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Advances in Communication Theory and Research: Archives

Editor’s Note(2009)- Natalie Pennington

I’m a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other, and how they can achieve the kind of freedoms that they’re interested in.- Bill Gates

The past year at Kansas State University has seen as much innovation as the field of Communication Studies has as a whole in the past decade. Following a trend set by other universities, the Speech Communication, Theatre and Dance department is now known as the Communication Studies, Theatre and Dance department. This change in name has seen an influx of new ideas and bright faces to the department (from professors to students) that are well represented in the range of papers submitted and accepted for publication in Volume Two of the Journal of Advances in Communication Theory and Research.

Each paper chosen for this issue shares a common understanding that the way in which we choose to communicate has changed drastically in the twenty-first century. Whether that be recruitment techniques by universities, creating a new identity on Second Life, or the work balance of today’s working mother, the contributors to this issue show that we must look at, comprehend, and evaluate communication patterns as they emerge. In these works we see all areas of study within the communication field well represented: interpersonal, organizational, rhetorical, qualitative, quantitative, and more. While technology is a main source of the change in communication patterns, the authors also draw on social changes in what is acceptable to interpret and advance theories and research in communication, showing that people can alter and improve their communication for a variety of reasons. Continue reading ‘Editor’s Note(2009)- Natalie Pennington’ »

The Role of Kinesics in an Interview- Hailey Berry

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this research assignment was to evaluate the role of kinesics in an interview and determine if nonverbal cues can affect the outcome of an interview. To further analyze this subject, five candidates were interviewed to explain their thoughts on whether or not they even consider nonverbal cues essential in an interview. To conclude, the finding showed that nonverbal cues, specifically kinesics, influence the outcome of an interview, but the amount of influence is greater among older individuals and less important in younger individuals.

One quote that inspired me to research this topic came from the renowned writer and management consultant, Peter F. Drucker. He said, “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” By the end of college most students begin the strenuous process of interviewing. Of course, some students have the luxury of a job being given to them, but most are required to go out and interview for the jobs they desire. I have actually interviewed with approximately six companies and have sat through roughly fifteen interviews during my college career. I have often wondered if it was my answers that truly got me the offers, or if it had to do with some other factors. After seeing students do mock interviews I noticed that some people tended to fidget or avoid eye contact during the interview. This seemed distracting, but I began to wonder if I had done that during my interviews. This further made me consider if these nonverbal cues had any real impact on the outcome of an interview. Were interviewers purposefully trying to pick up on your nonverbal cues, or were they merely interested in what you had to say?  This led me to my decision to focus my interview on the role of kinesics and what impact, if any, they have on the outcome of an interview. My paper will focus on what interviewers focus on during an interview and whether or not they are looking for any nonverbal cues, specifically kinesics. To take it a step further I will explore how the interviewers perceive certain nonverbal cues and the effect that places on the final outcome of the interview. Continue reading ‘The Role of Kinesics in an Interview- Hailey Berry’ »

Suicide Girls: Tattooing as Radical Feminist Agency- Megan Jean Harlow

Abstract

Tattooing is a form of radical feminist identification. Jaylin, a Suicide Girl, is a part of an alternative genre of feminist actors who perform the pain of beauty in order to upset beauty’s hegemonic control on women’s bodies. The tattoos of Jaylin speak to the contradictory performances of gendered actors in light of Butler’s theories on agency to highlight the ways in which agents subvert imposed subjectivities. This paper argues that beauty is thus not only a system of control, but also a means by which the individual can resist power structures through positive articulations of one’s agency.

