Anatomy of the Two Subdisciplines of Communication Study



    Corresponding author
    1. Everett M. Rogers (Ph.D., Iowa State University, 1957) is a professor in the Department of Communication and Journalism at the University of New Mexico.
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  • The author expresses his gratitude to Stephen Chaffee of Stanford University, William B. Hart of Old Dominion University, Shaheed Mohammed of the University of the West Indies, and John Oetzel at the University of New Mexico for helpful comments on a previous draft of this article, which was presented at the International Communication Association Preconference on the Blurring of Boundaries between Mass and Interpersonal Communication in Haifa, Israel on July 19,1998.

Department of Communication and Journalism, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131-1171; phone: (505) 277-7569; e-mail:


Evidence is summarized here for the degree to which the field of communication study is divided into two Subdisciplines: mass communication versus interpersonal communication. This division is expressed (a) in the general lack of cross-citations between five mass communication journals and five interpersonal communication journals, (b) by separation of the two Subdisciplines in communication associations, and (c) by the awarding of doctoral degrees in programs specializing mainly in interpersonal communication or in mass communication. The historical and other reasons for this bifurcation of communication study and the functions and dysfunctions of this division are discussed.