The Interactive Dimension of Communication: The Pragmatics of the Palo Alto Group

Our paper proposes to analyze from a semiotic perspective the process of communication, as conceived within the Palo Alto Group. We will firstly show that, as a result of the Group‟s critiques and revisions of the linear or mechanistic theories of communication, new perspectives are brought about for the essential axes of transformation within communication: we do not communicate as from a distinct atom to another, through an isolated channel, but through parts which are equal to the whole, the whole itself being equal to the parts. This approach has been characterized as “organicist”, studying and understanding communication as a dynamic process where the relationship between the elements is of prime importance. Reciprocal inclusion replaces the discursive aspects of communication and expression replaces representation. The reference point is thus situated beyond the mechanical parts of a whole ready to be dis- and reassembled. We conclude that through this perspective on communication, the notion of interaction between partners and between codes becomes a capital one and that, in this point, semiotics intersects with disciplines such as conversational analysis and the ethnography of communication.
Keywords communication  interaction  School of Palo Alto  content and relationship  meaning  signification  representation and expression
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