This paper began with an brief description of my experience in the complex group dynamics of a political protest in Washington D.C. I chose to open with that topic because the bulk of the discussion I have presented is fairly academic and abstract. I wanted to provide a real world example of why this sort of quasi-philosophical hair splitting is relevant to everyday life and real problems. I believe that a better understanding of communication and cultural processes could have important real world applications, especially as this is a period in which the modes of media, and the associated power implications, are somewhat in transition. I also feel that it is important to keep the pragmatic elements of a realistic setting salient as a reference point for the more academic discussion: how does one decide what course of action to take in a confused and possibly dangerous setting? My hunch is that we look around to see what others are doing, ask people who may be in the same situation, try to recollect what we have seen or heard of others doing in the past, or try our luck with constructing a response based on our knowledge of the world and how it works. This set of basic “common sense” knowledge is one of the crucial aspects of culture.
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