Intercultural communication essay conclusion


More traditional experimental methods can also be used in conjunction within this approach. Here again the meanings of constructs in a culture are the main focus of attention and there is little of direct comparison of constructs across cultures. The aim is to advance the understanding of the individual in a sociocultural context and to emphasize the importance of culture in understanding his or her behavior. TRIANDIS states that, when using "cross-cultural" approaches , studies obtain data in two or more cultures making the assumption that the constructs under investigation are universals which exist in all of the cultures studied.

One positive point about this approach is that it purports to offer an increased understanding of the cross-cultural validity and generalizability of the theories and constructs under investigation. Thus not only does the researcher conceptualize and operationalize, but also, and in addition, the differential factor is taken into account, that is to say, the way in which one and the same construct functions in a variety of different cultures.

Scholars working within these approaches usually reject claims that the theories they work with are universal. Summing up, emics focus on "the native's point of view"; etics focus on the "comparative cross-cultural point of view. Having presented the conceptualization of culture in studies of cross-cultural communication, and examined how the issue of culture is handled in these studies we will now pass on to another key aspect of the relationship between culture and qualitative research into cross cultural communication, and that is how culture makes its presence felt in the process of qualitative research.

There is more to qualitative research than simply applying a given method to the assembly and analysis of information. Behind any decision to apply a given methodology lies a series of epistemological and theoretical presuppositions which sustain and orient the whole research process. Such presuppositions range from the underlying conception of reality, to the nature of knowledge itself, to the questions to be studied and to the various methods to be applied.

Despite the difficulty involved in formulating a consensually grounded set of general characteristics to define qualitative research, the contributions of SILVERMAN and LINCOLN and DENZIN offer a good starting point for examining the interests which impregnate the qualitative research approaches and help to see the influence of the culture within qualitative research process.

The human and social sciences have been converted into a space where it is possible to converse in a critical fashion about democracy, race, gender, class, nation, liberty and community. These characterizations of qualitative research move us towards the methodological terrain in which research into cross-cultural and intercultural communication can develop, and there we find a number of key elements to consider. The attention that qualitative research devotes to context reminds us that human experience takes place in very clearly delineated social spaces, in such a way that events and phenomena cannot be adequately understood if they are separated from those spaces.

This is why the qualitative researcher focuses his or her attention on natural contexts, trying to remain as faithful as possible to those contexts. The "contexts" in which qualitative research develops should not be considered, however, as "acultural" space. Culture, explicitly or implicitly impregnates the events, experiences, and attitudes that form the object of the research. Experience is approached in an overall and holistic way, and the person is not seen as simply the sum of a collection of discrete and separate parts.

The researcher play a fundamental role of the in the process of information gathering and data analysis.

That is, in qualitative studies the investigator is constituted as the principal instrument in the process of information gathering, in interaction with reality. The I is the instrument which unifies the situation and bestows meaning on it Knowing what to exclude involves having a sense of what is, and what isn't, significant, and having a structure which makes the search for significance efficient" EISNER, , p.

This question implies a special competence on the part of the researcher for addressing questions of sensitivity and perception and is also closely related with the researcher's own culture, which determines what she or he sees, and serves as a filter for interpretation. Another characteristic of qualitative studies is their interpretative character. On the one hand the qualitative researcher tries to justify, elaborate or integrate the research results within a given theoretical framework.

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On the other, the researcher wants the participants in the study to speak for themselves, and to approach their singular experience through the meanings and the vision of the world they possess by offering what GEERTZ calls "dense description," and this is, in its turn, impregnated with their culture. In addition to the above characteristics, interest has grown in questions related to power, control, and the construction, interpretation and representation of reality, the legitimacy of texts and the role of class, race, gender and ethnicity in research processes.

As a consequence of this, another fundamental characteristic feature of qualitative research has emerged: reflexivity. Reflexivity implies paying attention to the diverse linguistic, social, cultural, political and technical elements which influence in an overall fashion the process of knowledge development interpretation in the language and narrative forms and presentation and impregnate the production of texts authority and legitimacy. That is what is involved is making visible and explicit, among other factors, the role of culture, and its influence in the process and outcome of the study.

