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Theories of Culture, Groupness, and Intercultural Communication

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1 Theories of Culture, Groupness, and Intercultural Communication
Prosem 422 (Baldwin)

2 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.

3 Culture as Both Form & Function
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

4 An Iceberg Model of Culture

5 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?

6 Ways to Study Values Etic Emic
Studies behavior from outside of system, with theorist providing framework or theory Cross-Cultural Communication Emic Studies behavior from within system, with terms, constructs coming from culture instead of theorist “Cultural” Communication

7 Speech Codes Theory Ex: 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)

8 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.”

9 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)

10 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)

11 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

12 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 meta-communication of members (e.g., totemizing rituals, cultural myths, social dramas)

13 The Notion of Cultural Difference

14 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 Code (words spoken), context relationship, rules, roles), and meaning (ascribed by participants)



17 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?

18 Hofstede’s Dimensions
Collectivistic Venezuela Costa Rica Hong Kong Malaysia Mexico Jamaica Turkey Argentina India Japan Germany Italy Denmark United States Individualistic Low Power Distance High Power Distance

19 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

20 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

21 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

22 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

23 Predictions about conflict strategies?
Individualistic Culture High Competing (dominating) Collaborating (integrating) Concern for Own Goals Compromising Collectivistic Culture Avoiding (withdrawing) Obliging (Yielding) Low Concern for Others’ Goals Low High

24 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

25 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

26 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 open-ended methods)

27 Explaining specific strategies (p. 168)
Separation Accommodation Assimilation Nonassertive Avoiding Maintaining interpersonal barriers Increasing visibility Dispelling stereotypes Emphasizing commonalities Developing positive face Censoring self Averting controversy Assertive Communicating self Intragroup networking Exemplifying strengths Embracing stereotypes Using liaisons Educating others Extensive preparation Overcompensating Manipulating stereotypes Bargaining Aggressive Attacking Sabotaging others Confronting Gaining advantage Dissociating Mirroring Strategic Distancing Ridiculing Self

28 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?

29 “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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