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Interpersonal Communication: Making Social Worlds

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    SKU: 978-1-59271-797-2 Interpersonal Communication: Making Social Worlds


    From the Preface to the 2007 Publication

    Over a decade has passed since Interpersonal Communication: Making Social Worlds was first published. There has been a consistent demand for the book – some say that there is nothing else available that is quite like it, and I suppose, for better or worse, that that’s true. I’m delighted that University Publishing Solutions, LLC, is making it easily accessible again.

    Over the years, it has probably sold as many copies for use in professional development trainings as it has in college classrooms, and as many in Europe as in North America. I know that it has been translated into Spanish and circulated, although not published, among practitioners in South America.

    I’m pleased with this profile of use. I take particular pleasure when my work is used to empower those who make their social worlds better, and I think its value as a textbook is enhanced by those features that have currency with accomplished professionals in management, therapy, mediation, consultation, and the like.

    Interpersonal Communication: Making Social Worlds was described as more intellectually coherent than its competitors, because it worked out the implications of a particular intellectual paradigm – social constructionism – rather than sampling the approaches to the topic from a variety of different paradigms. At the cost of taking a narrower approach to the topic, this strategy permitted the book to go deeper into a particular way of thinking about communication. It would have been more honest to say that the book was based on a specific thread within the framework of social constructionism: the theory of the coordinated management of meaning, or CMM. Those who know that theory will readily see that the titles of the chapters in Part II correspond to the usual categories of stories identified in CMM’s hierarchy model of meanings, and that Part I presents what continues to be referred to as the “communication perspective” in CMM.

    I hope that I’ve learned a lot since writing this book. None of what I’ve learned has caused me to want to disavow anything written here, although I’d certainly write it differently now. For example, the “atomic model” has not fared well – a group of professionals with whom I was working in Bogotá, Colombia, laughed at it and replaced it with “la modela margarita” (the daisy model) and I’ve used that term and their tweaks on the model itself ever since. I remain convinced that “the communication perspective” provides a distinct and valuable opening through which to understand and act wisely into challenging social situations; I remain convinced that a turn-by-turn analysis of the performance of speech acts and the unfolding development of episodes is useful; and I remain convinced that, in the apparently mundane moments of life, we create and re-create the social worlds in which we live.

    Barnett Pearce
    Barnett Pearce is Professor in the doctoral program of the School of Human and Organization Development at Fielding Graduate University ( Since receiving his graduate degrees from the School of Interpersonal Communication at Ohio University,  he has been appointed to the faculties of the University of North Dakota, the University of Kentucky, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Loyola University Chicago, serving as Department Chair at the latter two institutions. He lives near the community tennis courts in northern California. Improving the quality of communication has been his driving professional commitment, first taking the form of developing a conceptual understanding of communication known as "the coordinated management of meaning"(or "CMM") and more recently integrating scholarship with training, consulting and facilitating communication, particularly in public meetings about public issues. As a practitioner of better communication, he has worked on six continents through the nonprofit Public Dialogue Consortium and the for-profit Pearce Associates. He is one of the developers and core faculty members of the certificate program in Dialogue, Deliberation and Public Engagement offered through Fielding Graduate University, and lectures, trains and consults with clients committed to improving their communication and/or public discourse. He has published eight books, including Moral Conflict: When Social Worlds Collide (1997, with Stephen Littlejohn), Cultures, Politics and Research Methods: An International Assessment of Field Research Methods (1990), and Communication and the Human Condition (1989). His newest book, Communication and the Making of Social Worlds (2007) will be published in Danish.

    Paperback, 404 pages
    Format: 8.5" x 11"
    ISBN 1-59271-797-7
    © 2007