Thus the close relationship which exists between culture and qualitative research should be clear, both from the perspective of the researcher and from the reality being studied subjects, institutions, contexts, etc.

Intercultural communication an overview conclusion

These authors recommend emic approaches such as ethnographic techniques, systematic observations, content analysis, and in-depth interviews when commencing a study in culturally unknown scenarios with the objective of coming to know this reality either in depth or from a holistic but unique perspective. When there is an interest in generalizing the results or in facilitating possible comparisons between the works in hand and other similar research, it is desirable, according to BHAWUK and TRIANDIS , to use etic approaches in which mixed or exclusively quantitative methods are employed.

That is, it would seem to be the case that in carrying out qualitative research the use of emic type approaches is more appropriate. But this should not be taken to mean that such research may not include recourse to an objective instrument or the incorporation of a component more typically associated with etic type approaches. In terms of the information gathering process it should be pointed out that the researcher needs to keep constantly in mind the diversity of the elements in which culture can manifest itself. In this sense the question of the extent to which culture influences the approach, development and outcome of the information gathering process needs to be asked.

In order to offer a concise response to this question we would refer to contemporary epistemological arguments. In general it is not accepted that scientific knowledge reflects and describes the reality of an object in and of itself, and that the object can be identified and grasped in a value free way CHALMERS, That is, an interpretative epistemology assumes the presence of culture, among other factors, in the activities and processes which form part of the approach to empirical reality.

Today it is widely accepted that it is an error to imagine that observational evidence enters our field of perception in a way which is totally independent of the theoretical interpretation which is applied to it. Theories about culture offer us important indications about the potential influence of culture in the design and application of the differing techniques and strategies used in qualitative research in order to proceed with information gathering.

The contributions are diverse both in terms of sources and in indications, so we will try to structure them around four principal axes: the content of the information being gathered, the nature of the interpersonal intercultural relations generated in applying a technique or strategy, and the language in use in the research process. Interviewing is one of the fundamental techniques used in qualitative research on cross-cultural and intercultural communication. One of the principal concerns when conducting an interview is whether an emic or an etic approach is more appropriate—that is, whether to ask different, tailor-made and culture-specific questions or ask the same questions in all the cultural contexts being studied.

If the same questions are to be used, researches should avoid emic concepts. It is often useful to use random probes.

Intercultural Communication An Overview Conclusion Intercultural communication

One should also examine what ideas the respondents have about the interviewer, about the questions themselves, and whether the questions appear to the respondents to be in some way biased are issues are discussed in detail by PAREEK and RAO The interviewer's perspective can bias both what is observed and how it is observed. They also recommend the use of multiple observers, encoding systems that have been pre-tested in a variety of cultures and extensive observer training as being likely to reduce such problems.

In referring to the interpersonal relations which inevitably develop during processes of qualitative research into cross-cultural and intercultural communication there is an extensive body of literature which has examined both the presence and the manifestations of culture. Psychological factors associated with anxiety and its effects on intercultural relations have been studied by numerous researchers. This preoccupation can be due to the possibility of not being sufficiently able to remain detached, fear of being negatively affected by the encounter, apprehension about being the victim of misunderstanding, confrontation, etc.

The anxiety generated by all these possibilities can in and of itself create difficulties for the interview and generate effects which negatively affect the relationship between interviewer and interviewee. AUM takes the view that managing the anxiety which is generated by uncertainty is a process which exerts a fundamental influence on the efficacy of communication and intercultural competence. The most important axiom in this theory holds that:. What this means is, that when it comes to setting up a qualitative research process involving study participants from different cultures it is important to be aware of the anxiety which, even if unconsciously, can affect all those involved.

Such anxiety can place limits on the communicative relations which are produced and influence the other intellectual and relational processes which are developed in the research. Symbolic interactionism places considerable emphasis on the importance of structuring intercultural interaction. It stresses the need for compromise in initiating the interaction, the role of negotiation throughout the encounter, the significance of the positions which each of the participants occupies, and the frameworks or action guidelines they use, and which configure interaction as a ritual VILA, , p.

