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InterCultural CommunICatIon World Bank
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you are being perceived by that other person But sometimes your avowed identity the groups with which. you really feel a sense of comfort and affiliation diverges from that ascribed identity In such cases the. interaction is bound to be frustrating for both parties. Recently many identity theorists have moved toward a Communication Theory of Identity CTI 7. or related ideas According to this perspective your cultural group membership is not a static label or. fixed attribute Rather cultural identities are enacted or performed through interaction One enacts iden. tity through choice of language nonverbal signs such as gesture and clothing and discourse strategy. Depending on the situation and on your goals you may enact identity in very different ways on different. occasions Cultural identity performances can vary along three dimensions 8. 1 Scope of Identity Performance How many aspects of one s behavior express cultural identity. For example one may choose to eat a few ethnic related foods but reject ethnic dress Or one. may allude to national myths or sagas in speaking just with co nationals or may tell such stories at. diverse occasions among diverse listeners, 2 Intensity of Identity Performance How powerfully does one enact one s identity One may note. in passing one s national origin or one may make a point of proclaiming the centrality of national. origin at every opportunity, 3 Salience of Identity Performance How obvious are the cultural elements of identity in one s. daily routines Ethnic dress insistence on using one s first language over the host national lan. guage or reliance solely on ethnic mass media are all ways in which one asserts identity. Intercultural Communication Competence and Ethnocentrism. What does it mean to be a competent communicator across cultures and what are the elements or com. ponents of that competence Some authorities link intercultural competence with identity the competent. communicator is the person who can affirm others avowed identities 9 Other notions of intercultural com. petence focus on the communicator s goal attainment the competent communicator is the person who. can convey a sense of communication appropriateness and effectiveness in diverse cultural contexts 10. Certainly proficiency in the host culture language is valuable for intercultural competence But it is not. enough to know the grammar and vocabulary of that language the competent communicator will also. understand language pragmatics like how to use politeness strategies in making requests or how to. avoid giving out too much information 11 Equally important competent communicators are sensitive to. nonverbal communication patterns in other cultures 12 In addition to avoiding insults and gaffes by. using gestures that may mean very different things in a host culture as opposed to one s home culture. competent communicators understand how to use or avoid touch proximity in physical space and para. linguistic sounds to convey their intended meanings. 7 Hecht M L Warren J R Jung E Krieger J L 2005 The communication theory of identity Development theoretical perspec. tive and future directions In W R Gudykunst Ed Theorizing about intercultural communication 257 278 Thousand Oaks CA. 8 Collier M J Thomas M 1988 Cultural identity An interpretive perspective In Y Y Kim and W B Gudykunst Eds Theories. in intercultural communication International and Intercultural Communication Annual 12 99 120 Thousand Oaks CA Sage. 9 Ting Toomey S 1999 Communicating across cultures New York Guilford Press. 10 Wiseman R L 2003 Intercultural communication competence In W B Gudykunst Ed Cross cultural and intercultural commu. nication 167 190 Thousand Oaks CA Sage, 11 Gass S M Neu J Eds 1996 Speech acts across cultures Challenges to communication in a second language Berlin Mou. ton de Gruyter, 12 Anderson P A Hecht M L Hoobler G D Smallwood M 2003 In W B Gudykunst Ed Cross cultural and intercultural. communication 73 90 Thousand Oaks CA Sage,Intercultural Communication CommGAP 2.
