We are continuing on the topic of “Verbal Communication.”
Read Chapters 4, 5, and 13 of Kim, M. S. (2002). Non-Western Perspectives on Human Communicatio. Those chapters are uploaded under Resources (“Feb 26”)
Chapter 4: Summary & Example (100 words or more)
Chapter 5: Summary & Example (100 words or more)
Chapter 13: Summary & Example (100 words or more)
This chapter entails how the sense of self differs amongst cultures and gender and how socialization affects a person’s sense of self as well. The article goes on to explain how, although the Westernized view of individualistic cultures as well as more collective ones base their sense of self around their culture, this is not always the case in more recent times. Communication as well as culture have shown that women today have been forming their sense of self around their relationships with those around them, while men, especially those in more privileged social classes, have stuck with the traditional individualistic concepts to help them form their sense of self. An example of this phenomena can be seen in cultures such as those where living off of the land like in Africa or another low societal class area, relies primarily on their environment and family structure to help form their their identity, whereas places in America that are pretty modernized and the economy plays a big part in the functioning of that location, would probably hold a more individualistic view of themselves in order to make ends meet.
This chapter focused on how argumentativeness and assertiveness as communication approaches is heavily influenced by a person’s individualistic or collectivistic culture. The article details how individuals in America are not afraid to speak their mind and be independent, compared to that of Asian individuals who have been raised to be more timid and humble and only stand up for themselves in situations where they are most comfortable such as with family or close friends. An example of this would be in the workplace. The article mentions that when faced with an authority figure, a Japanese person would be uncomfortable and not stick up for themselves. In this scenario, a Japanese person would understand their position in the field and not share their ideas unless asked to by their boss. In individualistic cultures however, a worker may not hesitate to speak their mind even if they are not asked to as they see it as a challenge that allows them to share their opinions and ideas to feel a sense of accomplishment.
This chapter describes how in different cultures, silence can be seen as either a good or bad aspect of communication. In Western cultures, verbal communication shows assertiveness and is seen as pleasant whereas Chinese and possibly other Asian cultures, see silence as showing attentiveness and control. The article stresses that when to speak and when not to, should be highly considered to show respect to the communication in that specific society. An example of this phenomena might be seen in academic settings where Asian countries might see asking questions and class discussions with peers as rude and perhaps disrespectful, however Western cultures might encourage and admire participation in class and asking questions as well to show engagement.
Hofstede’s four cultural dimensions are individualism/collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, power distance, masculinity/femininity. I used the textbook as reference for the definitions.
Samovar, L. A., Porter, R. E., & McDaniel (2013). Communication between cultures (8th edition). Wadsworth. ISBN: 978-1-111-34910-3
Individualism/collectivism are values that are rooted in culture of upbring but can have great affect in every part of one’s life. Collectivist cultures have emphasis on community, share interest, harmony and tradition, as well as saving face, whereas individualistic cultures value freedom and personal rights, personal opinion, personal achievement and privacy. Individualism is about the individual in every context, and the independence that person holds over their own lives. Even when these individuals belong to a group in a sense, their individualism is central to their identity whereas in collectivist societies, the interest of the group and membership/participation in that group is the most important.
Uncertainty avoidance is describes as the understanding that the future is a mystery, and culture affects the way that a person or group of people perceives the threat of the unknown future. High uncertainty avoidance cultures look for ways to predict, manage and make expectations for the future either through behavior such as traditions, ideology to resisting change or intolerance to behavior that differs from the normal. Low uncertainty avoidance cultures accept that the future is uncertain, and individuals of these cultures are more likely to take risks, low adherence to rules and traditions, and place less value on social protocols.
