Communication and Humanties: a post-conventional approach


  • João Carlos Correia University of Beira Interior


rethinking humanities


What do humanities bring to the study of communication? What concept of humanities can help us understand communication? Do communication studies belong to the humanities or to the social sciences field? In spite of a recent turn in communication research towards empirical data that seems to be supported by a generation of young researchers, communication sciences have almost always maintained, in their many branches, the existence of critical approaches highlighting a powerful link to the role of language and symbols and their many connections to social structures, placing particular emphasis on the phenomena of meaning and relation. Human life is essentially a life of meaning, of reflexive thought and communication. My hypothesis involves considering this concern with relation as a social phenomenon as what distinguishes it epistemically. I also believe that this distinction involves extensive atten- tion on the nature of the human, helping maintain a productive bridge with humanities and culture. 

Issues such as the role of symbols in social life are related to the constitution of subjectivity and the transmission of cultural heritage in life-world, bringing questions concerning truth, rationality, the conditions necessary for autonomy of the self and the nature of human agency to an on-going theoretical debate.

Following this tradition, attempts are made to establish communication as a discipline which finds its foundations in the concept of mediated interaction and as the discipline that expresses the relational nature of human agency. Following this perspective, the field of communication studies, in a somewhat similar way to cultural studies, has redefined itself by dealing with new cultural approaches, with the help of American cultural studies (particularly James Carey), critical theory, hermeneutics, symbolic interactionism, and critical realism as theoretical keys to unveiling the dialogue between humanities and social sciences that crosses through the communications field.