Process School of Communication

In communication and media studies, models of communication guide processes of human interaction. In order to study communications, it is necessary to examine the use of models (Carey, 1982). The process school is a model of communication that is mainly concerned with the efficiency and accuracy of the transmission of messages. A message is defined as whatever the sender intends to put into the message. The process school is mainly concerned with how senders and receivers encode and decode messages but also how transmitters use the channels of media and communication. The process school views communication as the process by which one person affects the behavior or state of mind of another. Followers of the process school believe that intention is a crucial factor (Fiske, 1982). Therefore, if the intention of the sender is not 100% clear to the receiver, the process school views this as a communication failure. If the communication interaction concluded with a failure, the process school also examines in which part that failure would have occurred. The process school draws upon the fields of the social sciences, psychology, and sociology (Fiske, 1982). A direct example of the process school includes the Shannon and Weaver model of communication. The process school directly inspired this model of communication. As seen in the photo below, the Shannon and Weaver model is a simple linear process. The main concern of the Shannon and Weaver model of communication is to develop efficient communication between the sender and receiver (Fiske, 1982).

Karlie 1

The Shannon and Weaver model was developed during the second world war to decipher a plan to decide which channels of communication would be most effective.

Contrary to the process school, there is the semiotic school which, is mainly concernedKarlie 2 with how messages interact with the people that receive them. The semiotic school focuses on semiotics which is the science of signs and meanings as opposed to the process school which focuses on the efficiency of messages. The main study in the semiotics school is of text and culture (Fiske, 1982).  The photo to the right describes the semiotics of social media and can aptly demonstrate the differences between a process school model and a semiotic school model. Another example of a model of communication that differs from the process school is the ritual view of communication. The ritual view of communication focuses on culture and the maintenance of society. Little focus is put on the transmission of messages but on how well messages can construct and maintain a culture. The ritual view is largely inspired from religion and highlights the activities such as the prayer, the chant, and the ceremony (Carey, 1982).

John Fiske, a world-renowned media scholar, outlined the ideas behind the process school. John Fiske serves as an author and a media critic. He mainly focuses on cultural studies, popular culture, media semiotics, and television studies. Fiske has written many books including Introduction to Communication Studies as well as Media Matters. John Fiske was a controversial scholar for his time period and suggested ideals surrounding cultural meaning. Fiske stated that popular culture could serve as a resource for ordinary people, instead of past ideals stating that media and popular culture nullifies individuality. John Fiske recognized the unique and varied backgrounds that audience members originated from and hoped to spread those ideals to other media scholars (Jenkins, 2010).


Carey, J. (2009). Communication as Culture Essays on Media and Society. New York and London: Routledge Classics.

Fiske, J. (1982). Introduction to Communication Studies. London and New York: Routledge Classics.

Jenkins, H. (2010). John Fiske: Now and the Future. Confessions of an ACA-Fan. Retrieved from

Image Attribution: image #1: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International; image #2:  Public Domain.

Written by Karlie Dolan, 2017