Gidden’s structuration theory vs. Taylor’s theory of text and conversation.

Structuration theory as developed by Gidden’s distinguishes between systems such as small groups and structures the practices rules, norms and other resources the system makes use of to work and continue existing.  Small groups are viewed as the products of structures and also produce structures themselves.

Members of the small group must follow rules that lead to the production of some sort of outcome and that outcome will eventually influence the group’s future interactions. Structuration refers to the very processes the group member’s employ. The focus goes beyond the group as a whole and places emphasis on the structuration process itself in which group members negotiate group structures and procedures based on their efficacy.

However, to date structuration theory has not provided a way of predicting what structures will be the result of what circumstances. Also, as group structures continue evolving it is difficult to identify which structural changes occurred and when they occurred when observing day-to-day interactions.

Taylor’s theory of text and conversation is not focused on the small group that come from structures or the structures developed by small groups it takes aim at explaining organizational communication within itself and stemming from the organization to the outside. The organization is seen as not being objective and is not less real but not real in the material sense. Text is defined, as the content of interaction or what is being said in interaction and conversation is the communicative interaction itself. The process takes place in progressive stages of translation from text to conversation, from conversation to text and from text and conversation to organizational communication. While this process of communication may take place within the structuration of small groups it is not a process or phenomena that defines the same observations.

Both theories reveal an internal process within a group and the internal development of communication and the recursive relationship between interaction and structure and the tension between enablement and constraint.

The interview process is typically one that has resulted from the structuration of a small group created within the organizational structure. (i.e. recruiting team or HR department). The specific process job opening, job requirements, application screening, candidate interviews and candidate selection has developed and changed as the small group overseeing it has evolved and found more efficient or beneficial ways of conducting this process. The actual interview itself will be guided by a series of questions that have been agreed upon by the structuration process and will yield answers and information from the candidate that best allows the person interviewing to ascertain if that candidate is the most appropriate for them.

As the interview process itself is underway the conversation being held is representative of the text and conversation theory as the content being shared in the conversation is the text. The questions asked are translated from text to conversation and the interviewee responses are then translated from conversation to text and so forth. While the processes involved not directly linked they are complimentary to the continued communication and development of the small group and the organization as whole.

Cognitive Dissonance Theory and Purchases

Festinger’s Cognitive dissonance theory places emphasis on the ways in which behavior influences attitude. Individuals have a need for consistency between their attitude and behavior. In the context of the scenario of having purchased a car and after the fact coming across another which I like better, because I have already purchased a vehicle and am tied to that purchase cognitive dissonance theory predicts that I would adjust my attitude to be in line with my action or behavior of having purchased the car I like less. I would begin to create reason to justify my purchase and emphasize why the other vehicle would have not been the right decision. The level of dissonance between my purchase and feelings must be lessened so that I can feel consistency between them. I may make arguments about how the color of my purchase is more me, or how the cost factor is more economical with my purchase or how too many people have that other car.

Important processes in cognitive theories of communication.

Constructivism: The cognitive processes that precede communication are the focus of constructivist theory. It is important to understand the influence human perception plays in the skillful production and interpretation of socially influential messages. Theory argues that human cognitive systems can be defined as construct systems; cognitive complexity, varying construct domains, levels of construct differentiation and the interpersonal construct system which are the overarching domains of construct systems. While people make sense of the world through constructs serving as the basic building blocks of cognitive organization they can also be joined by interpretive schemes. The joining and connecting of constructs aligns with Werner’s orthogenetic principle that holds cognitive systems as following a developmental trajectory.


Related theory of message design logics: O’Keefe (1988) poses three types of message design logic (expressive, conventional and rhetorical) that individuals use to deal with conflicting goals. Expressive design logic shows the view of communication being a straightforward cognitive process of encoding thoughts and feelings; these messages are literal and direct. The view that interaction is cooperative and undertaken according to rules, conventions and procedures is the process of conventional design logic. While the view that communications purpose is to structure and create reality is the rhetorical design logic. In RDL communication serves to define the situation in a manner that facilitates the meeting of multiple face goals.


Action assembly theory: The connection between cognition and behavior is examined by action assembly theory. More specifically the process looks at the retrieval of an individual’s procedural record from long term memory and the manner in which that record is connected to the nodes that it is composed of and how those nodes and their organization help to form an output or action by the individual. The nodes held in each record hold procedural information about action, outcomes and situations and the individual recalls these and activates them as they encounter situations, which match them.


Theories of plans and goals: Dillard’s development of primary and secondary goals serves to better understand the communication interaction between individuals and to identify what a person is trying to accomplish in the interaction. The very process of cognition is linked to message production when considering goals and directives, bearing this in mind we merge the planning process into the development of our goals as they are the destination of communicative interaction.

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