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Last updated February 19, 2001


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Critical Theory

Explanation of Theory:Deetzís Critical theory says that communication is merely the transmission of information, which perpetuates managerialism and the corporate colonization of everyday life. (Griffin (p.495).

Theorists: Stanley Deetz


Primary Article:Deetz, S. (1982). Critical-interpretive research in organizational communication. Western Journal 
of Speech Communication, 46, 131-149.

Individual Interpretations:Deetz views multinational corporations such as GM and AT&T as the dominant force in society Ė more powerful than the church, state, or family in their ability to influence the lives of individuals.

Metatheoretical Assumptions:

Ontological Assumptions:n/a

Epistemological Assumptions:n/a

Axiological Assumptions:n/a

Critique:Deetzís Critical theory is humanistic. Itís good theory because it is built on values that many communication scholars share.  He provides a wide range of research on the topic in an area that is so broad. Moreover, his research provides valuable information that helps further studies.

Ideas and Implications:Deetzís Critical theory is a good theory because it tries to help the communication practices in organizations that undermine fully representative decision making, thus reducing the quality, innovation, and fairness of company policy.

Example:You may feel powerless during the national elections because so many political candidates are associated with lobbying and money.  You may feel that even if you had the power, you have little time-given the demands of work and/or school Ė to engage in public discussion of such issues as health care, gun control, and euthanasia. 

Relevant Research:Kemmis, S. & McTaggart, R. (Eds.). (1990). The action research planner. Victoria: Deakin 
Mezirow, Jack (1981). A critical theory of adult learning and education. Adult Education (32) 3-
Schon, Donald A. (1983). The reflective practitioner : How professionals think in action. New 
York: Basic Books.
Related www Link:

Location in Eight (8) Primary Communication Theory Textbooks:

     Anderson, R., & Ross, V. (1998). Questions of communication: A practical introduction to theory (2nd ed.). New York: St. Martin's Press.  176.

     Cragan, J. F., & Shields, D.C. (1998). Understanding communication theory: The communicative forces for human action. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. 301-305

     Griffin, E. (2000). A first look at communication theory (4th ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill. 259-271

     Griffin, E. (1997). A first look at communication theory (3rd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. 285-298

      Infante, D. A., Rancer, A. S., & Womack, D. F. (1997). Building communication theory (3rd ed.). Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press. 410-415

      Littlejohn, S. W. (1999). Theories of human communication (6th ed). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. 230-234

      West, R., & Turner, L. H. (2000). Introducing communication theory: Analysis and application. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield. N/A

       Wood, J. T. (1997). Communication theories in action: An introduction. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. N/A