey must create a communications strategy that appeals to several key stakeholders and manages the company’s impression among the public. Impression management is the thought that people use communication deliberately and strategically to create an image of themselves (Johannson, 2009). In creating the communications strategy, Audrey must consider how she, as the actor representing the company, should relay the information the illustrate the viewpoint of the company. She can do this by using framing, footing and face.

Let’s assume that Starbucks decides to implement a policy that allows mothers to breastfeed in its coffee shops. Audrey must using impression management, footing, frames and face to properly communicate the policy to the key stakeholders.

First, Audrey will develop a communications strategy using framing help explain the background to others to help them understand what is going on in a particular situation. I recommend that Audrey implement an apology as one of the first communication tactics. Benoit (1997) conducted many case studies on image restoration for corporations in a time of crisis and discovered that the mortifications strategy is a key strategy for image restoration. Benoit says a company should apologize for any wrong doing, not only because it’s the right thing to do morally, but because it is essential for image repair. Audrey should use the mortification strategy in conjunction with Goffman’s dramaturgic metaphor attempt to repair Starbuck’s image after the breastfeeding protest incident. This will help set the stage for managing Starbucks image in the situation.

Secondly, Audrey should use framing to ensure the successful delivery of her communications strategy to change Starbuck’s employee’s policy on breastfeeding. Goffman says that frames organize more than what’s going on, but also get others involved and committed (Johannson, 2009). The key here is to get the other stakeholders involved.

Audrey should evaluate the various tiers of stakeholders in this communications strategy. One tier is the corporate “backstage” team, another tier is the barista’s and other “frontstage” employees, another tier includes the protest groups and another tier includes customers’ opposed to the policy. Audrey needs to frame the situation for each of those groups and get them involved and engaged in the communications strategy. The backstage needs to ensure they are all on the same page and they should update all official internal documentation. The backstage should also ensure they have clear, consistent and timely communications to employees throughout Starbucks. Starbucks shouldn’t find out about the change through social media or the news, they should find out first hand from company leadership. Audrey can achieve this through a cascaded communications strategy, with messaging at the level for the CEO down through the hierarchy of managers to employees. Audrey will need to ensure she has the right framing wrapped around the message so employees understand what is changing, why, when and how it affects customers. Audrey should also prepare FAQs and training, delivered via the Barista training portal. Audrey should also ensure that the new policy is integrated into the online Barista training program and management training. In addition to the new policy, employees will need to understand how to escalate customer questions and concerns. There should also be pre-approved messaging that Starbucks employees can use when communicating with customers about the policy. Since Starbucks employees, baristas and managers are on the “frontstage” they will receive all the questions, not those in the “backstage” who created the policies. Therefore, they will need to be equipped with the right communications to ensure that customers receive clear and consistent communication about the approach and that there is a clear escalation path for customer complaints or concerns.

Again, the key here is to ensure that employees are engaged, as an important component to framing is to get others involved in committed. This can occur if Audrey frames the change appropriately and has employees on board to help ensure the messaging is consistent.

Starbucks should also prepare their “frontstage” messaging, including their customer-facing website, social media sites, signage at their coffee shops, press releases and news story opportunities. Starbucks can also employee a grassroots mommy blogger community to bring their message to the “frontstage”. The mommy blogger community is a great strategy because a key stakeholder in this communication strategy is breastfeeding mothers. If Starbucks can engage key influential mommy bloggers to promote the change of policy on Starbucks behalf and share through social media channels, the message will be more pervasive and reach the key audiences in a way that resonates with that audience. Compare, for example, the frame of a corporate message being delivered via press release on the Starbucks site, compared with a trusted blogging companion promoting a change on behalf of the group in which one is a member. The key audience for this change of policy, breastfeeding in the coffee shops, will relate much better to the mommy blogging companion. Additionally, the key bloggers can have tremendous reach on social media, with stories being retweeted, shared and pinned millions of times throughout the cyber atmosphere. The important component here for Audrey is to choose the right frame for the message. While multiple frames can be used, and should be used, the framing chosen is critical to how the receiver interprets the message.

