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CH. 19: Symbolic Convergence Theory

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Kelly Duong

on 12 May 2014

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Transcript of CH. 19: Symbolic Convergence Theory

By: Marisol Tellez & Kelly Duong

After extensive case studies, Bormann set forth the central explanatory principle of symbolic convergence (SCT): Sharing group fantasies creates symbolic convergence.
Fantasy Example: Cabin
Old and run-down
One girl described what she thought the perfect cabin would look like
Others jumped in with ideas
For 10 minutes, each girl contributed something to the discussion of the "fantasy" cabin
Shared fantasy played a role in their cabin bonding
Helped students develop a sense of closeness
The following components must be included in order to qualify as a dramatizing message: A group member's words must paint a picture or bring an image to mind and it describe something outside the group or portray an that has happened within the group in the past or might happen in the future, not here and now.
Why not here and now?
Bormann explains that dramatizing messages are interpretive! They are "creative interpretations of the three-and-then."
Ernest Bormann
Bormann and his colleagues observed that group members often dramatized events happening outside the group members responded enthusiastically by adding to the story.
Members also developed a common group consciousness and drew closer.
Dramatizing Message: Creative Interpretations of There-And-Then
A dramatizing message is one that contain imaginative language or other creative expression of ideas by a group member describing past, future or outside events; they are creative interpretations of There-And-Then.
In other words, it is talking about things other than the discussion at hand.
Dramatizing Message Example: During a meeting, someone cracks a joke or begins to talk about their plans for the weekend.
CH. 19: Symbolic Convergence Theory
Fantasy Theme - Content, Motives, Cues, Types
Bormanna found that when a fantasy chain catches fire, symbolic convergence theory predicts that the group will converge around a fantasy theme.
Fantasy theme = can be thought as the content of the dramatizing message that successfully sparks a fantasy chain and it is SCT's basic unit of analysis .
Motive = an idea, belief or emotion that impels a person to act in accordance with that state of mind.
Symbolic Cue = an agreed upon trigger that sets off group members to respond as they did when they first shared the fantasy.
Fantasy Type = A cluster of related fantasy themes; greater abstractions incorporating several concrete fantasy theme that exist when shared meaning is taken for granted.
Fantasy Chain Reactions: Unpredictable Symbolic Explosions
Bormann reserved the term fantasy for dramatizing messages that are enthusiastically embraced by the whole group.
Bormann noted that "some dramatizing messages cause a symbolic explosion in the form of a chain reaction in which messages cause a symbolic explosion in the form of a chain reaction in which members join in until the entire group comes alive"
Fantasy Chain - A symbolic explosion of lively agreement within a group in response to a member's dramatizing message.
He described what he had seen when a fantasy chains out in this way:
"The tempo of the conversation would pick up. People would grow excited, interrupt one another, blush, laugh, forget their self-consciousness. The tone of the meeting, often quiet and tense immediately prior to the dramatizing, would become lively, animated and boisterous, the chaining process, involving both the verbal and nonverbal communication, indicating participation in the drama"
Fantasy Chain Example: Cigar examples
Bormann's theory of Symbolic Convergence emerged from Bale's discovery that dramatizing was a significant type of communication that often fostered group cohesiveness.
Symbolic Convergence: Group Consciousness and often Cohesiveness
Bormann explains that what we're discussed so far is the first part of SCT's core principle: Sharing group fantasies creates symbolic convergence.
For Bormann, symbolic convergence meant the way in which "two or more private symbol worlds incline each other, come more closely together, or even overlap."
He believed that as those worlds intersect, group members develop a unique group consciousness. No longer do members think in terms of I, me and mine but begin to speak in terms of we, us and ours.
Bormann insisted that shared fantasies caused this group transformation and used the following terms to portray the effect of group consciousness; common ground, meeting of the minds, mutual understanding, groupiness, common social reality, empathic communion.
According to Bormann, symbolic convergence usually results in heightened group cohesiveness where members are attracted to each other and stick together.
Rhetorical Vision
Bormann explained, “Fantasies that begin in small groups often are worked into public speeches, become picked up by mass media and ‘spread out across larger publics.’”
He coined the term,
rhetorical vision
to designate a composite drama that catches up large groups of people into a common symbolic reality.
Once, people start to share that same reality; they become
rhetorical community
Goal of SCT
It’s to aim at capturing the rhetorical visions of dispersed rhetorical community and finding out how their communication created fantasies.
Is both objective and interpretive and sharing group fantasies creates symbolic convergence.
Since researchers don’t have the time to just sit in a room with a bunch of communities and wait for a fantasy to chain out.
Bormann and his colleagues discovered fantasy theme analysis.
Fantasy Theme Analysis
Is a specific type of rhetorical criticism.
People create their social reality
People’s meaning, motives, and emotions can be seen in their rhetoric.
Basically, if they have the same rhetorical visions, then it becomes a reality.
4 steps of how rhetorical critic would use FTA to find common ground of shared fantasies and rhetorical visions.
Plot Lines
Sanctioning agent
Bormann and his followers have used FTA to improve organizational communication, conduct market research and assess public opinion.
Ex of conducting market research: How high school seniors talk about college
Righteous Vision: interested in school’s academic excellence, faculty’s reputation and special programs that it offers.
Social Vision: viewing college as a way of getting away from home, meeting new friends and joining variety of school activities.
Pragmatic Vision: looking for a marketable degree that will help them get a good job.
A good objective theory explains what occurs and why it happened.
SCT helps make sense of chaotic group discussion. Also, believes that group who off tangents are chaining out a fantasy and developing a group consciousness.
A good objective theory predicts what’s going to happen.
When a fantasy chains erupts among members, SC will occur. Basically, no shared fantasies means no cohesivenesss.
A good interpretive theory clarifies people’s values.
No doubt that fantasy theme analysis uncovers the values of a rhetorical community.
A good interpretive theory offers a new understanding of people.
SCT’s method of fantasy theme analysis does this well on rhetorical critics to focus on symbolic language.
The Mechanistic Approach
A classical management theory that is about productivity, precisions and efficiency.
Ex: How a McDonald worker is just like a machine and does the same errands over and over again. He does works like flipping the patties a billion times or taking someone’s order to go through the intercom and it’s always the same lines, “Hi, welcome to McDonald, may I take your order?”
Classical Management Theories
The cultural approach
looks for shared meanings that are unique to a given organization.
The critical approach
looks at organizations as political systems where conflict and power should be negotiated openly.
“Karl Weick sees organizations as living organisms, that we must adapt or die” (p. 260).
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