6 elements of the Shannon-Weaver model

The Shannon-Weaver Model (1947) proposes that all communication must include 6 elements:

  • Source
  • Encoder
  • Message
  • Channel
  • Decoder
  • Receiver

These six elements are shown graphically in the model. As Shannon was researching in the field of information theory, his model was initially very technology-oriented. The model was produced in 1949, a year after Lasswell’s and you will immediately see the similarity to the Lasswell Formula.

The emphasis here is very much on the transmission and reception of information. ‘Information’ is understood rather differently from the way you and I would normally use the term, as well. This model is often referred to as an ‘information model’ of communication. (But you don’t need to worry about that if you’re just starting.)

Apart from its obvious technological bias, a drawback from our point of view is the model’s obvious linearity. It looks at communication as a one-way process. That is remedied by the addition of the feedback loop.

A further drawback with this kind of model is that the message is seen as relatively unproblematic. It’s fine for discussing the transformation of ‘information’, which might be, say &Hui9%/? PLM, but, when we try to apply the model to communication, problems arise with the assumption that meanings are somehow contained within the message.