Intercultural Communication

Intercultural Communication

Theories
 
The following types of theories can be distinguished in different strands: focus on effective outcomes, on accommodation or adaption, on identity negotiation and management, on communication networks, on acculturation and adjustment.
 
Social Scientific Explanations
 
Dimensional Accrual and Dissociation Theory DAD
 
To understand intercultural communication, one must first look at the cultural proclivities of each interlocutor; investigate and learn about both cultures before attempting to explain outcomes. It is important to understand cultural proclivities, beliefs, motives, values, and the like of each person involved in an intercultural dyad. The theory of dimensional accrual and dissociation offers analytical support for understanding individuals as cultural repositories who come into contact with out-group members. DAD helps explain and predict outcomes based on cultural predispositions such as perceptions of space and time and emotional involvement and how such predispositions effect how people interpret their encounters and how they communicate. A useful approach is Eric Kramer's (1988 1992, 1997a, 2003, 2011,2012) theory of Dimensional Accrual and Dissociation. Kramer's theory of Dimensional Accrual and Dissociation (DAD) utilizes concepts from several scholars, most notably Jean Gebser and Lewis Mumford, to synthesize an explanation of widely observed cultural expressions and differences along a Neo-Kantian manifold of spatial and temporal variance similar to the work of Edmund Husserl, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, J. T. Faser, Sigfried Giedion, James Gibson, Maurice Grosser, Edmund Carpenter, Edward T. Hall, Walter Ong, James Carey, Robert Levine, and others but with many updates and additions. Most importantly, Kramer's DAD theory emphasizes how various cultures communicate in generalized terms from idolic to symbolic to signalic communication styles that helps explain intercultural differences that influence intercultural and inter-ethnic relations as well as acculturation processes. The DAD theory stresses however that dimensional accrual is simply an additive process of dimensions. It does not presuppose a linear metaphysic nor the ethnocentric concept of "progress" which is presumed in some theories of acculturation claiming for example, that intercultural adaptation moves in an "upward-forward" manner toward the singular and final goal of total assimilation (Gudykunst and Kim, 2003, pp. 381-382)
 
Cultural Fusion Theory CFT
 
Kramer's (2011, 2010, 2000a,) theory of Cultural Fusion maintains a clear conceptual separation between assimilation, adaptation, and integration. Only assimilation involves conformity to a pre-existing form. Kramer's (2000a, 2000b, 2000c, 2003, 2009, 2011) theory of Cultural Fusion also postulates that as learning occurs cognitive complexity and growth increase. In other words, there is no need to unlearn something in order to learn something new. Learning is not a zero-sum game. So as the newcomer learns the ways of their adopted homeland they add new repertoires, new ways of cooking, working, dressing, seeking entertainment, playing, and so forth. The newcomer does not have to unlearn something old to learn something new. According to Cultural Fusion theory the individual and also the community is enriched as difference accrues. In accordance with hermeneutic theory, Kramer's theory of Cultural Fusion (2011, 2009, 2000b) argues that the old is not lost but is presumed and is necessary for integrating the new and as new information accrues the individual and the community is enriched. For example, as new cuisines enter a community, community members have more choices of restaurants thus enriching their dining experiences. As new foods become available, like putting colors side-by-side creates complementarity, old standards take on new meaning. Also as the individual learns more about spices they can be more innovative and enjoy more tastes. Borrowing from the hermeneutic theory of fusion of horizons developed by Hans-Georg Gadamer, Kramer's theory of Cultural Fusion suggest that as a newcomer enters a community there is mutual adjustment or Co-Evolution (Kramer, 2009), not merely cultural coersion for the newcomer to assimilate.
 
Multicultural Panevolution Theory MPT
 
According to Kramer (2000a, 2000b, 2000c, 2003, 2009), the presence of minorities constitutes an organic aspect of social system and as a newcomer enters a community both the individual and the community are changed. Such system-wide dynamics Kramer calls "cultural churning" (Kramer, 2003, 2009, 2012). Co-evolutionary relationships can be diffuse, as among all plants and insects, specific as between two cells in an organism or just two species, symbiotic or competitive (both being reciprocal), symmetrical or asymmetrical, and so forth (Kramer, 2000a, 2000c, 2009, 2012). Co-evolution was already recognized by Darwin in On the Origin of Species (1859) as was the obvious trait of altruism (co-operation) in The Descent of Man (Darwin, 1871). Those who borrow terms such as "evolution" and "adaptation" need to be aware of what they mean. Adaptation does not mean assimilation or conformity. And evolution is almost always within a system so that it is really co-evolution or pan-evolution whereby all parts directly or indirectly, symmetrically or asymmetrically, symbiotically or competitively influence each other. Neither evolution nor adaptation means conformity to an already successful or dominant form such as "mainstream culture" or a simple majority. Rather as Darwin was amazed by the diversity of life he found on his voyage, evolution means innovation. It means endless trial of deviant forms, some of which prove successful and endure. One must remember that even the value-laden concept of progress requires deviance. The most "competent" and "successful" people are innovators in all things from the arts and sciences to industry and engineering. Patents and copyrights are for the new. This is the proper application of systems ecological nomenclature to the process of intercultural communication and acculturation.
 
