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Findings and Implications: Firefly as Dwelling Place

For the findings and implications of my research into the television series Firefly as an example of organizational dwelling place, I used the theoretical frameworks of dwelling place and dialogic communication ethics as applies to organizations.

Download the complete analysis here: StalcupAngela_Week7Assignment_042714.

To learn more about dwelling place, view this presentation on the theory.

I’ve abbreviated the Dialogic Model of Organizational Communication Ethics (Arnett, Harden-Fritz, & Bell, 2009) in the presentation. This is the model as I use it in my analysis:

  1. Listening without demand involves “attentiveness to what constitutes a given dwelling place” (Arnett et al., 2009, p. 151).
  2. Attentiveness to the coordinating grounds of the self, the Other, and the historical moment relates to an attentiveness to the “character of a given dwelling place” (p. 151) such that the ethical/narrative commitments that guide self, Other, and historical moment indicate an awareness of something beyond the individual members, an awareness of the relationship of all elements to their “communicative life together in organizational settings” (pp. 151-152).
  3. Dialogic negotiation requires that the “organizational understanding of a dwelling place must be negotiated again and again” (p. 152).
  4. Temporal dialogic ethical competence, the combination of listening, attentiveness, and dialogic negation, involves evaluation and a move from “knowledge to learning.” This is reflected in organizations as:
    1. Reflection on the Good of the dwelling place and what “changes in communicative practice are needed in the historical moment” (p. 152).
    2. An ongoing engagement in dialogue on communicative practices essential to the inevitably changing nature of the nature of the dwelling place.
  5. The emerging “possible” in organizational ethics involves “connecting one’s responsibility to a particular dwelling place, not demanding that the organization do things “my way” (p. 153).



Arnett, R.C., Harden-Fritz, J.M., & Bell, L.M. (2009). Communication ethics literacy: Dialogue and difference. Los Angeles, California: SAGE Publications, Inc.

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.



Communication Ethics Literacy–Long Live the Radically Strange

As I wrap up the blog posts for this exploration of communication ethics, it seems appropriate to address the eternal question posed by every student throughout time: But how do I use this in real life?


By definition, communication ethics has a practical application in real world settings. Arnett, Harden-Fritz, and Bell (2009) situate communication ethics at the “creative juncture” of philosophy of communication and applied communication, “the recognition that we take a given philosophy of communication… and apply it in interaction with others” (p. 33). Thus, communication ethics can be described as pragmatic–it accepts that we must face what shows up, whether we like it or not, and that we must deal with the differences of others, the ever-changing communicative moment, and our own changing self. That’s about as practical as a theory gets. (more…)

Care for the caregiver

The prompt for this blog post involves recalling an experience of being sick and using this experience to explore the concepts of health care communication ethics. For this post, I suggest that serving as a long-term caregiver for the chronically or terminally ill is itself a chronic illness. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2012), “caregiver stress” affects about 75% of those responsible for the long-term care of another. Symptoms include physical, emotional, and financial strain.  I’ve been in caregiver mode nearly nonstop for the last six years, including serving as a “midwife to death” for my mom after her long bout with cancer. In that time I’ve been treated for thyroid disease, adrenal exhaustion, injuries to the foot and leg, insomnia, anxiety, bruxism, and a list of other health concerns. And yet, as a caregiver, I’ve received care, and my experience receiving care as a caregiver has been one of my most powerful experiences of the elements of health care communication ethics.

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn /

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn /

In exploring this communication ethic, I’ll begin with an overview of the elements of the approach, and then illustrate with my own experience receiving care as a caregiver. (more…)

Draft: Firefly as Dwelling Place

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /


Note: I updated the link as of 4/20/2014 with a more complete draft.

Pardon my dust. Here is a link to a draft of my paper discussing the television series Firefly as an example of the organizational communication ethic dwelling place: StalcupAngela_Week6Assignment_04202014

Organizational Dwelling Place as seen in Firefly

This video illustrates the organizational communication ethic of “dwelling place,” with space, the ship (Serenity), and the organization of the crew each functioning as a type of “dwelling.”  This presentation will give you an overview of the concept of dwelling place, discuss the essential elements of navigating competing goods, the “saying” versus the “said,” and institutions versus organizations, then illustrate these concepts as portrayed in Josh Whedon’s Firefly (2002).

Check back here by the end of April for a link to my research paper on the topic.

Question: what movies/television programs come to mind when you think of dwelling place as an ethic?



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

Lollar, K. (2013). Dialogic ethics: Leadership and the face of the Other. Journal Of The Association For Communication Administration, 32(1/2), 15-28. Retrieved from 

Whedon, J. (Writer & Director). (2002). Firefly [Television series]. USA: 20th Century Fox Television.

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


The public side of communication ethics

Image courtesy of Naypong /

Image courtesy of Naypong /

Our discussion of communication ethics to this point has focused on the personal, and even private, aspects of communicative action. Now that we’ve spent some time reflecting on our own values and narrative, it’s time to put our self-awareness to good use and to examine public discourse ethics. Public discourse involves “conversation about ideas in civic/community contexts marked by diversity of perspectives requiring thoughtful public engagement” (Arnett, Harden Fritz, & Bell, 2009, p. 100). Public discourse ethics require that we focus, not on our own opinions, but on allowing “public space for conversation… the place where one takes a grounded stance, engages the grounded stances of others, and makes a decision” (Arnett et al., 2009, p. 103). This public arena is a “’sacred space’—a space to be protected, a space that is honored and valued” a space for a “diversity of ideas and persons” (Arnett et al., 2009, p. 109). We must start with self-reflection to clearly know our own “grounded stance,” then be open to change that grounded stance if we find that “previous decisions that were once valid no longer work” (Arnett et al., 2009, p. 104). While it is fine to enter public discourse with a strong opinion on a matter, it is a communication ethics violation to engage that discourse with “undue confidence and unsubstantiated opinion… communicative action based on ideological certainty that seeks no new knowledge, just the opportunity to tell” (Arnett et al., 2009, p. 103). (more…)

What’s my story? Narrative as background

Story, or narrative, is the next piece of our communication ethics discussion, and in the vein of reflection and deliberation as “goods” promoted and protected by communication ethics, I’ll share the narrative(s) that shape my life right now. But first, I’ll give a brief overview of the role of narrative in communication ethics, and perhaps give you, dear reader, an opportunity to think about your story.

Image courtesy of koratmemeber /

Image courtesy of koratmemeber /

When we think of communication ethics, and communication in general, it’s easy to focus on “the practices, ‘the how,’ of application and the philosophy, or sense of ‘why'” of communicative practices (Arnett, Harden Fritz, & Bell, 2009, p. 37). And rightly so–the why and the how drive the foreground of action. However, foregrounded action doesn’t exist without a background, and “the communicative background that offers interpretive guidance for decision making” is the narrative, the story (Arnett et al., 2009, pp. 37-38). While we will have our own personal stories, in the context of communication ethics, the narrative is the public story, “agreed upon by a group of people” (Arnett et al., 2009, p. 37), and the story is “a dwelling place…a location for values where one finds implications” (Arnett et al., 2009, p. 38). Think of the cliche about the fish, (more…)