chapter  3
21 Pages

History of Communication

Communication is arguably the newest discipline in the social sciences. Indeed, Chaffee and Rogers (1997) maintain that communication may be the only widely accepted discipline to emerge in the United States during the past century. Further, the argument can be made that communication was the fastest-growing discipline in the social sciences during the latter part of the twentieth century. In part, the burgeoning interest in communication corresponded with the emergence of new tools of communication across the past 150 years, including movies, telephone, radio, television, and the Internet. But while research did reflect the new technologies (Anderson & Colvin, 2008), tying the emerging discipline to the emergence of new technologies oversimplifies the story. It can be argued that a distinct discipline of communication only emerged after World War II, though other scholars place the emergence of the discipline in the 1960s, and the argument has been made that the discipline is still emerging (Delia, 1987; Glander, 2009; Rogers, 1994; Sproule, 2015). But any of these dates are several decades after the widespread availability of movies and radio. So while these technologies spurred an interest in understanding communication, their invention alone cannot explain the emergence of the discipline. There were many forces that played a role in the development of this discipline including both of the world wars in the twentieth century.