03 oktober 2005

Lecture 2: Intercultural Awareness

Let’s start with a quote:

From the ritual view of communication (…) the act of reading a newspaper has
less to do with sending or gaining information and more to do with attending a
religious mass – a situation in which a particular view of the world is
portrayed and confirmed. (W.J. Severin, J.R. Tankard Jr., Communication
Theories. Origins, Methods, and Uses in the Mass Media, Longman, 2001, p.

The first and perhaps most important step towards intercultural communication is that you are aware of the cultural differences between your culture and the culture of your correspondent.

Simple, you think? Well, it is if we are not prejudiced (and we all are!).

To prove our prejudices, we did a picture exercise. We tried to answer (straight away) the following simple questions:
- What is the nationality of the person in the picture?
- Why do you say so?

We have to admit that you do not always get what you see...

Of course, cultural awareness will not come at once. There are six stages of development in intercultural awareness (cf. Bennett, 1993, quoted in: http://www.awesomelibrary.org/multiculturaltoolkit-stages.html):

  • Denial: Does not recognize cultural differences
  • Defense: Recognizes some differences, but sees them as negative
  • Minimization: Unaware of projection of own cultural values; sees own values as superior
  • Acceptance: Shifts perspectives to understand that the same "ordinary" behavior can have different meanings in different cultures
  • Adaptation: Can evaluate other’s behavior from their frame of reference and can adapt behavior to fit the norms of a different culture
  • Integration: Can shift frame of reference and also deal with resulting identity issues

Why should we bother about intercultural awareness? The answer is more complex than the question…
- Internet vs mass media: cf. civic journalism (the “blogging” phenomenon)
- “International” is not the same as “intercultural” (cf. sub-cultures)
- Any other issue? (Feel free to add in the comments)

What is "intercultural communication"?

With the posts about communication and culture, you should be able to construct an acceptable definition for intercultural communication.

Intercultural communication is... (feel free to complete this definition in the comments section)