Tattooing is a radical form of feminist self-identification[i]. This paper unravels the process of gendered identification through a rhetorical analysis of Jaylin, a member of the Suicide Girls website. This paper will shed light on positive forms of resistance that found within an alternative genre of sexual performance. First I introduce Suicide Girls, and then examine Jaylin’s three central tattoos. The tattoos are radical assertions of self that reject an imposed capitalist plastic definition of “woman”. Responding to the call of Sloop and West (2008) to increase attention to gender norms and its accompanying cultural hegemonies, this paper articulates tattooing as positive forms of self-identification:

In a culture built on women’s silence and bent on maintaining silence as a primary part of the relationship between women’s bodies and cultural writing, the rules have been simple. The written body may only speak form a patriarchal script that tries to limit women’s voice and bodies to supporting roles and scenery. So on a woman’s body any tattoo becomes the symbol bodily excess.  When a woman’s body is a sex object, a tattooed woman’s body is a lascivious sex object; when a woman’s body is nature, a tattooed woman’s body is primitive – (Braunberger, 2000, p. 1). Continue reading ‘Suicide Girls: Tattooing as Radical Feminist Agency- Megan Jean Harlow’ »

The Role of Political Affiliations and Attraction in Romantic Relationships- Emily Kofoed

Abstract

As discussions of politics have become increasingly ubiquitous in popular culture, political affiliation has playing an increasingly important role in the way people select their romantic partners. While political parties remain on seemingly opposite sides of an ideological spectrum, some people are willing to date across party lines. Still, a number of others refuse to become romantically involved with someone whose political affiliation opposes their own. An electronic survey of 168 college students revealed that the majority would consider engaging in a romantic relationship with someone from another political party. However, a significantly larger number of respondents refuse to even attempt dating across party lines. This research provides implications for a return to civility in political perspectives and the roles political opinions play in both familial and romantic relationships.

Both political parties have their good times and bad times, only they have them at different times.– Will Rogers

Growing up in the “Wellstone!” era of Minnesotan politics – a time of liberal rule, public education funding and high taxes – I thought it was normal for parents to discuss politics. My father worked for an oil company and was strictly conservative on both social and fiscal issues. My mother was a first grade teacher, and while she could bend a bit on social issues, generally aligned with Democrats on economic policies. Their debates about politics were often the ones that strengthened their bond to one another and improved the way they argued about other issues – even if they just sounded like arguments to me. Heated political discussions allowed them to fight smart and fight in a way that was considerate of the other person’s beliefs. Nevertheless, political differences served as the fuel for many arguments that would not have existed had they both subscribed to the same political ideologies. I often wondered if their opposing political beliefs hindered their attraction to one another, or if it was a factor they did not give much consideration. Continue reading ‘The Role of Political Affiliations and Attraction in Romantic Relationships- Emily Kofoed’ »

The Paradox of Flexibility: Guilt, Regret, and Work/Life Balance for Today’s Mother- Esther Otis

Abstract

Full-time, part-time, and stay-at-home mothers face a continuous struggle to achieve work/life balance. Using a multi-research methodology, this study gathered questionnaire and interview data to understand the plight of these working women types. Work/life balance, family guilt, and career regret were assessed to understand, what, if any options are available for working mother types and what kinds of emotional outcomes they might experience as a result of their choices. This study reveals that the choice to be a part-time working mother is most problematic.  In fact, results indicated that they experience more family guilt and more career regret than the other two working mother types (full-time working and stay-at-home mothers) Moreover, interviews conclusions suggest that a social support network is crucial to achieving work/life balance, and that the “having it all” standard is difficult to accomplish. This study also explores the future directions of research per the study’s findings and implications. Continue reading ‘The Paradox of Flexibility: Guilt, Regret, and Work/Life Balance for Today’s Mother- Esther Otis’ »

What it Means to be a (Facebook) Friend: Navigating Friendship on Social Networking Sites- Natalie Pennington

Abstract

The development of social networks online and offline of college students were assessed for both quantity and quality. A survey (n=234) was administered to Facebook users regarding the size and quality of offline networks, Facebook networks, and what they used Facebook for. Results indicated the number of close friends perceived by participants was significantly lower than the number of Facebook friends and that a variety of individuals, shy and popular, use the site as an additive to their every day maintenance of networks. Questions regarding Facebook use suggested that users find the anonymity of the site useful to “track” and “check-up” on users of the site, as well as a place to go to distract/procrastinate from every day tasks.

