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The History of the Study of Intercultural Communication

COMM 335 Lecture 2

David Tarvin

on 5 September 2017

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Transcript of The History of the Study of Intercultural Communication

The field of intercultural communication in the U.S. began with the establishment of the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) in 1946.

The FSI emphasized the importance of nonverbal communication and research concluded that nonverbal communication varies from culture to culture.
the study of how people use personal space.
Distance zones-
the area, defined by physical space, within which people interact.
Intimate zone
Personal zone
Social zone
Public zone

Anxiety uncertainty management (AUM) theory

developed by Gudykunst; the view that the reduction of anxiety and uncertainty plays an important role in successful intercultural communication, particularly when experiencing new cultures.

Face negotiation theory

developed by
Stella Ting-Toomey
; the view that cultural groups vary in preferences for conflict styles and face saving strategies.

Conversational constraints theory-
developed by Min-Sun Kim; the view that cultural groups vary in their fundamental concerns regarding how conversational messages should be constructed.

Communication accommodation theory-
focuses on the adaptation during intercultural interaction. The view that individuals adjust their verbal communication to facilitate understanding.

Diffusion of innovations theory-
developed by Everett Rogers; explains how cultural practices can be changed due to communication. The view that communication and relationships play important roles in how new ideas are adopted (or not) by individuals and groups.
Cross-cultural training-
training people to become familiar with other cultural norms and to improve their interactions with people of different domestic and international cultures.

Diversity training-
the training meant to facilitate intercultural communication among various gender, ethnic, and racial groups in the United States
Research paradigms have much influence on the current study of intercultural communication.
a framework that serves as the worldview of researchers.
Different paradigms assume different interpretations of reality, human behavior, culture, and communication.
People understand and learn as they select, evaluate, and organize information through perception.

the process by which individuals select, organize, and interpret stimuli to create their view of the world.
Three contemporary approaches to studying intercultural communication are:
Social Science approach
Interpretive approach
Critical approach
A study of intercultural communication, based on the assumptions that
1) there is a describable, external reality,
2) human behaviors are predictable, and
3) culture is a variable that can be measured.

Social Science Approach
This approach aims to identify and explain cultural variations in communication and to predict future communication.
Researchers who take this approach often use

quantitative methods-

research methods that use numerical indicators to capture and ascertain the relationship among variables. These methods use survey and observation.
A study of intercultural communication, based on the assumptions that
1) human experience is subjective,
2) behavior is creative rather than determined or easily predicted, and
3) culture is created and maintained through communication.

Interpretive Approach
This approach aims to understand and describe human behavior within specific cultural groups.
Researchers who take this approach often use
qualitative methods-
research methods that attempt to capture people's own meanings for their everyday behavior in specific contexts. These methods use participant observation and rhetorical analysis.
A meta-theoretical approach of intercultural communication, based on many assumptions of the interpretive approach but that focuses more on

such as the political and social structures that influence communication.

the political, social, and historical situations, backgrounds, and environments that influence communication.

Critical Approach
This approach aims to identify and explain cultural differences based on power relations in communication.
Researchers who take this approach often use
textual analysis-
examination of cultural texts such as media-- television, movies, journalistic essays, and so on.
How might social science researchers understand the communication issues of those involved in Texas secession?

Social Science Approach
Measure differences in perception among various cultural groups to try to understand how different cultures experience Texas and what they view as appropriate and inappropriate responses by the federal government.

Measure how Mexican-Americans and whites viewed the government response to illegal immigration.

Measure what kinds of communication media people use to debate the secession.

How might interpretive researchers understand the communication issues of those involved in Texas secession?

Interpretive Approach
Interview individuals about secession with people from Texas, from states bordering Texas, and the bordering states in Northern Mexico to examine and understand the oral culture surrounding an independent Republic of Texas.

Analyze the rhetoric of leaders that discuss Texas secession to better understand the cultural values espoused to their followers.

Use an
Afrocentric orientation
to understand various aspects of black culture communication regarding Texas secession.
Most scholarly studies of communication are rooted in a European American perspective, and this frame of references is not applicable to communication of all cultural groups.

Molefi Asante developed
an orientation toward African American cultural standards, including beliefs and values, as the criteria for interpreting behaviors and attitudes.
A common origin and experience of struggle
An element of resistance
Traditional values of humaneness and harmony with nature
A fundamentally African way of knowing and interpreting the world
An orientation toward communalism

One interpretive approach is the ethnography of communication.

a discipline that examines the patterned interactions and significant symbols of specific cultural groups to identify the cultural norms that guide their behaviors.

It is designed to explore cultural phenomena where the researcher observes society from the point of view of the subject of the study.
How might critical researchers understand the communication issues of those involved in Texas secession?

Critical Approach
Focus on how different cultural groups are responding to Texas secession by looking at the ways that different media are covering it in the news. Look at CNN, FoxNews, Asian Week, The Advocate, radio shows

Analyze the rhetoric of foreign leaders discussing Texas secession to better understand the macrocontext surrounding U.S. foreign policy.
Dialectical Approach
Dialectical approach
an approach to intercultural communication that integrates the three approaches-- functional, interpretive, and critical--in understanding culture and communication. It recognizes and accepts that the three approaches are interconnected and sometimes contradictory.

(1) a method of logic based on the principle that an idea generates its opposite, leading to a reconciliation of the opposites;
(2) the complex and paradoxical relationship between two opposite qualities or entities.
Six dialectics of intercultural communication

Cultural- Individual dialectic
Personal- Contextual dialectic
Differences- Similarities dialectic
Static- Dynamic dialectic
History/Past- Present/Future dialectic
Privilege- Disadvantage dialectic
legal status
“We have heard many times from officials that it’s unfair that Siberia, with its immeasurable wealth, belongs entirely to Russia. Unfair, how do you like that? And grabbing Texas from Mexico was fair!”
- Vladimir Putin
Think of it like photography
No single angle or snapshot gives us the truth, but taking pictures from various angles gives a more comprehensive view of the subject
Dialectical Approach
The History of the
Study of Intercultural Communication

COMM 335
Social Science Approach
Study:Survey 300 Respondents to reveal meaning of Secession
100 Texans: "Secession" = independence and pride
100 U.S. non-Texans: "Secession" = selfish and Civil War
100 Mexicans: "Secession" = hurdle and intriguing
Dialectical Approach
TX and non-TX may create conflict over the meaning of the word
TX and MX may have less conflict over the meaning of the word

Interpretive Approach
Study: Ethnographic Research = attends TX Secession monthly meeting in Bryan and interview members
Cute boys
Liberal hippies!
Critical Approach
Study: Examine different cultural groups by looking at different media
Approaches to Understanding Intcultural Comm
Dialectical Approach
Combines the three approaches
1) Functional Approach: Surveys and observations to form hypotheses
2) Interpretive Approach: Ethnographic research verifies or rejects hypotheses
3) Critical Approach: Textual analysis provides understanding of power

Stresses the importance of relationships, but we cannot understand a relationship by only looking at two individuals’ behaviors. It requires holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously.
1) Discuss that Texans define “secession” differently than other cultural groups.
2) Discuss that not all Texans agree on reasons to be pro-secession.
3) Discuss how the media portrays secession
Describe and change behavior
Culture & Comm continually change and often has a contradictory nature
Predictable, creative, and changeable
Quantitative and Qualitative
Combines the 3 approaches and emphasizes the dialectical nature of culture
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