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Lecture 1 Intercultural communication

Masculinity versus its opposite, femininity, refers to the distribution of emotional roles between the genders which is another fundamental issue for any society to which a range of solutions are found. The IBM studies revealed that (a) women's values differ less among societies than men's values; (b) men's values from one country to another contain a dimension from very assertive and competitive and maximally different from women's values on the one side, to modest and caring and similar to women's values on the other. The assertive pole has been called masculine and the modest, caring pole feminine. The women in feminine countries have the same modest, caring values as the men; in the masculine countries they are more assertive and more competitive, but not as much as the men, so that these countries show a gap between men's values and women's values.

Culture shock

Culture shock is the feeling of personal disorientation, experienced in an unfamiliar way of life due to immigration or visiting to a new country, or moving from one social environments and type of life into a new one. One of the most common causes of culture shock involves individuals in a foreign environment.

Culture shock isn't a clinical term or medical condition. A confusing and nervous feeling a person may have after leaving a familiar culture to live in a new and different culture. When moving to a new place, you're bound to face a lot of changes. It can be exciting and stimulating, but it can also be overwhelming. You may feel sad, anxious, frustrated, and want to go home.

It's natural to have difficulty to adjusting to a new culture. People from other cultures may have with different values and beliefs from yours. The things they talk about, the ways they express themselves, and the importance of various ideas may be very different from what you are used to. But the good news is that culture shock is temporary.

Phases In Culture Shock

Culture shock consists of four distinct phases:

i. Honeymoon,

ii. Negotiation,

iii. Adjustment, and

iv. Mastery,

a. Honeymoon phase

During this period, the differences between the old and new culture are seen in a romantic light. For example, in moving to a new country, an individual might love the new food, the pace of life, and the locals' habits. During the first few weeks, most people are fascinated by the new culture. They associate with nationals who speak their language, and who are polite to the foreigners. This period is full of observations and new discoveries. Like most honeymoon periods, this stage eventually ends.

b. Negotiation phase

After some time (usually around three months, depending on the individual), differences between the old and new culture become apparent and may create anxiety. Excitement may eventually give way to unpleasant feelings of frustration and anger as one continues to experience unfavorable events that may be perceived as strange and offensive to one's cultural attitude. Language barriers, stark differences in public hygiene, traffic safety, food accessibility and quality may heighten the sense of disconnection from the surroundings.



While being transferred into a different environment puts special pressure on communication skills, there are practical difficulties to overcome, such as circadian rhythm disruption that often leads to insomnia and daylight drowsiness; adaptation of gut flora to different bacteria levels and concentrations in food and water; difficulty in seeking treatment for illness, as medicines may have different names from the native country's and the same active ingredients might be hard to recognize.

Still, the most important change in the period is communication: People adjusting to a new culture often feel lonely and homesick because they are not yet used to the new environment and meet people with whom they are not familiar every day. The language barrier may become a major obstacle in creating new relationships: special attention must be paid to one's and others' culture-specific body language signs, linguistic faux pas, conversation tone, linguistic nuances and customs, and false friends.

In the case of students studying abroad, some develop additional symptoms of loneliness that ultimately affect their lifestyles as a whole. Due to the strain of living in a different country without parental support, international students often feel anxious and feel more pressure while adjusting to new cultures—even more so when the cultural distances are wide, as patterns of logic and speech are different and a special emphasis is put on rhetoric.

c. Adjustment phase

Again, after some time (usually 6 to 12 months), one grows accustomed to the new culture and develops routines. One knows what to expect in most situations and the host country no longer feels all that new. One becomes concerned with basic living again, and things become more "normal". One starts to develop problem-solving skills for dealing with the culture and begins to accept the culture's ways with a positive attitude. The culture begins to make sense, and negative reactions and responses to the culture are reduced.

d. Mastery phase

In the mastery stage assignees are able to participate fully and comfortably in the host culture. Mastery does not mean total conversion; people often keep many traits from their earlier culture, such as accents and languages. It is often referred to as the biculturalism stage

Reverse culture shock

Reverse Culture Shock (a.k.a. "Re-entry Shock", or "own culture shock") may take place — returning to one's home culture after growing accustomed to a new one can produce the same effects as described above. This results from the psychosomatic and psychological consequences of the readjustment process to the primary culture. The affected person often finds this more surprising and difficult to deal with than the original culture shock. This phenomenon, the reactions that members of the re-entered culture exhibit toward the re-entrant, and the inevitability of the two are encapsulated in the saying "you can't go home again," first coined by Thomas Wolfe in his book of that title.

Outcomes

There are three basic outcomes of the Adjustment Phase:

Some people find it impossible to accept the foreign culture and integrate. They isolate themselves from the host country's environment, which they come to perceive as hostile, withdraw into a "ghetto" and see return to their own culture as the only way out. These "Rejectors" also have the greatest problems re-integrating back home after return.

Some people integrate fully and take on all parts of the host culture while losing their original identity. They normally remain in the host country forever. This group is sometimes known as "Adopters".

Some people manage to adapt to the aspects of the host culture they see as positive, while keeping some of their own and creating their unique blend. They have no major problems returning home or relocating elsewhere. This group can be thought to be somewhat cosmopolitan.

Culture shock has many different effects, time spans, and degrees of severity. Many people are handicapped by its presence and do not recognize what is bothering them.

Transition shock

Culture shock is a subcategory of a more universal construct called transition shock. Transition shock is a state of loss and disorientation predicated by a change in one's familiar environment which requires adjustment. There are many symptoms of transition shock, some which include:

Excessive concern over cleanliness and health

Feelings of helplessness and withdrawal

Irritability

Anger

Glazed stare

Desire for home and old friends

Physiological stress reactions

Homesickness

Boredom

Withdrawal

Getting "stuck" on one thing

Suicidal or fatalistic thoughts

Excessive sleep

Compulsive eating/drinking/weight gain

Stereotyping host nationals

Hostility towards host nationals

 

Lecture 1 Intercultural communication

Intercultural communication as a field of study began after World War II. Several centuries ago the world seemed small, and most people only communicated with others much like themselves. The typical villager in Medieval Europe seldom traveled as far as the nearby market town. There were no strangers in the village. Over the years, improved transportation brought wider travel, newer means of communication allowed information exchange over longer distances. Today, improved technologies of communication (like the Internet) and more rapid means of transportation have increased the likelihood of intercultural communication. Trade and travel brought strangers into face-to-face contact. So did invasion, warfare, and colonialization. For many people, the sheer joy of learning about other cultures is sufficient reason to study intercultural communication. They are curious about how different worldviews affect communication and human understanding. People who consider their own culture as the only culture often feel that they do not need to study how others see the world. They presume that everyone sees the world pretty much as they do, or they are ethnocentric, judging other cultures as inferior to their own culture. A few people are even xenophobic, fearing that which is foreign, strange, and different.

Many of us perceive the world through the eyes of a single culture, surrounded by other people with similar views. We attempt to move away from that monocultural viewpoint. The ability to see the world from different points of view is fundamental to the process of becoming intercultural. While students can study intercultural communication from their own single point of view, they will not learn or retain as much as students who are aware of multiple perspectives. This is not to say that the student’s existing point of view is wrong and another one is right. Rather, it is to suggest that there are different ways of thinking and that such differences must be recognized and respected.

Intercultural communication may be said to occur when people of different cultural backgrounds interact, but this definition seems simplistic and redundant. To define intercultural communication, it’s necessary to understand the two root words – culture and communication.


Date: 2015-01-02; view: 1365


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