Published on May 5, 2014
We begin by looking at some intercultural (cross- cultural) issues….any time we interact with someone from a different culture we are intercultural These are things you might have had in an intercultural comm. class before now, or will have in a future class. It provides a nice overview/starting point but please bear in mind that this will not be an intercultural class per se
Each of these affects cultural communication and we will address all of them in the next few weeks: General style of communication (style) Perceptions, stereotypes& self-concept Language Nonverbal behaviors Your identification with social groups Cultural symbols & rituals Cultural shared knowledge
Aspects of Culture Some elements of culture are conscious and visible (e.g., visible markers or behaviors) Others are deeper and unconscious, they reflect your underlying beliefs (discourses)
Think about this picture using the concept of “standpoints” we learned last week……
Standpoints Here, there are two ways of ‘what is right’ based on different standpoints If you were raised in the U.S., you probably understand the standpoint on the left better—we “just know” These are beliefs (discourses) that reflect the culture we are raised in Cultural competence means trying to understand the standpoint of the other person as well then thinking through them as best as possible. Perhaps you will still decide one way of dressing is “best,” but you will have more informed reasons for having made that choice.
Shared Knowledge This is a set of ideas, stories, beliefs (discourses) that we learn as we grow up and we all ‘just know’ it--so we (think) don’t have to spell it out in our communication But this is the knowledge that is NOT shared by people growing up with out those cultural referents. E.g., I might say “Crossing Cultures is like falling down the rabbit hole” and b/c most of us are familiar with this story we know that also means it can be both disorienting and exciting—this is a cultural referent
Symbols Symbols (both nonverbal or verbal/language) are intimately linked to culture We have symbols for things we need to communicate about within that culture But sometimes we need to know the context to understand it (e.g., that the “deer crossing sign” means watch out while you’re driving)
Humor & Cultural Referents Jokes are a quick way that we can see references to shared cultural knowledge (cultural referents) Think about what you would have to know to “get” these jokes….
We can see what we don’t know when we aren’t “in on” the joke For instance, this cartoon is only funny to those with experience with British culture & their communication style
Context It’s important to remember that even w/in the U.S. we have different cultures and generational culture For instance, this well known symbol in downtown Detroit is a symbol of the Black Panther movement I can tell you that…but what the symbol means to the people of Detroit is harder to explain if you’re not from there…. So cultural referents are tied to knowledge of the context
Many things are a part of a cultural context (or “web”) The diagram to the right gives just a sense of some of the things we just engage in mindlessly (b/c we “know”) in our own culture Each embodies discourses about what is right/wrong, good/bad, etc.
When you stop to think about all we DON’T know about the cultural symbols, rituals, beliefs, practices, communication patterns of other cultures, it’s amazing This makes us anxious (not knowing) so tend to shut this out & stay in our comfort zone This can also lead to thinking what’s comfortable for us is also what’s best…..
Ethnocentrism The tendency to view our own way of doing things (own cultural practice) as “better” than others This bias refers to a tendency to 1. Prefer members of our own culture 2. To be more positively biased toward the communicative style we are familiar with 3. To be negatively biased toward other cultures 4. Shut out learning about new cultural practices & beliefs The next picture helps make fun of this tendency on the part of Americans—but of course all cultures tend toward ethnocentrism
Here are couple of funny articles that show how people traveling to the U.S. view our culture. Readings through their “tips” you can see both different cultural standpoints and also shared (or lack) of cultural knowledge As you read them, think about what we might be ‘taking for granted’ and assume is the ‘right’ way to communicate (i.e., ethnocentrism) 10 Japanese Travel Tips for Visiting America http://mentalfloss.com/article/55140/10- japanese-travel-tips-visiting-america E.g., “In Japan, when a woman laughs, she places her hand so it does not show her mouth. It is disgraceful to laugh by loudly opening the mouth.” 4 Russian Travel Tips for Visiting America http://mentalfloss.com/article/54461/4- russian-travel-tips-visiting-america E.g., “Americans are delicate buttercups by Russian standards, so be gentle. They get all touchy when you show up at their house uninvited and get their feelings hurt just because you hang up on them when you’re done talking.”