Power distance is defined as and determined by the cultural acceptance of inequality of power between people. High power cultures tend to more readily accept that power and the unequal distribution of it is natural and a part of society. Individuals understand that people are not equal, and some individuals will always hold more power over another. Low power distance cultures try to limit power and the role power plays in one’s life as much as possible. These cultures believe that power can be distributed equally, or at least can pretend that power does not play as big of a role as it does
Masculinity/femininity are defined as the degree that a culture places value of masculine and feminine roles and values. Often perpetuated by tradition, these values are mostly passed down through culture. Masculinity is defined as the degree that a culture is male-oriented, and places value on traits of men such as assertiveness, toughness and material success, and in these cultures, women’s values are emotional and tender. In femininity, the culture places value on the idea of the “nurturing” behaviors for both male and female. The culture emphasizes that both male and female are supposed to be emotional and tender.
Individualism/Collectivism: One example of the difference between individualistic vs collectivist cultures is in regard to elderly care. Often those from a collectivist culture see the care of parents and grandparents as central to the function and duty of family, and will care for their elders until death, typically by having them live in the main family home and adults becoming their primary care giver. In collectivist cultures, and in the U.S. there are many nursing homes and elderly care facilities that will take care of the elderly because it is not necessarily seen as the duty of the family to become their primary caregiver.
Uncertainty Avoidance: An example of uncertainty avoidance could be cultures where it is expected to continue the family business, vs an adult child going out to create their own business or career in an entirely different field. In cultures with larger uncertainty avoidance, inheriting the family business is a guaranteed income, and takes away the uncertainty of success or failure, whereas those from lower uncertainty avoidance, are willing to risk having success or failure by building another business from the ground up.
Power Distance: An example of high-power distance cultures would be understanding that one would always be a minimum wage worker, even if they are qualified to do more, they will believe in the systems of power that are in place, whereas those from low power distance believe they can advance in a system and try to become a person in power because climbing the social ladder is of upmost importance.
Masculinity/Femininity: An example of masculinity vs femininity cultures would be a little boy crying, and in a masculine culture, the parents would tell them not to cry and get over it, and that emotions and crying is a sign of weakness, but in a femininity culture the parents would value more to sit down with the child, and tell them that it is okay to cry and that having emotions is normal, and they would all work on the problem together
Incident 1 can be a result of differences in how the Japanese students were raised to react in a situation such as a field trip. Where for them, they may have been taught to strictly adhere to all the rules along with enjoying the experience different from the other students, where for the Japanese students, being quiet and silently appreciating the entire field trip is their own cultural and personal definition of having a blast.
In incident 2, prior to the event, the teacher’s student comes from a modest cultural/religious background. Concerning the Saudi Arabian student and his wife, their cultural and religious values have taught them to look away and not be lured into other people exposing their skin, and so they feel that attending the pool party would cause a conflict of interest with their moral values.
For Incident 3 the Filipino student may, prior to attending the class party, have been taught that eating any form of sweets, especially cake without their parent’s consent violates a certain cultural value or respect to his or her parents. The student may be used to only eating cake for special family occasions.
Then for incident 4, the Latin Americans may have a different interpretation of set timestamps for any event. Where for the rest of the class, they are used to being present at an event during the specific time it is scheduled for, but for the Latin American students, they grew up attending events two to three hours after the scheduled time because they are accustomed to it.
As for incident 5, this is a result of a cultural language barrier between both the instructor and the Chinese student. Where prior to attending the class, the Chinese student is not fluent in English, and the teacher is not fluent in Chinese or understanding different tones of dialect when other cultural groups speak English. Therefore, the continuous verbal and linguistic limitation that has been creating a barrier of understanding for both parties caused the teacher to not call on the Chinese student today.
For incident 6, the Chinese student has grown up being accustomed to having limited female teachers. Although he has been informed that American women are sensitive about their ages, he cannot fully understand the depth of sensitivity because he has been so accustomed to the lack of sensitivity in women of his race when it comes to the topic of age. Prior to the student asking for the age, he may have forgotten that small bit of information when he asked his teacher about her age.