Theories focusing on social engineering effective outcomes
 
Cultural Convergence
 
In a relatively closed social system in which communication among members is unrestricted, the system as a whole will tend to converge over time toward a state of greater cultural uniformity. The system will tend to diverge toward diversity when communication is restricted.
 
Communication Accommodation Theory
 
This theory focuses on linguistic strategies to decrease or increase communicative distances.
 
Intercultural Adaption
 
This theory is designed to explain how communicators adapt to each other in "purpose-related encounters", at which cultural factors need to be incorporated.According to intercultural adaptation theory communicative competence is a measure of adaptation which is equated with assimilation. As Gudykunst and Kim (2003) put it, "cross-cultural adaptation process involves a continuous interplay of decultruation and acculturation that brings about change in strangers  in the direction of assimilation, the highest degree of adaptation theoretically conceivable" (p. 360). This approach was first theorized at the height of colonialism in Victorian England by Herbert Spencer who applied a notion of adaptation he borrowed from Francis Galton to social adjustment and efficient outcomes in wealth production. Communicative competence is defined as thinking, feeling, and pragmatically behaving in ways defined as appropriate by the dominant mainstream culture. Communication competence is an outcomes based measure conceptualized as functional/operational conformity to environmental criteria such as working conditions. Beyond this, adaptation means "the need to conform" (p. 373) to mainstream "objective reality" and "accepted modes of experience" (Gudykunst and Kim, 2003, p. 378). Adaptation theory advocates that immigrants and migrants "deculturize" and "unlearn" themselves and assimilate mainstream host cultural values, beliefs, goals, and modes of behavior so that they may become "fit to live with" (Gudykunst and Kim, 2003, p. 358). Adaptation is thus postulated as a zero-sum process where the minority person is conceptualized as something like a full finite container so that as some new goal or belief is added or learned something old must be "unlearned." Prominent current promoters of assimilation repeat Spencer's arguments stating that for the sake of the success of the mainstream culture ("effective progress") adaptation/assimilation must be in the direction of the dominant mainstream culture. While Spencer postulated mainstream culture as the dominant ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving, Gudykunst and Kim (2003) define the dominant group as a simple numerical majority ("differential size of the population" Gudykunst and Kim, 2003, p.360). Any tendency by the newcomer to retain their original identity (language, religious faiths, ethnic associations including attention to "ethnic media," beliefs, ways of thinking, et cetera) is defined by Gudykunst and Kim (2003) as operational/functional unfitness (p. 376), mental illness (pp. 372-373, 376), and communication incompetence, dispositions linked by Spencer and Galton and later Gudykunst and Kim (2003), to inherent personality predispositions and traits such as being close-minded (p. 369), emotionally immature (p. 381), ethnocentric (p. 376), and lacking cognitive complexity (pp. 382, 383). Conformity pressure has been defined since W. E B. Dubois in 1902 as symbolic violence especially when a minority cannot conform even if they wish to due to inherent properties such as disabilities, race, gender, ethnicity, and so forth. Forced compliance/assimilation based on majority group coercion constitutes what Pierre Bourdieu writing in the 1960's and dealing with issues of intercultural communication and conflict called symbolic violence (in English, Bourdieu, P. (1977). Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambrudge and New York: Cambridge Univ Press). As Bourdieu (1977) maintains, the effect of symbolic violence such as host cultural coercion, the catalyst for "positive" cross-cultural adaptation according to Gudykunst and Kim (2003), results in the personal disintegration of the minority person's psyche. If the coercive power is great enough and the self-efficacy and self-esteem of the minority immigrant is destroyed, the effect leads to a mis-recognition of power relations situated in the social matrix of a given field. For example, in the process of reciprocal gift exchange in the Kabyle society of Algeria, where there is asymmetry in wealth between the two parties the better endowed giver "can impose a strict relation of hierarchy and debt upon the receiver." Symbolic violence, therefore, is fundamentally the imposition of categories of thought and perception upon dominated social agents who, once they begin observing and evaluating the world in terms of those categories — and without necessarily being aware of the change in their perspective — then perceive the existing social order as just, thereby perpetuating a social structure favored by and serving the interests of those agents who are already dominant. Symbolic violence is in some senses much more powerful than physical violence in that it is embedded in the very modes of action and structures of cognition of individuals, and imposes the specter of legitimacy of the social order.
 
