Bowers, John Waite, and Bradac, James J. (1984). Contemporary problems in human communication theory. In Carroll C., and Bowers, John Waite, (eds.), Handbook of Rhetorical and Communication Theory. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Pp. 871-893.


A number of competing sets of axioms undergird contemporary communication research and theory.

1a Communication is the transmission and reception of information.
1b Communication is the generation of meaning.

2a Communication is individual behavior.
2b Communication is the relationship among behaviors of interacting individuals.

3a Human communication is unique.
3b Human communication is a form of animal communication.

4a Communication is processual.
4b Communication is static.

5a Communication is contextualized.
5b Communication is noncontextualized.

6a Human beings cannot not communicate.
6b Human beings can not communicate.

7a Communication is a ubiquitous and powerful force in society.
7b Communication is one among many forces in society, and a relatively weak one.

Definitional Issues

Intentionality: to what degree, if any, does intention play in communication?

Symbolic behaviors: what behavior is symbolic?

Rhetorical theory and communication theory