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Ethical Consideration

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

In  my dialogic encounter with you, I will not only listen for your radical alterity but I will open and make a place for it. It means that I do not resort only to what is easy–what I already know, ow what we have in common. It means I that I listen for and make space for the difficult, the different, the radically strange. (Lipari, 2004, p. 138)

Learning Outcome

Ethical consideration within a communication situation demonstrated by the ability to identify, analyze, and evaluate at least one ethical dilemma or scenario related to communication and advocate a specific course of action.


COMM 616 blog posts

COMM 616: Communication Ethics Literacy–Long Live the Radically Strange

COMM 616: Firefly and Dwelling Place: Findings and Implications


My thesis for the program is an outgrowth of research that I started in COMM 616, Firefly and Dwelling Place: Findings and Implications, where I examined the television series Firefly (2002) as an example of the organizational communication ethic of dwelling place. I examined the organizational communication ethic of dwelling place through an analysis of a fictional organization, the crew of the space freighter Serenity, as occurs in the television series Firefly (2002)  and the subsequent film Serenity (2005). The series explores classic Western archetypes (the Preacher, the Doctor, the Gunslinger, the Whore with a Heart of Gold, etc.) in a science fiction landscape. A ragtag band of diverse people is brought together and must learn to navigate differences to survive. After an analysis using the Dialogic Model of Organizational Communication Ethics (Arnett, Harden-Fritz, & Bell, 2009), I came to the following conclusion:

Even though the organization represented by the crew of Serenity is fictional, the challenges faced by the organization correspond to real world issues. Firefly (2002) is about an organization facing a change in the nature of its dwelling place. A change in organizational membership and changing organizational imperative create the need for a new definition of the Good of dwelling place. Even though the organization has few structured dialogic communication practices, the unstructured communicative actions of the organizational members, through verbal and nonverbal dialogic engagement, lead to the transformation of the nature of the dwelling place.

While we discussed ethos throughout the program, COMM 616 on ethics really expanded my concept of ethics and how to apply them.

My blog post from COMM 616, Communication Ethics Literacy–Long Live the Radically Strange, is my reflection on the ethical literacy.

This is why Arnett et al. (2009) choose the metaphor of literacy when describing the practical application of communication ethics literacy in daily life. As with any form of literacy, there is a base level of knowledge that is required to qualify as literate. In reading, we recognize that a third grader has a level of literacy vastly different from that of a graduate student. Further, I can be highly literate in a certain subject area (Communication) but be functionally illiterate in another (HVAC repair).  So it is with communication ethics literacy. The foundation of this literacy is the ability to “[identify] the good in the interplay of self and Other and the particular historical moment, attending to what is protected and promoted” (Arnett et al., 2009, p. 210); however, the degree to which we are able to accomplish this will vary based on our level of general communications literacy and the specific subject area, or context, of the communicative act. As is demonstrated in Arnett et al., the contexts of communication ethics are many: public discourse, interpersonal, intercultural, organizational, business/professional, health care, and more. Fluency in one context does not necessarily mean fluency in all contexts. There will always be room for improving our level of communication ethics literacy.

As a result of looking at ethics in a broader sense than simply right and wrong (and as a social constructionist I would challenge that such a concept even exists), I’ve become aware of my own need to remain aware:

Listening, attentiveness, negotiation, the core of dialogic communication ethics, is a cyclical process. The Self, the Other, and the historical moment are temporal and temporary, subject to change at a moment’s notice. So in areas of family, community, friendships, work, client relationships, citizenship, I must be aware to resist the  “tendency to look only to find what we want or demand to see” (Arnett et al., 2009, p. 218) and resist the urge to think that communicative practices that work today will work tomorrow.

I concluded my course reflection on ethical literacy with this line, and I do the same now:

Long live the radically strange! May we grow and prosper, in spite of, and because of, our differences.

Favorite Ethic: Dialogic


Arnett, R.C., Harden Fritz, J.M., & Bell, L.M. (2009). Communication Ethics Literacy: Dialogue and Difference. Los Angeles, California: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Lipari, L. (2004). Listening for the Other: Ethical implications of the Buber-Levinas encounter. Communcation Theory, 14, 144-141.

Whedon, J. (Writer & Director). (2002). Serenity [Television episode] in J. Whedon & T. Minear (Executive producers) Firefly. USA: 20th Century Fox Television.

Whedon, J. (Writer & Director). (2005). Serenity [Motion picture]. USA: Universal Pictures.


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