For incident 7, the student from Jordan may have grown up being taught that being vocal in class discussions equates intelligence and competence. Whereas for the student from Thailand, prior to entering the class, they may have been raised, that silence equals high intelligence, wisdom, as well as humility.
Finally, for incident 8, prior to the student making the same request to repeat a class, it is possible that there was a language comprehension barrier during the conference with the instructor. Where prior to being denied re-taking the course, the student was often approved and told yes by other mentors or peers whenever he would ask the second time. And therefore, the Japanese student made the same assumption that a second request after being previously denied would bring a positive answer.
|Chapter 6 focuses on many aspects of how cultural values affect how people perceive and understand the world around them. The idea of perception is then described to be the way in which individuals of a certain culture are taught to observe the world, how they structure their ideas, and how they categorize and organize stimuli around them. In connection to this, cultural values are determined by what a person sees as desirable for themselves as well as the society they live in which ultimately guides them throughout life in their decision making and behavior as well. These values stem from the person’s external environment, personal relationships, and other factors like the media as well. After these sections the chapter goes on to explain how cultural patterns can be observed and understood by specific taxonomies adopted by scholars of different fields. Many of these theories are noted to be how specific ideals can guide a person through life and also how cultural values affect intercultural communication, such as the Kluckhohn & Strodtbeck’s Value Orientations.
1. Human nature: In this idea, the values of good, evil, and a mix of both, is seen to be the basis of this orientation to determine a person’s character and view on human nature within their culture. This idea is most visible within religions such as Judaism where evil actions are founded on the decision’s of a person and not a higher power, while Christians view evil as any person whose decision making goes against God’s will.
2. Humans and nature: In this idea, the values include control, harmony, and submission, and many cultures value this to show their motives, attitudes, and behaviors in connection to nature. In Indian culture, they see nature as an important part in their way of life as a valuable resource and continuously protect it at all costs. In contrast, American’s view their society as a modernized culture run on technological advancements as well as a place wherein nature can be controlled and “mastered”.
3. Sense of Time: The values within this orientation are the past, present, and future, and there are many different instances where culture affects this perspective. A good example of a representation of this is how Asian cultures value their ancestors and view the past as being a reflection of the present, while American cultures view the future as being the most important since the actions made in the present moment will follow a person in the future years to come. This can be seen in the workplace and even education systems where a good career in America is seen as a goal for individuals starting from a young age which also can determine your status in society as well.
4. Activity: The behaviors of being, becoming, and doing, are prominent in this orientation and it involves how a culture grows, the importance of accomplishments, personality, and a society’s mental and spiritual values. An example that can represent this idea can be seen in cultures such as possibly Indian or African culture where they value their spiritual well-being and other parts of themselves that make up who they are and live life with a free-spirited outlook. In contrast, American culture defines a person by their decisions and behaviors, such as working in a lower or higher paying job or having a low or high socio-economic status in society
5. Social relations: Individualism, collectivism, and the group, are of utmost importance in this orientation that determines how a society is framed within a culture. An example that exhibits this idea can be seen in the idea where America is viewed as the land of the free, a place where many individuals that come from an Asian country immigrate to to raise their children to provide a lifestyle for them where they have more liberty in their society. Individuals who struggle in their Asian homeland lived with many social restrictions and pressures and they feel America provides a more relaxed way of life.
Case study 1:
The issue in case study 1 is the perception of the entire interaction. Throughout Hamid’s time at the university, he developed a great relationship with the foreign student Advisor. When Hamid asked for a favor from the foreign student advisor about his “brother’s” entrance into the school, was based on his word to the boy’s father about taking care of his friend. Culturally, I believe this could be a very big part of the promise Hamid made to the father, and although Hamid did not have absolute control over the situation, he wanted to help as much as possible and I believe it was hard for Mr. Smith to try and feel the same sympathy for the “brother” because he had not given his word to the father in the same was that Hamid did. Additionally, the idea of “favors” over the course of a tenure of time, I believe operated differently in Mr. Smith’s mind over Hamid’s which could be a very big cultural difference, where Hamid felt that due to his longstanding time at the university without asking anything of the foreign student advisor, that when he really needed help, the time he put in didn’t matter when Mr. Smith couldn’t do much to help in the first place.
