CONTEXT , AND POWER
1. Identify three approaches to culture
2. Define communication
3. Identify and describe nine cultural value orientations
4. Describe how cultural values influence communication
5. Understand how cultural values influence conflict behavior
6. Describe how communication can reinforce cultural beliefs
7. Explain how culture can function as resistance to dominant
8. Explain relationship between communication and context
9. Describe characteristics of power
10. Describe relationship between communication and power
WHAT IS CULTURE?
Learned patterns of behavior and attitudes
shared by a group of people.
Considered the core concept in intercultural
Defined in many ways from a pattern of
perceptions that influence communication to
a site of contestation and conflict.
How we think of culture frames our ideas and
Scholar Wen Shu Lee
Identifies different common
uses of the term culture :
1. unique human efforts
2. Refinement , mannerism
4. Shared language, beliefs, values
5. Dominant culture
6. The shifting tensions between the shared
SOCIAL SCIENCE PERSPECTIVE:
( focused on the influence of culture on
Culture is learned and shared
patterns of perception “programming of the
A social psychologist Geert Hofstede says that
culture becomes a collective experience
because it’s shared with people who live in
and experience the same environment.
The relationship between culture and
communication: culture influences
Heterogeneous, dynamic ( we have richness,
Site of contested meanings ( critical scholars
suggest that the differences between U.S
Americans are often looked over)
EX: Tiger woods has multicultural identities
Relationship between culture and
communication is that communication
( focuses on contextual patterns of
communication behavior rather than on group-
Learned and shared
Common example = ethnography of communication :
analyzing symbolic meaning of verbal and non-verbal
activities in attempt to understand patterns and rules of
Contextual symbolic meanings (activity must have the
same symbolic meaning for everyone)
EX: Gathering around the coffee machine at work every
morning symbolizes the desire to interact with colleagues
Relation between culture and communication would be
that culture influences communication and
communication reinforces culture.
WHAT IS COMMUNICATION?
A symbolic process whereby reality is
produced, maintained, repaired, and
How Cultural Values Influence
(1950s study of contemporary Navaho and
descendants of Spanish colonists and European
Americans in the Southwest)
They emphasized …
Cultural values: the worldview of a cultural group
and its set of deeply held beliefs
They are the most deeply felt beliefs shared by a
cultural group, they reflect the shared perception of
what ought to be and not what is.
Example: Equality (shared by many, refers to belief
that all humans are created equal)
Cultural values influence
Intercultural conflicts are often caused by
differences in value orientations.
To not have conflict members of cultural
groups must answer these questions…
What is human nature?
What is the relationship between humans and
What is the relationship between humans?
What is the preferred personality?
What is the orientation toward time?
These answers become a framework for
understanding broad differences in values
among various cultural groups.
Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck
According to these men, there are three
possible responses to each question as
they relate to shared values. They believe
that although all responses are possible in
all societies, each society has one, or
possibly two, preferred responses to each
question that reflect the predominant
values of that society.
Ex. : Religious beliefs may reinforce certain
Communication and Context
Context typically is created by the physical or
social aspects of the situation in which
Ex.: Communication may occur in a
classroom, a bar, or a church. In each case,
the physical characteristic of the setting
influence the communication.
Context is neither static nor objective, it can
be multilayered and consist of the social,
political, and historical structures in which the
Hofstede Value Orientation
(Based on extensive cross cultural study of personel working in
IBM subsidiaries in 53 countries)
Examine value differences among
national societies identifying 5 areas of
1. Individualism vs. Collectivism
Although problems were shared by different
cultural groups, solutions varied from culture
2. Power Distance
Refers to the extent to which less powerful
members of institutions and organizations
within a country expect and accept the
unequal distribution of power.
Ex.: Denmark, Israel, and New Zealand value
small power distance because they believe
that less hierarchy is better and that power
should be used only for legitimate purposes.
The best corporate leaders in those countries
are those who minimize power distances.
Mexico, India, and the Philippines values high
3. Femininity vs. Masculinity
Gender specific roles of value
The degree to which cultural groups value so
called masculine values(achievement, ambition,
acquisition of material goods) or so called
feminine values (quality of life, service to others,
nurturance, and support for the unfortunate)
IBM employees in Japan, Austria, and
Mexico=high masculine value
Employees in Northern Europe rank higher in
feminine value orientation
4. Uncertainty Avoidance
Concerns the degree to which people who
feel threatened by ambiguous situations
respond by avoiding them or trying to
establish more structure to compensate for
Great Britain, Sweden, Hong Kong, and US =
prefers to limit rules, accept dissent, and take
Greece, Portugal, and Japan= prefer more
extensive rules and regulations in
organizational settings and seek consensus
5. Long Term vs. Short Term
This reflects a society’s search for virtue or
Short term= concern with possessing truth
(western religions of Judaism, Christianity, and
Islam) Focus on quick results in endeavors and
recognize social pressure to conform.
Long term= tend to respect the demands of
virtue( Eastern religions such as Confucianism,
Hinduism, and Shintoism) Focus more on thrift,
perseverance and tenacity in whatever they
attempt and to be willing to subordinate
themselves to a larger purpose.
Limitations of Value
Remember that cultures are dynamic and
heterogeneous. We shouldn’t reduce
individuals to mere stereotypes based on
these value orientations.
Another limitation of value framework is
that they tend to “essentialize” people
and assume that a particular group
characteristic is the essential
characteristic of a given member at all
times and in all context.
Communication and Power
Power is universal in communication interactions, although it is
not always evident or obvious how power influences
communication or what kinds of meaning are constructed. We
often think of communication between individuals as being
between equals, but this is rarely the case.
2 levels of group related power
1.Primary dimensions (age, ethnicity, gender, physical
abilities, race, and sexual orientation)*more permanent
2.Educational background, geographical location, marital
status, and socioeconomic status.* changeable
Example: Communication style in college classrooms
emphasizes public speaking and competition (first person who
raises his/her hand gets to speak)
THE 4 BUILDING BLOCKS TO UNDERSTANDING
INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION :
COMMUNICATION,CONTEXT AND POWER.
CULTURE CAN BE VIEWED AS :
1.Learned patterns of group related perceptions
2.Contextual symbolic patterns of meaning, involving
3. heterogeneous, dynamic
• Communication = process whereby reality is
produced, maintained and transformed
• Can be viewed as components of a speaker,
sender, receiver, message and channel and
The relationship between culture and
communications is complex :
Culture is influences communication and is enacted
and reinforced through communication.
Communication can be a way of contesting and
resisting dominant culture
Context influences communication: It is the
physical and social setting in which
communication occurs or the larger political,
social and historical environment
Power is pervasive and plays an enormous, often
hidden role in intercultural interactions.
Martin, J.N., and T. K. Nakayama.
Intercultural communication in contexts.
5. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010. pp 83-119.