Chapter 2CultureCulture is defined as the relatively specialized lifestyle of people that is passed on from one generationto the next through communication not through genes. • In social group’s culture is everything that members of the group have developed – their values, beliefs, artifacts and language: theirs ways of behaving, their art, laws, religion and of course communication theories, styles and attitudes. • Culture – An accumulation of values, forms of expression, beliefs, and language – Shapes ones interpretations of what events mean – communication problems can be caused by conflicting cultural assumptionsCulture in Interpersonal CommunicationReviewingThis unit explored the nature of culture and identified some key concepts and principles that explain therole of culture in interpersonal communication.Nature of Culture and Interpersonal CommunicationWhat is culture and how is it transmitted? Culture: The relatively specialized lifestyle of a group of people (values, beliefs, artifacts, ways of behaving) that are passed from one generation to the next by means of communication (not genes). Enculturation: The process through which you learn the culture into which youre born. Acculturation: The process by which you learn the rules and norms of a culture that is different from your native culture and that modifies your original or native culture.How Cultures DifferHow do cultures differ from each other? How do these differences affect interpersonal communication? In high-power-distance cultures, power is concentrated in the hands of a few and there is a great difference between those with and those without power. In low-power-distance cultures, the power is more equally shared throughout the citizenry. In highly masculine cultures, men are viewed as strong, assertive, and focused on being successful, whereas women are viewed as modest, tender, and focused on the quality of life. In highly feminine cultures, men and women are viewed more similarly. A collectivist culture emphasizes the group and subordinates the individuals goals to those of the group. An individualist culture emphasizes the individual and subordinates the groups goals to the individuals.
In high-context cultures, much of the information is in the context; in low-context cultures, information is explicitly stated in the verbal message. Different cultures view time very differently. o Displaced and diffused time orientations identify how accurately and specifically time is viewed and defined. o Monochronic people do one thing at a time; polychronic people do several things at the same time.Intercultural CommunicationWhat is intercultural communication and what are its central principles? Intercultural communication refers to communication between people who have different cultures, beliefs, values, and ways of behaving. Some intercultural communication principles include: prepare yourself, reduce uncertainty, recognize differences (between yourself and others, within the culturally different group, and in meanings), adjust your communication, and recognize culture shock.Cultural Differences in Non-verbal CommunicationNon-verbal communication or body language is an important part of how peoplecommunicate and there are differences from culture to culture. Hand and arm gestures,touch, and eye contact (or its lack) are a few of the aspects of non-verbal communicationthat may vary significantly depending upon cultural background.Gestures:There are a number of gestures commonly used in the United States that may have adifferent meaning and/or be offensive to those from other cultures. One commonexample is the use of a finger or hand to indicate “come here please”. This is the gestureused to beckon dogs in some cultures and is very offensive. Pointing with one finger isalso considered to be rude in some cultures and Asians typically use their entire hand topoint to something.Touch:
While patting a child’s head is considered to be a friendly or affectionate gesture in ourculture, it is considered inappropriate by many Asians to touch someone on the head,which is believed to be a sacred part of the body. In the Middle East, the left hand isreserved for bodily hygiene and should not be used to touch another or transfer objects.In Muslim cultures, touch between opposite gendered individuals is generallyinappropriate.Eye contact/gaze:In mainstream Western culture, eye contact is interpreted as attentiveness and honesty;we are taught that we should “look people in the eye” when talking. In many cultures,however, including Hispanic, Asian, Middle Eastern, and Native American, eye contact isthought to be disrespectful or rude, and lack of eye contact does not mean that a person isnot paying attention. Women may especially avoid eye contact with men because it canbe taken as a sign of sexual interest.Of special note when working with babies:Although it is common in Western culture for adults to admire babies and young childrenand comment upon how cute they are, this is avoided in Hmong and Vietnamese culturesfor fear that these comments may be overheard by a spirit that will try to steal the baby orotherwise cause some harm to come to him or her.Principles for effective intercultural communicationIntercultural communication is communication between people who have different cultures beliefs,values and ways of behaving.Some intercultural communication guidelines includeEducate your selfRecognize differences (between yourself and others, with in the culturally different group and inmeaningS0
Confront your sterotypesReduce your ethnic centrism and adjust your communication.Cultural BarriersAcceptable styles of communication vary between cultures. In some societies physicalgestures are extravagant, and touch is more acceptable. In these societies, it is generallyacceptable to hug and touch a persons arm when you are speaking to him. In other societiesthis would be unacceptable. Some religions have a taboo about members of the oppositesex communicating and particularly touching. Casual hugging and kissing would becompletely unacceptable. •