Muted Group Theory
Webster’s Dictionary defines communication a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior. Our textbook Introducing Communication Theory says that communication depends on our ability to understand one another (West, Turner 2010). Both of these definitions are correct, however they can be analyzed as complete opposites. The definition I will be using for this paper will be the definition that focuses on the ability to understand each other.
This definition is essential to understanding the Muted Group Theory. Cheris Kramarae developed the Muted Group Theory, and as she developed it she said women’s thoughts and words were “devalued” in society causing them to be a “muted group”. The Muted group Theory is important because it is concerned with power and how it is used against people. This theory separates the idea of power between men and women, and bases its foundation upon language being culturally bound (Ardner 1975).
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It explains how and why certain groups in society are muted and not heard.
Women are thought to be built differently than ales, and these differences cause women to act differently than their male counterparts. These differences are the reason why women (and minorities) are considered muted groups because they are considered to be lower in status than the dominant groups (Griffin, 1996). Muted Group Theory is based on 3 assumptions. The first assumption states man and women see the world differently based on their past experiences and activities rooted in the division of labor.
The second assumption states because men tend to have political dominance, men’s system of perception is ominant, impeding the free expression of women’s alternative models of the world. The third assumption states in order to participate in society, women must transform their own models in terms of the received male system of expression (West, Turner 2010). Communication theorist tried to come up with hypotheses about how women communicate. The first hypothesis was that women have a harder time communicating than men. Second, women understand what men mean more than men understand what women mean.
Third, Women communicate with each other sing media not accepted by the dominant male communicator. Forth, Women are less satisfied with communication than men. Fifth, Women are not likely to create new words, but sometimes do so to create meanings special and unique to women (Kramarae 1981). Muting of a certain group can be applied and seen to many cultural groups (Orbe 1995). In the article African American communication research: Toward a deeper understanding of interethnic communication, it is stated that research performed by the dominant white European culture has created a view of African-
American communication, how they are muted when it comes to being dominated by the white European society (Orbe 1995). In conclusion, The Muted Group Theory helps us understand the dominant groups in our society. It also gives us a greater understanding about the suppression of the less powerful groups. We learn how different individuals gain their voice, based on where their social status and/or gender.