To supplement course materials for classes in communication theory and research methods, this paper compares philosophical assumptions underlying three approaches to communication research: scientific, which stresses quantitative methods of analysis; humanistic, which encompasses many conflicting techniques but has as a common element--the modification of strictly quantitative methodology to include qualitative aspects; and phenomenological, which emphasizes language and users of language. The paper illustrates the interrelationship between theory and methods by contrasting the three approaches on four theoretical bases: (1) definition of subject matter, (2) identification of observational and analytical units, (3) concept of human action, and (4) structure of explanation. Acknowledging that a complex phenomenon such as spoken language can be studied in many different ways and noting support in the research literature for a pluralistic view of methods appropriate to the study of spoken language, the paper concludes that no single perspective can provide a full explanation of the process as well as an understanding of the "processing," and that the humanistic approach has the potential for wedding the traditional and phenomenological by using the approaches at different points in the entire research processes. (HTH)
Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Speech Communication Association (70th, Chicago, IL, November 1-4, 1984).
Humanistic Research; Phenomenological Research; Theory Practice Relationship