Culture and Communication

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Relationship between culture and communication (3 approaches)
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-social scientific -interpretive -critical
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Social Scientific View (overview)
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-influenced by psychology and sociology -\”programming of the mind\” (Hofstede) -culture influences communication -cultural competence is more than just ‘doing what Romans do’ -(history, religion, geography) leads to (attitudes and values) leads to (behavior)
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Values Underlying Behavior (first type)
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-individualistic 00-unique 00-equality 00-separate identity 00-present/short term orientation (quick results) -Ex: shaking hands, center pieces
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Values Underlying Behavior (second type)
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-collectivistic 00-interconnected relationships 00-harmony 00-giving up individual goals for sake of group 00-long term orientation -Ex: bowing, food in middle ordered by Dad
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Hofstede’s IBM Study
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-Americans, Australians, and Europeans are very individualistic -Mexico is collectivistic
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Social Scientific Approach
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-disciplinary origin: psychology and sociology -culture: external, observable, describable reality -method: quantitative 00-survey questionnaires (Likert scales) 00-experiments -goal: describe, compare, and predict behavior, universal laws, generalize, prescribe -relationship: culture influences communication (cause-effect relationship)
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SS Research Example
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-Kindness of strangers -hypothesis: willingness to help a random stranger will differ across the world -3 test to see who would help -USA was lowest -Brazil and Costa Rica were highest
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Explanation of Kindness of Strangers
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-population density -population size -violent crime rate -GDP -Additional insight based on interviews 00-helper behavior is less dependent on nature of people than it is on nature of environment
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SS Recap
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-external, observable, describable, reality -method: quantitative -goal: describe, compare, and predict behavior, universal laws, generalize, perscribe -relationship: culture influences communication (cause/effect)
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Strengths of Social Scientific
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-cross-cultural comparison possible, reduce intercultural uncertainty -psychological and sociological variables in communication; universal vs. culture-specific modes of communication -theoretical foundation for intercultural training programs
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Limitations of Social Scientific
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-less emphasis on culture as socially constructed communication process -less emphasis on the social and historical context that shapes individual’s subjective experiences -measurement issues: linguistic equivalence (or lack thereof)
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Interpretive and Critical Approach
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(history, religion, geography) leads to (attitudes and values) leads to (behavior) and (behavior) leads back down
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Interpretive View
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-discipline: anthropology, socio-linguistics -culture: socially constructed by historical and contemporary practices; contextual (verbal and non-verbal; may not be shared by all); culture is dynamic; subjective; truth is not singular or objective; value multiple perspectives
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Interpretive Approach
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-method: qualitative (enthnography) 00-interviews 00-field observations (participant & non-participant) 00-focus groups -goal: provide a ‘thick’ description of culture; in-depth, contextual understanding of people’s lived experiences
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Strengths of Interpretive appoach
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-provides in-depth, contextual understanding of communication patterns in particular communities -EMIC APPROACH: focuses on understanding phenomenon subjectively, from cultural insider’s perspective -ethnography: focuses on INSIDER’S LIVED EXPERIENCES -provides an understanding about a particular culture from MULTIPLE PERSPECTIVES
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Example of Interpretive View
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-Enthnographer Wade Davis -talks about the wonders of other cultures and how the world is a better place with diversity
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Limitations of Interpretive approach
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-there are few interpretive studies of intercultural communication (relatively few comparative studies) -researchers are often cultural outsiders that may not accurately represent cultural insider’s communication patterns and views -less emphasis on the role of power in shaping individuals meaning and interpretation
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Critical View
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-shares many assumptions with the interpretive approach 00-culture is subjective and lies in the meaning that people attach to their cultural practices -recognizes the role of the powerful in shaping cultural practices 00-different interest groups are to propagate (breed) their point of view over others
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Critical Approach
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-discipline: influenced by cultural studies -method: textual analysis of media or cultural artifacts -culture: heterogeneous and subjective, but also contested -goal: deconstruct ‘truth’; RAISE AWARENESS of cultural oppression or domination; give voice to minority and marginalized groups, PROMOTE SOCIAL CHANGE TOWARDS A MORE EQUITABLE SOCIETY
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Example of Critical
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Christmas or the war on Christmas
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Strengths of Critical Approach
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-challenges us to think critically about the social construction of culture -emphasizes the power relations in intercultural interactions -emphasizes the importance of social and historical context
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Limitations of Critical Approach
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-focuses on popular media forms of communication (TV, videos, magazines); lack of attention to face-to-face interactions -may yield less practical insights
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Etic V. Emic approach
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-etic approach: describes communication phenomenon cross-culturally; provides the OUTSIDER’S perspective; searches for UNIVERSAL GENERALIZATIONS; often used by SOCIAL SCIENTIFIC researchers, with QUANTITATIVE METHODS -emic approach: describes communication phenomenon from cultural INSIDER’S perspective; through their SUBJECTIVE, LIVED experiences; often used by INTERPRETIVE researchers, with ETHNOGRAPHIC/QUALITATIVE METHODS

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