Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Jane Jorgenson


difference, diversity education, reflexive content analysis, social construction, thematic analysis, the social construction of differentness (SCD)


This project examines the ontoepistemological underpinnings of diversity education in the field of communication by focusing on the points where diversity, pedagogy and communication intersect. In this study I seek to understand how we come to know what we know about diversity, or the social construction of differentness, and how we share this information with others. I analyzed three popular interpersonal communication textbooks, examining the patterns revealed in the text, in order to address these questions.

This study uses three complimentary methods to reveal the number of occurrences that center on diversity in the text (content analysis), to interpret themes reflected by the patterns discovered in the text (thematic analysis) and a creative twist on the coding process that opens the analysis process to the coders and includes their input as participants to this study (reflexive content analysis). The results of this study revealed three-hundred ten occurrences of the social construction of difference across all three textbooks but only a portion of those, seventy-six, suggested social constructionist underpinnings of these constructs. This study shows how we have missed an opportunity at the introductory level to expand our student's knowledge of issues in diversity.

Included in

Communication Commons