Discussion Topics: Weeks 1& 2

Week 1 Post: How does communication influence culture?

By: Shelly F.

Well first of all, what is culture?

I don’t mean the kind that grows in a petri dish. (The photo was courtesy of http://www.temple.edu/dentistry/admissions/course_descriptions.html).  I’m referring to the other kind where interaction is involved. Our textbook, Critical Thinking in Communication, contains several definitions of culture, but the one thing that they all agree on is that culture is learned and fluidgroup behavior.  My personal definition is that culture is the way that a group of people choose to look and act in society.  In other words, culture changes as the people change and it gets modified with each new generation.  Mass media is like a gigantic advertisement.  It posts different ideas about how to look, think, speak, and act in different situations and each member of the audience decides whether they should modify their behavior after the ad.  The media looks at what is most popular and it either keeps up the trend or it tries something new to see what best appeals to the target audience.  So in a way culture influences communication as much as it is influenced by communication.







This photo is courtesy of http://kalidblog.blogspot.com/2011/04/girls-night-out.html

Week 2 Post: How do language and symbols create communication?

By: Shelly F.

According to Critical Thinking in Communication, communication is the process of creating a shared meaning.  Languages and symbols are forms through which we communicate.  A language is an oral-based form of communication in which a series of specific sounds are understood by speakers of the same language to mean specific things.  Symbols such as the written word, gesture, or spoken syllables each stand for specific things.  In English each letter symbolizes a corresponding sound and these letters are combined to form words which in turn carry meanings of their own.  Aquarius, pentacle, and cross are three prime examples of layered meaning.  Each of them carries different meanings to different people.  Depending on the audience viewing the symbol each can represent something specific to personal experience.






The respective sources for each of these pictures are, in order from left to right, http://www.papermag.com/2007/0/equal_rights_for_dead_wiccans.php, http://www.compatible-astrology-signs.com/aquarius_compatibility.php, and http://urnsnw.com/products/Gold-Cross-Applique.html.

For Aquarius this could be referring to the zodiac sign, horoscope, or star constellation to name a few.  The pentacle could mean devil-worship to some and the elements of life to others.  The cross could refer to a grave marker, sacrifice, hope, or oppression depending on where someone stands on a given issue.  Thus language and symbols are the mediums through which communication takes place and without which communication would be impossible.


3 thoughts on “Discussion Topics: Weeks 1& 2

  1. rochellem5 says:

    I like the idea you used for this submission. I hadn’t even thought about symbols such as the cross and how an image like that can give off so many meanings. It really shows how communication is always around us and without proper communication images can have a skewed meaning from what was intended. After reading your post I am going to be looking for other objects I had not thought of before that are commonly used but have widely used definitions.

  2. heathnicholson says:

    You did a great job giving examples of symbols that have multiple meanings. I had no idea that the pentacle also meant the elements of life. That is quite a difference! Another layered symbol is the one that the Nazis used, the swastika. Apparently the swastika stood for peace long before the Nazis started using it, but now it stands for something completely different.

  3. Breanna I says:

    I do find it interesting how you were able to show that symbols can have multiple meanings. For the most part we think of one symbol as having one meaning such as the traffic signs that I used in my example.

    I also like how you turned the first question around. It is certainly a great question to consider. Does communication have a greater influence on culture or does culture have a greater influence on communication? It makes me think of the deep question of whether the chicken or egg came first? It can be argued for in either direction and I think that is what makes is such an interesting point.

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