On-line version ISSN 0023-270X
FOURIE, P.J.. Communication science in South Africa: The beginnings, the present and challenges for the future. Koers (Online) [online]. 2009, vol.74, n.1-2, pp. 175-195. ISSN 0023-270X.
This article is based on the Gert Pienaar Commemorative Lecture given by the author of this article on 27 August 2009 at the North-West University, Potchefstroom. The late Professor Gert Pienaar founded communication science (then Press Science) in South Africa, fifty years ago. Apart from acknowledging his contribution, the purpose of the lecture and of this article is to briefly outline the main research paradigms which have guided South African mass communication research the past fifty years, namely the positivist (or managerial) paradigm and the critical paradigm. It is argued that normative questions about the role and functions of the media in society underlie these paradigms. Against the background of new paradigms such as the postmodern and postcolonial paradigms (of which the basic tenets are also outlined) the applicability and relevance of old normative media theory in a new society and in a new media landscape (briefly described) are questioned and the Western prejudice of "old" normative theory is highlighted. With this in mind, four research areas for future South African mass communication research are emphasised, namely fundamental new media research, development communication research from an African perspective, communications policy research, and the indigenisation of mass communication theory.
Keywords : communications policy; development communication; indigenising of theory; indigenous theory; mass communication; new media; normative media theory; research paradigms.