Quality over quantity has long been an argument held when it comes to friendship: a few close friends are generally preferred to a larger network of acquaintances that lacks strong ties. Ask any Facebook user how many “Facebook Friends” they have however, and be prepared to hear numbers in the hundreds. The development of social network sites on the Internet has allowed individuals all over the world to connect with anyone else, at any time, for any reason. People are “Friends” with a person they met once at a party, but have not talked to since then—while also using the site to maintain old high school friendships, and build new relationships (boyd & Ellison, 2007.) But are these “Facebook Friends” any different than the friends’ users talk to at home, on campus, or at work—and can they replace a small group of close friends to support you in every day life? Understanding both the quality and quantity of friends in a computer-mediated realm in relation to the networks we have built, and continue to build offline became the basis for research in this study. Continue reading ‘What it Means to be a (Facebook) Friend: Navigating Friendship on Social Networking Sites- Natalie Pennington’ »

“Once I Visited, I was Sold!” Collegiate Recruitment Tactics and their Effects on College Students- Taylor Symons

Abstract

The vast majority of college students undergo some kind of recruitment process when selecting a college or university. Additionally, there appears to be a great degree of variance in the process and is often based on unique college or university approaches. Yet regardless of the approach, a student’s first contact with the school often begins active socialization into that academic and social community. This study examines the interactional experience of college recruitment and their recruitment offices to see, if any, this pre-entry communication may have on a student’s membership and commitment to that school. By utilizing a multi-method approach, this study discovered that while recruitment efforts are important and may have an impact on the duration of a student’s collegiate career, it is not necessarily the causation of high commitment or identity rates.

College is often referred to as “the best four years of one’s life.” Regardless of the trials and tribulations, collegiate graduates often reflect fondly of their time spent in the historic buildings, the grassy lawns, the stadiums and arenas and the social interactions of their alma mater. Over time, students often develop a strong and enduring sense of community and commitment to their school that keeps them connected to their university for the remainder of their lives. However, the experiences that occur prior to their collegiate membership are often overlooked in reflection.  Yet, it may be these very experiences that provide a useful foundation for the potentially positive outcomes of the college experience.

Even a cursory glance at today’s university life would reveal that university of today is much different than it was yesterday. Yet, one thing remains the same—starting at a new school is often a stressful experience.  University newcomers find themselves in an unfamiliar environment with uncertainties about success, in addition to the fact they are often surrounded by people they do not know. In order to be successful, new members must establish relationships, learn new behaviors, gather organizational facts and procedures, adapt to new expectations and acquire a particular set of organizational expectation. For individuals entering a new place, the period prior to entry is critical. In some cases, anticipating entry into an organization can improve performance after entering the organization. In fact, there is some evidence that students who anticipate correctly the values, norms, and behaviors they will encounter in the social and academic environment of graduate school will be more successful (Merton, 1957, p. 265; Merton and Lazarsfeld, 1972).

Prospective college students are university member newcomers and are in many ways at  the tipping point of an exciting time in their lives. Selecting and attending the right school is of the utmost importance, but often prospective students—especially high school seniors—may not attend much to the recruitment process nor understand the potential impact that can have on them. However, college recruiters do understand the impact and realize the importance of this pre-entry process.  As such, universities devote research, time and money to improving this process. Dr. Emily Lehning, an Assistant Dean of Student Life and Coordinator of New Student Services at Kansas State University, says, “Marketing is essential for colleges and universities.”  She also suggests that individuals who are looking to begin or finish their study at an institution of higher learning have a lot of choices especially as the options increase with distance education or online programs becoming more prevalent and credible. Competition is fiercer because of changes in the economic climate and demographic shifts.  Colleges and universities must position themselves to be considered by students and ultimately selected as the institution of choice. (Lehning, 2008).

