Perceived Networks, Activity Foci, and Observable Communication in Social Collectives

Steven Corman, Craig R. Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Research identifying important differences between perceived and observed communication networks has created the need for an integrative model to link the two phenomena. The theory described here proposes that observable communication is the result of a latent network of perceived communication relationships that is instantiated when activity foci are triggered. Giddens' (1984) structuration theory, Homans' (1950) theory of the human group, Feld's (1981) model of activity foci, and the concept of triggering events are incorporated to define activity, make it conceptually distinct from interaction, and explain how it acts to instantiate perceived communication relationships. Three modalities of enactment, activation, and reticulation are advanced as explanations for the production of observable communication. The falsifability of the theory is established via a comparison of algebraic models, and three key research issues stemming from the theory are addressed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-190
Number of pages20
JournalCommunication Theory
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


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