The footing of the issue is the stance or posture on an issue. This includes both verbal and non-verbal behavior. Footing is divided into three components, the animator, author and principal. Goffman (1959) states that the animator is the speaker, the author is the one who writes the content and the principal is the person behind the speaking. (Johansson, 2009). In this case, Audrey is the author. The case study said that Audrey is the spokesperson, so I’m assuming she is not only the author, but also the animator. The principal is the Starbucks corporate team behind the messaging. I’m sure Starbucks will employ legal, compliance, risk, Human Resources, Corporate Communications, Marketing and other key company executives to make the decision about the policy. That corporate team makes up the “principal”. As Audrey walks into this team meeting, she will need to consider the roles of all the key players as the “principal” of the message. The case study mentioned that there are legal implications given the Maryland Act of 2003. The leader of the pack behind the nurse-in, Lorig Charkoudian, is also a skilled public movement artist. She has led the charge among many important political movements. This should be considered in the footing, as the principals, those who are behind the message, will need to ensure they consider all angles of this issue. This communications strategy goes well beyond simply communicating a change of policy to the public. It’s a political, legal, health and ethical issue that must be considered from all angles. I also believe that Audrey should not be the company’s spokesperson in all of these forums. Given that Lorig is a savvy protestor, I believe that Starbucks should receive outside council from a political advisory agency and consider a political spokesperson or the CEO to act as the “animator” in this situation. The footing, or relationship, between the animator and participant is determined through this interaction as the participant gauges the trustworthiness. This is why I suggest that the CEO deliver the message, as many customers are aware of the Starbucks history and how Schultz built this company from the ground up. Many customers are also aware of how Schultz built this company’s culture to be the company that his father never got a chance to work for, with benefits for employees working 20 hours or more, training for employees and a diverse workforce. Given the trustworthiness of Schultz and his strong ethical background, customers should hear directly from him on this important issue. This trust that Starbucks has built with their customer base has built their brand.

Starbucks must also consider the face in this situation. According to Goffman, face is “the public self-image” (2009). The face is emotionally invested and must constantly be negotiated. The concept of face is constantly intertwined with power and prestige and it’s in everyone’s best interest to maintain each other’s face. There are two components to face, both positive and negative. Positive face consists of basically trying to make someone feel good about the other member and desirable. On the other hand, negative face is greedy side that tries to influence through power and dominance and wants his/her actions to be unimpeded by others. In the case study of Starbucks, they need to maintain positive face. It’s in Starbucks best interest, in using Goffman’s impression management theory, to use positive face and make their position seem desirable and not force their actions on others. I’ll compare and contrast the approaches Starbucks could take using positive and negative face. Starbucks has an opportunity with the nurse-in to use their positive face to make their coffee shop seem desirable and indicate that they care about others feelings, wants and needs. While this may seem like a crisis, it’s also an opportunity for Starbucks to redeem their positive face by showing an emotional side that can relate to their nursing mother customers. They should not use their power, as a corporation, to ban breastfeeding in their coffee shops, or even worse, ban nursing in any public forum. Given Starbucks size, scope, scale and power, they certainly could use negative face to enforce breastfeeding banning policies. They could use their power and negative face to make breastfeeding in public a health related issue or public indecency and they could drive forward legislative change to have it banned. However, I would not recommend that approach as it would alienate a segment of their customer base. Instead, they could use positive face to listen to their customers concerns, be empathetic and use the nature of their relationships with their customers to communicate and demonstrate understanding. A strategy Starbucks could use in demonstrating positive face is encouraging dialogue through social media about the policy to truly hear from their customers and what they thought about the policy. The key is though, to back words up with action. If Starbucks just wants to have a “dialogue”, but not back it up with action to change a policy, they should remain mum. It’s worse for Starbucks to ask customers what they think, and then not drive change, than to not ask at all. To maintain positive face, and manage their impression, they must back their words up with action.

It’s also important to note in impression management one must navigate two levels of communication: “the expression that the individual gives, and the expression that is given off” (Johansson, 2009, p. 121). For Starbucks to properly use impression management to manage tis crisis, they must keep an eye on the customer perception of the brand during this time. While Audrey may create a dynamic communication strategy, complete with the recommended policy, appropriate backstage and frontstage communications, framing, footing and face, if the voice of the customer, and employee, is not at the forefront at all times, the impression she thinks Starbucks is giving, may not be the one that is given off. The communication strategy I recommend to mitigate this circumstance is two-fold. Given that Goffman’s Dramaturgic Metaphor is based in theatre, I thought it was apropos to recommend a “Rotten Tomatoes” approach to gauging the audience’s reaction to the communications. With employees, I recommend writing an article for the company blog or intranet site, and then asking employees to rate the policy change on a Rotten Tomatoes scale and provide their honest feedback on what they think about the change. Given that Starbucks places their employees first, with customers a close second, it’s critical that Starbucks understand the voice of employee with the policy change. They could engage employees and encourage them to share their open and honest feedback without fear of negative consequences. Leadership could then take that feedback into consideration in their messaging and tweak how they communicate based on employee feedback.

