The different theories of symbolic organization

Theories of Symbolic Organization

 A symbolic communication is exchange of messages that change a priori expectation of events. Consider the ways in which social theorists believe we organize our ideas about the social world. Schema theory and attribution theory provide but a taste of approaches of cognitive organization theories that have been widely used by theorists in the communication discipline.
Narrative theory and dramatism consider the literary and per formative lenses through which we understand the social world.

S.E. argues that social and cognitive psychologists have been guided by three important metaphors in considering how individuals make sense of their social lives. These metaphors help theorists understand the ways un which people find cognitive and emotional comfort in the world and can get on with day to day activities.

Schema theory suggests that people are active processors of information and that schematic thinking derives from the need to organize thinking for purpose of cognitive economy. There are two important issues to consider in understanding schema theory. The first issue is a question of what and the second is a question of how.

There are 3 models of how new information might change existing schemas:

•The bookkeeping model in which changes are gradually made to schemas to account for discrepant information and encounters.

•The conversion model in which a meaningful encounter with discrepant information can totally change a schema.

•The sub typing model in which subcategories of the overall schema are formed to deal with new and discrepant information.

MOP a schematic structure used to organize long term conceptual episodic memory. This idea of a MOP has been applied in communication by developing the concept of a conversional MOP or the way in which various scenes are put together to accomplish particular conversional goals.

Attribution Theory

Manusov said that people are active interpreters of the events occurring in their social sphere and that attributions use consistent and logical bases upon which to make their causal claims.
The most basic distinction made in attribution theory is between an internal attribution for behavior. Early work in attribution theory identified a fundamental error in this regard such observers trying to explain someone’s behavior will tend to overestimate the importance of internal factors and underestimate the importance of external factors.

Weiner argues that causes of behavior are not seen simply along the dimension of internal versus external but along two additional dimensions of ability and controllability.

There is not a search for cognitive structures as in schema theory or for the causal analysis as in attribution theory. Further more and understanding of how we perceive and understand the social world is not analyzed through laboratory studies or surveys.
In developing his narrative paradigm for human communication, Fisher sees storytelling as the most basic and universal of all human activities. Several important aspects of narrative theory in the following sections: narrative as an organizing framework for human communication.

Fisher describes important features of the narrative paradigm through a contrast with what he labels as the rational world paradigm. Fisher sees the narrative paradigm as universal. Fisher proposes that we judge narratives in terms of their narrative coherence and in regard of their narrative fidelity. Narrative coherence deals with the integrity of the story’s structure, whether the audience thinks that it hangs together as a story should. Narrative forms of symbolic organization have been examined in the organizational setting in family interaction


We all know that communication is a process by which we put meaning in an attempt to create shared understanding. This process requires a vast repertoire of skills in intrapersonal and interpersonal processing, listening, observing, speaking, questioning, analyzing, and evaluating. If you use these processes it is developmental and transfers to all areas of life such as: home, school, community, work, and beyond more. it is through communication that collaboration and cooperation occur. With symbolic theories in communication its the same. Everything is symbolic in a way. The way you relate to people, the news and shows you watch. These are symbolic things that surround us on daily bases; and each day we have to pay more attention to what that is saying to us.

Bibliography: Theories Symbolic Organization , Miller Cap. 6


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