From the dialogic to the contemplative: a conceptual and empirical rethinking of online communication outcomes as verbing micro-practices

Original paper

Abstract

Traditional approaches to studying communication in public spheres draw upon a product or outcome orientation that has prevented researchers from theorizing more specifically about how communication behaviors either inhibit or facilitate dialogic processes. Additionally, researchers typically emphasize consensus as a preferred outcome. Drawing upon a methodology explicitly developed to study communicating using a verb-oriented framework, we analyzed 1,360 postings from online pedagogical discussions. Our analysis focused on verbing micro-practices, the dynamic communicative actions through which participants make and unmake public spheres. Two questions guided our analysis: (1) How do grounded communicative micro-moment practices relate to consensusing and dissensusing within public spheres? and (2) What are the theoretical implications of these relationships for the quality of dialogue among participants who are discussing controversial topics? Our findings indicate that, contrary to recent theorizing, consensus-building and maintaining behaviors may actually inhibit the communicative processes necessary for the creation of effective public sphere dialogue.

Keywords

Electronic public spheres Dialogue Sense-making methodology Habermas Consensus Dissensus Verbing Micro-practices 

References

  1. Becker, B., & Wehner, J. (2001). Electronic networks and civil society: Reflections on structural changes in the public sphere. In␣C. Ess & F. Sudweeks (Eds.), Culture, technology, communication: Towards in intercultural global village (pp. 67–85). NY: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bjorkqvist, K., & Osterman, K. (2000). Social Intelligence–Empathy = Aggression? Aggression and Violent Behavior, 5(2), 191–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Buber, M. (1958). I and Thou. NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons. (Original work published 1929).Google Scholar
  4. Carter, R. (2003). Communication: a harder science. In B Dervin, S Chaffee, L Foeman-Wernet, E Lauterbach (Eds.), Communication, a different kind of horse race: Essays honoring Richard F. Carter. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton, pp. 369–376.Google Scholar
  5. Charmaz, K. (2000). Grounded Theory. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (2nd ed., pp. 509–536). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  6. Cissna, K., & Anderson, R. (1990). The contributions of Carl R. Rogers to a philosophical praxis of dialogue. Western Journal of Speech Communication, 54, 125–147.Google Scholar
  7. Cissna, K., & Anderson, R. (1998). Theorizing about dialogic moments: the Buber- Rogers position and postmodern themes. Communication Theory, 8(1), 63–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dahlgren, P. (2005). The internet, public spheres, and political communication: Dispersion and deliberation. Political Communication, 22, 147–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Demetrious, K. (2008). Secrecy and illusion: Second life and the construction of unreality. Australian Journal of Communication, 35(1), 1–13.Google Scholar
  10. Dervin, B. (2003/1980). Communication gaps and inequities: Moving toward a reconceptualization. In B. Dervin & L. Forman-Wernet (Eds.), Sense-Making methodology reader (pp. 17--46). Cresskill, NJ: Hampton. (Original work published 1980).Google Scholar
  11. Dervin, B. (2003/1993). Verbing communication: Mandate for disciplinary invention. In B. Dervin & L. Forman-Wernet (Eds.), Sense-Making methodology reader (pp. 101--109). Cresskill, NJ: Hampton. (Original work published 1993).Google Scholar
  12. Dervin, B. (2003/1999). Sense-Making methodology reader (pp. 101--109). Cresskill, NJ: Hampton. (Original work published 1993).Google Scholar
  13. Dervin, B., & Forman-Wernet, L. (Eds.). (2003). Sense-Making methodology reader. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton.Google Scholar
  14. Dervin, B., & Clark, K. (2003/1993). Communication and Democracy: Mandate for procedural invention. In B. Dervin & L. Forman-Wernet (Eds.), Sense-Making methodology reader (pp. 165--193). Cresskill, NJ: Hampton. (Original work published 1993).Google Scholar
  15. Dervin, B. (2008). Interviewing as dialectical practice: Sense-Making Methodology as examplar. Paper presented to the Audience Section of the International Association for Media and Communication Research Annual Meeting, July 20--25, 2008, Stockholm, Swedon.Google Scholar
  16. Dewey, J. (1966). Democracy and education. NY: Free Press. (Original work published 1916).Google Scholar
