A Reconstruction of the Discourse of South Dakota Public Broadcasting Managers and Producers: A Cultural Analysis Using Universal Pragmatics

Gerry Schlenker


This article is the final of three in a series providing analysis of the discursive activity and speech act behavior of South Dakota Public Broadcasting (SDPB) managers and producers. Applying Habermas' theory of universal pragmatics to the discourse and conversations detailed previously in IJHCS 2(3), 2015, pp. 729-765, this work will consider whether that discourse is being conducted according the assumptions and rules of communicative action and rationality or according to the goal directedness of instrumental rationality.


In United States, Public Broadcasting was founded upon the ideals of diversity and alternative programming (Carnegie I, 14). Such ideals should be influential in the construction of meaning for cultural producers. However, as already discussed in previous chapters, capitalist steering mechanisms such as power and money have the potential to distort communication and essentially disable the consensus forming process, shape the lives of the citizenry, and work to construct meaning, knowledge and cultural production through action which is contradictory to the democratic process.


This article will apply the rules and speech act elements of the ideal speech situation to the discursive behavior of South Dakota Public Broadcasting managers and producers and it will provide evidence of either distorted communication and instrumental rationality or communicative action and democratic participation.


The discourse and speech acts discussed in Schlenker, IJHCS 2(3) will be considered in working toward an understanding of interaction at South Dakota Public Broadcasting during 1992 and early 1993, which involved the resignation and replacement of the Executive Director. This analysis will provide an understanding of the structural influences on the communicative patterns within the SDPB organization.


This analysis is divided into three segments including (1) a six-month period following the resignation of the Executive Director, (2) the arrival of the new Executive Director, and (3) a three-month period following the arrival of the new Executive Director.


Habermas, Universal Pragmatics, Ideal Speech Situation, Public Sphere, Culture, Democracy.

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