Communication and Social Action


Communication and Social Action


Prof. Des Wilson


Communication is a many-sided thing.
It means different things to different people. But essentially it is like life’s most inevitable fixture: death. Yet communication is not about the dead but the living. For man, communication surrounds his life like water surrounds fish.

It is a process or a means of access to the mind or thought of another. As a process many models have been created to explain it. Yet unlike many other human processes it does not have a clearly defined beginning nor end.

Westley and MacLean’s model clearly shows that at the interpersonal or mass communication level, the process does not begin with the first contact between the interactants or participants. It is an ongoing process which Paul Watzlawick and others described as the impossibility of not communicating and which the average communication student recognizes in the unusual expression ‘man cannot not communicate’.

Communication is an exchange of meaning. Each participant comes into the communication situation with his or her own experience which he or she hopes to exchange with the other participant(s). This view supports the familiar communication doctrine that meanings are in the symbol users, that is, the receivers in transition. Thus I may have an idea which l intend to pass on to my readers. What they perceive may not be exactly or even the same thing i intended. Through the continuous exchange of ideas we may arrive at some common meaning or understanding. This position is clearly illustrated in the paradox of meaning exchange in the first chapter of this book. Both participants may exchange completely different meanings in which case they may not understand each other’s meanings which is ironically the case in many shouting matches and arguments.

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Prof. Des Wilson, “Communication and Social Action ,”, accessed February 25, 2021,

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