  17. Dryzek, J. (2006). Transnational democracy in an insecure world. International Political Science Review, 27(2), 101–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Englund, T. (2000). Rethinking Democracy and Education: Towards an Education of Deliberative Citizens. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 32(2), 305–313.CrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  19. Ess, C. (2000). Wag the Dog? Online conferencing and teaching. Computers and the Humanities, 34, 297–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ess, C. (2002). Computer-Mediated Colonization, the Renaissance, and Educational Imperatives for an Intercultural Global Village. Ethics and Information Technology, 4, 11–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ess, C. (2007). Cross-cultural perspectives on religion and computer-mediated communication. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12, 939–955.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Fishkin, J. (2009). Deliberative polling: Toward a better-informed democracy. Retrieved May 27, 2009 from http://cdd.stanford.edu/polls/docs/summary/.
  23. Fishkin, J., & Rosell, S. A. (2004). ChoiceDialogues and deliberative polls: Two approaches to deliberative democracy. National Civic Review, 93(4), 55–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Flyvbjerg, B. (2001). Making social science matter: Why social inquiry fails and how it can succeed again. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Friere, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. NY: Seabury Press.Google Scholar
  26. Galegher, J., Sproull, L., & Kiesler, S. (1998). Legitimacy, authority, and community in electronic support groups. Written Communication 15(4), 493–530.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Giddens, A. (1984). The constitution of society. Berkeley, CA: Berkeley.Google Scholar
  28. Habermas, J. (1984). The Theory of Communicative Action (Vol. 1): Reason and the Rationalization of Society (trans: McCarthy T.). Boston: Beacon. (Original work published 1981).Google Scholar
  29. Habermas, J. (1989/1962). The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (trans: Burger T. with Lawrence F.). Boston: MIT Press. (Original work published 1962).Google Scholar
  30. Habermas, J. (1990a). Jurgen Habermas: Morality, society and ethics: An interview with Torben Hviid Nielsen. Acta Sociologica, 2(33), 93–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Habermas, J. (1990b). Justice and solidarity: On the discussion concerning stage 6. In T. Wren (Ed.), The moral domain: Essays in the ongoing discussion between philosophy and he social sciences (pp. 224–251). Cambridge, MA: MIT.Google Scholar
  32. Habermas, J. (2006). Political communication in media society–Does democracy still enjoy an epistemic dimension? Communication Theory, 16(4), 411–426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Harasim, L. (Ed.). (1993). Global Networks: Computers and international communication. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  34. Herring, S. (1993). Gender and democracy in computer-mediated communication, Electronic Journal of Communication, 3(2). Retrieved May 6, 1998 from http://www.cios.org/EJCPUBLIC/003/2/00328.HTML.
  35. Higgins, J. (1999). ‹Sense-Making and empowerment: A Study of the “Vision” of community television’, Electronic Journal of Communication, 9 (2, 3, 4). URL (consulted July 2006): http://www.cios.org/getfile/Higgins_V9N23499.
  36. Hill, K., & Hughes, J. (1997). Computer-mediated political communication: The USENET and political communities. Political Communication, 14, 3–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Jung, Y., Vorderer, P., & Song, H. (2007). ‹Motivation and Consequences of blogging in social life’, paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, San Francisco, CA, May 24–28, 2007.Google Scholar
  38. Lee, J. K. (2006). The Blogosphere and the Public Sphere. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Dresden, Germany, June 22. 2006.Google Scholar
  39. Leech, N., Barrett, K., & Morgan, G. (2008). SPSS for intermediate statistics: Uses and interpretation. NY: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  40. Lehmann-Rommel, R. (2000). The renewal of Dewey–Trends in␣the nineties. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 19, 187–218.Google Scholar
  41. Li, D. (2007). ‹Why do you blog? A uses and gratifications inquiry into bloggers’ motivations’, paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, San Francisco, CA, May 24–28, 2007.Google Scholar
