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Chapter Outline

  1. Culture and communication
    1. Culture and co-culture—Culture is language, values, beliefs, traditions, and customs that are shared and learned. Culture is a matter of perception and definition. Co-culture - the perception of membership in a group that is part of an encompassing culture.
      1. In-groups are groups with which we identify.
      2. Out-groups are groups that we view as different.
      3. Social identity is the part of the self-concept that is based on membership in groups.

    2. Intercultural communication describes the process that occurs when members of two or more cultures or co-cultures exchange messages in a manner that is influenced by their different cultural perceptions and symbol systems, both verbal and nonverbal. Salience - weight attached to a particular person or phenomena.
    3. To understand the relationship between interpersonal and intercultural communication, one model illustrates the relationship between interpersonal relationships and intercultural communication and shows that some interpersonal transactions have no cultural elements while others are almost exclusively intercultural and without personal dimensions (see Figure 2.2).
    4. Cultural differences are numerous, as there are a number of ways communication varies within cultures. Sometimes there are greater differences within cultures than between cultures.

  2. Cultural values and norms are captured by five subtle yet vital values and norms that shape the way members of a culture communicate.
    1. High- versus low-context—Low-context culture uses language primarily to express thoughts feelings and ideas as directly as possible, while high-context culture relies heavily on subtle, often nonverbal cues to maintain social harmony.
    2. Members of an individualistic culture view their primary responsibility as helping themselves, as opposed to members of a collectivistic culture who feel loyalties and obligations to their in-group.
    3. Power distance describes the degree to which members of a society accept an unequal distribution of power.
    4. Uncertainty avoidance is a term used to reflect the degree to which members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous situations and how much they try to avoid them.
    5. Achievement cultures place a high value on material success and focusing on the task at hand versus a nurturing culture that regard the support of relationships as an especially important goal.

  3. Co-cultures and communication
    1. Ethnicity and race
      1. Race – category created to explain differences between people whose ancestors originated in different regions of the world. Race has little use in explaining individual differences
      2. Ethnicity is more commonly used. Ethnicity is the degree to which a person identifies with a group, usually on basis of nationality, culture or other unifying perspective.

    2. Gender identity/sexual orientation
      1. LGBTQ- lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer
        1. Being open can give a sense of being authentic and belonging to supportive co-culture
        2. Disclosure can be risky. People may be shocked or judgmental.
        3. Social climate has become more receptive to LGBTQ individuals than in the past.

    3. Age/generation
      1. Age-related communication reflects culture as much as biology. We learn how to “do” various ages.
      2. Western cultures honor youth and attitudes about aging are more negative than positive.
      3. People who believe older adults have trouble communicating are less likely to interact with them and use patronizing speech when they do interact.
      4. Communication challenges can arise when different generations work together.

    4. Socioeconomic status
      1. Social class can have a major impact on how people communicate.
      2. In U.S. people identify as working class, middle class, upper class.
      3. First-generation college (FGC) students may feel intercultural strain of living in two worlds.

  4. Codes relate to culture, as there are different verbal and nonverbal communication systems.
    1. Verbal codes are similar and different among the world's languages.
      1. Language and identity – If you live where everyone speaks the same tongue, then language has little impact on self-concept. But when some members speak a dominant language and some speak a minority language, sense of being a member of out-group is strong.
      2. Verbal communication styles vary along three cultural differences.
        1. Directness or indirectness
        2. Elaborate and succinctness
        3. Formality and informality

    2. All humans share many elements of nonverbal communication. The range of differences in nonverbal behavior is tremendous.
    3. Decoding messages
      1. Attribution is the process of making sense of another's behavior, and because most behavior is ambiguous and may have several interpretations, the attribution process can lead to faulty interpretations.

  5. Developing intercultural communication competence
    1. Motivation and attitude describe the desire to communicate successfully with strangers, along with people from other cultures.
    2. Tolerance for ambiguity has to do with the level of uncertainty when encountering communicators from different cultures. Competent intercultural communicators must accept and welcome ambiguity.
    3. Open-mindedness involves being free of ethnocentrism, which is an attitude that one's own culture is superior to others, and prejudice, which is an unfair and intolerant attitude toward others who belong to an out-group.
    4. Knowledge and skill are needed for communicators to possess enough knowledge about other cultures to know what approaches are appropriate.
      1. Passive observation is noticing what behaviors members of another culture use and applying them effectively.
      2. Active strategies are gaining insights about intercultural communication through seeking information from reading, watching films, and asking experts and members of the other culture how to behave.
      3. Self-disclosure is volunteering personal information to people from the other culture with whom you want to communicate.

    5. Patience and perseverance are needed to move from culture shock to adaptation.

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