The process model of communication

The process model of communication was developed from several theories of communication. It was created in order to enhance and define communication practices among immense groups (Schirato, T & Yell, S, 1996). The process model of communication that will be discussed and evaluated is the linear model. Sender, message receiver, this model will be explained further later on in this paper. The process model of communication is a useful tool on research and explanation. However it has some failures and limitations in its bases. This paper will define the linear process model of communication, then it will explain what are their failures and limitations. Finally, it will give different manners of thinking about communication.

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The linear process model of communication is the simplest model. A sender, a message and a receiver form it. Sender –> Message –> Receiver This models points that a message will be sent by the studier and then the receiver will receive it, or as Tony Thwates, Lloyd Davies and W. Mulles said ” The model implies that a ‘good’ message traveling from the sender to the receiver can and should be clearly understood ” (1994: 2).

This transmission model of communication concentrates on the sender of the message because the receiver is a passive actor. (Thwaites & Davis, 1994). A metaphor used to explain this model is that the message is ‘injected’ into the receiver without any interference, this is called the ‘hypodermic mode’ ( Thwates & Davis, 1994) now it has been defined what a linear process model of communication, it can be discussed what are the limitations of this model.

The transmission model of communication has failures; firstly it does not take a register of feedback. The message is received, encoded but there is not two ways communication, for instance after the World War I there was a tight control over broadcasting (Radio) “…The listener [was and continues to be] seen as a passive recipient of message” (Potts, 1989:14) there is not expected interaction between the sender and the receiver (The receiver is seen as passive) (Thwates, T and Davis, L, 1994). Thus, almost all details, background information, not taking in account (Schirato. T Yell, S, 1996) all the variations between the sender and receiver are left out, are seen as unimportant.

The context is an important factor of communication but the model has ignored it. In other words it overlooks the context in which the message was sent and when it was received (Thwaites, T & Davis, L, 1994). The meaning or interpretation of message is context specific, it can be seen in 1990 when a group of Australian ANZACS, journalists and politicians went to Gallipoli to pay tribute to the ANZACS. Australian journalists reported this event with patriotism and celebrations. Whereas the Turkish journalists reported that the Australians went to apologize for the invasion they did to Turkey (Schirato, T & Yells, S, 1996). For each culture, those events have different meanings. In the model all the differences are minimize because the model would only made sense if the differences are adapted or reduced (Schirato, T & Yell, S, 1996).

The usual terms in which people may be different are gender, occupation, wealth, religion, educational qualifications, social values and so on. When these differences are made notorious, the process model of communication would not be accurate in explaining communication. Thus, these differences can make the people to understand different messages (Schirato, T & Yells, S, 1996). As Schirato and Yell expressed it ” … markers of communication (words and gestures for instance) will be read and evaluated differently by different people…” An example of this can be seen when the community phone was introduced to the Amish’s community and The Whiddy islanders, both culture took this technological advance differently.

For the Amish community, the communal phone was enough whereas the Whiddy islanders acquire private phones. The Amish community did not want to lose face-to-face interaction and the Whiddy community wanted more privacy (Betteridae, 1997). The process model of communication fails to provide background information, analyze the different meanings that different people give to the same message and it ignores the context.

So far this paper has defined the process model of communication and it has shown its failures, so now it will move to discuss what alternatives are when thinking about communication. Schirato ; Yell proposed some options that are useful when thinking about communication, for this reason this part will be greatly influenced by them. Communications and culture cannot be separated because each one is produced in relation to the other one (Schirato, T ; Yells, S, 1996). Schirato and Yell (1996) argue that there are three fundamental characteristics needed in order to analyze and understand the communication practices which are firstly the idea that practice and meaning are context explicit, secondly the connection among culture and communication and lastly cultural literacy.

Which is an important term in analyzing communication. This is basically ” a knowledge of systems and an ability to negotiate those systems within different cultural concepts” (Schirato, T ; Yell, S, 1996). There infinite different contexts and cultures which would influence people’s understanding of messages, therefore, (as was mentioned earlier) different people understand messages different. Moreover different communication practices and meaning are developed by different communication contexts. However to say that contexts can be useful to define communication practices is not completely correct. It is not likely that everyone would agree of what makes up a context and the connotation of communication practices will differ among different time, places and people (Schirato, T & Yell, S, 1996). Finally contexts and cultural customs are linked with the idea of cultural literacy (Schirato, T & Yells. 1996)

In conclusion, the transmission model of communication fails to take into account important aspects, which inform and produce communication practices such as feed back, context, cultural and personal differences. The alternative ways in thinking about communication are manners, which include all what the process model of communication is missing. Communication practices would be better understood by using context, cultural literacies and by taking in account the differences between culture and people.


Betteridge, J (1997) “Answering Back : The Telephone Modernity and Everyday Life”, Media, Culture and Society, 17 (2), 585 – 603. – Potts, J (1989) Radio in Australia Sydney : New South Wales University Press. – Schirato, T & Yell, S (1996) “Communication and Culture” Communication and Cultural Literacy : An Introduction, Allen and Unwin Sydney : St. Leonards – Thwales, T. Davis, L. & Mules, W. (1994) “Introduction” Tools for Cultural Studies 1-5