Friday, September 30, 2016

Notes on the Constitutive Metamodel, CMM, and Agenda-Setting Theory

The Constitutive Metamodel

Robert T. Craig suggests that the field of communication as a whole can be understood as several different traditions who have a specific view on communication. Craig proposes seven different traditions which are:
  • Rhetorical: practical art of discourse.
  • Semiotic: mediation by signs.
  • Phenomenological: the experience of dialogue with others.
  • Cybernetic: flow of information.
  • Socio-psychological: interaction of individuals.
  • Socio-cultural: production and reproduction of the social order.
  • Critical: the process in which all assumptions can be challenged.

Coordinated Management of Meaning
  • Introduced by Pearce and Cronen in 1980
  • Provides understanding of how individuals create, coordinate and manage meanings in their process of communication
  • Advocates that meanings can be managed in a productive way so as to improve the state of interactions by coordinating and managing the meaning-making process

The fundamental building blocks of CMM theory focus specifically on the flow of communication between people. The three different concepts experienced either consciously or unconsciously, are management, coordination, and meaning.


Once rules are established in a dialogue, interactors will have a sufficiently common symbolic framework for communication.
Constitutive rules are essentially rules of meaning, used by communicators to interpret or understand an event or message. Regulative rules are essentially rules of action: they determine how to respond or behave.
CMM offers three terms as a way of applying the communication perspective to the events and objects of our social worlds: coordination, coherence, and mystery.


People organize meaning in a hierarchical manner. There are six levels of meaning:
  • The content or message according to CMM theory relates to the raw data and information spoken aloud during communication.
  • Speech acts communicate the intention of the speaker and indicate how a particular communication should be taken:
  • An illocutionary utterance is speech that intends to make contact with a receiver.
  • A perlocutionary utterance includes speech that intends to alter the behavior of the receiver.
  • An episode is a situation created by persons in a conversation.
  • Relationship is the dynamic of what connects two (or more) individuals during an exchange of information.
  • Life scripts refer to every individual's history of relationships and interactions that will influence rules and interaction patterns.
  • The concept of culture in CMM theory relates to a set of rules for acting and speaking which govern what we understand to be normal in a given episode.

It exists when two people attempt to make sense out of the sequencing of messages in their conversation.
People's desire for coordination in interaction arises from the subjectivity of meaning, which means the same message may have different meanings to different people.
Sense making, which is the foundation of coordination, helps people to establish common understanding.

Agenda-Setting Theory

Walter Lippmann in 1922 argued that the mass media are the principal connection between events in the world and the images in the minds of the public.
Two basic assumptions underlie most researches on agenda-setting:
the press and the media do not reflect reality; they filter and shape it;
media concentration on a few issues and subjects leads the public to perceive those issues as more important than other issues.
Bernard Cohen observed that the press may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about.
In the 1960s, Cohen’s ideas later led to formalization of agenda-setting theory by McCombs and Shaw.

The Internet

Scholars found the effects of reverse agenda a person's opinion could be disseminated through various online channels and could synthesize public opinion that influences news coverage.
According to Kim and Lee, agenda-building through the Internet take the following three steps:
Internet-mediated agenda-rippling: an anonymous netizen's opinion spreads to the important agenda in the Internet.
Agenda diffusion in the Internet: online news or web-sites report the important agenda in the Internet.
Internet-mediated reversed agenda-setting: traditional media report online agenda to the public.

Issue Obtrusiveness

Another factor that causes variations in the correlation between the media and public agenda is whether an issue is “obtrusive” or “unobtrusive”
Obtrusive or issues with low threshold are generally the ones that affect nearly everyone and with which we can have some kind of personal experience
Unobtrusive or high threshold issues are those issues that are generally remote from just about everyone

Need for Orientation

Need for orientation describes individual differences in the desire for orienting cues and background information.
Relevance and uncertainty define an individual's need for orientation.
Relevance suggests that an individual will not seek news media info
When issues are of high personal relevance and uncertainty low, the need to monitor any changes in those issues will be present.
Many news organizations attempt to frame issues in a way that attempts to make them relevant to its audiences.


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