Traits that make for competent intercultural communicators include flexibility and the ability to tolerate. high levels of uncertainty 13 reflectiveness or mindfulness 14 open mindedness sensitivity adaptability and. the ability to engage in divergent and systems level thinking 15. The foundation of intercultural communication competence is the capacity to avoid ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism is the inclination to view one s own group as natural and correct and all others as aber. rant We tend to think prescriptively that all groups should behave as our own group behaves And we are. naturally proud of our own group and distrustful of others 16 Obviously a person who is highly ethnocen. tric cannot adapt to diverse people and cannot communicate in an interculturally competent manner. Some authorities hold that some degree of ethnocentrism is inevitable and even functional for the pres. ervation of distinct cultural groups Competent communicators simply learn to suppress their natural. ethnocentric reactions in order to better understand others on their own terms 17 Alternatively it may be. possible for individuals to evolve beyond ethnocentrism to become ethnorelativistic The Developmental. Model of Intercultural Sensitivity DMIS 18 is frequently used in intercultural training and assessment to. chart individuals progress toward ethnorelativism The model posits six stages. 1 Denial The individual refuses to acknowledge cultural differences. 2 Defense The individual begins to see cultural differences and is threatened by them. 3 Minimization While individuals at this stage do acknowledge cultural differences they see human. universals as more salient than cultural distinctions. 4 Acceptance The individual begins to accept significant cultural differences first in behaviors and. then in values, 5 Adaptation The individual becomes more adept at intercultural communication by shifting perspec. tives to the other s cultural world view, 6 Integration Individuals at this stage begin to transcend their own native cultures They define their. identities and evaluate their actions in terms of multiple cultural perspectives. Communicating Across Diverse World Views and Values. To communicate competently across cultures individuals must understand some of the ways in which cul. tures diverge in their world views The pioneer in pointing out the practical implications of differing world. views was the anthropologist Edward Hall For example Hall explained that some cultures are mono. chronic They regard time as segmentable an almost tangible commodity Monochronic cultures value. schedules and can evolve efficient bureaucracies Polychronic cultures on the other hand regard events. as embedded in more of a simultaneous matrix of occurrences Little value is placed on demarcating work. time as opposed to socialization time for instance People in polychromic cultures are little concerned with. promptness or deadlines 19, 13 Gudykunst W B 2005 An anxiety uncertainty management AUM theory of effective communication Making the mesh of the net. finer In W R Gudykunst Ed Theorizing about intercultural communication 281 322 Thousand Oaks CA Sage. 14 Langer J Mindfulness Reading MA Addison Wesley, 15 Ting Toomey S 1999 Communicating across cultures 272 New York Guilford Press. 16 Triandis H C 1994 Culture and social behavior New York McGraw Hill. 17 Devine P G 1989 Stereotypes and prejudice Their automatic and controlled components Journal of Personality and Social Psy. chology 56 5 18, 18 Bennett J M Bennett M J 2004 Developing intercultural sensitivity An integrative approach to global and domestic diversity.
In D Landis J M Bennett M J Bennett Eds Handbook of intercultural training 3rd ed 147 165 Thousand Oaks CA Sage. 19 Hall E T 1983 The dance of life The other dimension of time New York Random House. Intercultural Communication CommGAP 3, The most frequently utilized taxonomy of cultural world views in intercultural communication studies was. developed originally by surveying IBM employees in 50 nations and later supplemented with additional. data 20 In this taxonomy cultures can be arrayed along five dimensions. Individualism Collectivism Are individuals defined by their unique attributes or by their group mem. berships Is individual achievement and gratification most important or is group harmony. Uncertainty Avoidance Is it preferable to tread well known traditional paths or is risk taking and. experimentation prized, Power Distance Should status differences be kept to a minimum or are strict social hierarchies. Masculine Feminine Does the culture cultivate competition or cooperation Acquisitiveness or. Short Term Orientation Long Term Orientation also known as Confucian Dynamism Are immediate. outcomes and personal dignity most important or should long term perspectives and social order be. emphasized, Of these six dimensions collectivism individualism receives the greatest attention Sometimes the gulf. between the two orientations seems immense While individualists are most concerned with doing what. must be done to succeed at a task collectivists may be attuned to avoiding conflict and assuring harmony. While individualists believe in direct and honest talk collectivists may choose to communicate indirectly. through metaphor or through an intermediary in order to avoid losing face oneself or causing others to do. Because collectivist thought is literally so foreign to many Westerners researchers have promulgated a set. of recommendations for individualists interacting with collectivists 21. Recognize that collectivists pay attention to group memberships and predict behavior thereby. Recognize that collectivists change their behaviors when they change group membership. Don t force equality of status vertical hierarchies are ok. Avoid overt competition emphasize harmony and cooperation instead. Avoid threatening another person s face help them save face when necessary. Recognize that collectivists do not separate criticism of an idea or action from criticism of the person. Avoid overt confrontation use a strategy of indirection or just let go of the conflict. Cultivate long term relationships, Behave more formally than usual in initial interactions. Follow the collectivists lead in self disclosure,Culture Shock and Adaptation.
