Theories of Culture,
Groupness, and
Intercultural Communication
Prosem 422 (Baldwin)
Culture
• Baldwin additions to reading (slides 2-6)
• Culture: “The traditions, customs, norms,
beliefs, values, and thought patterning
which are passed down from generation to
generation” (Prosser, 2003).
• Some thoughts about this definition
– Ignores organizational and other “short-term”
cultures
– Treats culture as “static,” unchanging
(compared to “process” definitions of culture,
gender, diversity)
– Ignores the “power” component.
Culture as Both Form & Function
• Form
– Culture as community
– Culture as conversation
– Culture as code
• Function
– Performance script/schema for daily life
– Way of organizing/interpreting experience
– Integrates cultural members separated by time and
space
An Iceberg Model of Culture
http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/publications/allpubs/svp05-0151B/iceberg-OP.jpg
Wrestling with Terms
Culture versus Co-culture:
“Cultures” are often treated as
corresponding with nations, with
“co-cultures” being groups within
those nations but who share the
same national border.
Q: Are the similarities within a
nation such as the U.S. greater or
smaller than differences between
two nations, say the U.S. and
Canada?
Ways to Study Values
Emic
Studies behavior from
within system, with
terms, constructs
coming from culture
instead of theorist
“Cultural”
Communication
Etic
Studies behavior from
outside of system,
with theorist providing
framework or theory
Cross-Cultural
Communication
Speech Codes Theory
• Ex: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3p6KSVcN8&feature=related
• Speech Codes Theory (SCT) developed by
Philipsen and colleagues
• Takes the approach of culture as code
• Developed through emic research (observation
and interaction with cultural members—axiom
of particularity)
• And etic (axiom of generality)
Speech Codes Theory:
Formative Influences
• SCT influenced by Bernstein
– Elaborated code
– Restricted code
• SCT influenced by Hymes encouraging
“ethnography of speaking”
• Led Philipsen to conclusion that “communicative
conduct is an activity that is radically cultural—
practiced and formulated distinctively across
speech communities and cultures.”
Speech Codes Theory:
Seminal Research
• Philipsen’s first study regarding speech codes
was an investigation of “Teamsterville,” a south
side neighborhood in Chicago
• Philipsen found that there were distinctive ways
of “talking like a man” in Teamsterville
(contrasted to Nacirema)
Speech Codes Theory:
Current Propositions
• Proposition One: Distinctiveness of Speech Codes
– Where there is a distinctive culture, there will be a
distinctive speech code
• Proposition Two: Multiplicity of Speech Codes
• Proposition Three: Substance of Speech Codes
– For a given culture, the speech code implicates a
particular:
• Psychology (identity)
• Sociology (social structure/hierarchy)
• Rhetoric (what is true/important as in honor)
Propositions cont.
• Proposition Four: Meaning of Speech Codes
– Provide constitutive meaning to communication; that is,
defines what a particular utterance should count as
(teasing vs. dissing; compliment vs. insult)
• Proposition Five: Site of Speech Codes
– “terms, rules, and premises of a speech code are
inexplicably woven into speaking itself”
– Analysis: analyze interaction
– Examine rituals, cultural myths, and social dramas
– Examine metacommunicative vocabulary
Propositions (cont.)
Proposition Six: The Discursive Force of
Speech Codes
Speech codes shape interaction in a cultural
community
– People tend to behave in ways consistent with the
code
– Discursive force can be seen in metacommunication of members (e.g., totemizing
rituals, cultural myths, social dramas)
The Notion of Cultural Difference
Approaches to Cross-Cultural Comm.
Code (words spoken), context (relationship, rules,
roles), and meaning (ascribed by participants)
Some cultures look more to context for meaning and
others more to the actual words spoken. (Hall,1976)
Low Context
High Context
Meaning is in “explicit
code”—that is, people
tend to look to words for
meaning or believe that
meaning is “in the words.”
