I am doctoral student studying Organizational Communication. As a developing scholar, I see communication as the construction of the social framework in which we live. It comprises our contexts, our frames of reference, our cultures. This is incredibly powerful, as these shape our understanding of ourselves, our organizations, our communities, our world, our future. As we engage one another in communicative exchanges, we work together to communicatively create our reality. We communicate within discourses that have been created by those around us, and we work to perpetuate or challenge the discourses that shape our understanding of the world. It is the construction of these social discourses that I am so interested in studying, understanding and in “exposing” what they limit us to as individuals and as social organizations. Perhaps one of the most useful metaphors for communication that I’ve encountered is that of communication as creativity and constraint (Eisenberg & Goodall, 2001). In our communication, we create our social structures. These structures enable us to communicate, co-construct our identities, our cultures, our realities. They also serve to limit how we understand ourselves and our world, and our ability to impact the creation of our identities, our cultures and our realities.
It’s important to note the emergence and perpetuation of powerful voices and groups within these social discourses, and the impact they have in the shaping of these discourses. Certain groups not only have more access to the social dialogue, they have power within the social structures that shape this dialogue. Not all voices are created equal, and this is incredibly interesting to me as a scholar. The ramifications of these distinct power differences within the social discourse that both enable and constrain us are, in my view, largely misunderstood in the community at large. This has serious consequences for us all. Even more important here is the consideration of the impact this has on the way in which we come together, and the way in which this impacts how we relate to one another and organize (or fail to organize) within these social systems. One person with a sense of responsibility and communicative understanding cannot make a difference. One person cannot create a reality. Communicators that are able to join together and begin to create and perpetuate an organizational culture within these social discourses that challenges the predominant norms in which it exists can begin to effect change
The power of communication to shape reality, and the interdependence of communicators in the shaping of our shared world--Communication has the power to preserve or to challenge social structures.
Responsible communication begins with critical self reflexivity of yourself and of the "Other" as they are each positioned within historical and socio-economic contexts. This self-awareness informs what should be a felt responsibility to communicate in a way that opens up new methods of thinking and ultimately challenges the structures that constrain our everyday practice.
Communication and its role in the shaping of reality. I like to consider how power structures inhibit some voices and enable others, and the ways in which communication can change the world.
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