My Definition of Communication and Rhetoric

My Definition of Communication and Rhetoric


In this paper, I will explain my own definitions for communication and rhetoric. The main scholar who I will reference is James Carey, who takes a cultural approach to communication. The other authors that I will reference are Paul Cobley, Peter Simonson, Klaus Bruhn Jensen, Dietram A. Scheufele, Jay P. Childers, and two articles written by Richard Nordquist. Communication is something that is used everyday. Most of communication occurs through different forms of media. There is no possible way to live without communicating in some form. In my opinion, communication is defined as the connection between two people or a group of people not only through face-to-face interactions, but also through digital media, such as social media, texting, and emailing. Rhetoric plays an important part in communication in that it is the part of the connection in which persuasion occurs. In the next section, I will discuss each author’s view(s) on communication and how they relate to my own definitions.

Literature Review:

The main scholar that helps to back up my definition is James Carey. He uses the “transmission view of communication” (Carey, 1975) in order to discuss the definition and importance of communication. The transmission view of communication can be defined by terms such as “’imparting,’” “’sending,’” “’transmitting,’” or “’giving information to others’” (Carey, 1975). Communication is the way in which information is sent, transmitted, and perceived. Carey also states that communication has a purpose and is used to share messages and other information. This communication can be shared face-to-face or through social media. There are so many numerous possibilities for communication almost every minute of every day.

The next scholar that I agreed with was Paul Cobley. He wrote an article in The Concise Encyclopedia of Communication that helped to also define communication while incorporating media into his definition. He says “Like tools, media extend the capabilities of humans to reach out into a broader world of communication and interaction” (Cobley, 2015). Media plays a very important role in communication because it is everywhere, constantly. He also shares that communication, from the Latin root, “’communicare,’” means to share (Cobley, 2015). Communication is sharing whether through voice, sound, facial expressions, etc.

Peter Simonson (2015) discusses how powerful communication has been since the 19th century when newspapers and treatises were introduced. He states that “… society cast as an organism whose transportation and communication systems functioned as nerves” (Simonson, 2015). As he explains, communication is a core and necessary part of everyday life. If there was no communication, there would be no written history. No one would have known what happened hundreds of years ago. Thanks to written messages, societies became more literate.

Klaus Bruhn Jensen (2015) wrote an article called “Meaning” in which he discovers how we come up with definitions and significance for words and experiences. He discusses that the meanings we have for things comes from the ways in which we communicate with one another. Across the world, every day, people are coming up with new words and expressions that have their own, new meanings. The way in which we communicate these new ideas is what leads to their existence and use.

Another author, Dietram A. Scheufele, wrote about communication in media and social networks. He explained, “citizens rely on online forms of communication to supplement or even replace face-to-face interactions in their social networks” (Scheufele, 2015). There are many social networks online for any and every member from any kind of social groups filled with like-minded people. Many times, communication occurs through texting, talking, FaceTime and Skype, and emailing.

Jay P. Childers (2015) helps to explain that “television, film, and video games” are just some of the most common examples of what media studies focus on. He defines rhetorical studies as “the ways in which humans influence and persuade one another” and that “visual media do affect audiences at an emotional level” (Childers, 2015). He explains that the images that are seen on the television, computer, or phone screen somehow impact the person at an unconscious level. Media influences how people choose to live their life.

For my last two sources, I referenced an author named Richard Nordquist who wrote two articles on rhetoric and communication on The first article he wrote is about rhetoric and persuasion. Nordquist defines persuasion as “the use of appeals to reasons, values, beliefs, and emotions to convince a listener or reader to think or act in a particular way” (Nordquist, 2017). In his next article, Nordquist builds off of his first article and says “rhetoric is the study of all the processes by which people influence each other through symbols, regardless of the intent of the source” (Nordquist, 2017). He agrees with Childers in that rhetoric is the act of persuasion in communication. Nordquist also states that the rhetor must use logos, ethos, and pathos in order to persuade their audience. He explains that rhetoric is a necessary aspect of the communication process.


            After reading and learning these scholars’ view points on communication and rhetoric, I have been able to create my own definition for the two terms. I definitely agree with Jay P. Childers and Richard Nordquist in that rhetoric is the act of persuasion and trying to persuade your audience. James Carey and Paul Cobley also helped me to define communication. They both defined communication as an action of “sharing.” When I defined communication, I said that it is a ‘connection.’ It is a connection between two people or amongst a group of people. It does not have to be a conversation out loud, but can be something done on social media or by facial expressions. Peter Simonson and Dietram A. Scheufele both help to back up my definition of communication because they discuss the multiple ways in which media and social networks play a role in communication. Childers also discusses the way in which media can have major impacts on people leading to persuasion. I also agree with Klaus Bruhn Jensen who defined “meaning.” Meaning comes from us communicating with one another and creating meaning and significance for words and expressions. All of the new advances in technology and media have led to less face-to-face interactions, and most interactions and conversations are held online or over digital messages. Even in the 19th century, people looked to their newspapers to tell receive the news. Media has been with us for hundreds of years and will continue to grow.


I feel as though I have successfully explained and provided sufficient information in order to have a complete definition of communication and rhetoric. Communication is around us at every minute. As I am writing this paper, I am communicating my opinions and information that I have learned over the course of this assignment. I am constantly texting my friends and family, emailing professors, posting on and looking at social media, and performed other forms of communication with my face, words, and actions. I agree most with James Carey and Jay P. Childers in their definitions of communication and rhetoric. To agree with Childers, I am constantly being persuaded and having reactions to stories, news, pictures, videos, posts, etc. that people post, whether it is a political debate or a story of how someone saved another person’s life. Communication is a connection that two people or a group of people share. It is an important instrument for people to be able to find meaning for words and actions. Without communication and rhetoric, the world would not function as it does today.



Carey, J. W. (1989). Chapter 1: A Cultural Approach to Communication. In Communication as

Culture: Essays on Media and Society (pp. 13-36). New York and London: Routledge.

Nordquist, R. (2017, February 23). The Nature of Messages in the Communication Process.

Retrieved October 26, 2017, from


Cobley, P. (2015). Communication: Definitions and Concepts. In W. Donsbach (Ed.), The

Concise Encyclopedia of Communication (pp.73-75). West Sussex, UK: Johnson Wiley

and Sons.

Simonson, P. (2015). Communication and Media Studies, History of. In W. Donsbach (Ed.), The

Concise Encyclopedia of Communication (pp. 90-92). West Sussex, UK: Johnson Wiley

and Sons.

Jensen, K. B. (2015). Meaning. In W. Donsbach (Ed.), The Concise Encyclopedia of

Communication (p. 341). West Sussex, UK: Johnson Wiley and Sons.

Scheufele, D. A. (2015). Media Content and Social Networks. In W. Donsbach (Ed.), The

Concise Encyclopedia of Communication (p. 345). West Sussex, UK: Johnson Wiley and


Childers, J. P. (2015). Rhetoric and Media Studies. In W. Donsbach (Ed.), The Concise

Encyclopedia of Communication (pp. 538-540). West Sussex, UK: Johnson Wiley and


Nordquist, R. (2017, April 7). Persuasive Writing and Speech. Retrieved October 26, 2017, from