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Intercultural Communication. CULTURAL IDENTITY Unit 1 Week 2 / Session 1. Overview. Discussion point 1 – what does culture and identity mean to you? What is culture? What is identity The Web of Identity ( Live­sey, 2004 ) What is social and ethnic identity? Discussion point 2 - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


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Intercultural Communication

CULTURALIDENTITYUnit 1Week 2 / Session 1

OverviewDiscussion point 1 what does culture and identity mean to you?What is culture?What is identity The Web of Identity (Livesey, 2004)What is social and ethnic identity?Discussion point 2Ways to compare and contrast culturesFundamental differences between culturesDiscussion point 3 - Fundamental differences between culturesDiscussion point 4 History and culture

In sociology and social psychology, ingroups and outgroups are social groups to which an individual feels as though he or she belongs as a member, or (for outgroups) to which they feel contempt, opposition, or a desire to compete.

People tend to hold positive attitudes towards members of their own groups2Discussion Point 1In small groups, discuss and make notes on the following questions below:

What does cultural identity mean to you?

What elements contribute to a persons cultural identity?

How would you identify your culture?

What is culture?People become aware of their culture when they stand at its boundaries: when they encounter other cultures, or when they become aware of other ways of doing things, or merely of contradictions to their own culture

Cohen, Anthony P. (1985)

What is culture?There are many interpretations of what is defined and known as culture. Acquired and passed down through generations. A system of beliefs and values within a society. Culture has been described as shared features which encapsulate people together in a community (Shah, 2003).

What is identity?The entirety of how we as individuals view or perceive ourselves as unique from others.

Racial, cultural and ethnic identities form part of one's identity, and identity will change with development at a personal as well as at a social level along with migration and acculturation (Bhugra, 2004). Perceived as dynamic and fluid - because it is established and extracted in interaction Has substance - not only transmitted from generation to generation, but from cultural group member to newcomer. One or more specific cultural identities may be noticeable in a given conversation

It is perceived as dynamic and fluid as it is necessary to understand how communication works in diverse and transitory situations.

6The Web of IdentityComplex and multi-layered interaction between identity and social structure. Individuals are surrounded by large social forces; they live their lives with limited options available to them when making decisions and choices (Livesey, 2004).

Example:Ang (1998) grew up in Indonesia and is of Chinese descent. Ang describes how her identity (as a foreigner and stranger) was constructed by the indigenous Indonesians and was not truly accepted as a member of the community. This social mechanism has a significant influence upon people who are constructed as a foreigner and people who are positioned as foreign develop all kinds of strategies to deal with itsome people will try to deny their foreignness, and self hatred is part of this, or they will try to assimilate into the dominant culture as much as possible (Ang 1998, 153154).

7What is Social and Ethnic identity? Social identity is thought of as the culturally defined personality characteristics, which are ascribed to social roles, such as the role of being a father, mother, friend, employer or employee (Bhugra and Becker, 2005).Ethnic identity is a source of social identity. Composed of people who may or may not share the same race but do share common cultural characteristics, including history, beliefs, values, food and entertainment preferences, religion and language. Ethnicity typically incorporates both race and culture (Shah, 2004).

Discussion Point 2In small groups, discuss and make notes on the following questions below:

What elements could be considered when comparing and contrasting cultures?

Which of these elements would you consider to be the most significant?

Point 2:Significant differences are often noted in the following:LawsReligionCeremoniesFestivalsFamilyLanguageFoodClothing

9Ways to compare and contrast culturesSeveral methods and frameworks have been constructed to address variances of cultural identities:

Gudykunsts (1985) variables measured in Intergroup research - attitudes, perceived similarity, uncertainty, and attributionsGiles and Johnsons (1981, 1986) attention to variables - such as group vitality, ethnic boundaries, and statusHofstedes (1983) core symbols - identifies four dimensions of culture: individualism-collectivism, power distance, uncertainty avoidance and masculinity-femininity.DeVos (1982) symbolic emblems - used by ethnic groups to differentiate themselves from other groups.


3rd example: Hofstedes (1983) core symbols can be differentiated from one another on a variety of dimensions and can be used to compare and contrast cultures. Culturemanifestsitselfinfourways:throughsymbols,heroes,ritualsandvalues.Symbolsarethe words,gestures,figuresorobjectsthatcarryaparticularmeaning,recognizedonlybythosewhoshareaparticularculture.

4th Example: DeVos (1982) describes the process of culture and ethnic groups using symbolic emblems to differentiate themselves from other groups. An emblem can be anything from a mode of dress to a code of language or a key term or reference in conversation. We believe that these types of emblems and core symbols should be generated by researchers from the participants' perspectives and then tested or posited as potential etic categories across cultures (Pike, 1966).


Fundamental differences between culturesIn any given nation or culture, differences between people are much greater than differences between groups (Billikopf, 2009). Education, social standing, religion, personality, belief structure, past experience, affection shown in the home, and numerous other factors will affect human behaviour and culture.

Fundamental differences:There are differences in approach as to what is considered polite and appropriate behaviour both in and out of work. In some cultures "yes" means, "I hear you" more than "I agree." Length of pleasantries and greetings before getting down to business; level of tolerance for being around someone speaking a foreign (not-understood) language; politeness measured in terms of gallantry or etiquette (e.g., standing up for a woman who approaches a table, yielding a seat on the bus to an older person, etc.); and manner of expected dress are all examples of possible cultural differences and traditions.


Discussion Point 3Fundamental differences between culturesIn small groups/pairs discuss the similarities and differences between your cultures with regard to:

DressGender rolesSocial activitiesMeeting and GreetingGesturesDining EtiquetteFoodLanguage

Task:If from different countries/cultures if not, then compare contrast between stds country and the UK.Gestures There is an additional worksheet on this.

12Discussion Point 4Another important contributor to the cultural difference is the history of a particular region or country. The events of the past certainly shape the moods and opinions of people living in that specific country. When a large group of people observe a set of traditions, social norms and values, it gives rise to culture.Pair work Discuss possible examples of where history has had an effect on your culture. Can you think of examples for other cultures?

13Homework Blog task 1Individual task Out-of-class workInterview an international student (preferably from a different country to that of your own) and find out how they felt when they first arrived in the UK. When preparing your questions consider the following cultural differences we looked at in our workshop today that they may have experienced. Write a short summary of your interview and post it on your blog site.

14ReferencesAng, I. (1998), Out of bounds: inauthentic spaces and the production of identities, in M. Zournazi(ed.), Foreign Dialogues: Memories, Translations, Conversations, pp. 153167.Bhugra, D. (2004). Migration, distress and cultural identity. British Medical Bulletin. 69:113.Billikopf, G (2009). Cultural Differences? Or, are we really that different? [online] Available at: [Accessed on 18th July 2012]DeVos, G. A. (1982). Ethnic pluralism: Conflict and accommodation. In DeVos, G. A., and Romanucci-Ross, L. (eds.), Ethnic Identity: Cultural Continuities and Change, Mayfield Publishing, Palo Alto,CA, pp. 541. Giles, H. and P. Johnson (1981). The role of language in ethnic group relations. In Intergroup Behaviour. J. Turner and H. Giles. Chicago, University of Chicago Press.Gudykunst, W. B. (1985). The influence of cultural similarity, type of relationship, and self monitoring on uncertainty reduction processes. Communication Monographs, 52, 203-217.Hofstede, Geert (1983a), "Dimensions of National Cultures in Fifty Countries and Three Regions," in Expiscations in Cross-Cultural Psychology, J.B. Deregowski, S. Dziurawiec, and R.C. Annis, eds., Lisse, Netherlands: Swets & Zeitlinger, 335-355.Livesey, C. (2004). Culture and identity, Sociological Pathways. Available at: [Accessed 10th July 2012]Shah, S. (2003) The researcher/interviewer in intercultural context: a social intruder! British Educational Research Journal. 30:4, 549-575. Tylor, Edward B. 1968 [1871] The Science of Culture. In Morton Fried, ed., Readings in Anthropology, vol. II: Cultural Anthropology. New York: Crowell



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