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A systems view of `international' communication, its scope and limitations

Global Media and Communication , Volume 3 (3): 267 – Dec 1, 2007


Sage Publications
Copyright © 2007 by SAGE Publications
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A systems view of `international' communication, its scope and limitations


Themed SectionA systems view of `international' communication, its scope and limitations SAGE Publications, Inc.2007DOI: 10.1177/17427665070030030105 Shelton A. Gunaratne Minnesota State University, USA, The time has come to re-examine the scope and limits of what we call international communication. Currently, no consensus exists on what it is. Inter-national denotes between or among nations, and communi- cation denotes the sender-message-channel-receiver interaction process. Thus, not all information which includes a large flow of data is not communication. Communication is a `multidirectional phenomenon with no distinguishable beginning or end' (Ruben, 1979: 95) as attested by Buddhist philosophy (Macy, 1991). Because the term inter-national communication basically refers to interactions among nation-states (as exemplified by the communication processes associated with the United Nations and its agencies, international treaties, and international customs and tariffs regulations), that term no longer adequately defines the field. Scholars in the field often make no distinction between international communication and related forms of communication qualified by the adjectives transnational, multinational and global. The term transnational communication most suitably applies to non-governmental exchanges that transcend national boundaries. Examples are the communication exchanges of NGOs such as Greenpeace, and of diasporas like the over- seas Indians or Chinese. The term multinational
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