Case study 2:
In case study 2, I think the big issue revolved around the perception and importance contributed to money and taking care of another’s belongings which could be a cultural factor. Some cultures may be much more vigilant and aware of money and finances whereas other cultures might not worry about it so much. So, when Greg’s bike got damaged, for him he thought in terms of the monetary worth and damage, and since he stated that money was something that made him worry, it is understandable for Greg to feel the way he did. When Kamel told the Foreign Student Advisor about the letter Greg sent him, I believe that this could have caused a further source of pain for Kamel because maybe he felt that Greg thought he was unreliable and did not trust Kamel. I believe that issues involving money differ greatly from culture to culture, along with the idea of paying back a debt in a timely manner.
Case study 3:
Case study 3 talks about the friendship being broken between Ahmed and Tim. When Tim declines having lunch with Ahmed, I believe that it could have felt very rude to Ahmed, as they previously planned on having lunch together, and this decline of an offer could have come across as rude to Ahmed. Additionally, when Ahmed saw that Tim was eating with someone else, it could have been perceived that Tim didn’t really want to eat with Ahmed at all. I think the whole entire problem in this situation was that Tim did not perceive any issue with declining a lunch offer and then ending up eating with someone else, while Ahmed felt that it was rude, and he was hurt by this. Additionally, a lack of communication surrounding the issue compounded the affects which I believe worsened the situation and hurt Ahmed more. I think culturally, expectations about accepting invitations were very different and I think that what didn’t seem like a problem to Tim was very rude to Ahmed and made him believe that that behavior is just how all Americans were.
1). Deceptive Communication: This chapter explains how the use of deceptive communication can differ between cultures as well as context. It also mentions how, depending on what motivations a person holds, they may be deceptive in different ways to reach a goal or avoid a specific situation. Due to the nature of cultures around the world, perspectives and motivations for deceptive communication have show to risk the chance of miscommunication between interactants. Especially if interactants of different cultures were to communicate, one culture may assume that deception will take place to save face, while the other culture may value truthfulness so are less deceptive in their interactions with others.
Self-Disclosure: In this chapter, self-evaluation was described as a construct that correlated with a person’s culture as well as personal views and feelings. In Western culture, studies have shown that children and even American adults tend to disclose information about themselves positively. In contrast, non-Westerners show humility and judge others around them in a positive light compared to disclosing information about their own selves as to not seem self-centered and going against their collective culture. Because of this, non-Westerners view themselves as part of a bigger entity within their culture to feel involved with their society while Westerners tend to value their autonomy, independence, and uniqueness as well. In addition, gender has been shown to play a role in disclosure as well. Women have a lower self-enhancement compared to men due to their sensitive nature to negative criticisms.
2). Deceptive Communication: an example of this can be seen maybe in an art class when students critique the work of their peers and give feedback about it. A person may find an artwork done by their friend to not be the best piece of work they have done in class. The friend may then be conflicted about whether or not to tell the truth or say only good things about the piece since the person is their friend. They may downplay the situation to avoid hurting their friend’s feelings despite the positive criticism to be not entirely honest. In a Western perspective, the person may save face and not speak about their true feelings regarding the artwork. However, in a non-Western culture, a teacher may have the whole class judge one person at a time instead of separating the students to criticize one piece of artwork.
Self-Disclosure: an example of this can be seen during a session with a therapist or doctor. A patient may share very personal information about themselves or speak about their past medical history to give the doctor or therapist a better idea of themselves. Depending on their self-image and comfort around the doctor, they will disclose either positive or negative aspects about themselves. An individual with a Western perspective will not hesitate to disclose anything they feel like talking about while a non-Westerner would probably only disclose certain things about their life.
