Communication ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 4-15-2019


This study, theoretically and methodologically grounded in the ethnography of communication (Hymes 1974; Carbaugh, 1992; Covarrubias, 2008; Philipsen, 1992; Philipsen, Coutu, & Covarrubias, 2005), investigated the relationship between communication and resilience as expressed by professional basketball players and coaches from a particular city in southwest United States, referred to as PG City. Guiding questions include: Is there a basketball culture? Does basketball constitute a speech community? How do basketball and basketball culture help players and coaches fight through adversity? What is the role of resilience within basketball culture? Interviews, using ethnography of communication approaches, were used to uncover elements of resilience in relation to the communication processes of resilience, here defined as the ability to bounce-back and reintegrate after difficult life experiences (Buzzanell, 2010). Using the Hymes (1974) SPEAKING model to analyze participant utterances, this study highlights various elements of basketball culture that are related to experiences of resilience, such as, the grind, don’t talk, and the role of trash-talk as a distinct speech code activated by basketball speech community members. Further, this inquiry shows intrapersonal communication or self-talk to be a key conduit for the communication processes of resilience. Results show resilience is influenced by basketball culture as basketball culture expects resilience of its cultural bearers while also teaching the necessary skills to enact that resilience. Further this study shows that basketball culture provides its participants with access to the social network needed to enact and develop resilience. Further, this study provides grounds for further research regarding cultural influences on the development of resilience. Findings from this study suggest future studies investigating the relationship between culture, communication, and resilience are warranted.




Resilience, Ethnography of Communication, Basketball, Basketball Culture, Culture, Athletic Culture

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Communication and Journalism

First Committee Member (Chair)

Patricia Covarrubias, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

David Weiss, Ph.D.

Third Committee Member

Laura Burton, Ph.D.