Communication as Ontology for a Structurationist Approach to Role Enactment
Ozley, Raymond R.
University of Kansas
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In recent years structuration theory has increased in popularity and acceptance among communication scholars. Despite significant critiques from other disciplines (e.g., business, education, sociology), only marginal attention has been given to criticisms of structuration in communication studies (cf. Conrad, 1993). Of key concern is that among the plethora of structuration literature in the communication discipline there is a prevailing absence of literature wherein communication is situated as the primary ontological basis. In response to criticisms of structuration theory, a communication-based model of transactional immediacy structures is presented. This model focuses on how individual agents use societal and organizational rules and resources as symbols to mutually create, recreate, give meaning to, and negotiate power relationships (qua structures) in an organizational context. Specifically, this study examines the creation, recreation, enactment, and legitimization of gender-role structures among members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS). The findings in this study point to the central role of communication in explaining structuration processes whereby individuals understand and perform gender roles. Furthermore, the data reveal that the constraining or enabling of action is more consequential to individual perceptions than other structural properties (i.e., rules). Communication is also shown to have a transformative role in shaping perceptions of agency and behaviors--and is thus an appropriate lens through which structuration processes in organizations can be analyzed.
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