Charity Hitt MMC 6660 Blog

University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications

Transmission vs. Ritual Communication

with one comment

Carey argues that communication can be examined through two different views; the transmission view and the ritual view.  While both are historically rooted in religion, they each approach the concept of communication in different ways.

Transmission communication, the most common of the two views, is derived from the activity and necessity of transporting goods, which in this case included information.  In the earliest context, the “good” to be transported was the ‘good word’.  As the primary and ultimate goal of civilization at the time was to spread the gospel, communication was seen as the perfect tool for transmitting their message, taking control of the need to ensure salvation for mankind.  However, as technology gave way to an increasingly secular society, the religious roots of the transmission view of communication diminished substantially, giving way to the need to conquer not just the hearts of mankind in the name of God, but the land of mankind in the name of God as well.  The ultimate function of the transmission view as we know it today is to disseminate information to receivers through channels that allow the widest reach, in an ultimate effort to exert control.

Interestingly, Carey noted that no matter the technological advancements that are made in the field of communication, some scholars argue the religious roots of the transmission view still prevail, upholding the assumption that these technologies can, and should, always be used for good (1989).  In regards to technology such as the computer, he states, “The profound possibility for moral improvement is present whenever these machines are involved” (Pg. 18, 1989). I find this to be an interesting and idealistic view that may not necessarily be reflective of society.  It seems that with each technological advance, from the television to the internet, we’re offered more choices and more sources of valuable information, yet we instead turn to alternate options like reality Tv, YouTube, or social networking sites.

Carey’s second proposed view of communication is that of ritual communication.  Ritual communication, in opposition to transmission communication, is less focused on the message and more focused on the fostering of relationships.  Carey makes the logical comparison of the word communication to the words commune, community, and common. Also rooted in religion, though focused on the communion and fellowship aspects of communication as opposed to strictly disseminating information, the ritual view is one that “provides not information but confirmation,” (Pg. 19, 1989) under the bane of preserving social ritual and structure.

While the ritual view of communication is not the dominant one in our society, I would argue that it is becoming more valued than ever before.  Just as social media is changing the communication landscape in so many aspects of the media, it is also encouraging communicators to embrace the ritual view more so than in the past.  Entire online communities and social networking sites are devoted to nurturing past and present relationships, while the blogosphere seeks to foster relationships between content distributers and readers alike.  This online sense of community born from the technology of the internet exemplifies the ideal of the ritual view of communication, and is becoming increasingly pervasive in today’s society.

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Written by charityhitt

September 9, 2012 at 9:48 am

One Response

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  1. Well put and well argued – just fyi you need only put entire essay — all parts — on one post.

    Ronald R. Rodgers

    September 9, 2012 at 1:37 pm


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