Communication and the Aging Process. Interaction Throughout by Lois M. Tamir

By Lois M. Tamir

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Communication promotes stability, selfassurance, and consistency. It also promotes development and reorganization of the individual, of his relationships, and of his social environment. These processes are discussed in this section, which examines the constructive and disruptive effects of communication in interaction. This section describes some general characteristics of interpersonal communication, then narrows in on the theory of speech acts, a theory which explains how people derive meanings from the utterances they hear.

Power relations are usually complementary, so that greater dominance of one implies greater passivity of the other (Ahammer, 1973). Sussman (1976), in a review of the properties of small groups, similarly notes that rewards for group members who interact may be unequal. Nevertheless individuals continue these relationships, unequal as they are, because they are perceived as better than the alternative, which is often no relationship at all. It is power relations that underlie this inequality of rewards derived from the relationship.

The locutionary act is simply the act of saying something, of making the sounds. The illocutionary act corresponds more to the performative function of the utterance. It is what the words do. For example, the illocutionary act warns, commands, prom­ ises, and describes. Searle (1965) adds that the illocutionary act is the minimal unit of linguistic communication. The illocutionary act itself is composed of two components. These are the actual content (called the propositional content) of the utter­ ance, and the illocutionary force, which is how the speaker intends the utterance to be taken by the hearer.

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