On the study of process in communication research

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


One of the defining characteristics of communication is that it is a process. Yet the vast majority of studies of communication do not focus on process, but rather on static models and explanations. This essay develops a conception of process research in the social scientific study of communication that distinguishes it from traditional variance based research approaches. The process approach is based on the development of theoretical narratives that explain how series of events unfold over time. Explanation in process theories is based on formal and final causality as well as on the efficient causality that is the foundation for variance explanations. Four basic types of process explanations are described. Four strategies for process research are explicated and examples of process studies in communication are used to illustrate them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCommunication Yearbook 36
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages39
ISBN (Electronic)9780203113653
ISBN (Print)9780415525480
StatePublished - Oct 2 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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