The concept of reality, as well as the phenomenon of existence in general, has always been the focus of philosophic interpretations and the subject of numerous theories. A range of assumptions concerning the elements and factors that define objective reality have been created; however, Carey’s concept of reality as the phenomenon that exists not only on its own merits, but also as the reflection of people’s perception of the world, deserves a special analysis. Seeing that reality can be viewed as the projection of people’s feelings and experiences on the phenomena that the universe is characterized by, the communication as the means to render one’s idea of reality and its elements can be viewed as the tool defining reality as people perceive it, which makes Carey’s argument entirely valid.
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There are a range of proofs that Carey hints at communication being the process of creating reality as people see it instead of merely interpreting it. For instance, the very fact that Carey defines communication as “symbolic culture” (Carey “Communication as Culture” para. 10) shows that Carey envisions communication as the process of assigning certain objects and phenomena with denotations, which they presumably did not have before the conversation process started. In other words, Carey obviously means that the communication process allows for constructing a specific world, which exists throughout the conversation and ceases to once the process of information transfer is over and there is no need to sustain the existence of the constructs created in the process.
It can be assumed that Carey at some point avers that the social reality is the only reality that people can become a part of in the process of communication. Therefore, the idea of the existence of temporary reality, which is constructed in the process of a conversation, seems rather legitimate: “society substitutes for the world revealed to our senses a different world that is a projection of the ideals created by the community” (Holmes 133).
The above-mentioned interpretation of reality, in fact, is quite applicable to everyday conversations. For example, in my personal experience, when discussing a topical political issue with my opponents, I created the reality, in which the side that I supported was viewed as positive, and the one that I considered inappropriate as negative. The reality that I created complied with the basic principles of logic, yet it was entirely opposite to that one of my opponents, who also developed an entire universe, and rather accurate and logically structured one at that. As soon as we ended the discussion, these universes ceased to exist, which proves Carey’s argument in a very substantial way.
Nevertheless, the assumption concerning the creation of reality with the help of communication seems by far more legitimate an interpretation of Carey’s argument, as the author of the theory clearly point s at the fact that a range of concepts identified in the process of communication are created and not reconstructed; in other words, Carey makes it very clear that a conversation is the “manifestation of communication not in the transmission of intelligent information but in the construction and maintenance of an ordered, meaningful cultural world that can serve as a control and container for human action” (Carey 15).
As cognizing the objective reality without viewing it through the lens of one’s own vision of the world, experiences, principles and convictions, there are obvious reasons to aver that the reality as people see it partially owes its existence to the communication process between people.
Carey, James W. Communication as Culture, Revised Edition: Essays on Media and Society. New York, NY: Routledge, 2008. Print.
Carey, James W. “Communication as Culture.” Georgetown University. n. d. Web.
Holmes, David. Communication Theory: Media, Technology and Society. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2005. Print.