Transmission and Ritual Models of Communication


Communication is considered to be an activity through which information is passed by exchange of ideas, feelings, intentions, as well as behavior through use of means such as electromagnetic, chemical or even physical phenomenon. Communication is also further considered as an exchange of information, particularly between two or more participants (Hanke, 2009). In his essay, “A Cultural Approach to Communcation”, Carey explored a number of complexities which helped in coming up with the contradictions that surrounded the use and understanding of the term “communication”. After clearly explaining the meaning of communication, Carey further grouped communication into two views. These communication views were namely the ritual and the transmission (Carey, 1988).

According to Carey (1988), ritual view of communication involves sharing, participation, association, as well as fellowship, while the transmission view of communication is considered to be a process of imparting, sending, giving, as well as transmitting information. These two views of communication formed the two communication models which are: ritual and transmission models of communication. Carey further illustrated the distinction between these two models that has been used to show the differences and relationships existing among different aspects (Guillory, 2010). Current paper will use the two models of communication and analyze the Bourdieu’ arguments on the social function of photography.

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The Transmission and Ritual Models of Communication and Bourdieu’s Arguments on the Social Function of


Communication has been known to have two conception views, namely transmission and ritual views. They have influenced the development of transmission and ritual models of communication. The two models have been known to have great influence on secular, cultural and religious activities, even though they are seen to make references to different regions possessing different religious experiences (Carey, 1988).

The transmission model of communication is considered to be the most common of the two. This model has dominated most parts of the culture and is found to have a number of terms that are used to describe it (Kanner & Wertsch, 1991). Some of the terms which have been highly used in describing this particular model include: imparting, sending, transmitting or even providing information to significant others. Since the nineteenth century till today, communication has been viewed as the movement of goods, individuals, as well as the movement of information from one place to another (Tomasello, 2008). The main idea in respect of understanding facts about communication is mainly based on the knowledge that communication is considered to be a form of transmitting signals or messages across a long distance with a sole aim of controlling it (Carey, 1988).

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Such model of communication was inspired by one of the most ancient dreams of human beings that is the desire to have an increment in speed, as well as to get the maximal effect of the messages especially when they traveled in space. This model bore its origin in religion, even though most people have misinterpreted its statement and took a view and an impression of it having a political, economic or even a technological origins. Therefore, the main origin of transmission model has been on the religious attitude. Communication was taken to be a process, as well as a form of technology which was supposed to be used especially for the purpose of religion. The main aim of it was spreading, transmitting, disseminating knowledge, as well as ideas and information in a fast manner with a main goal of controlling the space and the people (Carey, 1988).

Carey has been able to bring clearly a distinction between the transmission and ritual models of communication as seen above. Ritual model of communication has been considered to be directed not to the extension of the messages but towards maintaining the society. It was done with a sole aim of not only impacting the information but also ensuring that there is a proper representation of the shared beliefs among individuals. Transmission model of communication aims at extending messages across a wide range of geographical areas with one main purpose of controlling the information. The ritual model takes a sacred form, whereby it helps in drawing people together in order to organize fellowships and have something in common, since this model bears religious perspective. The model is believed to take the role of the sermon, as well as the admonition and the ceremonies. The ritual communication model views the original and the highest manifestation of the communication. Anyway, it is not only considered in the transmission of the intelligence information but is also involved in the construction, as well as maintenance of a highly ordered and a meaningful action which helps in controlling the human behavior (Carey, 1988).

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When an individual examines a piece of newspaper under the model of transmission, he gets an impression that this medium is generally involved with the sole responsibility of disseminating news and knowledge in large packages and across greater distances. On the other hand, the ritual model of communication focuses on a number of problems, while paying special attention to the newspaper. For instance, this model will view the reading of the newspaper as the process of sending or gaining information. Ritual model considers news reading, as well as writing to be a form of ritual activity, a situation where nothing new is learned but a particular view regarding the world is portrayed and confirmed instead. Under the ritual model of communication, news is not considered as information but rather as a form of drama (Carey, 1988).

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