Areas of Study in the Department

Communication at UCSB is broadly based in the social sciences, with emphases in three primary research areas: interpersonal and intergroup communication, media and digital communication, and organizational and group communication. One of the strengths of our program is that faculty routinely work in more than one of three primary areas, and students are encouraged to explore overlaps between these traditional contexts. 

Interpersonal and Intergroup Communication. Our approach to interpersonal communication focuses on the ways in which messages are constructed, exchanged, and interpreted in relational contexts, ranging from casual acquaintances to family members. In addition, our approach to intergroup communication examines the impact of social context on the generation and interpretation of messages, symbols, and identity where frames of reference may (e.g., intragroup communication) or may not (e.g., intergroup communication) be shared. Interpersonal encounters can take place within underlying intergroup frames while between-group interactions can have interpersonal contingencies.
Media and Digital Communication. Students and faculty in media and digital communication examine issues involving the creation, distribution, use, context, reception, and effects of media and their messages. We have a very diverse set of interests, with emphases that span the psychological, social, group, organizational, and global issues associated with the modern day media landscape. We conceive of media broadly, in both traditional (e.g., TV, film) and newer forms (e.g., the Internet, mobile phones, social media, video games). Our research examines a wide range of media contexts, including entertainment, communication campaigns, health, news, politics, policy and law, media literacy, and digital media.
Organizational and Group Communication. Students and faculty in organizational and group communication seek to understand the messages, patterns of interaction, new media, information flow, and interpretations of messages as they enact, emanate from, and shape forms of organizing in corporate, community, governmental, and nongovernmental settings. We explore topics such as collective action and collaborative relationships, new technologies in organizations, international and global organizing, organizational entry and exit, planning and decision making processes, gender issues, workplace participation, groups and teams, negotiation and conflict, and discourse.