Meaning is “internal to
communicators”—that is,
in roles, situation,
relationship (contexts) not
spelled out
http://www.genderwork.com/images/orgdev_heads.gif
Hofstede’s Dimensions of Culture
Individualism/ Collectivism
Power Distance
Uncertainty Avoidance
Masculinity/ Femininity
Long-Term Orientation
(Also discussed on p. 300,
Miller)
Want to read more? https://www.mlb.ilstu.edu/ereserve2/viewpdf.php?filename=JBCOMTIN.PDF
Hofstede’s Dimensions
Collectivistic
Venezuela
Costa Rica
Hong Kong
Jamaica
Argentina
Malaysia
Mexico
Turkey
India
Japan
Germany
Italy
Denmark
Individualistic
Low Power
Distance
United
States
High Power
Distance
Theories of Face and Facework:
The Concept of Face
• Face can be traced to Chinese distinction
between lien (moral conduct) and mien-tzu
(inappropriate interaction)
• Goffman—face is the positive image we seek
to maintain during interaction
– Face can be lost, maintained, enhanced, or
repaired during interaction
– Dramaturgical perspective
Politeness Theory
• Brown & Levinson distinguish between
positive face (desire to be valued and
included) and negative face (need for
autonomy and freedom from imposition)
– Face threatening acts (FTAs) are unavoidable
during interaction so all languages have
politeness features to soften face threats.
• Ignore first paragraph on p. 302
Relating Face to Culture
• Face is a universal concept that cuts across
all cultures
• Face may have different implications in
different cultures
– Individualistic cultures may be most concerned
with negative face (autonomy)
– Collectivistic cultures may be concerned about
both autonomy and connection
Facework
• Face threats occur when desired identity in an
interaction is threatened (FTAs)
• Threats are managed through facework that can
be either preventive or corrective
• Culture influences facework
– Preventive facework: disclaimers and politeness
– Corrective facework: apologies, accounts (excuses
& justifications), avoidance, humor, and remedial
efforts
Predictions about conflict strategies?
Individualistic
Culture
High
Competing
(dominating)
Concern
for Own
Goals
Collectivistic
Culture
Low
Collaborating
(integrating)
Compromising
Avoiding
(withdrawing)
Low
Concern for
Others’ Goals
Obliging
(Yielding)
High
Theories of Co-Cultural Groups
• These frameworks consider experiences of
women and other marginalized cultural groups
• Theories have roots in feminist thought, but
have been expanded
• Two specific theories will be considered:
– Standpoint Theory
– Muted Group Theory
Co-Cultural Theories based on Power
Structures
• Main Point: While groups may create their own
identities (CTI), these identities are created within
structures of power relations—the creation of a
group’s identity (e.g., Deaf) can only be understood
in terms of the group’s relation to dominant culture.
• Co-cultures: Groups that exist and have an
identity within a larger, privileged cultural group,
whose norms and values serve to structure the
reality of the less privileged group
Key Theories within this Perspective
• Standpoint Theory: Co-cultural groups each have their
own view of the social world that is different from that of
the dominant culture
• Muted Group Theory: Dominant cultures structure the
linguistic system of a society. Co-cultural members must
find their own ways of speaking (e.g., “chick flick”).
The ways of speaking of co-cultural members with dominant
culture members always reflect some relationship of the co-culture
member’s relation to dominant culture’s power.
Specific strategies can be explained by looking at aspects
of context and the individuals involved (while predictions
could be made, Orbe is descriptive, and uses only openended methods)
Explaining specific strategies (p. 168)
Separation
Accommodation
Assimilation
Nonassertive
Avoiding
Increasing visibility
Emphasizing
Maintaining interpersonal Dispelling stereotypes commonalities
barriers
Developing positive
face
Censoring self
Averting controversy
Assertive
Communicating self
Intragroup networking
Exemplifying strengths
Embracing stereotypes
Communicating self
Intragroup
networking
Using liaisons
Educating others
Extensive preparation
Overcompensating
Manipulating
stereotypes
Bargaining
Aggressive
Attacking
Sabotaging others
Confronting
Gaining advantage
Dissociating
Mirroring
Strategic Distancing
Ridiculing Self
Application: People with
disabilities
• How might co-cultural theory (or the theoriest
that contribute to it) apply to other co-cultural
groups?
• Specifically, how do Cohen & Avanzino (2010)
do their research to apply CCT to people with
disabilies?
• What are their key findings?
• Evaluation:
– Is CCT scientific, humanistic, or critical?
– What are its strengths and limitations?
“Radical” or Critical Approaches
• Whiteness (social and linguistic construction of
whiteness)
• Critical Race Theory (how white power structures
oppress minorities and how it can be changed)
• Postcolonial (gender, class, and race oppression
at global level through historical process of
colonization)
– Modernity
• Ambivalence of colonized toward colonizers
• Appropriation
• Hybridity
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Verbal and Nonverbal Communication of Americans