Philosophical Underpinnings of the Communication Science Approach
Like most social sciences, communication can be sliced along any number of conceptual, theoretical, and methodological lines. Fink and Gantz (1996) con - ducted a content analysis of communication research in major communication disciplines and identified three major traditions: social science (referred to in this chapter as communication science), interpretive research, and critical scholarship. Anderson and Baym (2004) considered the philosophic issues in communication from 1995 to 2004 and identified twenty-one scholarship communities, each varying in their epistemological (i.e., ways of knowing) and methodological, and perhaps even ontological (i.e., nature of reality) approaches. Thus, these attempts to synthesize the field have resulted primarily in recognition of its breadth and diversity. The outcome of this disparate scholarship is a field that may seem chaotic even to those with a good understanding of the underpinnings of the field: what the distinctions are, why they exist, and how both philosophical assumptions and practical histories help determine the landscape of the discipline.