Intercultural Communication

Course Website for Tunghai FLLD Seminar

Archive for October, 2004

Second Online Chat Rescheduled

Posted by thuicc on October 27, 2004

Our second online chat will be this Saturday, Oct. 30, at 9:00 a.m. The questions will be the same as previously listed.

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This is Chris’ reporting………….

Posted by thuicc on October 23, 2004

hi, every one, I would like to ask Mr.”Early Riser”, Benda, could check and post the link about the information of “KJ method” of the report next Thursday because I could not find it now. Moreover, I will provide a website about how a foreigner could live in Taiwan and find jobs smoothly, designed in English. I think that it describes some aspects of Chinese culture to let foreigners could have a easy life and get used to it. There are something about IC in that website, Here, I believe. By the way, keep your eye on NBA.COM to see the news about Yao Ming. He is a living IC example!

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Questions for the Second Online Chat

Posted by thuicc on October 21, 2004

Here are the questions that you should address in the second online chat this Saturday. These are complex questions, so please stay focused on them during your chat.

Focus of first half of discussion: American culture(s) (30 min.)

  1. Some of the readings your Taiwanese counterparts have done describe Americans’ view of the self as an independent, autonomous individual. Please tell your Taiwanese counterparts about how you usually think about your ‘self’ in relation to others. How independent do you usually consider yourself in terms of the decisions you make in your everyday life? Please be as specific as possible.
  2. Where do you think your view of yourself comes from? That is, what factors have influenced your development of your self-concept?
  3. Please explain low-context culture for your counterparts and discuss with them whether or not you feel this kind of communication is appropriate for interpersonal communication. Why/why not? Please provide examples.

Focus of second half of discussion: Taiwanese culture(s) (30 min)

  1. Your counterparts in the U.S. have read about how the Chinese concept of self is highly relational–that Chinese always think about themselves and consider their actions in relation to the needs of the group. Do you believe that your identity and your decision-making is usually heavily influenced by your relationships with others? Why/why not? Please provide examples.
  2. Do you believe the traditional concept of the self in Chinese culture (as described above) has changed over the years? What kinds of influences might have changed the idea of the self in Taiwan?
  3. Please explain the concept of high-context communication to your counterparts in the U.S. In what kinds of interpersonal communication situations do you feel high-context communication is more appropriate than low-context communication? Do you use low-context communication often? In what situations?
  4. Can you give any examples of different ways you might interact with members of your in-groups and out-groups?

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Representing American Culture

Posted by thuicc on October 21, 2004

Chris made a comment in his post that I want to respond to in more depth because it raises an interesting and important issue about representing cultures. He implied that writers who portray white American culture as “American culture”–that is, consider whites to be the norm for American culture–don’t do it on purpose. I think it’s true that most white Americans (including me up until a few years ago) do consider their own cultural “rules” to be the standard against which everyone should be measured. Part of the reason is that whites are something of an ‘invisible’ race in the U.S. As Judith N. Martin and Olga Idriss Davis have written,

One characteristic of white privilege is invisibility and Dyer (1997) provides examples of this invisibility in American society: there are rarely references to whiteness in the everyday speech and writing of white people. In conversation, they may talk about someone else being black or Chinese, but never talk about white colleagues as white. … Whites see themselves as just human. And there is nothing more powerful than just being human–for this implies that all others are something else. (304)

They mention elsewhere that scholars in intercultural communication traditionally focused on international communication, which meant (white) Americans and (mostly non-white) other countries (298-9).

So in a sense, I think it’s in many ways a lack of awareness (and of course the influence of the mass media) that result in people viewing white people as the “standard” Americans. It’s an effect of the power that whites have (and don’t always realize we have) to shape the portrayal of our own and others’ cultures and identities.

Another thing that Chris got me thinking about is the importance of describing things “clearly.” This also relates, I think, to the roots of intercultural communication in international communication. It’s much simpler to contrast a monolithic “American” (white) culture with another culture than to try to depict all the complexities of a nation–all its ethnic groups, generational differences, differences in gender and sexual identity, etc. (See, even my use of “etc.” is omitting other minority groups–the disabled, religious groups, socioeconomic classes… ! Wow! Can you imagine trying to keep all that in mind when describing your country’s culture?)

Work Cited

Martin, Judith N., and Olga Idriss Davis. “Conceptual Foundations for Teaching about Whiteness in Intercultural Communication Courses.” Communication Education 50 (2001): 298-313.

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Posted by thuicc on October 21, 2004

When I finish reading this “paper”, I think it ‘s incredible for me to believe that there are so many different expressions of different things. Something I think it’s normal for us is quite “unusual” for others. It chooses 10 different aspects to figure out the differences within the 5 communication patterns. In my opinion, the differences impress me most is eye contact and vocal patterns. When eye contact occurs, the dominantculture happens. Eye contact can createthe level of the cultrue, which is new for me. Vocal pattern for African American pattern is quite surprising. It can range from a quiet, deep sound to NOISY. How can people consider it as acceptable? I think the flexibility of voal patterns in African Americans is quite huge; whereas other 4 patterns mostly prefer quiet, low and deep sound.

