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Symbolic Convergence Theory

Donald C. Shields

Subject Communication Studies » Organizational Communication

Key-Topics symbolism

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


Symbolic convergence theory (SCT), a general communication theory (→  Communication Theory and Philosophy ), explains the emergence of a common symbolic consciousness – one that contains shared meanings, →  emotions , values, and motives for human action – among participants in a small group (→  Group Communication ), organization (→  Organizational Communication ), or other rhetorical community. SCT, as developed by Ernest Bormann, John Cragan, and Donald Shields, among others, is a message-centered theory grounded through the observation of symbolic facts in communication. Observers noted the sharing of dramatized messages, called fantasy themes, within small-group communication, in mediated communication, and among the communicating memberships of organizations and other large publics (→  Rhetoric and Narrativity ; Storytelling and Narration ). Within each context, researchers found that people shared, reiterated, and wove fantasy themes to form a larger, more complex view of reality called a rhetorical vision (e.g., the Cold War, global warming, or neo-conservatism). A rhetorical vision contains many fantasy themes that depict heroes and villains in dramatic action within a scene. Within a group such a vision establishes identity, cohesion, and culture (→  Culture: Definitions and Concepts ). People create and reproduce fantasy themes in conversations – the hallmark of ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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