GLS 592: CMM and the World Around Us
Instructor: Verne E. Cronen
This course is based on the theory Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM). It was developed to deal with questions like these: How do people get themselves trapped into patterns of talk the participants themselves do not want? How do emotions and aesthetics function in communication practices? How does culture enter the communication picture? How do we create understandings of what we can do, must do, and must not do? How can problematic patterns of communication be changed and creative ones fostered? In this course we will address these and related questions by focusing on “joint action.” That is, how persons jointly create possibilities and constraints for how they live together. CMM has a wide range of application including relationships, organizations, small groups, families, mass media and the new personal media. The emphasis on particular areas of application can follow student interests.
The graduate section will differ from the undergraduate section in two ways. First, it will include more in-depth work on the theoretical and philosophical underpinnings of Coordinated Management of Meaning theory. The broad issues of certainty and truth in social research will be discussed with emphasis on the writings of American Pragmatist philosophers. There will be more reading and discussion of Wittgenstein's later philosophy. Wittgenstein's understanding of language games is central to the qualitative research methods used with CMM. Special attention will also be given to the debate between "naturalists" and "social constructionists" over emotion and aesthetics including how to include them in a communication context. Additional topics to be treated in-depth can follow the interests of the graduate students. A second difference between the graduate section and the undergraduate will be the nature of assignments. Unlike the undergraduate course, the graduate level experience will include the requirement of a theoretical essay on the foundations of CMM instead of a mid term examination. As in the undergraduate class there will be a required final project applying CMM. However, a larger project including a critique of CMM is expected. Like the undergraduate course, the graduate experience will include both theory and practice.
The learning outcomes expected for graduate students are these:
1. A greater in-depth understanding of critical issues in contemporary social inquiry including applied research.
2. The ability to use Coordinated Management of Meaning theory in applications particular to their interests.
3. An emerging ability to use a form of interviewing called "circular questions" based on human systems theory.
Last Update: April 8, 2013