Culture Shock We are most aware of intercultural differences when we cross cultures (encounter different standpoints) If we are suddenly immersed (surrounded by) those with another cultural style we may have culture shock That means that we are out of our comfort zone—no longer surrounded by others who communicate like we do Here, international students share their experience of culture shock in the U.S. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPyK7Dhbc1Q
Our first reaction is to group up with others ‘like us’—that helps us deal with the anxiety of difference But to truly understand culture shock and the experience of people who are suddenly immersed in a context or culture very different from there own Imagine that you are in a new country without the social support of people you know or who are like you…. What you would feel like if you were in a place where “fast food” looked like this….
Or what you saw as you left the front door was this….
Pretty disorienting, huh? Now think about what it would be like to get something simple done if you had to get around town—perhaps to grocery shop or get your hair cut Maybe you can read the signs, maybe you can’t, what if there are no signs……
Culture Shock Goes in Stages: 1. The ‘honeymoon’ where cultural difference is exciting 2. Then the ‘shock’ 3. Adjustment 4. Finally, mastery where you accommodate to the different culture
Listen to the stories told by exchange students to America and see if you can hear the different stages. Culture shock and intercultural differences https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYdgfuReBBk
It is posted online for you to download as a part of your daily materials….. Where do you fit in according to these differences? Did you score high or low for particular items? [Take the Hofstede Survey]
Interactions & Cultural Styles One of the primary ways we study Culture is by considering some of the communication differences that are due to culture. We see them as we interact with each other. Any such interactional differences due to culture we call “Cultural Communication Styles” We will talk about 2 major scholars in this area & the tools they used to investigate culture
Edward Twitchell Hall One of the ‘founding fathers’ of Intercultural Comm. American anthropologist who brought nonverbal communication to mainstream study through his work with Native Americans in the Southwest Brought attention to cultural differences in personal space & time Also introduced high & low context culture
Personal Space Hall’s observations of different cultural groups helped inform us about personal space or “body bubbles” Different cultures, families, etc. have different ways of approaching who can be in what space Hall identified some key parts of this bubble for mainstream U.S. Explains personal space Back Off! What Personal Space Is All About http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=UwrgUqBotpA
Time (Chronemics) The idea that we might have different attitudes toward the use of time that vary by culture
High vs. Low Context The extent to which info. is make explicit or is assumed, embedded w/in the context Explains Low vs. High Context Cultures: Interpersonal Communication: High and Low Context Teaching https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=uMGu89XBcT0 In high context cultures, much is “below the surface”
LOW = info. is stated explicitly HIGH = info. is w/in the context Rely on clear and direct messages Dislike ambiguity, silence Not overly concerned with face- saving Emphasize written contracts in business Rely more on nonverbal, less direct History/culturally known meanings, shared experiences Silence is valued, “Some things are better left unsaid” More emphasis on social relationships, oral contracts in business Emphasis on face-saving for self, other
High vs. Low context? See if you can figure out where these go based on the definitions we just went over…. Use of understatement is frequent. It's best to tell it like it is. It's okay to disagree with your boss at a meeting. "Yes" means yes. "Yes" means I hear you. People engage in small talk and catching up before getting down to business. Business first, then small talk. People need to be brought up to date at a meeting. People are already up to date. The rank/status of the messenger is as important as the message. The message is what counts, not who the messenger is. People tell you what they think you want to hear.
Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Another of the well documented studies of cultural differences in style is Hofstede’s survey By studying large groups of people and their attitudes he isolated 5 dimensions he thought varied between cultures Gives overview based on business needs: Hofstede's Model on Cultural Dimensions https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTY6LH9 WdZ4
Some elements of Hofstede’s scale, such as Individualism/Collectivism overlap High & Low Context
Hofstede: Uncertainty Avoidance (Tolerance for ambiguity or risk) Long vs. Short term Orientation (e.g., respect for tradition vs. what’s “new”) Masculinity vs. Femininity (what is valued at the social level)…later changed to Task vs. Social Orientation
High vs. Low Power Distance The degree to which an unequal distribution of power is acceptable. High: value hierarchy and status, power is in the hands of a few Low: value equality, challenge to authority more acceptable
Individualism/Collectivism How much value on group goals vs. individual goals Individualist = value individual achievement Responsible for self Self-reliance Success based on your own efforts Group distinctions minimized Collectivist = value tradition, conformity Emphasis on group harmony, happiness, success Responsible for all other members of the group Distinctions between ingroup/outgroup important Face-saving very important
This helps explain the difference between these two approaches using a business model approach Cultural Dimension: me or we https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CW7aWKXB5J4
The individualism versus collectivism difference is a particularly important one to consider in more depth There are opposing discourses “Be an individual/speak your mind” vs. “Preserve group harmony & fit in”
Western cultures, and particularly the U.S., tend to be highly individualistic On the other hand, even w/in the U.S. we vary based on family and cultural background
Contrast this with Collectivism…
Collectivism The group is first, nobody is an island (“we” identity) E.g., China, Korea, and Japan Farm & Family at core Need to depend on each other & cooperate to survive Greater sense of belonging to group…greater tendency to exclude others?
