By Valerie Devoy

Communication theory is like a prism; it is multidimensional and can be understood in both narrow and broad contexts. For example, there are many different theories on how we define our reality through the language we use: some theorists take a narrow humanistic approach, while others base theories on broad traditions such as the phenomenological and critical traditions. In trying to understand these various theories, I found the metaphor of a zoom lens to be useful in organizing large chunks of information into bite-size pieces. With the use of the zoom lens we can first look at language in the most narrow sense (with the lens tightly focused) to see how it shapes our individual realities; secondly, by zooming out, we can see that language shapes our collective reality through conversation and socialization; and lastly, in the broadest sense, (zooming all the way out) we can see that language can define us culturally (Littlejohn & Foss, 2011).

Language, in the most narrow sense, becomes “the vehicle by which we interpret the world” and is one of the main philosophical assumptions underlying many communication theories (Littlejohn & Foss, 2011, p. 63). This concept––that reality is constructed by language––takes a humanistic approach and analyzes how words give meaning to an individual’s reality. Under this assumption, theorists examine differences in language and meaning and how cultures develop diverse perceptions of reality.

Next, by zooming out, we move from words to dialogues and begin exploring theories of conversation and collaboration. Here, theorists start to ask ontological questions about the “group” and how it functions: “Is human experience primarily individual or social” (Littlejohn & Foss, 2011, p. 23)? Themes of social interaction can also be found in various traditions, such as in the phenomenological tradition where communication “is the vehicle by which meaning is assigned to experience… linking experience with language and social interaction” (Littlejohn & Foss, 2011, p. 49). With these ideas, communication theories become less individualistic and more focused on the interaction of individuals.

Finally, we zoom all the way out and see how language shapes us culturally. Under this lens we start to see language under a different paradigm: knowledge becomes “a product of symbolic interaction within social groups” (Littlejohn & Foss, 2011, p. 22). In other words, reality is socially constructed and a product of a group and cultural life. Under this assumption, we begin to understand the critical tradition where “scholars investigate how power, oppression, and privilege are the products of certain forms of communication throughout society” (Littlejohn & Foss, 2011, p. 57).

 As can be seen, theories of language are essential in understanding the complex “prism” of today’s communication theory. Researchers draw on all kinds of themes around language as a way to address communication theory at large. And it only makes sense, right? Language, in all its forms and functions, is what makes communication possible.


Work Cited: Littlejohn, S. W., & Foss, K. A. (2008). Theories of human communication. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth.

911 thoughts on “Understanding Communication Theories of Language Through the Metaphor of a Zoom Lens

  1. Excellent post. I was always checking this blog, and I’m impressed! Extremely useful info specially the last part, I care for such information a lot. I was exploring this particular info for a long time. Thanks to this blog my exploration has ended.

  2. .
    Configure your HP Printer hardware. Visit from the browser. Using your LaserJet model name, download software. Double click to start the installation. Connect the printer via wireless network or USB. Add the LaserJet printer to your system devices.Finish the HP LaserJet setup.

  3. If you’ve ever had your home broken into, you know how important a home security system can be. Alarm system installation can be a simple and effective way to deter burglars and give you peace of mind. Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing an alarm system for your home. alarm system installation

  4. Say goodbye to your stressful days! It’s about time that you should be at the top of your game again. Our do my class online for me service is here to lift the burden off your shoulder and take online classes on your behalf. We understand that nowadays students are so caught up in their hectic schedules that they don’t have any time left to take their online classes seriously. You can put your trust in us and see what else it brings to you.

  5. Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I am impressed! Extremely helpful information specially the last part I care for such info a lot. I was seeking this particular information for a very long time. Thank you and good luck. medical marijuana card in baltimore

  6. There are occupation permits, residence permits, a permanent residency program and even a Premium visa that allows foreign nationals to come to Mauritius to live for a year with very few conditions. We also cover the different ways for foreign nationals to get Mauritian citizenship and decipher the many immigration regulations. We try to answer a few key questions and topics on the subject. Citizenship Of Mauritius

  7. Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is an extremely well written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I’ll certainly comeback. front run bot

  8. We don’t provide an off-the-shelf package – we work with you to understand your objectives, so that we can create the activities to suit your needs. All of our activities will be tailored to suit the size and make-up of your team. Team Building Yorkshire

  9. Wow, cool post. I’d like to write like this too – taking time and real hard work to make a great article… but I put things off too much and never seem to get started. Thanks though. Online LGBT Counseling

  10. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon! air queen breeze maske

  11. We promise and deliver you entirely counterfeit free and unique substance for all assignments. We offer finance assignment help all around the globe, so regardless of where you are, you will get assistance from the best experts.

  12. Everything has its value. Thanks for sharing this informative information with us. GOOD works! 12a

  13. Wow! Nice and informative blog you posted, really amazing. If someone asks me what do you like in this blog most then without hesitation I’ll say the words that you use in your blog, simple and amazing. Like you, I am also here to promote my assignment help website organically on digital platform. Basically we are from Santa Clara, California, USA and our website provides online educational help for the students. Please visit our assignment help website and let me know (Contact us page) If you think there is any issue in the website.

  14. I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. I agreed with the topics you just said. Thanks for the share. But if you guys want 24newsdaily then contact us.

  15. I really thank you for the valuable info on this great subject and look forward to more great posts. Thanks a lot for enjoying this beauty article with me. I am appreciating it very much! Looking forward to another great article. Good luck to the author! All the best! 부산출장마사지

  16. Thank you because you have been willing to share information with us. we will always appreciate all you have done here because I know you are very concerned with our. sildenafil citrate

  17. This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I love seeing blog that understand the value of providing a quality resource for free. cenforce 100

  18. You there, this is really good post here. Thanks for taking the time to post such valuable information. Quality content is what always gets the visitors coming. mmj card in ohio

  19. Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed! Extremely useful info specially the last part I care for such information a lot. I was seeking this certain info for a long time. Thank you and good luck. 먹튀검증커뮤니티

  20. This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I love seeing blog that understand the value of providing a quality resource for free. bedtime stories

  21. Hey, I am Sophia William, I work as an academic writer at The Student Helpline, I read your blog and find it very interesting and informative keep sharing blogs like this.
    Visit us:- University Assignment Help

  22. Good day! This post couldn’t be composed any better! Perusing this post helps me to remember my old fashioned flat mate! He generally continued discussing this. I will advance this review to him. Almost certain he will have a decent perused. Much obliged for sharing
    Cafe Racer Jacket Leather

  23. Hello I am so delighted I located your blog, I really located you by mistake, while I was watching on google for something else, Anyways I am here now and could just like to say thank for a tremendous post and a all round entertaining website. Please do keep up the great work. wargapoker qq

  24. Need to take your class online? Take Your Class Online offers best Online Class Help! Just say take my online class for me. We offer do my online class help!

  25. Hey, I am Sophia William an academic writer at The Student Helpline an expert for computer science assignment Help I find your blog very interesting and informative. I’m definitely gonna share it with my friends. Keep sharing blogs like this.

  26. In general, I never remark on region in any occasion article is persuading such a ton that I never stop myself to convey something about it. Your making style is amazing. keep on doing consummate. anticipating extra confusing assessments joker costumes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *