Postmodern definition of a culture in the education of intercultural communication Katja Keisala.
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Postmodern definition of a culture in the education of intercultural communication Katja Keisala
The importance of definitions When designing education of intercultural communication we are guided by our definition of a culture What is a culture? What kind of communication situation is intercultural? The concept of a culture is important here
Intercultural In the literature, the term ´intercultural communication´ often refers to communication between cultures Employees of various work communities interpret the term in a similar way For me, intercultural refers to the communication situation where people of various backgrounds learn from each other
A culture Culture as coherent, consistent and more or less closed entity according which people behave and communicate Culture as ´mental programming´ Culture as an iceberg Culture as an onion
An onion Multiple layers that can be peeled away to find the more abstract and tacit set of assumptions at the core The surface layers are formed of physical elements like clothes, symbols, behavior, rites, rituals, language(s) and stories The layers inside include behavioral norms, ideals and values (tacit knowledge) Onions are national
Living with onions We know how to behave in a certain situation, since we have a tacit knowledge that someone ´coming from´ another culture cannot have In intercultural encounters, we behave without recognizing what is inside the onions of participants We judge the other person´s behavior according to our own standards, norms and values The other person does the same to us Intercultural encounters are characterized by confusion, misunderstandings and conflicts
Difficult questions Why are onions national? What is a relationship between a culture and an individual? How did those layers inside the onion get there? Have they always been there or did somebody put them there? Who?
Implications of onions We try to avoid ´difficult´ situations and ´embarrasing´ cultural ´mistakes´ by getting information of a culture We produce knowledge based on classifications and generalisation We expect others to behave in a stereotypical way and don´t see individuals Do´s and Don´t do´s
Postmodern concept of a culture A collectively shared system of meanings, whose inconsistent and sometimes contradictory assumptions, norms and values individuals interpret and put in the order of preference (Stuart Hall) Individuals have a role in constructing a culture, but a process of constructing cannot be governed by anyone of them Meanings are not just there, they are negotiated constantly, and even the members of a same cultural group do not agree on norms, practices and values
From a postmodern point of view it is important to ask… How we produce, reproduce and change the systems of meanings? How do we marginalize people? What kind of subject positions the cultures offer to individuals? How does power relations affect to communication?
What is intercultural communication? Representation of the Self and the Other? A general communication situation where communication becomes possible only if the participants construct common and shared basis of meanings and practices Producing identities and constituting a common cultural basis for communication (third culture, shared culture, negotiating reality, interculture hydrid culture)
A student should learn in the education… What is her cultural background and how it affects to her observation, thinking and behavior How she constitutes her identities and cultures (when communicating) The skills needed in constructing a third culture To learn from intercultural encounters To recognize and utilize her emotions
Practical solutions French postmodern philosophy? Exercises based on the critical reflection and self-reflection Exercises demonstrating how biased is our observation, listening and reasoning Exercises demonstrating how do we really behave in the communication situation Exercises of constructing a third culture
Teacher, be strong and prepared to get insulted! Thank you!