Co-cultural Theory
 
In its most general form, co-cultural communication refers to interactions among underrepresented and dominant group members. Co-cultures include but are not limited to people of color, women, people with disabilities, gay men and lesbians, and those in the lower social classes. Co-cultural theory, as developed by Mark P. Orbe, looks at the strategic ways in which co-cultural group members communicate with others. In addition, a co-cultural framework provides an explanation for how different persons communicate based on six factors.
 
Theories focusing on identity negotiation or management
 
Identity Management Theory
Identity Negotiation
Cultural Identity Theory
Double-swing model
 
Theories focusing on communication networks
 
Networks and Outgroup Communication Competence
Intracultural Versus Intercultural Networks
Networks and Acculturation
 
Theories focusing on acculturation and adjustment
 
Communication Acculturation
 
This theory attempts to portray "cross-cultural adaption as a collaborative effort in which a stranger and the receiving environment are engaged in a joint effort."
 
Anxiety/Uncertainty Management
 
When strangers communicate with hosts, they experience uncertainty and anxiety. Strangers need to manage their uncertainty as well as their anxiety in order to be able to communicate effectively with hosts and then to try to develop accurate predictions and explanations for hosts' behaviors.
 
Assimilation, Deviance, and Alienation States
 
Assimilation and adaption are not permanent outcomes of the adaption process; rather, they are temporary outcomes of the communication process between hosts and immigrants. "Alienation or assimilation, therefore, of a group or an individual, is an outcome of the relationship between deviant behavior and neglectful communication."
 
Other Theories
 
Meaning of Meaning Theory - "A misunderstanding takes place when people assume a word has a direct connection with its referent. A common past reduces misunderstanding. Definition, metaphor, feedforward, and Basic English are partial linguistic remedies for a lack of shared experience."
 
Face Negotiation Theory - "Members of collectivistic, high-context cultures have concerns for mutual face and inclusion that lead them to manage conflict with another person by avoiding, obliging, or compromising. Because of concerns for self-face and autonomy, people from individualistic, low-context cultures manage conflict by dominating or through problem solving"
 
Standpoint Theory - Is an individual experiences, knowledge, and communication behaviors are shaped in large part by the social groups to which they belong.
Stranger Theory - At least one of the persons in an intercultural encounter is a stranger. Strangers are a 'hyperaware' of cultural differences and tend to overestimate the effect of cultural identity on the behavior of people in an alien society, while blurring individual distinctions.
 
Feminist Genre Theory - Evaluates communication by identifying feminist speakers and reframing their speaking qualities as models for women’s liberation.
 
Genderlect Theory - "Male-female conversation is cross-cultural communication. Masculine and feminine styles of discourse are best viewed as two distinct cultural dialects rather than as inferior or superior ways of speaking. Men's report talk focuses on status and independence. Women's support talk seeks human connection."
Cultural Critical Studies Theory - The theory states that the mass media impose the dominant ideology on the rest of society, and the connotations of words and images are fragments of ideology that perform an unwitting service for the ruling elite.
 
Marxist Theory - Marxism is a theory based on Dialectical Materialism, which aims at explaining class struggle and the basis of social relations through economics.
 
Intercultural Communication Competence
 

Intercultural Communicative Competence has been said to combine three components:

knowledge (= information necessary to interact appropriately and effectively)
motivation (e.g. positive affect toward the other culture, empathy)
skills (= behavior necessary to interact appropriately and effectively)
 
Relationships of the Dimensions of Intercultural Communication Competence” (by Guo-Ming Chen). It is classifying 'Intercultural Communication Competence' to 4 Dimensions and several Components, such as *Personal Attributes (Self-Disclosure, Self-Awareness, Self-Concept, Social Relaxation) *Communication skills (Message Skills, Social Skills, Flexibility, Interaction Management) *Psychological Adaptation (Frustration, Stress, Alienation, ambiguity) *15Cultural Awareness (Social Values, Social Customs, Social Norms, Social Systems). H1 is about correlations among 4 Dimensions, and H2 is about relationship between the Ruben's other-report Intercultural Behavioral Assessment Indices and the subjects' data of the components of intercultural communication competence. The paper used the methods with 149 international students' questionnaires. As the result, *significant relationships among measures of self-consciousness, self-disclosure, communication adaptability, social situations, and interaction management. *significant relationship only between (15)Cultural Awareness and Communication Skills.((15)Cultural Awareness was only significantly correlated with measures of communication adaptability and communication responsiveness.)
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