Let’s Get Critical

Finally, we’ve embarked upon the last tradition of them all, the Critical Tradition. I know, I know we took a while to get here but alas! We made it! This tradition views communication as a reflective challenge of unjust discourse. So, critical scholars find their interest in hegemony.

You see, hegemonic ideas promote the ruling class and the critical scholars want to destroy these ideas and offer a different approach, by showing that they are other ways of doing things.

According to Griffin, “The term critical theory comes from the work of a group of German scholars known as the “Frankfurt School” because they were part of the independent Institute for Social Research at Frankfurt University. Originally set up to test the ideas of Karl Marx, the Frankfurt School rejected the economic determinism of orthodox Marxism yet carried on the Marxist tradition of critiquing society.”


Like all scholars, the critical scholars have an aim. Their aim is to challenge… hence the word critical right? They are against certain types of communication practices and research, resulting in them challenging three specific features of contemporary society. They challenge the ideas that language promotes power imbalances. Secondly, the role of mass media in dulling sensitivity too repression. Lastly, the reliance on the scientific method and uncritical acceptance of experimental findings. The communication focus is based on how messages reinforce oppression in society. This can most definitely be seen through the media. Additionally, the dialogue and texts that promote particular beliefs, create and maintain power and destroy the interests of certain groups and classes. Finally, they believe that communication is not separated from the overall system of oppressive forces. I feel like critical scholars pay attention to ethics as well, like all scholars should… like everyone should, really.

Variations of the Critical Tradition

Marxism  – The critical theory actually came from this branch. Karl Marx argued the means of production determine the nature of society in the capitalist system. As a result of profit driving production, it becomes a process that ends up oppressing the labour of working class. Marxist critical theory basically makes it difficult for working class groups to completely understand their situation.

Frankfurt School of Critical Theory – As I mentioned earlier The term “critical theory” was derived from the work of a group of German scholars known as “Frankfurt School”.  It was inspired by Marxism, no doubt.

Postmodernism – This is characterized by a break with modernity and the enlightenment project.

Cultural Studies – these studies focus on social change from the angle of culture itself with emphasis on marginalized concepts like gender, race. age and sexuality.

Post Structuralism – This is interested in differences and promotes a historical and social approach to human beings and nature of the world.

Post-colonialism – This focuses on how cultures create identities after colonization.

Feminist Studies – These studies view gender as a continuous performance on a dynamic and flowing sequence.


That’s a wrap for now peeps, my next post is going to be about the Politeness theory so make sure to come back. I’ll talk to you later! ♥






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