The Symbolic Convergence Theory Rhetorical Analysis

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The Symbolic Convergence Theory was developed by University of Minnesota Professor Ernest Bormann in 1972, along with his colleagues John Cragan and Donald Shields. It emerged from studies conducted in small-group communication, and is a message-centred theory that explores symbolic facts in communication (Shields, 2008). This theory was also based upon previous work from social psychologist Robert Bales, who established the concept of small-group fantasies and shared symbolic themes (Vaughan, 2009, 944). The University of Minnesota researchers saw a theme emerge in group communication of a shared symbolic consciousness through common meanings, values, emotions and experiences (Shields, 2008). Based on these empirical findings, as well as the work of Robert Bales, Bormann established a theory of rhetorical analysis called The Symbolic Convergence Theory (Vaughan, 2009, 944). The Symbolic Convergence Theory is a three-faceted theory. Firstly, it handles the discovery of these recurring communicative forms and patterns. It then describes the factors and events in a group that explain the emergence of a group consciousness. This addresses the ‘how’ of the theory. And finally, the question of ‘why’. Why do these patterns emerge in group communication; why do people share fantasies (Bormann, 1996, p.88 ). This theory works upon the assumptions that reality is created by communication, as well as that individuals can share symbolic meanings and realities (Vaughan, 2008). To the
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