Culture shock is a common stress reaction that individuals have when they find themselves immersed in. an unfamiliar culture 22 One s sense of identity as a mature and efficacious adult can be severely chal. lenged when one can t even figure out how to pay bus fare in a foreign transit system For relatively short. term sojourners in a new culture for example exchange students aid workers or corporate executives. 20 Hofstede G 1991 Cultures and organizations Software of the mind London McGraw Hill. 21 Triandis H C Brislin R Hui C H 1988 Cross cultural training across the individualism collectivism divide International Jour. nal of Intercultural Relations 12 269 289, 22 Storti C 2001 The art of crossing cultures 2nd ed Yarmouth ME Intercultural Press. Intercultural Communication CommGAP 4, on temporary assignment the pattern of adjusting to a new culture often follows a predictable pattern. from elation to depression to adjustment 23 Moreover when the sojourn comes to an end returnees often. experience re entry shock when they return home 24 Overall sojourners may expect to traverse through. seven stages 25, 1 Honeymoon Newcomers are elated about all the exotic sights and experiences and by the friendli. ness with which they are greeted, 2 Hostility As the welcome wears thin and more quotidian tasks are expected of the sojourner disori. entation and frustration set in Those lacking in communication skills may either abort their visit or. else retreat into isolation, 3 Humor Sojourners are able to see their various challenges and faux pas in perspective.
4 In Sync Having achieved a sense of comfort and competence in their host culture sojourners may. even serve as mentors for other newcomers, 5 Ambivalence As the end of their sojourn approaches individuals are torn between the joy of an. anticipated homecoming and the disappointment of seeing their overseas adventure coming to an. 6 Re entry Culture Shock The sojourner is shocked by the lack of interest and support among those. who remained behind in the home culture Often the stress of re entry may exceed the original. stress of encountering the host culture, 7 Resocialization As individuals adjust to being back in their home cultures three patterns are. common Assimilators try to fit back into old patterns and forget that they had ever experienced. another culture Alienators are never quite satisfied with what they find at home They may feel. restless until they can accept another overseas assignment Transformers are change agents who. use their recently acquired intercultural knowledge to help vitalize their home relationships and. organizations, For immigrants refugees or migr s the long term counterpart of culture shock is acculturation or adap. tation For them there is to be no re entry to their home cultures Communication plays a key role in the. adjustment of these individuals to their new home culture 26 Important communication components that. will determine the quality of cross cultural adaptation include a a critical mass of same culture immi. grants to provide community support and mass media b the receptivity of the host culture to non native. populations and c opportunities for immigrants and refugees to participate in interpersonal interaction. with host nationals If these communication factors are absent or out of balance there is a danger that. immigrants or refugees may either lose their native cultural identities and assimilate or that they may iso. late themselves from their host culture and fail to participate fully The goal of communication for adapta. tion is the establishment of integrated bi cultural or multi cultural identity 27. 23 Oberg K 1960 Culture shock and the problems of adjustment to new cultural environments Practical Anthropology 7 170 179. 24 Martin J N Harrell T 2004 Intercultural re entry of students and professionals Theory and practice In D Landis J M Ben. nett M J Bennett Eds Handbook ofintercultural training 3rd ed 309 336 Thousand Oaks CA Sage. 25 Ting Toomey S 1999 Communicating across cultures 248 250 New York Guilford Press. 26 Kim Y Y 2001 Becoming intercultural An integrative theory of communication and cross cultural adaptation Thousand Oaks CA. 27 Maloof V Rubin D L Miller A N 2006 Cultural competence and identity in cross cultural adaptation The role of a Vietnamese. heritage language school International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism 9 2 255 273. Intercultural Communication CommGAP 5, The Communication for Governance and Accountability Program CommGAP. a global program at the World Bank seeks to confront the challenges inherent in the. political economy of development By applying innovative communication approaches that. improve the quality of the public sphere by amplifying citizen voice promoting free. independent and plural media systems and helping government institutions communicate. better with their citizens the program aims to demonstrate the power of communication. principles processes and structures in promoting good and accountable governance and. hence better development results, CommGAP is funded through a multi donor trust fund The founding donor of this trust fund.
is the UK s Department for International Development DFID. Communication for Governance Accountability Program. External Affairs Vice Presidency,The World Bank,1818 H Street NW MSN U11 1102. Washington DC 20433, P 202 458 7955 F 202 522 2654 E commgap worldbank org. WEB www worldbank org commgap BLOG blogs worldbank org publicsphere.

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