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Symbolic Convergence Theory

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Trey Strange

on 6 March 2014

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Transcript of Symbolic Convergence Theory

Ernest Bormann was born in 1925. He is credited with the creation of Symbolic Convergence Theory, which grew from his small-group studies at the University of Minnesota in an attempt to find replicable communication outcomes regardless of time period or culture. He died in 2008, but his theory continues its usefulness today.
Ernest Bormann

John Cragan

Donald Shields
The Researchers
The Assumptions
First assumption —
Meaning, emotion, and motive for action are in the manifest content of a message.
Second assumption —
Reality is created symbolically.
Third assumption —
Fantasy-theme chains work to create symbolic convergence in the form of dramas, or narratives.
Fourth assumption —
Fantasy-theme analysis is the basic method used to capture symbolic reality.
Fifth assumption —
Fantasy themes occur in and chain outward, meaning that discussions about particular themes lead to thematic dissemination.
Sixth assumption —
Rhetorical vision can be categorized.
The Shortcomings
The Terms
Fantasy Themes

Fantasy Types

Rhetorical Vision

Symbolic Cues
Kyle Knight
Trey Strange
Symbolic Convergence Theory
John Cragan is a small-group communications researcher and a recently-retired professor at University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.

Donald Shields is also a small-group communications researcher and professor at University of Missouri-Kansas City. He is also credited with the establishment of symbolic interaction theory.
Fantasy themes
refer to the building blocks of a perception of reality. They consist of:
, which can be heroes, villains, or supporting roles.
plot lines
, which refer to the action or development of a particular narrative.
, which are locations, properties, and sociocultural environments.
sanctioning agents
, which is a source that gives the story credit.
Fantasy types
refer to fantasy themes that have developed popularity through group communication. Sometimes, these can become
, which are stories of achievement which relate to personal, group, or community success.

Rhetorical visions
are the composite vision of a group regarding plots, character developments, actions, and sanctioning agents. It develops into a particular perception of reality that is commonly understood.

Symbolic cues
are triggers that bring a rhetorical vision to mind without explaining the rhetorical vision.
also known as fantasy-theme analysis
The Variables

Group Composition and Size

Popularity of Fantasy Themes

Complexity of Rhetorical Vision

Type of Symbolic Cue

Effectiveness of Rhetorical Vision
The Tenets
First tenet —
An individual's images of realit yare guided by stories of how things are believed to be.
Second tenet —
Stories are created in symbolic interation in small groups; these interactions lead to creation of rhetorical visions.
Third tenet —
Conversations create and sustain narratives for a group that make up its reality.
Fourth tenet —
Prominent fantasy themes become fantasy types, which become rhetorical visions
The Effects
An explanation of how humans come to create shared narratives of reality.

The widely applicable theoretical scope of Symbolic Convergence Theory makes claims about reality in regard to small-group communication.
Oversimplification of the reality of group communication

Inability to address appearances

Use is affected by personal bias
Full transcript