Analysis of Communication Ethnography – Literature review Example

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The paper "Analysis of Communication Ethnography" is a perfect example of a literature review on journalism and communication. Communication is often perceived as the passing of messages and ideas from one person to the other through a variety of mediums. However, communication is not tangible, it cannot be seen or heard but can only be perceived. The definition of communication as the transmittal of a signal between the sender and the receiver cements this fact. Pagin (88) says a process of communication is what is called a communicative event.

He defines an event as “ a process that starts with some inner state of the sender and ends with some inner state of the receiver. This means that people can communicate without their knowledge and send different messages to other people intentionally or unintentionally. This could be the reason why people say that one’ s dress code or image communicates a lot about them. The messages that the ‘ communicator’ in such a case sends out is diverse depending on the people receiving it and how they interpret. Their interpretation is influenced by many things among them their personal experiences and cultural background.

In such a case, if a way of dressing sends out different messages, then dressing can qualify to be a communication event?   Holmes (2005) defines communication as “ an instrumental act where the sending and receiving of messages in ways which individual actors are largely in rational control of” (p. 6). Culture and behaviour cannot be separated from communication as disclosed by further examination of what is a communicative event. This is because communication takes places within given boundaries and acceptable behaviour. These boundaries need to be identified in understanding what a communicative event is.

Such boundaries could be anything from the ringing of the telephone to the hanging it. In the case of a communicative event through dress code, it can be said that the conversation is bounded by the start and end of visual contact of the observer to the desired object. The communicative event in the transcription was started by dialling and ended by hanging up the call. This conversation extract will be used as the main references in discussing and applying Hymes ethnographic model and also other models by Savile-Troike (1992) and Holmes (2008).  


Beal, C. (1992). 'Did you have a good week-end? Or why there is no such thing as a simple question in cross-cultural encounters', Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 23-52. 1992

Crozet, C. & Liddicoat, A.J. (1999). 'The challenge of intercultural language teaching: Engaging with culture in the classroom', in Striving for the Third Place: Intercultural Competence Through Language Education, ed.J. Lo Bianco, A.J. Liddicoat & C. Crozet, Language Australia, Melbourne, pp. 113-125.

Holmes, J. (2008). An Introduction to Sociolinguistics (3rd Edition) Sydney: Pearson Longman

Hymes, D., (1974). Foundations in Sociolinguistics: An Ethnographic Approach. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press,

Kramsch, C. (1993). 'Teaching language along the cultural faultline', in Context and Culture in Language Teaching, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 205-232.

Li, Wei. (2000) 'Dimensions of bilingualism' In Wei, L. (eds) The bilingualism reader London : Routledge, 2000. pp. 3-25

Pagin, P. (2008). “What is Communicative Success?” Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 38(1), 85-116

Richards, J.C. & Schmidt, R.W. (1983), 'Conversational analysis', in Language and Communication, Longman, London, pp. 116-154.

Saville-Troike, M. (1989), 'The analysis of communicative events', in The Ethnography of Communication: An Introduction, 2nd edn, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, pp. 107-180.

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