Communication between cultures

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  1. What is the course about and who is it for?

  • It is about what happens when people of different cultures engage in communication with the objective of sharing ideas, information, and perspectives, while working to understand and appreciate their differences.

  • It is for those individuals whose professional or private lives bring them into contact with members of cultures or co-cultures different from their own.

  1. Why study intercultural communication?

  • You live in a dynamic, rapidly evolving era characterized by dramatic changes in technology, travel, economic and political institutions, immigration patterns, growing demographic diversity, and population density. These changes have created a world that requires regular interaction with people of different cultural origins.

  • Your cultural background and life experiences largely determine your worldview, your perception of others, and how you choose to engage with others in that world.

  1. Aim of the course

  • It provides you with an understanding of the evolving social environment you live in, the role that culture plays in your life, and how that role can produce different results for people belonging to other cultures.

  • More specifically, it provides you with the cultural knowledge and communicative skills needed to interact successfully in a multicultural environment.

  1. Terms

  • Intercultural communication involves interaction between people whose cultural perceptions and symbol systems differ enough to influence the communication event.

  • The dominant culture generally exercises the greatest influence on the beliefs, values, perceptions, communication patterns, and customs of the culture. It determines the political, economic, and social agenda.

  • Co-cultures are groups or social communities exhibiting perceptions, values, beliefs, communicative behaviors, and social practices that are sufficiently different as to distinguish them from other groups and communities and from the dominant culture.

  • Society can be defined from a general and a specific perspective. In the general sense, we are referring comprehensively to organized human interactions, such as social structure, organizations, and institutions. When used from a specific perspective, we are denoting a group or groups of interdependent, self-perpetuating, relatively autonomous people within a specified geographical area.

  • Cultural diversity is the quality of diverse or different cultures, as opposed to monoculture, the global monoculture, or a homogenization of cultures, akin to cultural decay. Cultural diversity can also refer to having different cultures respect each other's differences. Cultural diversity is also sometimes used to mean the variety of human societies or cultures in a specific region, or in the world as a whole. Globalization is often said to have a negative effect on the world's cultural diversity.

  • Culture shock is a mental state caused by the transition that occurs when you go from a familiar cultural environment to an unfamiliar one and discover that your normative, established patterns of behavior are ineffective.

  • Acculturation is the process of learning to live in a new culture.

  • Ethnocentrism is a conviction that one’s own culture is superior to all other cultures.

  • Fundamentalism means there is a universal morality that applies to all people at all times, everywhere.

  • Relativism is the idea that one must suspend judgment of other people’s practices in order to understand them in their own cultural terms.

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