Some students think that they do not have much of a cultural background

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Prepare: As you prepare to write your discussion for this topic, take time to do the following:

  • Read the writing prompt below in its entirety. Note that there are three tasks to complete:
    • Define culture and explain its importance in communication.
    • Describe your own culture.
    • Explain how culture impacts how you communicate with others, including those from different cultures.
  • Review Chapter 3 of your text and identify at least one point about culture and communication to discuss in your post.
  • Drawing on what you’ve learned in Bevan and Sole (2014), start formulating a definition of culture and its important in communication.
  • Review the grading rubric and note that 25% of your grade is based on your application of course material (Content/Subject Knowledge) and 25% is based on your ability to demonstrate you are thinking critically and presenting original ideas.

Reflect:

Based on what you have learned in Chapter 3, think about key elements

of your own culture and how it influences both the style and content of

your communication. Think about how your culture shapes how you

communicate with others, especially those who are from other cultures.

Why is culture important in understanding effective communication? How

can knowing about your own culture help you build bonds and/or bridge

cultural divides? If you are struggling, think about where you live and

the consumer goods that surround you. How do these reflect your values

and beliefs? How has communication shaped those choices and ideas?

Write: Based on what you have learned in class this week,

  • Define culture and explain why it is important to understanding communication.
  • Explain how understanding and assessing culture can improve your own communication. Describe your own culture and share with us what makes you who you are. Your culture can be related to your race, ethnicity, gender, age, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, media preferences, hobbies, religion, etc. Try not to focus on just one of these aspects of yourself, but instead utilize as many cultural elements as possible. Think about both style (how you speak) and content (what interests you).
  • How does your culture affect your communication with those in your own culture and those from other cultures?

***Thoroughly respond to the discussion elements by writing at least one to two sentences on your definition and then two to three sentences on each of the remaining two elements. Use the course readings, with full APA citations, at least once to help you make your points. Consider copying and pasting all three tasks into a word file and addressing each of them separately.****

Your initial response should be 200 to 300 words in length and is due by Thursday, Day 3.

