Individualism, Collectivism, High And Low Context

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Individualism, Collectivism, High And Low Context

  1. 1. Individualist/CollectivistHigh- and Low-ContextCultural Comparisons<br />1<br />
  2. 2. <ul><li>A system of expressive practices fraught with feelings, a system of symbols, premises, rules, forms, and the domains and dimensions of mutual meanings associated with these.
  3. 3. A learned set of shared interpretations about beliefs, values, and norms, which affect the behaviors of a relatively large group of people.</li></ul>2<br />What is Culture?From DonalCarbaugh<br />
  4. 4. The framework, background, and surrounding circumstances in which communication or an event takes place.<br />The background, the “field” of belief systems, world view, and perspectives people have been raised in.<br />A set of “cultural lenses” though which one views the world and interprets communication—we can never “lose” completely the lenses we were raised with.<br />3<br />What is Cultural Context?From Edward T. Hall<br />
  5. 5. Contrasting Values: Individualist and Collective CulturesOsterman, Coon & Kemmelmeier<br />Individualism<br />Independent Control<br />Goals for oneself<br />Competition w/others<br />Uniqueness is valued<br />Private self-knowledge<br />Direct communication<br />Consistent self in all situations<br />Prefers to work alone<br />Collectivism<br />Relational w/group<br />Sense of belonging<br />Duty to group<br />Harmony w/others<br />Advice sought from others<br />Self alters according to context<br />Hierarchy important<br />Prefers working in groups<br />4<br />
  6. 6. Children rewarded for:<br />Initiative<br />Personal achievement<br />Individual leadership<br />Exercising choice or preference<br />5<br />Individualistic Patterns<br />
  7. 7. Logical<br />Linear<br />Action-oriented <br />Practical rather than theoretical<br />Lives are compartmentalized<br />Language expected to be precise and “just enough to get the message across”—<br />Language is functional and necessary because surrounding context does not convey much information<br />6<br />Low Context Cultural Traitsoften found in Individualistic Cultures<br />
  8. 8. Children are taught that they are a part of a circle relations.<br />Identity as a member of a group comes first, summed up in the South African ideal of ubuntu “I am because we are.”<br />An example: American Indians have the highest number of military veterans and continue to have the highest number per capita of any other ethnic group in the U.S.<br />7<br />Collectivist Patterns<br />
  9. 9. Relations among people more important than “the business at hand.”<br />Intuitive—collect clues to situation from the environment and what’s unspoken<br />Contemplative<br />Language valued less to convey meaning and more to assist in relationship-building and creating an atmosphere (thus, more elaborate greetings, hierarchical forms of address, and “social lubrication” story-telling).<br />8<br />High Context Cultural Traitsoften found in Collectivist Cultures<br />
  10. 10. Monochronic time: One-track linear, doing things sequentially; time is compartmentalized. “Clock time,” with set beginning and ending times. Conversations like tennis match.<br />Polychronic time: Multi-track circular, allows many things to happen simultaneously. Open-ended, completing the task or communication is more important than adhering to a schedule. Conversations like popcorn popping.<br />9<br />Time is Part of Cultural Context<br />
  11. 11. Low-context: no meaning is ascribed to the surrounding environment: words mean what they mean on the surface. Intent is to directly convey a message⇒ “Shut the door.”<br />High-context: the surrounding environment created among the group conveys much meaning: people’s silence, body language, looks exchanged, the formality or informality of the setting, the people who are involved (are they equals or members of a hierarchy). Words’ meaning may be greatly influenced by the environment.<br />10<br />Context and Communication<br />
  12. 12. Pay attention to non-verbal: eye contact, physical distance, facial expressions, “the vibe”<br />Pay attention to status: are you equals?<br />Face-saving: important not to embarrass them—make sure they understanding teasing.<br />Their conversation may at times be more for the purpose of relationship-building than for just exchanging information.<br />11<br />Advice to Low Context People who are Communicating with High Context People<br />
  13. 13. They take your words at face value.<br />They may not pick up on your nonverbal clues or indirect (subtle) hints or cues.<br />Their notion of roles are separate from status and personal identity (they compartmentalize more than you do).<br />Their communication is direct and may seem too blunt but they don’t mean to be rude.<br />Question: which gender do you think is high-context and which is low-context?<br />12<br />Advice to High Context People who are Communicating with Low Context People<br />
  14. 14. Autonomy is closely related to individualism; independence highly valued.<br />“Everyone is equal and we treat everyone with friendliness to demonstrate this value,” in individualistic cultures.<br />Embeddedness is related to collectivism—the inside group matters more than outsiders. Friendliness extended to group members.<br />Let me draw some “cultural hearts” on the board for you.<br />13<br />Boundaries and Friendshipin Different Contexts<br />
  15. 15. Cultures are in general individualistic/low context or collective/high context.<br />Individuals will exhibit traits of both kinds of culture depending on the situation they find themselves in.<br />Cultural frameworks such as I/L-C and C/H-C are meant as broad definitions for understanding: they are not stereotypes!<br />If you feel a little “oddness” between yourself and a classmate: it’s probably not “personal,” it’s cultural difference. Relax and learn!<br />14<br />In Closing, Let’s Remember<br />

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