Eclectic Method and Communication Theory: The Jam Session as the New Symposium
Communication theory as the means to conceptualise the transmission of information and the negotiation of meaning has never been a stable entity. Entrenched divisions between 'administrative' and 'critical' tendencies are played out within schools and emerging disciplines and across a range of scientific/humanist, quantitative/qualitative and political/cultural paradigms. "Of course, this is only the beginning of the mischief for there are many other polarities at play and a host of variations within polar contrasts." (Dervin, Shields and Song 2005) This paper argues that the play of contending schools with little purchase on each other, or anything much, has turned meta-discourse about communication into an ontological maelstrom. Perhaps the only way to ride out this storm is to look towards particular communication practices that draw together disparate elements to see how their particular theoretical underpinnings may offer safe moorings while the worst of the storm passes by. The jam session seems a useful place to start. From its roots in jazz and blues to its contemporary manifestations in rap and hip-hop and throughout the communication industries, the improvised reorganisation of traditional themes into new and striking patterns confronts the ontological possibilities in music, and life, by taking the flotsam flung up by the storm to piece together the means to transcend the downward pull into the abyss.
International Communication Association