This chapter discusses how when someone is in a social setting, the majority’s opinion socially influences an individual’s compliance. And although this may not necessarily influence the individual’s initial private view, the person will continue “going with the flow” so to speak to avoid negative consequences from the majority such as being publicly shamed or scrutinized. However, this concept of conforming values and non-individual preferences can be viewed differently in other cultural contexts. In other words, a person’s specific cultural context will determine how they view conformity and individualistic ideals. Not only that, but a specific geographical setting and the economy within these regions can also affect a person’s cultural contexts when it comes to individual compliance. For instance, regions with high-food accumulation societies tend to prefer people who share compliant or collective values. Whereas regions with low-food accumulating societies would rather have individuals who are assertive and unique in opinion(s). Note, low-food accumulating cultures are those who rely primarily on fishing or hunting, therefore, those living in these societies are raised to be more independent and use self-reliance to survive. This would be the opposite for societies with high-food accumulation. This term would refer to farmers since they rely on storing food along with working collectively in order to provide for their families as well as their communities.
Example: An example of cultural difference that I can come up with is growing up being a Mexican American. Before going to school I was raised to speak Spanish. When it came time to go kindergarten I remember that whole year before. My parents were so stressed that I would pick on or not treat the same in the school system because English was not my primary language, so they were teaching English. They pressed that so hard onto me that when it came time for school I fit in. It was hard for me to find new friends, especially at such a young age. I was confused and indecisive as to whether I should go out and speak english with the kids or go out and speak spanish to the others. I struggled with which to pick but eventually it all worked out I was able to make friends who spoke both.
Watch the film, “Edward Said On Orientalism” – via Youtube (40 minutes), and answer the following questions (total answer should at least be 300 words).
Understanding our “own” cultural values is fundamental to our final journey in this class – Multicultural Identity and Multicultural Communication Competence.
Watch “The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Do Not Need” via Youtube.
(1) Summarize the film in 100 words or more.
(2) Explain how the film reflects American core values (100 words or more).
(3) Write about a personal experience – involving yourself or someone they’ve known – in which the contents of the film can be applied (100 words or more).
(1) The film brings into light the never-ending cycle of American’s spending habits. It is because of this urge to buy things we do not necessarily need. And with this becoming a social norm, people have begun to work longer hours a week instead of the anticipated 4-day work shifts that scientists predicted in the 1970s. Instead, since the 1970s, working hours have grown an additional 200 annually. People in America see higher pay as higher spending. Therefore, they work longer to sustain their lifestyle because comfort no longer cuts it out for people; what people want now is luxurious living.
(2) As I have mentioned previously, America’s core values revolve around lavish lifestyles involving shifting of what people want materialistically, regardless of their state of income. Over time, people in America show a mimic tendency to copy what other people have materialistically. Often times they may go to great lengths to get something they see, even if the item does not necessarily fall into their comfort spending zone. This is due in part of Western culture where consuming means connecting with other people, where the latest fashion trend must be bought in order to be accepted and fit into society for fear of being socially rejected as an outcast. American culture also places high value in the media, and is ultimately influenced by what the media exposes them in, new designer clothes, the latest model cars, the newest iPhone, etc.
(3) For this example I’m going to use my uncle. He grew up poor alongside my aunts and other uncles. They had a hard up ringing with barely sliding by. When my uncle grew up, he went on and did his own thing. He spent the past thirty years starting his own business and making a lot of money, mostly more than the family was making as he grew up. He knew what he wanted and didn’t want. As his business grew and all this money was coming in he knew he had to spend it. He ended up being one of the first in his family to build his own house. He also likes to show off that he is richer than the rest by always having parties at his house. He also buys the latest car/model to show that he has that kind of money. I feel like he does this so he doesn’t feel like how he did when he was a kid but also to show that anyone can come from nothing. He does like to buy random expensive things.
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