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The Influence of Culture on Interpersonal Communication 3 Photodisc/Thinkstock Learning Objectives In this chapter, readers will explore the essential associations between culture and interpersonal communication. By the end of this chapter, readers will be able to • Define culture and co-culture • Understand how culture and media are related • Distinguish between primary and secondary identities, including explaining how cultural identity and communication are related • Comprehend the role that cultural membership—including context, individualism, collectivism, and time orientation—plays in how we communicate with others • Use strategies to strengthen interpersonal communication competence Culture and Communication Chapter 3 Introduction In 2008, reporter Malcolm Gladwell published Outliers: The Story of Success, a compilation of human events that are extreme, unusual, and outside of one’s normal experience. Chapter 7 of this book, entitled “The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes,” recounts a particularly unusual pattern—one that even Gladwell himself admitted on his website was the most surprising to him (“What Is Outliers About?” 2013): the influence of commercial airline pilots’ cultural background on how they communicate while in the air. Using examples from actual National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) transcripts, Gladwell reveals that the causes of multiple plane crashes can be partially explained by the pilots’ inability to competently communicate with one another or with Air Traffic Control (ATC), and that this communication difficulty is associated with culture. When first officers, who are subordinate to captains in the hierarchy of the airline industry, tried to alert the captain of a problem, officers from cultures that prescribe deferential treatment to superiors used hints or softened speech to get their point across. In other words, even in potential life-or-death situations such as airline emergencies, cultural rules and norms were so ingrained in these first officers that they were simply unable to use direct and clear messages to notify their captains. Instead, the first officers chose to sugarcoat or downplay the significance of the situations. According to Gladwell (2008), NTSB transcripts present examples of the hints used by first officers in developing or actual airline emergencies, some of which include • “Look how the ice is just hanging on his, ah, back, back there, see that?” (to captain, after noticing that there is a dangerous level of ice on the plane’s wings, p. 196) • “Climb and maintain three thousand, and ah, we’re running out of fuel, sir.” (to ATC, after being asked by the captain to tell ATC that they were in an emergency due to low fuel, p. 199) • “Don’t you think it rains more? In this area here?” (a subtle warning to the captain against doing a visual approach while landing in terrible, rainy weather, p. 213) In each of the above instances, the plane crashed, and lives were ultimately lost. Gladwell summarizes this outlier when saying, “How good a pilot is, it turns out, has a lot to do with where that pilot is from—that is, the culture he or she was raised in” (“What Is Outliers About?” 2013, para. 6). Airlines with such issues during the 1990s, such as Korean Air, recognized these outlier patterns and took important steps to correct them, but miscommunications can still occur. However, the results of these efforts have been overwhelmingly successful, with a significant reduction in airline crashes in the last decade. This is a sobering example of just how much culture influences (and is influenced by) how we communicate, regardless of situation or context. Chapter 3 examines the ways that culture and interpersonal communication shape and influence one another. In this chapter, we define culture and co-cultures and explore how certain cultural identity and characteristics are related to our interpersonal communication. The chapter also offers suggestions for improving your intercultural communication competence.   3.1 Culture and Communication We are often unaware or not fully conscious of how culture influences our behavior and our communication, but it pervades almost every aspect of the lives of people in a society. Culture influences how we dress, how we act, what and when we eat, what and when we celebrate, how Culture and Communication Chapter 3 we raise and educate our children, and how we even view life and death. It affects our concepts of time, whether we prefer direct or indirect messages, if we view the world more as an individual or as a member of a group, and many other aspects of life that most people rarely think about. These characteristics of culture, in turn, affect the manner in which we communicate with other people. They influence our perception of the world, our verbal and nonverbal messages, and our relationships. If you desire to be a competent communicator, it is thus imperative that you understand the impact of culture on you, the people you encounter, and the interactions that you share. What Is Culture? When you travel to a new country, to a different region in the United States, or even to an event or environment that is unfamiliar to you, you will likely encounter people who speak different languages, wear different clothing, and have different customs from your own. Every society has a culture, or a number of different cultures—a relatively specialized set of traditions, beliefs, values, and norms, or standards of behavior that have been passed down from generation to generation by way of communication. Culture is often described as “the way we learn to do things.” Everyday parts of our lives such as etiquette, values, customs, traditions, language, courtesy, and rituals such as shaking hands when you meet someone are at least partially formed, shaped, and changed by culture. Culture provides structure in a society by defining the roles of group members and the hierarchy or status of various groups within the culture. In this sense, culture is normative, which means that it provides the rules, regulations, and norms that govern society and the manner in which people