Essays on Exam Assignment

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Describe the difference between objective/positivist and interpretive approaches to the study of communication and identify the standards of good objective/positivist and good interpretive approaches. The interpretive approach is among the many approaches to the study of communication. The approach is based on the notions of language and communications that are different from the traditional attitudes of communication. The strategy has a speaker-oriented approach to an act of conversing focusing on the speaker’s use of lexical, grammatical, sociolinguistics and other knowledge of language in production and interpretation of messages. The main analysis of the approach is connected with internal structures and the mechanisms of language.

In this approach a lot of views can be understood from a certain conversation; if one says something that is not morally compatible with the norms of our society then the reaction from the audience will depict the fact that the speaker is out of place despite the reasons as to why the speaker uttered as he/she did. The concept of interpretive approach therefore focuses on such difference and tries to bring an understanding as to why such methods of communication are used (Inoue, 2006; Beck, Bennet & Wall, 2005; Baran & Davis, 2009). Objective/positivist approach simply introduces a realistic point of view.

It states that cultural attitudes and beliefs should influence our modes of communication and that culture defines how we think, behave and communicate with one another (Jiang, 2006). The approach is scientific and presumes that individuals might try to reduce vagueness in their first meeting with people from different cultural backgrounds by intentionally predicting their attitudes, beliefs, feelings, and behaviour, as well as contemplating explanations about the behaviours of others (Jiang, 2006).

The difference between the two approaches is therefore in the way they look at communication; one looks at it from a scientific point of view and the other tends to take a more natural outlook into the study of communication (Leeds-Hurwitz, 1995, Williams, 2003; McQuail, 2010). The standard of good interpretive approach to the study of communication should be the unification of the concepts behind the understanding of a particular message. Communication depicts the understanding of a particular message regardless of cultural or educational back grounds.

The same applies to the positivist/objective approach. Through observation, we should be able to understand why people communicate as they do. This creates a link between the two approaches in the study of communication. What is meant by ‘commodification of audiences’ and ‘audience labour’ and how do these concepts fit in the overall theoretical framework of the political economy of communications? According to Mosco (2009), commodification is the process of changing something valued for its usage into a product that can generate income. A good example is the transforming of a novel or story into a motion picture so that people can enjoy the product on a different level of visualization Therefore, how does such a commodity become a product produced for the purposes of generating income?

The said product goes through spatialisation, a process through which mass media and technology overcome the constraints of geographical space. A good example is the television; it transmits a lot of information through great distances to reach a desired audience. Through this process a lot of technicalities are avoided as the same information is turned into a signal that can be transmitted over great distance to reach the audience.

The commodification of audiences therefore falls under the same processes.

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