Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Official Style in Communication Studies and Social Science Research


            Communication Studies is a lens of understanding that investigates, analyzes, and uncovers information regarding messages between people. How and what we communicate to one another is researched and expanded by scholars of this discipline. In exploring texts of the interpersonal and organizational branches of Communication Studies, I came across articles regarding how socialization takes place in the workplace and the effects of newcomers assimilating in specific ways. Eventually, the journal article Socialization of as a Predictor of Employee Outcomes written by Paul Madlock and Rebecca Chory appeared in the search.
            Chory is a professor of Communication Studies at West Virginia University while Madlock holds an assistant professor position at Texas A&M in Psychology. Their article was published in one of the 2014 issues of the Journal of Communication Studies. The Central States Communication Association, which is located at Bethel University, owns this journal and publishes it five times a year. The journal focuses primarily on topics of interpersonal communication and states that:
Communication Studies (CS) is committed to publishing high-quality original scholarship focused centrally on human communication processes. Articles published in Communication Studies should represent the diversity of scholarship that composes the study of human communication, regardless of philosophical, theoretical, or methodological underpinnings. Published essays and reports of studies should make important and noteworthy contributions to the advancement of human communication scholarship. Communication Studies supports research and writing free of sexism and other biases.
With this mission statement in mind, it can be assumed that those interested in human communication processes would be the intended readers, as well as journal subscribers and scholars of interpersonal and organizational Communication Studies. As a student of this discipline, I would like to make the argument that this article in the field of Communication Studies, as do many social science texts, uses Official Style strategies to make themselves and their research sound smarter.
            In order to grasp a better understanding of the text itself, I decided that I would enter a portion of the introductory paragraph of this article into a readability calculator and see how the numbers would represent the text. The introduction of the article scored an 11.1 on the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease and an average grade level of 17.1. These scores represent the level of difficulty when it comes to reading and understanding the Socialization as a Predictor of Employee Outcomes in its entirety. Ideally, the scores are representative of the readers’ ability to comprehend the information that the article will expand on. Already, the average grade level is ten grades over the reading level of the average American, eliminating the majority of the public. To further the investigation into the Official Style, I searched for specific prose strategies that were used by Madlock and Chory.
            In textual analysis, I noticed that the authors used coordination frequently. Here is a specific sentence that uses coordination:
Organizational socialization has been defined as the process by which an individual acquires the attitudes, behavior, and knowledge required to participate as an organizational member (Van Maanen & Schein, 1979) and involves both the organization and the employee, with an ultimate outcome being mutual acceptance (Wanous, 1980).
This sentence ties together major ideas into one statement. This strategy allows for readers to jump to another idea within the same sentence, increasing the ideas that readers have to process after reading it. With two thoughts working together, the reader is left to combine the ideas for their own interpretation and understanding.
            Another strategy present in this article is the usage of jargon from the field of Communication Studies. Socialization is an interdisciplinary term, meaning it may have different definitions across opposing fields of study. By adding organizational in front of socialization, it is left up to the reader alone to make sense of what organizational socialization means in the context of this article and Communication Studies as a whole. It may also be difficult for the reader to previously understand (unless there is prior knowledge) that organizational socialization has intricate components to its definition. Without a proper definition, readers are left to fill in the gaps that the authors created. There are a few other words that follow this setup, including acculturation, task ambiguity, and role clarity.
            The prepositional phrase “according to…” is used three times within the introduction of the article. This phrase is used to reference to previous works that the authors have researched in order to construct their article. By referencing others, the authors use this strategy of the Official Style to demonstrate their credibility through the knowledge that was gained from their research within the Communication Studies field before adding a research study of their own. The previous research, in this case, acts as building blocks for Madlock and Chory to add their findings to as scholars of Communication.
            Through this verbose writing, it almost becomes contradictory to the point of Communication Studies: Wouldn’t the authors like to communicate clearly to audience members about the topics in Communication? Social sciences have adopted the Official Style in writing to add authority to the information they are writing about. Considering that this article is also present in a journal dedicated to Communication, it could also be assumed that authors were simply writing in a fashion that their audience is used to reading, excluding the majority of potential readers that are not familiar with how social science research studies are written.
            The Official Style used in this article through all of these prose strategies creates disconnect from those who are not as educated in Communication Studies or other social science fields. It is written much smarter than it needs to be, catering to insiders of the social sciences. There is little explanation to jargon used, alienating outsiders from the information within the article. It was written for insiders of the field of Communication to read and ultimately build future knowledge on. This very concept is addressed in the mission statement provided by the journal. The Official Style was used in Socialization as a Predictor of Employee Outcomes to “make important and noteworthy contributions to the advancement of human communication scholarship,” whatever that may mean to readers.

Post Written by: Theresa L 
Works Cited

Madlock, Paul E., and Rebecca M. Chory. "Socialization As A Predictor Of Employee Outcomes." Communication Studies 65.1 (2014): 56-71. Academic Search Complete. Web.

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