act with other members of that society. All societies have a system of social organization, and culture serves to provide an ordered and organized system for dealing with people within that society (Novinger, 2001). Culture is learned, but it seems natural because it is such an integral part of life. People are conditioned by culture to fit into a particular society, and the rules for interacting with other people are learned from birth. These rules become hidden, subtle influences on our behavior. You learn when to talk, when to keep quiet, and what tone of voice to use. You are taught which gestures are and are not acceptable. You learn what facial expressions are approved and which will earn a reprimand. You learn to sit up straight, cover your mouth to sneeze, and not to pick your nose (Novinger, 2001). Historically, most societies had a shared culture—a consistent set of cultural traits, norms, and customs among members of that society. Most modern societies, Steve Raymer/Asia Images/Getty Images ▲▲Culture often seems instinctual because it is such an integral part of life, but its rules and norms are learned from birth. Culture and Communication Chapter 3 however, are a mix of different and often competing cultures because we have access to more foreign cultures today than ever before due to the increased rates of migration of people from one region of the world to another, military conquests, personal and professional travel, and global economics. But you do not have to travel abroad today to encounter cultural differences. Intercultural communication, which is a significant area of study in the communication discipline, is “the communication process in which individual participants of differing cultural and subcultural backgrounds come into direct contact with one another” (Kim, 2010, p. 454). The United States, for example, is an ethnically diverse nation of immigrants; in 2000 its foreign-born population was estimated at 30 million people, or 11% of the population (National Intelligence Council, 2001). Over America’s 230-plus year history, it has become home to people from almost every other culture in the world, which likely explains why the United States is also currently one of the most racially tolerant nations in the world (Berggren & Nilsson, 2013). If you reside and work in the United States, you live in a multicultural environment, and you will regularly come into contact with people in your personal and your professional lives whose cultural backgrounds differ from yours. We can view the United States as an open system culture: a culture that has continuous inputs and outputs from and to the surrounding environment. In other words, American culture is influenced by and can influence elements of other cultures. One example of this is our successful adaptation of British television shows such as American Idol and The Office. At the same time, who we are as a culture has also spread around the world in the form of movies and television shows. Celebrity international endorsements are also examples of the continued dispersal of American culture—for example, actor Ben Stiller’s promotion of Chu-Hi, a Japanese canned alcoholic drink, or former wrestler and reality TV star Hulk Hogan’s association with Hitachi air conditioner units. Societies exert a great deal of pressure on people to conform to the way things are done in that specific culture, but this pressure is often subtle. You may be unaware of it until you do something unacceptable or encounter people from other cultures who do things differently. You may like to think of yourself as your own person, acting of your own free will. Although it is true that you can make choices about how to behave if your actions are not considered acceptable in your society, you usually suffer consequences or endure punishment for not behaving “properly.” These consequences can vary. For example, you might be excluded from group parties, if your manners are poor. In a more extreme example, you might be ostracized or removed from a group or from society at large if you violate the formally stated laws of the land. In summary, you could think of culture as a picture frame that surrounds and creates a border for your behavior and your communication. You are, in a sense, bound by your culture because the words in your language, your vocal characteristics, your nonverbal communication, and environmental influences can only be decoded correctly if someone is familiar with the cultural context. If you are not knowledgeable about a culture, you will often misread cues. Dominant Cultures and Co-Cultures Cultural diversity can enrich a society by infusing it with new ideas, new perspectives, and new ways of doing things. However, this diversity can also cause social unrest and conflict. As you learned in Chapter 1, belonging is a basic human need, and as we discussed in Chapter 2, selfimage and self-esteem are equally strong needs. Immigrants to a new culture must often make difficult choices about whether to retain their cultural heritage, primarily adopt the behavior Culture and Communication Chapter 3 patterns of the dominant culture, or attempt to blend these different cultural characteristics in some way. The dominant culture, however, can also change when new populations are large and become significant subcultures, or co-cultures, within the society. The next sections will define and address these different aspects of culture. Dominant Cultures Although many societies are multicultural, they generally have a dominant culture—a term used by sociologists, anthropologists, and researchers in cultural studies to describe the established language, religion, behavior, values, rituals, and social customs of a particular society. The dominant culture may or may not represent the majority of the population; instead, it is considered to be dominant because it controls or has influence over social institutions such as the media, educational institutions, law, political processes, business, and artistic expression (Marshall, 1998). This power and control is not absolute, nor is it permanent: Other groups within the society may challenge the dominant culture. For example, because people from