Visibility of eTwinning Projects Group Newsletter no. 5 - July 2015 - Page 44

Visibility of eTwinning Projects Group July 2015 Newsletter -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Defining intercultural communication by Adil Tugyan Intercultural communication takes place when individuals influenced by different cultural communities negotiate shared meanings in interaction. What counts as intercultural communication depends in part on what one considers a culture, and the definition of culture itself is quite contestable. Some authorities limit the term “intercultural communication” to refer only to communication among individuals from different nationalities. 2. Avowed identity is comprised of the group affiliations that one feels most intensely. For example, if an individual is assimilated into a new culture, then the values and practices of that destination culture will figure importantly in her avowed culture. A related concept is reference group. A reference group is a social entity from which one draws one’s avowed identity. It is a group in which one feels competent and at ease. Ascribed and avowed identities are important for understanding intercultural communication because a person from another culture usually communicates with you based on your ascribed identity; that is how you are being perceived by that other person. But sometimes your avowed identity – the groups with which you really feel a sense of comfort and affiliation – diverges from that ascribed identity. In such cases, the interaction is bound to be frustrating for both parties. Other authorities, in contrast, expand the notion of intercultural communication to encompass interethnic, inter-religious, and even inter-regional communication, as well as communication among individuals of different sexual orientations. In this sense, all interactions can be arrayed along some continuum of “interculturalness”. Interactions are most highly intercultural when individuals’ group identities are most salient in determining the values, prejudices, language, nonverbal behaviors, and relational styles upon which those individuals draw. To the degree that interactants are drawing more on personal or idiosyncratic values, personality traits, and experiences, the interaction can be characterized as more interpersonal than intercultural. When individuals from different cultural backgrounds become more intimate, their interactions typically move along the continuum from more intercultural to more interpersonal, though intercultural elements may always play a role. For casual or educational communication, sensitivity to intercultural factors is key to success. Communication and Group Identity Traditional theories of group identity recognize two types of group identity: 1. Ascribed identity is the set of demographic and role descriptions that others in an interaction assume to hold true for you. Ascribed identity is often a function of one’s physical appearance, ethnic connotations of one’s name, or other stereotypical associations. Bibliography: 1 Ting-Toomey, S. (1999). Communicating across cultures. New York: The Guilford Press. 2 Gudykunst, W. B. (2003). Intercultural communication: Introduction. In W.B. Gudykunst (Ed.), Cross-cultural and intercultural communication, 163–166. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. 3 Martin, J. N. & Nakayama, T. K. (2007). Intercultural communication in contexts, 4th ed. Boston: McGraw Hill. 4 Samovar, L. A., & Porter, R. E. (2004). Communication between cultures, 4th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Press. 5 Gudykunst, W. B., & Kim, Y. Y. (2003). Communicating with Strangers, 2nd ed. Boston: McGraw Hill. 6 Collier, M. J. (1997). Cultural identity and intercultural communication. In L.A. Samovar and R.E. Porter (Eds.), Intercultural communication: A reader, 8th ed., 36–44. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Press. 44