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Deconstructing Communication

Representation, Subject, and Economies of Exchange

1996
Author:

Briankle G. Chang

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A philosophical critique of modern communication theories.

Situated at the intersection of current debates regarding meaning and representation, Deconstructing Communication casts doubt on the seeming innocence of the activity of communication. Using poststructuralist literary theory and philosophy, Briankle G. Chang argues that modern communication theories fail to provide an adequate explanation for how communication is possible.

Impressive book.

Semiotica

Situated at the intersection of current debates regarding meaning and representation, Deconstructing Communication casts doubt on the seeming innocence of the activity of communication. Using poststructuralist literary theory and philosophy, Briankle G. Chang argues that modern communication theories fail to provide an adequate explanation for how communication is possible.

Through a detailed examination of the basis of the idea of communication-with its semantic core of “commonality” or the transcendence of difference-Chang argues against the tendency of theorists to value understanding over misunderstanding, clarity over ambiguity, order over disorder. To this end the author revisits the thought of Derrida and considers deconstruction in general. Specifically, he uses the critique of the phenomenological tradition emerging from poststructuralism to clarify the commitments and assumptions inherent in models of communication.

Chang then discusses the contributions of Husserl, particularly regarding the interconnections between concepts, metaphors, and rhetoric. He develops the strategy of deconstruction through a comparative analysis of Heidegger and Derrida, ultimately linking communication theory to the general question of philosophical reason. Chang concludes with a set of key questions about theory formation in the field, questions that elucidate the future direction for critical reflection in the philosophy of communication. A seminal work in communication theory, Deconstructing Communication will serve as the guiding framework for a constructive debate about the future direction of the field.

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Briankle G. Chang teaches cultural studies in the Department of Communication at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he is also director of the Center for the Study of Communication.

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Impressive book.

Semiotica

This is a wonderful book. With rare clarity, fine argument and a rigorously generous scholarship, Chang carefully recasts both the question and the discipline of Communication. In the process, he gives us the gift of a superb introduction to some of the most challenging issues in modern philosophy.

Meaghan Morris, University of Technology, Sydney

An elegant critique of the logics of communication theory. Deconstructing Communication is a valuable book that makes explicit some of the key philosophical tangles in the discipline of communication.

Journal of Communication

Chang’s effort must be applauded as a pioneering one in the philosophy of comunication. This book’s invitation for collaborative critical response makes it a splendid text for rehearsing very difficult problematics concerning method and subjectivity, and thus will be very useful for scholars to return to repeatedly as they wrestle with similar issues. Deconstructing Communication is an important book that should be read by anyone addressing the appropriation, critique, and application of continental philosophy in Anglo-American communication studies.

Quarterly Journal of Speech

Briankle Chang’s latest book on the deconstruction of communication constitutes one of the most brilliant replies to all the detractors of the French poststructuralist movement. It is the best essay I have ever read on the implications of Derrida’s thought for the study of communication.

Communication Theory