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Communication technology and theory: Research into the interpersonal and social interface

Summary: According to linguistics and pragmatics (J殲gen Habermas especially), linguistically-mediated interaction is a special form of human communication and interaction. According to the views of his pragmatics of speech, this kind of communication (call it talk if you will) embeds social and cultural normative claims in everyay and interpersonal exchanges. Society is reproduced in daily acts, through use of truth claims stated linguistically and subject to validation or clarification by any one of the interaction partners. What then might social media and other tools of mediated communication do to this exchange? Are the numerous examples of deception, manipulation, insincerity and dishonesty that run rampant online an indication that the medium itself serves our communication needs only poorly? As a means of communication, do our talk technologies rob personal relationships of (some of their) richness, power, and depth? There would be many issues to research here.

Technology, Habermas, and truth claims

In the view of the theory of communicative action (J殲gen Habermas), talk can have the result of binding us to one another in a mutually-shared pursuit of understanding. This narrow view of communication-because it excludes strategic communication geared towards selfish ends-insists that speakers and listeners make three particular truth claims when pursuing communication oriented towards reaching understanding. They must be sincere, factually correct, and have the normative authority to say what they are saying. At issue for mediation, then, would be how the bracketing of face to face exchange might undermine the possibilities of wagering and testing these truth claims. And furthermore, what impact this might have on our ability to bind to one another.

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