Complex communication and the self at the edge

Colin B. Grant

    Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper uses an interdisciplinary communication-theoretical perspective to evaluate the impact on the self of acute communicative complexity. Here, complexity is seen as a factor of the contingency (or risk) which is embedded in constructions which social actors make in a multifaceted social environment. Without recourse to transcendental models, the aim here is to examine the references of the self and its relationship with cognitive autonomy (as distinct from social freedom). Such referentiality and autonomy are contingent in the sense that they differ in each actor and in each environment. This cognitive autonomy must also be located in an environment with reference to other actors. Meaning is conceptualized as a temporarily stabilized social semantic which is 'constructed' by means of communications between cognitively autonomous actors in an environment known as society but without contact with an objective world 'beyond' it. Such contingent communications cannot establish direct 'contact' with a putatively stable reality or horizon common to all, but operate by means of complex fictions which are in turn temporarily constructed and require constant revalidation. The guiding question is: how does society reconcile stability with autonomy?

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)221-237
    Number of pages17
    JournalTheory and Psychology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2004


    • Complexity
    • Contingency
    • Dialogism
    • Interaction
    • Reference
    • Self-reference
    • Social communication theory


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