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Pragmatic Complexity and Ritual November 22, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — laurawry @ 9:32 am

The strategy of “pragmatic complexity,” as discussed in A 21st Century Model for Communication in the Global War of Ideas, underscores experimentation and complexity as essential factors for strategic communication.  This contrast between the message influence model and a pragmatic complexity model parallels James Carey’s concept of a transmission versus a ritual view of communication.

In, Communication as Culture, Carey describes a ritual view of communication as, “directed not toward the extension of messages in space but toward the maintenance of society in time; not the act of imparting information but the representation of shared beliefs.” (18) In the ritual view, communication is a structure, a networked set of beliefs that creates and maintains a reality for a group of individuals.  This view reflects the complexity of the “system as a whole” and the context of persons A and B while also acknowledging the meaning making and preservation function of communication.

Corman writes that, “In the language of communication science, communication is the medium through which individuals and groups construct their social realities.  Once a system – a social reality – is created, it has a tendency to sustain itself even in the face of contradictory information and persuasive campaigns.  Members of the system routinely and often unconsciously, work to preserve the existing framework of meaning.  To accomplish this they interpret messages in ways that “fit” the existing scheme, rather than in ways that senders may intend.” (8)

In this way, Corman emphasizes the critical need to work with existing narratives to transformatively create new frames and beliefs, understanding ritual and redefining your narrative and message within it.



One Response to “Pragmatic Complexity and Ritual”

  1. Noor Says:

    Communication has become much more complex not only on the social and political structures but also in the ways individuals and groups communicate. I agree on the tendency to contradict communication and persuasive efforts delivered in the social system, but even if public resist the direct influence of these campaigns, they in fact become exposed to it. Not necessary to accept it or agree with it, but exposure alone works in framing further meanings in people’s subconscious. So that when same concepts are communicated again they encounter less public resistance.

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