What topics are scholars investigating when they study communication?
Tools and technologies?
Communication scholars study these areas and more. If “communication constitutes reality” (Littlejohn & Foss, 2011, p. 8), then almost any area of human experience can be explored through the lens of communication theory.
I have two areas of interest that lend themselves well to communication theory: body image and female entrepreneurship.
I’ve investigated body image through the lens of communication theory with a focus on theories from the sociocultural tradition, feminist studies, and media studies. I was particularly interested in identity as a “fusion of of the individual self with social, community, and cultural roles” (Littlejohn & Foss, 2011, p. 55), and how media messages influenced this fusion.
After reading about the traditions of communication theory, I realize there are other traditions that could have an interesting application to the subject. Phenomenology focuses on the “conscious experience of the person” (Littlejohn & Foss, 2011, p. 47). Regarding my own experience with body image, I am interested in how my own “direct experience” aligns with the messages I receive from family, friends, media, and culture. I could also consider the sociopsychological tradition, considering how “cognitive processes” produce behaviors related to body image and altering the body (Littlejohn & Foss, 2011, p.52).
My research into body image led to the creation of my blog, The Curvy Life, where I established a platform to promote body positive images and messages.
While I’m still interested in body image, my current area of focus (and the area I hope to research) is female entrepreneurship. In my discussion question, I wrote about the application of critical studies to female entrepreneurship. The trend over the last five years has been the creation of female-centered entrepreneurial organizations to provide support, education, resources, and community. Many of these organizations have names with “chicks,” “girls,” or other “feminine” terms. Not only did I join an organization called “Ladies Who Launch,” I bought a franchise. What’s the appeal of these types of names? Is this a reclaiming of disempowering language? Is this a signifier of a desire for an approach that is different from the traditional approach? (Interesting, there are no organizations with “boys” or “lads” in the title.)
I’ve been attacked from a public stage by a male business expert for promoting a female approach to business launch. Even among women entrepreneurs, there is a debate as to the necessity and efficacy of women-only organizations. I am interested in investigating these issues through the experience of the individual female entrepreneur as well as from the point of view of organizations and groups interacting together. I’m planning to begin with feminist studies, but I’m sure I will explore sociocultural and even sociopshychological (the biology of communication) traditions.
I’m hoping to use the research I produce in this program as part of my business as an advocate for women-owned business, thus engaging both the community of communication scholars but also the community of women entrepreneurs.
Littlejohn, S., & Foss, K. (2011). Theories of Human Communications. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.
Get my three-minute take on why Critical Tradition and Feminist Studies appeals to me at Soundcloud.com.