China The recently lifted ban on having more than one child in a family (the “One Child Policy”) was in place for the good of society overall—to control population What would happen if we tried to institute that policy in the U.S.?
Collectivism and Individualism are competing discourses Sets of ideas/beliefs about what ‘should’ be, etc. Individualism is so embedded in our U.S. culture we rarely stop to think about it Discourses unconsciously guide all aspects of our communication behavior
There are any number of reasons why the breakout hit “Let it Go” has become so popular, but one is certainly that it touches on the thematic of breaking away from constraint and celebrating personal freedom
As fun field test, think about for the next week all the different choices you make that might be linked to this discourse of individualism, and how your choices would be different if you were more collectivistic…..
There are a variety of ways we study culture Today we’ve touched on 2 that have been used traditionally to study intercultural communication—surveys and ethnography Here’s a bit more info. about these tools……
Ethnography Hall’s work with Native Americans was done using ethnography This is a tool whereby someone studies a small group of people within the field and in great depth Data collection focuses on ordinary, daily activities and the social meanings of behavior Effort is made to let the voices of participants be heard (e.g., many quotes, trying to identify their standpoints, etc.) Because the researcher often lives among the group and participates in their lives, it is difficult to say the research findings are “objective” but there are still standards in place to insure quality research findings The researcher tries to be reflexive—which means trying to be clear in one’s own head about the ways one’s own biases and behaviors are effecting the results.
Ethnography has a long- standing tradition in many disciplines and although it started out investigating very different cultures than the researcher’s own— usually in different countries
It has since been expanded to look at many within country cultures and co-cultures For instance, one might do an ethnography on “gang culture” or “teen mothers” This example is from a project looking at graffiti artists
The quality of ethnographic research depends on: 1. The depth of knowledge, richness of detail gotten 2. The extent to which the experiences of the participants are accurately conveyed 3. How well the researcher connects their stories to meaningful concepts and conclusions
Surveys Research like Hofstede’s uses a survey technique Surveys are a good way of asking people to report their own attitudes, feelings, behaviors etc. They can be very cost-effective and (once they are written) quick to administer The questions are set for them so they answer only those questions that are asked. Surveys are appropriate when you want to ask questions of large groups of people These groups are said to be a sample of a larger population—e.g., representative of people beyond the ones who have been asked
The quality of survey research is dependent on many things, including: 1. How good a sample is drawn. Is it truly representative of more people? 2. How well the questions are written—if they are misleading or don’t ask about something important, the survey is flawed.
Want to compare? The Hofstede Center is a place where people who research and work with these dimensions collaborate, they have many online resources The Hofstede scale (survey) is a social scientific tool so its strength lies (partly) in how widespread it is and how many times it is replicated So the more countries, data, etc. the better—this helps demonstrate validity of the survey They offer a great comparison tool at this address. It lets you compare different countries on these dimensions http://geert-hofstede.com/united-states.html
Your Homework will help you review & think about key concepts from today Let’s just quickly review some new terms…..make sure you know them & how they relate to our discussion before doing the homework
Shared cultural knowledge Cultural referents Context Symbols Ethnocentrism Cultural communication style External vs. Internal cultural aspects High vs. Low Context Chronemics Personal space ‘bubble’ Hofstede’s 5 dimensions Individualism vs. Collectivism Opposing discourses Ethnography vs. Survey
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