These contributions are especially necessary in the development of strategies for contexts where inter- cultural interaction is especially intense and free, as, for example, in the case of ethnographic studies. DODD outlined a theory of rhetoric which argues that the first studies in intercultural communication had their origins in anthropology and rhetoric. This theory facilitates the analysis not only of individual differences but also of the properties of the context in which the interaction takes place.

This makes it easier for the researcher to identify those cultural traits and norms that need to be understood to produce a better intercultural relation. There are examples of qualitative research where the existence of a good relation is fundamental. This is the case, for example, in action research. If such action research is realized in an intercultural context the key role of the relations between the researcher and the participants of the study is fundamental.

The importance of negotiation, construction, mutual confidence between the various participants in such transformative processes should constantly be borne in mind.

It has been an important reference point for analyzing the interpersonal relations dimension within the context of relations between different cultures too. This theory holds that any interpersonal intercultural relation between two or more interlocutors passes through five distinct development stages: orientation, exploratory exchanges, affective exchanges, stable exchange and mutual awareness.

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Cross-Cultural Communication

The role of language is fundamental in cross-cultural and intercultural qualitative research. We would like to give special attention to the mediating role of language in the process. Language is the main medium in which information circulates and it assembles itself as the message transmitter. Clearly situations may easily arise in which the lack of such equivalence is a real barrier to communication and understanding for the research. These barriers extend from simple lexical non-equivalence to an experiential non-equivalence, passing through various other degrees of difficulty.

The references to the role of language which are to be found in DODD's theory of the coordinated management of meaning and rules are interesting and relevant. DODD's theory holds that all human communication is by its very nature imperfect. For him the objective of communication, in our case the communication which is developed during the research process, is coordination, understood here as a model of interaction between participants.

The theory of cross-cultural communication offers a great heritage of knowledge and resources to identify and understand communicative differences. As VILA , p. For example, an individual with a circular style may interpret another, who has a more lineal style of discourse, as being simplistic or arrogant, while the latter may view the person with a circular style as illogical or evasive. In an interview or in a focus group, a look or a gesture, even a smile, may signify something different from one culture to another.

In addition to influencing the effectiveness of the process of attributing meaning to such gestures, these differences may also alter the communication climate or influence the development of the research process, given the possibility of reducing confidence, producing doubts, etc. In this section we consider the presence of culture in the cognitive processes of research. These processes include a wide spectrum of intellectual activities: knowing, understanding, comparison, analysis, synthesis, evaluation.

To what extend does culture influence such processes? This requires an acknowledgment of the complex, multiple, and contradictory identities and realities that shape our collective experience. First we will look at some theories and conceptual contributions which can provide orientation.

Contributions from theories that focus on the role of language in cross-cultural communication have been significant in clarifying the part played by culture in the processes of information interpretation RODRIGO, In this same sense, according ERICKSON , the base for theoretical constructions is the immediate and local meanings of action as defined from the point of view of the social actors involved.

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In other words, we interpret a reality, a given piece of information according to the parameters of our experience in which our culture occupies a fundamental position. Culture is the reason why a given phenomenon, a specific form of behavior can be given a very different meaning according to the origin culture of the person analyzing and interpreting the process.

With respect to the relation between culture and theories of cognitive organization, the contribution of constructionism to the processes of analysis, interpretation and intellectual creation is worthy of special attention. Mental schemas constitute a cognitive system which enables us to interpret the gestures, utterances and actions of others. Culture influences the organization of the schemas developed by individuals with the justification that different visions and interpretations of reality are culturally variable.

In the same sense constructionism stresses the importance of socio-cultural background in the higher order psychological processes VYGOTSKY, as an argument with which to demonstrate the union of culture with cognitive processes and the relation between learning, development and the contexts of personal relations. Another contribution to our understanding of the relation between culture and cognitive processes comes from the tradition which studies the influence of roles and stereotypes in the creation of mental schemas and social categorization CASMIR, In this sense the process of social categorization favors positive biases for "own-culture" groups and negative biases for groups belonging to other cultures GUDYKUNST, Summing up, theories of categorization and social attribution facilitate the development of explanations concerning the perception and interpretation of the behavior of others in intercultural contexts.