Mauro Barisione

Against Communicationism. For a Critique of Communicative Reductionism

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: communication theories, social sciences, sociology, political communi- cation, public opinion.

This article aims to criticise an approach to the study of political communication – «communicationism» – which tends to reduce social reality to the sphere of communication, isolating the latter from other fundamental dimensions of the political and social world. This form of communicative reductionism is based on a series of implicit epistemological assumptions that are potentially misleading, at least from the point of view of the social sciences, because they tend to generate theoretically simplistic and methodologically non-rigorous studies. These assumptions, which this article will try to disclose and critically reconsider, concern the extent to which any social definition of the situation, as well as any construction of the social/political reality, can be considered a «symbolic» matter of communication; the presumed importance of communication as a communicative act, irrespective of the social and political space in which it takes place; the seemingly unconditional power of communicative agency; and the idea that the effects of social and political communications have a «universal anthropological» nature. Throughout the article, a different, more «realist» theoretical approach will be defended, one which points to the social conditionality of the importance of the sphere of communication and of its political consequences.

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