Universities devote a large number of resources on recruitment efforts, ranging from postcards to travel expenses for admissions representatives.  For example, Kansas State University spent over $16,000 in a recent marketing campaign focusing on high school seniors reaching over 60,000 students (Lehning, 2008). Clearly then, student recruitment is an important business.  In addition to acquiring the student, keeping the student, or student retention, is another important concern for university officials.

The decision to remain at an organization—or at a university—can be linked to important organizational outcomes directly associated with the organizational socialization process. Previous research has found successful organizational socialization to be linked to important organizational outcomes such as job satisfaction, organizational commitment, turnover intentions, and organizational identification (e.g., Ashford & Saks, 1996; Allen & Meyer, 1990; Feldman, 1981; Jablin, 1987, 2001). Effective socialization is important because it is viewed as a site of negotiation between the newcomer and the organization (Bullis, 1993), one forged by effective communication practices. During this time of pre-entry, newcomers not only gather information, but form impressions and expectations as well as begin to make decisions regarding their job (Jablin, 2001)—or in this case, the university.

For many students the recruitment experience is the first interaction with (a potential) future institution and certainly the first stage in the process of assimilating into their new university community. Not unlike the membership process into a work or social organization, organizational assimilation applies very similarly to a university. As assimilation begins, communication during the pre-entry phase begins attitude formation and eventually the attainment of important organizational outcomes of identification and commitment—which for the university ensures retention and eventually graduation. To that end, the pre-entry phase of becoming a member of a university is extremely critical.

The purpose of this study is to understand the impact of organizational communication tactics associated with the pre-entry phase of university membership.  In general, it seeks to explore: How are students impacted by the pre-entry communication of college recruitment efforts? More specifically, it examines the short term and long term perceptions about the communication experience during recruitment and determines what, if any, organizational outcomes are related to this communication experience. Continue reading ‘“Once I Visited, I was Sold!” Collegiate Recruitment Tactics and their Effects on College Students- Taylor Symons’ »

The Rhetoric of Disaster Planning- Max O. Archer

Introduction

The record of disasters in American culture provides evidence of the high stakes in planning response procedures. In the United States alone, over 1700 disasters have been declared since 1953 (Federal Emergency Management Agency, 2007). The tragic losses experienced in events such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina reveal the extent to which communities have suffered from inadequate responses. These losses have been effected by disaster planning documents, most notably among them, the National Response Plan drafted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2004. Because these planning documents influence the public thinking and actions of a diverse audience, critically examining these documents as rhetorical texts is a significant social assignment for communication scholars.

This paper performs a fantasy theme analysis of the rhetoric of disaster planning in order to determine how rhetors situate their audience(s) around particular ideas and motives. The critic reveals that the arguments surrounding the National Response Plan structure the way citizens and officials manage disasters. By using fantasy themes to dramatize the collective experience of its audience, the Department of Homeland Security creates a rhetorical vision that disaster response agencies are rational, capable actors, worthy of the public’s trust and authority to implement the necessary emergency response procedures for crises in the United States.

Disasters and their responses afterwards arise within an “eminently social” context worthy of rhetorical analysis (Oliver-Smith & Hoffman, 2002, p. 12). The planning documents for such events are rhetorical texts which are laden with messages used to describe what constitutes a disaster and the procedures used to respond. First Responders such as firefighters, emergency medical technicians and law enforcement officers use disaster planning documents as a map to guide their responsibilities on the ground when a disaster breaks out. Elected officials use disaster plans and the testimony of emergency management agencies as evidence of the government’s forethought (or lack thereof) in catastrophic events since these officials often have very little practical experience in handling crises on the scale described by theses plans (Rodriguez & Dynes, 2006). And ordinary citizens recognize the plan as a “badge of rationality” (Clarke, 1999, p. 16), proof that “the powers that be” have our interests and safety in mind. Each of these audience members develops their understanding of how disasters should unfold and how the nation should respond through the rhetorical content of the disaster plan. More work must be done to examine the arguments used by these texts to motivate these audiences to act in ways consistent with the disaster response plan.

