Ray Birdwhistell
#16629 Overall Influence

Ray Birdwhistell

American anthropologist

About

Why is this person notable and influential?

Ray L. Birdwhistell was an American anthropologist who founded kinesics as a field of inquiry and research. Birdwhistell coined the term kinesics, meaning “facial expression, gestures, posture and gait, and visible arm and body movements”. He estimated that “no more than 30 to 35 percent of the social meaning of a conversation or an interaction is carried by the words.” Stated more broadly, he argued that “words are not the only containers of social knowledge.” He proposed other technical terms, including kineme, and many others less frequently used today. Birdwhistell had at least as much impact on the study of language and social interaction generally as just nonverbal communication because he was interested in the study of communication more broadly than is often recognized. Birdwhistell understood body movements to be culturally patterned rather than universal. His students were required to read widely, sources not only in communication but also anthropology and linguistics. Collaborations with others, including initially Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson, and later, Erving Goffman and Dell Hymes had huge influence on his work. For example, the book he is best known for, Kinesics and Context, “would not have appeared if it had not been envisaged by Erving Goffman” and he explicitly stated “the paramount and sustaining influence upon my work has been that of anthropological linguistics”, a tradition most directly represented at the University of Pennsylvania by Hymes.

Source: Wikipedia

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Schools

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University of Chicago
University of Chicago

Private research university in Chicago, Illinois, United States

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Ohio State University
Ohio State University

Public research university in Columbus, Ohio, United States

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University of Louisville
University of Louisville

University in Kentucky

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University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania

Private research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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University of Toronto
University of Toronto

University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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Miami University
Miami University

Public research university located in Oxford, Ohio, United States

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Temple University
Temple University

Public research university in Philadelphia, United States

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Influence Rankings by Discipline

How’s this person influential?
#516 World Rank #274 USA Rank
Anthropology
#819 World Rank #339 USA Rank
Sociology