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Ethnicity and “American” and “Chinese” Communication Styles

Posted by thuicc on October 16, 2004

One thing that I wanted you to see after reading the “Communication Patterns and Assumptions” article was the difference between how the author(s) of American Ways depict “American” communication styles and how “Communication Patterns” can lead us to understand that there isn’t necessarily one “communication style” that we can characterize as “American,” unless we’re willing to ignore a lot of people (such as Native Americans, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, …).

This might (or it should) lead you to ask, “Why do people often equate European American communication styles and American communication styles?” Or, to put it less politely, why do the Americans described in American Ways sound so “white”? Any thoughts about this?

And how can we apply this situation or these insights about ethnicity to our discussions of “Chinese” communication styles? Are there ethnic groups with different communication styles in Taiwan, too?

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Some comments related to the idea of “identity orientation”

Posted by thuicc on October 14, 2004

In her post, Joanie was asking about “identity orientation” in relation to the “Communication Patterns and Assumptions” article. According to Bernardo Carducci,

Identity orientation refers to the tendency for people to focus more attention and effort on their internal or external environment in defining their identity (Cheek, 1989). Identity orientations are labeled as either personal or social and include the following characteristic features:

Personal Identity Orientation: A personal identity orientation would describe a sense of self within an individual that reflects more of an internal emphasis, based on self-knowledge and self-evaluation. For example, such people would focus on their emotions, thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and personal goals to define their sense of self. Thus, personal identity reflects a more private sense of self.

Social Identity Orientation: A social identity orientation would describe a sense of self within an individual that reflects more of an external emphasis, based on interactions with and the reactions of others. For example, such people would focus on what others say about them or how others treat them in defining their sense of self. Thus, social identity reflects a more public sense of self (e.g., concerns about your popularity and reputation). (3-4).

So, the “identity orientation” part of the description is mainly concerned with the importance of the social vs. the importance of the individual in the making of people’s identities in that culture.

But there are some other factors, too, such as the “lineal orientation” that is mentioned for Native Americans. As the authors say, “their identity is spread vertically over time” because they see themselves as part of their group’s identity across history (including the past, the present, and the future). The authors also suggest that Chinese people have a “lineal” orientation because of the importance of ancestors to Chinese people’s sense of identity. I don’t know if you would agree with that or not. As Joanie suggests, things might have changed over time in Taiwan’s culture.

Work Cited
(Sorry! I can’t help it! My identity orientation has a strong connection to Research Methods!)

Carducci, Bernardo J. “Identity Orientations” Definition, Assessment, and Personal Correlates. A Teaching Module.” Poster presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association, San Francisco, CA, August 24-28, 2001. ERIC Document ED 461 069.

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Posted by thuicc on October 14, 2004

In this interesting article, I think that understanding cultures of each country or racial is quiet important. If people who came from different backgroud, they might sometimes misunderstanding each other. For example, when you talked to Native American, you would be better to see forehead, mouth, ear or throat area because seeing their eyes direct would be thought you’re invasive. As a result, in order to avoid impolite behaviors, we should try to know their culture. The other interesting things are different thought patterns and rhetorical style between Asia American and European American. You can image that when they are talking, European American would be tired of talking with Asia American because Asia American hardly state the point and purpose directly. So European American would think for a while and waste their own time. Finally, I think that in our daily life, we should observe others’ ways of speaking. It not only gives us interesting things but also help us learn many ways of talking with different people.

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Posted by thuicc on October 14, 2004

It is really interesting to read the article, Communication Patterns and Assumptions, and I get new information that I did not know before about communication. Though the author only divides into five groups to discuss, we can see a lot of differnent conventions when they are communicating, and if we do not notice some of them, we will be thought as rude or unrespectful. In the part of Asian American, I agree what it metions mostly, such as gestures and touch. However, in my opinion, something has changed because the time and the external cutulre. For example, the article says we are hierarchical societies, and we are not allowed to have direct eye contact with people who superior than us; in fact, we do not have this scruple at all since we do not have hierarchy now. I think the article refers to general ideas about communications of the five groups, but it does not mean everyone from the groups must have those kind of traits.
I have a big question about “identity orientation”because I cannot realize the meaning of it; moreover, I do not understand the context of the part in every groups.

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Posted by thuicc on October 13, 2004

From the “huge” article you said last week, I found out that human beings backgournd affect themsleves deeply. The backgournd, including their culture or information comes from other country will affect thier ways of communication. In addition, different culture will have some similarity. For example, Latino culture is like Asian culture in some aspects, such as identity orientation. So, if you want to avoid insulting others, you had better know the difference of culture or background of foreigners before you comunicate with them.

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