Second, I recommend that Starbucks keep a finger on the pulse of social media. They should put messaging about the policy change on Facebook and Twitter to test the messaging with their audience and gauge the reaction. Customers on Twitter are open, honest and quick to reply. This can be a quick gauge to see how the message is being received. If they see a negative reaction, they can quickly course correct in a medium like Twitter. Many other companies have done this and if a message isn’t well received, they’ll send out a quick tweet, such as “Thanks for your feedback. Back to the drawing board”.

In conclusion, Goffman’s impression management is an important theory to manage a company’s image and reputation. Given the crisis of the nurse-in, Starbucks can achieve much success in their image and brand if Starbucks employs the techniques of impression management, footing, framing and face, they can not only save their image, but they can improve upon their image and brand.


Part II – Stacy’s Capstone Inquiry Project Theory


My inquiry project will explore the power of language used in the headlines and content in women’s running magazines. I will explore the subculture of mother running and how headlines, content and images in running magazines demoralize mother runners and create unrealistic expectations of performance and appearance.

I will use the feminist standpoint theory to evaluate if running magazines contribute towards the continued social ideology that mothers aren’t “good enough” or “true runners” and answer the question what, if anything, is missing from these women’s running magazines that mother runners really want to hear about?

It’s particular important to use feminist standpoint theory to evaluate this issue. The feminist standpoint theory was developed by Dorothy Smith (1987), Hillary Rose (1983), Patricia Hill Collins (1986), Donna Haraway (1988, 1997), Sandra Harding (1991, 1993) and Nancy Hartsock (1983). The feminist standpoint theory takes a page from the book of Marxist ideas. The Marxist theory looks at how capitalism naturalizes class divisions. Similarly, feminist standpoint theory analyzes how women are subordinate to men, and how the patriarchy between men and women makes this division seem natural and unremarkable (Wood, 2009).

First, in regards to why it’s important to use feminist standpoint theory to evaluate women’s running, it’s important to note the history of women’s running. Women’s running and feminism are intertwined. Consider key events in women’s running history, such as the historic event of after years of hard work and lobbying allowed women’s Olympic Marathon in the Los Angeles Summer Olympics in 1984. Also consider that in 1960, after 32 years of women being banned, the women’s 800 meter race was reintroduced in the Summer Olympics. That year the Summer Olympics were held in Rome, and women were allowed to participate in five running events, as opposed to 16 races open to men (The History of Women’s Running, n.d.). However, even with this ground-breaking moment for women in the sport, all was not overcome. In 1967, Kathrine Switzer was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon. But it almost didn’t happen. At mile four, race director, Jock Semple, tried to knock her off the course. Semple yelled at Switzer, “Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers!” (p. 1). Semple charged at Switzer and repeatedly tried to knock her off the course while her two male companions fought him off. Semple was outraged at the audacity of a woman running in “his” race. It wasn’t until 1972 that the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) allowed women to register for marathons, but they were required to start at separate time. Since then women have entered running in record numbers.

Why is this important? Because this exemplifies why it’s important to specifically use feminist standpoint theory to evaluate the content in women’s running magazines. The reason why it’s important to consider the history of women’s running when using the feminist standpoint theory is because this theory is rooted in feminism political movements. Chris Weedon (1997) stated, “feminism is a politics,” (as cited in Rakow and Nastasia, 2009, p. 253). The women’s rights movement occurred between 1960s and the 1980s. The feminist narrative is tied with feminist movement. Feminism is not only political, but it helps us understand power, gender, injustice and change (as cited in Rakow and Nastasia, 2009).


The feminist theory of public relations views things from a shift from “women’s assimilation into patriarchal systems” to a “genuine commitment to social restructuring,” (p. 262). Basically this means that we should change our viewpoint from women having to adapt into the male social structure to a social restructuring to accommodate women and men.

In women’s running, this is critical because I will use the feminist theory to demonstrate that I don’t believe we have reached this state yet. Running is still viewed as a male’s sport I which women are reluctantly allowed to participate. This can be seen through the headlines of running magazines. I will evaluate what, if anything, is missing from the content of running magazines using the feminist standpoint theory. Do running magazines focus primarily on men and have a few items of editorial that accept women running in a man’s world? Or does the content of the magazine equally focus on content that apply to men and women equally in the sport? These are the questions I seek to answer with the research.

