Meaning multiplicity across communication subfields: Bridging the gaps

Lillian Boxman-Shabtai*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Subdisciplines in communication studies have developed competing and self-contained theories of meaning multiplicity. Arguing that this fragmented scholarship falls short of grasping the full scope of the phenomenon, this article offers Decoding Convergence-Divergence (DCD) as an interdisciplinary analytical and conceptual framework. Synthesizing principles from cognitive, cultural, and speaker-centered approaches to meaning multiplicity, this framework was applied in a study that examined news coverage of a CEO's initiative to address income inequality and its reception by different segments of the American audience. The study's results provide a novel demonstration of the joint contribution of opposing theories to the understanding of meaning multiplicity. Specifically, it found that textual polysemy, partisan selective perception, and the use of strategic ambiguity coalesced in the interpretive dynamics of this story. Based on these results, the article discusses the contribution of DCD to bridging competing approaches and the potential applications of the framework.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)401-423
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Communication
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of International Communication Association. All rights reserved.


  • Communication Theory
  • Income Inequality
  • Interdisciplinarity
  • Mixed-Methods
  • News
  • Polysemy
  • Selective Perception
  • Strategic Ambiguity


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