  42. Lievrouw, L., & Livingstone, S. (2006). Introduction to the updated student edition. In L. Lievrouw & S. Livingstone (Eds.), Handbook of New Media (pp. 1–14). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  43. Miles, M., & Huberman, A. (1994). Qualitative data analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  44. Olaniran, B. (1994). Group performance in computer-mediated and face-to-face communication media. Management Communication Quarterly, 7(3), 256–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Papacharissi, Z. (2004). Democracy online: Civility, politeness, and the democratic potential of online political discussion groups. New Media & Society, 6(2), 259–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Petric, G. (2006). Conceptualizing and measuring the social uses of the Internet: The case of personal web sites. The Information Society, 22, 291–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Preece, J. (1999). Empathic communities: balancing emotional and factual communication. Interacting with Computers, 12, 63–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Rajendram, C. (1997) Critical Pedagogy and the Absent Learner in Media Education: A Sense-Making Intervention. (Doctoral dissertation, The Ohio State University, 1997). Dissertation Abstracts International, 58/07, AAT 9801765.Google Scholar
  49. Rasmussen, T. (2008). The internet and differentiation in the political public sphere. Nordicom Review, 29(2), 73–83. Google Scholar
  50. Reinard, J. (2006). Communication research statistics. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  51. Rheingold, H. (1993). Virtual community. NY: Harper Perennial.Google Scholar
  52. Rogers, C. (1980). A way of being. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin.Google Scholar
  53. Rogers, C. (1956/1995). What Understanding and Acceptance Mean to Me. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 35(4), 7–22. (Original work published 1956).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Schaefer, D.J. (1999). From community to community-ings: Making sense of electronic discussion groups / De la communaute a l’edification de la communaute: Tentative de comprehension des groupes de discussion electroniques. Electronic Journal of Communication / La Revue Electronique de Communication, 9␣(2, 3, 4).Available [online]: http://www.cios.org/www/ejc/v9n23499.htm.
  55. Schaefer, D.J. (2000). Rethinking electronic public spheres: Beyond Consenus/Dissensus. Paper presented at the conference “Social Justice, Peace, and International Conflict Resolution: Civic Discourse beyond the Millennium,” Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY, July 20--22, 2000.Google Scholar
  56. Schaefer, D.J. (2001). Dynamics of electronic public spheres: Verbing online participation. (Doctoral Dissertation, The Ohio State University, 2001). Dissertation Abstract International, 61/22, AAT 9999436.Google Scholar
  57. Schutz, A. (1932/1967). The Phenomenology of the Social World. Evanston: Northwestern University Press. (Original work published 1932).Google Scholar
  58. Sharrock, W., & Button, G. (1997). On the relevance of Habermas’ theory of communicative action for CSCW. Computer Support Cooperative Work, 6, 369–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Siapera, E. (2006). ‹Islam on the internet: Rethinking multiculturalism and transnationalism’, paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Dresden, Germany, June 22. 2006.Google Scholar
  60. Stewart, J. (1978). Foundations of dialogic communication. The Quarterly Journal of Speech, 64, 183–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1998). Basics of qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  62. Thorseth, M. (2008). Reflective judgement and enlarged thinking online. Ethics and Information Technology, 10, 221–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Valacich, J., George, J., Nunamaker, J., & Vogel, D. (1994). Physical proximity effects on computer-media group idea generation. Small Group Research, 25(1), 83–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Verstaeten, H. (1996). The media and the transformation of the public sphere. European Journal of Communication, 11(3), 347–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Watanabe, M. (2007). Conflict and intolerance in a web community: Effect of a system integrating dialogues and monologues. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12, 1020–1042.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Yates, S. (2001). Gender, language and CMC for education. Learning and Instruction, 11, 21–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Communication ArtsFranciscan University of SteubenvilleSteubenvilleUSA
  2. 2.School of CommunicationThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

Personalised recommendations