Secondly, the feminist theory of public relations assumes that men are the dominant group. The feminist standpoint theory is centered on the belief that men and women have different power in society and women are the marginalized group (Wood). We see this in women’s running through the top three running magazines that target primarily male runners. Runner’s World, the most successful running magazine, has a total audience of 2,594,000. More than half of their reader base are men (52 percent) and 48 percent of reader’s are women (Runner’s World Media Group, 2014). Running Times, whose circulation is 121,841, is directed 60 percent to men, 40 percent women (Runner’s World Media Group, 2014). The smallest of the three main running magazines, Women’s Running, has a circulation of 72,000 and their magazine is 100 percent dedicated to women (Women’s Running, 2014). The advertising and content in these mainstream running magazines are geared towards men, which further marginalizes women in the sport of running.

Finally, it’s important to consider that feminist standpoint theory is a theory of knowledge, otherwise known as an epistemological theory. This theory focuses on how one’s gender shapes their knowledge. “A feminist standpoint grows out of (that is, it is shaped by, rather than essentially given) the social location of women’s lives. Feminist standpoint can, but does not necessarily arise from being female,” (Rakow and Natasia p. 62). In women’s running, it’s important to realize how one’s gender shapes their knowledge to women’s running. This knowledge is developed and understood by women, being a woman in the sport of running. This can be explained through the feminist standpoint theory, as the marginalized group is more likely the party is to acknowledge the truth that there are inequalities. There are several reasons for this, including the fact that more privileged groups have a vested interest in not seeing the inequality and less powerful groups are more inclined to see the social location of the privileged rather than the inverse.

This theory will also help analyze the content in running magazines and understand how the rhetoric plays a role in understanding the power dynamics in the sport, culture, context and historical time will all be considered in the analysis of women’s running magazines. I will use the feminist standpoint theory to highlight the cultural values and power dynamics that subordinate women in the sport of running. I will analyze the context in running magazines forums to better understand the dynamic, power imbalance and its’ effects on female, mother runners.

Let me provide a specific example of how I will use feminist standpoint theory to evaluate the content. In the headlines for Runner’s World in May on their website feature, a male, David Clark, who ran the Boston Marathon, a picture of a male running trails, advice from Larry Bird, a male basketball star, a feature on runner Chris Laudani, a profile on running in Idaho, whole-grain recipes for runners, activity trackers, a picture of a male running drills, a feature on Navajo runner Craig Curley, prosciutto recipes, body shop core exercises and a profile on Marla Runyan who teaches the blind to run (Runner’s World, May 2015). Of all of the headlines, the only content feature that pictured a female was the one about teaching the blind to run. Without using feminist standpoint theory, one wouldn’t be able to dissect the content from a gender perspective. However, with looking at the content through the lens of feminist standpoint theory, one can see that the headlines are lacking features that pertain to women. Additionally, the image of a female in a stereotypical “helping” role, reinforces the gender stereotype that women play a role in caring professions in society. This is a key component of the feminist standpoint theory. Additionally, the article on “Body Shop: Standing core strengtheners” reinforces the fat shaming and focus on body image and weight loss for women.

These content headlines also demonstrate that Runner’s World is allowing females to play a role in the running community that is predominantly male dominated, but doesn’t give them an equal seat at the table. Out of the 12 headlines, only two feature pictures of women, and the content places women in the stereotypical role of body conscious sex image and helping role.

In conclusion, feminist standpoint theory will allow me to effectively evaluate the content in the running magazines and search for themes. The bottom line for the feminist standpoint theory is that it’s a theory of knowledge (Epistemological theory) that focuses on how one’s gender shapes their knowledge. I will explore the shared knowledge reiterated in running magazines.







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Rakow, L. and Nastasia, D.I. (2009). On Feminist Theory of Public Relations. In Ø. Ihlen, B. van Ruler, & M. Fredriksson (Eds.), Public relations and social theory: Key figures and concepts (pp. 252-277). New York: Routledge.

Runner’s World (June 2015). Rodale, Inc: Emmaus, PA.

Runner’s World Media Group (2014). Running Times Demographic Profile. Retrieved from on May 12, 2015

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Wood, J. T. (2005). Feminist Standpoint Theory and Muted Group Theory: Commonalities and Divergences. Women & Language, 28(2), 61-64.