A Framework for Strategic Communication Research: A Call for Synthesis and Consilience

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This essay suggests that the conceptualization of strategic communication as a field uniting several disciplines was an important step forward, but progress in absolute terms has been disappointing so far. Individual researchers open up new avenues of exploration and regularly arrive at answers to questions internally consistent with their respective perspectives. But the body of reasonably verified scientific knowledge that goes substantially beyond common sense remains underdeveloped. The author argues that biologist Edward O. Wilson identified the key characteristic of progressing fields correctly as consilience, i.e., the commitment to the unity of knowledge from physics to chemistry to biology and beyond: “a seamless web of cause and effect.” The article proposes that strategic communications research follow Wilson’s program, as other disciplines have done. For the field to mature, leading researchers need to work towards a consilient synthesis, i.e., a theoretical framework that contains nonrelativistic conjectures about the world which form a nucleus for research to accumulate around. It is furthermore necessary to reconnect strategic communication research to the rapidly progressing and highly relevant hybrid disciplines such as cognitive science and evolutionary psychology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-86
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Strategic Communication
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Mar 14

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Communication Studies


  • Consilience
  • Strategic Communication
  • Epistemology


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