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Intercultural Communication

• Communication
• Hybrid age
• Precipice
• Difference
• Conflict
• Outsider
• Label
• Homogeneity vs. heterogeneity of the contemporary world
• Culture or cultures?
• Difference of nationality, but also differences of sex, class, religion, occupation

Culture or cultures?

• Essentialism vs. non-essentialism


• Essentialism – the view of culture that presumes that there is a universal essence, homogeneity and unity in a
particular culture

• Non-essentialism – the view of culture that sees culture as a fluid creative social force which binds different groupings
and aspects of behaviour in different ways, both constructing and constructed by people in a piecemeal fashion to
produce myriad combinations and configurations.

• Romanian culture, European culture, Western culture → ‘patriotism’


• The culture of food in Japan and Britain; cultural similarities between schools throughout the world; she does not
conform to the stereotype of Middle Eastern woman that we see in the media → “as a woman, I have no country. As a
woman I want no country. As a woman my country is the whole world.”

Culture
Fred E. Jandt, An Introduction to Intercultural Communication, Sage Publications, 2007
th
• culture = Western civilization (19 century)
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• All societies pass through developmental stages beginning with “savagery,” progressing to “barbarism” and culminating
in Western “civilization.” (anthropologist Sir Edward B. Taylor, 1871)
• Both Western cultures and Eastern cultures believed that their way of life was superior.
• Cultures countries, as they do not respect political boundaries.
Culture
• A community or population sufficiently large enough to be self-sustaining, i.e. to produce new generations of members
without relying on outside people.
• The totality of that group’s thought, experiences, and patterns of behaviour and its concepts, values, and assumptions
about life that guide bahaviour and how those evolve with contact with other cultures.
• The process of social transmission of these thoughts and behaviours from birth in the family and schools over the
course of generations.
• Members who consciously identify themselves with that group. (cultural identity)

Holliday, A., M. Hyde, J. Kullman, Intercultural Communication, An Advanced Resource Book, Routledge, New York,
2004.

• Identity

• Otherization

• Representation
Identity

• The way in which we all bring with us our own discourses and feelings of culture and negotiate these in communication
Otherization

• The way in which we over-generalize, stereotype and reduce the people we communicate with to something different or
less than what they are.

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• Imagining someone as alien to ‘us’ in such a way that ‘they’ are excluded from ‘our’ ‘normal’, ‘superior’ and ‘civilized’
group.
Representation
• The way in which culture is communicated in society, through the media, professional discourses, and everyday
language.
• These representations influence our own perceptions.
Stereotypes
• Ideal characterization of the foreign Other.
• A fixed, commonly held notion or image of a person or group, based on an oversimplification of some observed or
imagined trait of behaviour or appearance.
Gender Stereotypes

• The majority of gender related studies focused their attention on women. Very few studies involve male stereotypes.
• Women are portrayed (television has a significant part to play) as passive, being dominated by men, governed by
emotion, overly emotional or dependent.
Women are also depicted as less intelligent than men and generally weak. The roles which women are assigned tend to
be marital and family oriented. In addition, women are rarely shown to be able to successfully combine marriage and
employment. Women are typically younger than men on television and usually disappear between the ages of 35 and 50.
Ironically, women are five times more likely to be blond.
Racial Stereotypes
• Italians were generally depicted as Mafia hoodlums.
• Asian people are perceived as invaders or karate experts. • Hispanic people are comics, banditos or gang members.
• Native Americans are presented as savages, victims, cowards or medicine men.
• People from the Middle East are seen as terrorists or oil sheiks.
• Homosexuals are represented as being effeminate.
Prejudice

• A judgement made on the basis of interest rather than emergent evidence.


• Heaven is where the innkeepers are Swiss, the cooks are French, the policemen are English, the lovers are Italian, and
the mechanics are German. Hell is where the lovers are Swiss, the innkeepers are French, the cooks are English, the
mechanics are Italian, and policemen are German.

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Joke told by a Dutch Professor
• You know the world is off tilt when the best rapper is a white guy [Eminem], the best golfer is a black guy [Tiger
Woods], the tallest basketball player is Chinese [Yao Ming, 7'6"], and Germany doesn't want to go to war [in Iraq].
Charles Barkley, 2003
• The Haoles [Anglos] run the plantations; the Chinese run the businesses; the Japanese run the government; and the
Hawaiians run for the hills.
Hawaiian joke
• Lebanese are the ones who can buy from the Greeks and sell to the Jews and still make a profit.
Lebanese saying
• "Why does the sun never set on the British Empire"? Because God doesn't trust those English bastards in the dark!

Irish joke
• They [the Chinese] are quiet, peaceable, tractable, free from drunkenness, and they are as industrious as the day is
long. A disorderly Chinaman is rare, and a lazy one does not exist.

Mark Twain, in Roughing It

• There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start
thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.

Jesse Jackson
• Here's my question: Is the racial profiling done by cab drivers, pizza deliverers or Jesse Jackson a sign of racism or
economizing on information costs?

Walter Williams, "Is racial profiling racist?" August 19, 2009

• Stereotyping, prejudice and otherization interact.

• More often than not, they block intercultural communication.

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• […] in our age of innumerable labels, of multi-coloured labels, we have become suspicious of labels; they kill and
constrict. (V. Woolf)
Globalization
(Kennedy, Paul, “Introduction: Globalization and the Crisis of Identities?” in Globalization and National Identities: Crisis or
Opportunity?, eds. Paul Kennedy and Catherine J. Danks, Palgrave, New York, 2001, 1).

• “Communities, once invested with deep meanings and encapsulating close-knit relations, are becoming de-localized —
torn from familiar and particular places.”(1)
• […] along with money, goods, people and information, cultural experiences of all kinds — abstract knowledge,
aesthetic preferences in everything from cuisine and music to designer goods and TV soaps, marriage customs, religious
beliefs and so on — exhibit a growing capacity to break loose from their original moorings in particular societies. (11)

• [We should be] “increasingly prepared to value diversity and the right of every culture to occupy a space in the world
and to share in the common human endeavour on equal terms. Thus, we are seeing an end to the long era of one-sided
cultural and political flows where societies engaged with others primarily in order to dominate them. (12-13)
Globalization vs. national identity

• Globalization may not lead to homogeneity.


• One reaction to globalization is the growing strength of ethnic identity though the world, with a resulting growth of
interethnic group hatred.
Intercultural communication
Communication between individuals of diverse cultural identities
• Communication between diverse groups.
• The effectiveness of an intercultural communicator is based on and influenced by:
– Knowledge of other peoples and their cultures;
– Increased knowledge of oneself, resulting in an appreciation and tolerance of diversity among people.

• Subculture • Co-culture • Subgroup


Subculture

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• Resembles a culture in that it usually encompasses a relatively large number of people and represents the
accumulation of generations of human striving (values, norms and rules of behaviour).

• Differs from culture in that it exists within dominant cultures and are often based on economic an social class, ethnicity,
race, or geographic region.
Co-culture
• Alternative to subculture
• The term conveys the idea that no one culture is inherently superior to other coexisting cultures.
• Subculture seems to imply being under or beneath and being inferior or secondary, although it may also mean “a part
of the whole.”
Subgroup

• Membership group
• Provides members with relatively complete sets of values and patterns of behaviour;
• Poses similar communication problems as cultures.
• Exists within a dominant culture and is dependent on that culture. (organizations, occupations)
• Does not involve the same large number of people as cultures and are not thought of as accumulating values and
patterns of behaviour over generations.