Stefan Vladutescu: Communication functions (trad. de Mirela Teodorescu)

Communication functions

11.1. Equation  «Needs/Goals/Functions»

A. Functions are the activities for which an entity is destined or in which is used. Functions are entity responsibilities or missions. Communication functions are constituted by assumed missions by this to reach some goals. In fact, communication functions are communication system functions. A system has a set of fundamental functions and one or more complementary functions. By definition, a system is constituted by interrelation elements that roll on procedural, unitary and coherent, as entity less one function. Functions are not autotelic systemic elements. They are exerted by systemic entities. Functions are functions in the accomplishment  by an entity of some goals. It is understood that functions are determined by goals that animates the system.

But who does configure the goals? At their turn, are determined, are generated by needs. Ratiocination is the following: 1) a system has certain needs. 2) to satisfy them, decision instance of system assesses some goals, and 3) to fulfill the goals are accessed or are created certain functions. The functions equation will be thus: needs generate goals, and goals generate functions. Needs can be necessities, obligations, imperatives, requirements etc. Goals can be: purpose, motive, targets, finality etc. Needs are existence requirements. Needs are transformed in goals. By reaching the goals, the needs are satisfied. Thus, they don’t loose the stringency of needs and they don’t  demobilize goals. Not all needs are satisfied. Not all goals are reached.  Concerning modalities of needs satisfaction, some of them are satisfied individual, another are satisfied by  actions, interactions, transactions. Through  communication are satisfied direct only a part of communication needs (intrapersonal, interpersonal, group, organizational, social). Communication is however involved indirect in all needs satisfaction and in reaching of all goals.

For confirmation in communication domain of ratiocination and functions equation we mention the concordant assertions of some repute specialists who approach the issue incidental. F. E. X. Dance and  C.E. Larson consider that „functions serve as the bases for purpose” and „purpose is built upon functional relationship” (Dance F. E. X., Larson C. E., 1976, p. 44). On the other hand, Sheila Steinberg defines function „as a way in which a phenomenon (such as communication) acts to fulfill its purpose” and defines that „the most important function of communication – or the purpose that communication serves – is to satisfy a need” (Steinberg S., 2006, p. 25). M. E Roloff and  C. N. Wright shows: „goals serve broader functions. (…) Interpersonal communication is motivated by a need” (Roloff M. E., Wright C. N., 2010, p. 102). In conditions in which motives constitute a class of goals results that needs are developed responsive and is solved by functions.

Communication functions understanding as functions of human communication system makes visible the character of „purposeful system” of communication. Goals are fulfilled not to satisfy direct the needs of system. The mediators of putting into service are the effects. The human communication system is a system of goals and effects. Always effects exceed the goals. Communication needs as system are needs of system. They are revealed through computational ontological factors: transactants, communicators. Systemic needs are stability, equilibrium and controlled change (reform, restructuring). As such, there are personal needs, interpersonal needs and systemic needs. There are needs of existence and needs of efficiency. The needs of existence are ontological needs. Without ontological needs satisfaction a phenomenon of action-interaction-transaction doesn’t accede to communication status. As we know, related to its primordial meaning etymologic –ontological, intern mechanism is represented by “putting in common”

Functions that constitutes the argument to be of system are called fundamental ontological functions, founder, legitimacy. In case that fundamental functions can’t be fulfilled, the system is unstructured, is disqualified to functions achieving, missions, goals. According to ontological functions which are exerted generally and permanently , in communication is developed depending on communication type and specific complementary functions. Complementary functions are in evolution. They can appear and/or disappear without determining  the human communication system disappearing . Some complementary functions can carry on to increasing or decreasing the system performance.

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