Clarke (1999, p. 136) and this critic argue that the assumptions and vocabularies used by organizations in disaster planning need to be rethought since those assumptions play an important role in how responses unfold. A rhetorical focus on disasters is warranted by a glance at the past collaboration between FEMA, the lead federal disaster response agency within DHS, and the scholarly field of communication. In FEMA’s

Disciplines, Disasters and Emergency Management textbook, provided free of charge to teach courses in a variety of disciplines (McEntire, 2006, preface), Richardson and Byers argue that our discipline’s contribution to emergency management lies in the call to “consider communication’s symbolic functions particularly within disasters contexts” (p. 19). This critic makes this contribution by offering a critique which draws attention to the rhetorical dimensions of the National Response Plan and disaster planning in general.

Now that it is understood what is at stake in the study of communication issues in disaster response, the remainder of this paper will describe and evaluate the rhetoric of disaster planning through fantasy theme analysis. The next section builds the case for focusing on the symbolic dimensions of disaster planning by describing the rhetorical artifact in question and the method of rhetorical criticism performed by this paper. The critic will then analyze of the rhetorical features contained by the specific artifact, describing and evaluating the use of fantasy themes which contribute to the creation of a rhetorical vision put forth by the rhetor to the audience. A discussion of the implications of this study on communication as a discipline and fantasy theme analysis as a method will conclude the critique. Continue reading ‘The Rhetoric of Disaster Planning- Max O. Archer’ »

Creating a Nation: The French Education System- Esther Otis

The purpose of this project is to explore the state of the modern French education system by investigating its core values and revered traditions through academic journal and textbook readings, as well as through personal interviews with French native Pia Decarsin.

I have been studying the French language and culture for quite some time now. Ever since I picked up my first grammar book, I’ve heard whispers about the infamously difficult French education system. When I complained in class, my French teachers looked at me sternly, and said I knew nothing about the French definition of the word “stress.” This piqued my curiosity. What is the school system like in a country where the letter “h” is silent, and everyone dresses fashionably? This intercultural interview project presented the perfect opportunity to examine the French education system on both an academic and a personal scope.

Before conducting my interviews with Pia Decarsin, I conducted preliminary research to gain an academic perspective on the French education system. My research revealed several key findings that I will expound upon in this section. After outlining my research, I will then construct hypotheses which will be tested and explored through anecdotal evidence from my interviewee. Continue reading ‘Creating a Nation: The French Education System- Esther Otis’ »

Testing the Integrative Theory of Cross-Cultural Adaptation: A Student’s Experience in Italy and Spain- Benjamin Harvey

Introduction

To test the applicability of Kim’s integrative theory of communication and cross-cultural adaptation it is necessary to approach the theory in a holistic sense and not as a collection of independent theoretical pieces. As Kim points out, “the change from sojourner with an ethnic identity to an assimilated individual with an intercultural identity is a process rich in complexity, with a myriad of influential forces pushing and pulling in multiple directions but ending in an individual, changed, in varying degrees, by the experience” (Kim 2003)

While Kim’s theory includes empirically testable theorems for each of the ‘forces’ involved in the adaptation process, testing an individual theorem would be only minimally helpful in terms of validating the theory because it would only look at one aspect of adaptation in one direction and neglect the influence of all the other factors. Even a more ambitious project of empirically testing all 21 theorems would neglect explaining how all the theorems work together as a whole. It is the meaning and experience behind the axioms and theorems which change an interesting way of predicting outcomes in the process of adaptation into understanding of that process. This study seeks to test Kim’s theory as a whole from an ethnographic-case study perspective. Continue reading ‘Testing the Integrative Theory of Cross-Cultural Adaptation: A Student’s Experience in Italy and Spain- Benjamin Harvey’ »