Pragmatism as ventriloquism: Creating a dialogue among seven traditions in the study of communication

François Cooren


In this article, I propose to respond to Craig’s (1999) call for a dialogue between what he identified as the seven traditions in the study of communication, as well as Russill’s (2005) positioning of pragmatism as a meta-perspective on the seven others. I show that a way to respond to Craig and Russill consists of considering communication as an activity of ventriloquism, a thesis that is, as I demonstrate, congruent with the pragmatist meta-tradition. Communicating and experiencing the world, according to the pragmatist view, indeed amounts to responding or reacting to what one considers a situation requires, demands or requests, which is precisely what a ventriloqual view tries to analyze and unveil. I then introduce a dialogue between this ventriloqual view of pragmatism and the seven traditions that Craig identified.


communication theory; ventriloquism; autopoiesis; conversation analysis; critical theory; cybernetics; ethnomethodology; phenomenology; pragmatism; rhetoric; semiotics; sociocultural theory; sociopsychology

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