Sunday, September 6, 2009

Communication as Persuasion

After reflecting upon this week’s readings, I noticed a strong correlation between the suggestions in both the Weaver and Carey articles. Both authors imply that communication was, and still is primarily a facilitator of persuasion. While both Weaver and Carey consider the original and present theories of international communication, both authors agree that communication is used mainly as a tool to change or strengthen desired ideas or behaviors.

Weaver demonstrates this by noting that early tactics of IC relied on using the media to influence people and spread Western ideology, rather than to facilitate cooperation or aid developing countries through spreading technology. He says that early forms included communicating “Western ideas to people” in the third world, rather learning how to communicate “with them.” This quotation reminds the reader how Western powers often exploit third world nations by using communication as a medium to manipulate their behaviors and beliefs. It also may provide a reason for the slow growth of communication mediums in the third world.

In addition to Weaver’s assumptions, Carey also mentions the correlation between communication and persuasion. When describing two prominent views, she argues that transmission communication conveys messages and symbols for the purpose of control. Thus, communication is spread in order to persuade the receivers to change or strengthen attitudes, while promoting specific ideas and practices.

This inability of the West to communicate impartially with other civilizations contributed to the spread of Westernization, and perhaps the destruction of other cultures. I believe that the third world never fully developed strong communication mediums because they relied on information transmitted by the West, and used Western models to shape their media. In addition, the spread of primarily Western ideas through the media may relate to the often politically controlled and government biased media broadcasted in the third world.

In conclusion, from both Weaver’s and Carey’s articles, I recognized that communication is a stronger vehicle of persuasion than I had previously thought, especially in the third world. Initially concerned with spreading propaganda during WWII, not much has changed in 50 years. The art of international communication continues to alter social behaviors and beliefs 50 years later, and maintains an ethnocentric tendency, as Weaver noted about early forms of IC. The ability to exploit a weak nation through communication was a primary factor in the spread of Westernization, and remains a dominant force in today’s world.

1 comment:

  1. "The inability to communicate impartially" is more than just a problem of the West. Governments have always controlled or tried to control communication systems. Hansen went into the origins of communications in ancient civilizations. If knowledge is power, communication is the means by which to control it.

    That's why media is usually a key element in any kind of subversive activity - and I'm not just talking about recent Al-Jahzeera or citizen journalists. Protesters have turned to the media in the '60s for civil rights, earth rights and Vietnam protests and going far, far back the press was the agency of protestors to the Crown of England. There's a very good reason freedom of the press was guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.

    Even if the West had not been so imperialistic in its media outreach, I doubt press would have just develped freely in the rest of the world.