Intersections of Feminism and Pragmatism: Possibilities for Communication Theory and Research
Communication scholars (e.g., Cronen, 1995; Langsdorf & Smith, 1995; Shepherd & Rothenbuhler, in press) appear to show increased interest in incorporating pragmatist perspectives. In a much-cited essay, Craig (1989) argued for an acknowledgment of communication as a practical discipline and for a renewed commitment of scholars to praxis-a nurturing of the dialectic between theory and practice. Scholars should not view praxis as base utilitarianism, but rather as “away of emphasizing this fuller practice of reflectively informed, morally accountable human action” (Craig & Tracy, 1995, p. 249). To embrace praxis is not simply to engage in amoral theorizing about communication so as to apply scholarly theories in the real world. Rather, we should see the wedding of conceptual thought and situated action as an ongoing, hermeneutic process. It is “a formal, scholarly enterprise that attempts to extend, facilitate, and inform this reflective cycle of thought and action by engaging in systematic, critical study and theoretical reconstruction of practices in society” (p. 252). A commitment to praxis shapes our theories, rather than simply guiding what happens to them later. Praxis encourages scholars to remain engaged in the world and to study people’s real problems.