146 | 30, pp. 145-163 | doxa.comunicación

January-June of 2020

Intersubjective communication: from classic approaches to the incorporation of body and emotions...

ISSN: 1696-019X / e-ISSN: 2386-3978

1. Thinking about communication: from daily experience to academic reflection

Communication is a social phenomenon that permeates all human existence. Its presence and centrality is so evident in everyday life that we rarely stop to analyse or think about it. This is because we see communication as natural, we take its neccesity and usefulness for granted; we communicate automatically and pre-reflectively. However, it is one thing to communicate daily, and another to think about it and reflect on it academically.

A review of the history of communication research, whose epistemological status and object of study are still the subjects of academic discussion, shows that its main influences come from fundamentally sociological currents, such as Functionalism and Critical Theory, among others. There are many currents, theories, paradigms, and theoretical proposals that have provided specific views on communicative phenomena such as psychology, cultural sociology, political economy, semiotics, etc. Although the aim of this work is not to discuss the epistemological status of the field of communication, it is worth noting that the media is usually studied in communication sciences. Furthermore, many times when we say “study or research communication,” our interlocutors understand that we are researching something related to the media such as the press, television, and the current context, as well as the socio-digital networks.

For this reason, it is relevant to ask the following questions: what happens with other processes of constructing meaning? Specifically, what happens with unmediated communication; interpersonal communication? We highlight the expression “processes of the construction of meaning” from the Mexican researcher Raúl Fuentes Navarro, who stated some years ago that:

In the centre of our object of study, communication, there are not “messages” or “contents” but relationships, established and investigated through their multiple mediations, between the production of meaning and the identity of the social subjects in the most diverse socio-cultural practices (Fuentes, 2008: 113).

The interest in communication as a field of knowledge lies in relationships and processes, more than the results of such processes. Communication has a similar meaning to its etymological origin1 both in Fuente Navarro’s quote and in this article; it means having something in common with others. How do we put our ideas, information, feelings, and emotions in common? What type of communication allows us to share things in common? We assert that communication not be reduced to the media. However, the centrality of the media as the main object of study in the communication sciences is apparent- to the detriment of other phenomena and themes. We believe that interpersonal and intersubjective communication should be of greater interest in the academic field.

We agree with Sierra that communication is a social fact that can and should interest any field of knowledge related to society and human behaviour, since “all orders of the human traverse it, and it also traverses them” (Sierra, 2005: 93).

This paper focuses on the interpersonal and intersubjective aspects of communication. In other words, it centres on communication as a phenomenon related to face-to-face dialogue, sharing, having things in common, the interaction between bodies that create meaning, the connection between subjects who interact on the stage of everyday life.

1 The word ‘communication’ comes from the Latin word communicare, which comes from comoin, meaning to have in common.