England, Ireland, and Scotland predominantly settled the original 13 colonies in the United States, many aspects of U.S. culture were based on British culture, which was itself a mix of English and other European traditions. As a result, the English language as well as the American legal and political system and many customs, religious views, attitudes toward work, recreational pastimes, and other characteristics of Anglo (English) culture became dominant in the United States (Mio, Trimble, & Arredondo, 1999). When individuals are born into a particular society, they begin a process of enculturation, when they learn and adopt the norms, traditions, and beliefs of their dominant culture. Individuals are immersed in their dominant culture, and they acquire knowledge about that culture via direct experience. For example, they will eat food that is preferred by members of that culture, learn the primary language, and view and experience the major forms of media popular within that culture. Even immigrants usually undergo a period of acculturation, during which they learn and begin to adopt the norms of the dominant culture and the behaviors that are acceptable or preferred in the new society. Acculturation, for example, involves observing others who are members of the dominant culture to see how they behave, communicate, and what their preferences and dislikes are. From these observations, and by directly interacting with the newly adopted culture, the individual will begin to take on characteristics of that culture. The acculturation process is not just one-way—as more and more new members join a culture, their values and beliefs will shape and influence the dominant culture as well. A society may celebrate its multicultural makeup, but its most widely shared customs, holidays, and traditions are usually those of the dominant culture, such as the U.S. holidays of Thanksgiving and Independence Day. The dominant culture of a society can change, but, unless a revolution or other major social upheaval occurs, this change usually happens slowly, over a lengthy period of time. Table 3.1 illustrates some aspects of U.S. culture that can be troublesome for newcomers, but are likely to go unnoticed by most members of the dominant culture. These “Facts about American Lifestyle and Culture” were provided by the website www.path2usa.com to help visitors and immigrants understand and become familiar with various aspects of the dominant U.S. culture. Review the suggestions and consider whether the recommendations would be helpful for someone who is new to the United States. Do you think the recommendations are all appropriate advice for those new to the United States? Would you alter any of these suggestions or include additional suggestions? Culture and Communication Chapter 3 Table 3.1: Practical tips for visitors to the United States Aspects of U.S. Culture Often Unfamiliar to Visitors or Newcomers In America one has to keep to the right hand side of the road, and the driver’s seat is on the left side of the car. If a cop (police officer) asks you to stop while you are driving, just stop the car at the right side of the road and wait inside. Never get out of the car. The cop may consider it an offense. You will find both “Hot” and “Cold” water in the tap at all places like your apartment, office, and public restrooms. At restaurants, you won’t get finger bowls. One can use paper napkins. Electric switches are operated in the opposite direction, i.e., upside-ON and downside-OFF. Generally, there is no ON-OFF switch next to every plug point. They are always ON. Just connect the plug whenever necessary. The TV channels can’t be tuned according to your wish. For example, ESPN will come on channel 39; you can’t change it. This is applied according to your area and the cable company. At work or elsewhere while talking, if you want to say yes, just say “YES.” Don’t nod your head up and down. Moving your head side to side is very confusing, and it’s mostly taken as NO. Never, ever talk in your native language in the presence of Americans during a gathering. When standing in a line, make sure there is enough space between you and the person standing in front of you. If you stand too close to strangers, they feel you are invading their personal space. FREE is a buzzword here. You may get hundreds of ads with FREE in bigger fonts. Make sure that you read and understand all terms and conditions. Look for any hidden costs (Generally referred as the Catch) before accepting such offers. Note: Generally, the Catch is written in almost unreadable font size. Don’t be surprised if complete strangers greet you. Be polite and greet them back. Generally, Americans are very polite, friendly, and helpful, but have little patience with interference in their private lives. Don’t offer chewing gum or a breath freshener to others. It gives them a message that they have a bad breath. Your intention may not be that, but it is easily mistaken. Source: “Facts about American Lifestyle and Culture.” http://www.path2usa.com/facts-about-usa. Used with permission of www.Path2usa.com Co-Cultures In addition to a dominant culture, most societies have several co-cultures—regional, economic, social, religious, or ethnic groups that are not the dominant culture but still do exert influence in the society. These co-cultures have characteristic customs and patterns of behavior that are unique to them and that distinguish them from the dominant culture. The terms co-culture and subculture have similar meaning, but co-culture implies that multiple cultures can exist together in the same geographic space, whereas subculture could imply that some cultures are necessarily subsumed into, or are inferior to, other cultures. The term co-culture emphasizes that, even though we can identify with a dominant culture, there may be another culture with which you identify more closely and feel best represents who you are and how you behave. For example, you might identify yourself as an American, but have a particular co-culture, such as a religious affiliation, geographic region, or occupation that you also strongly identify with and that is an important component of who you are. There are various U.S. geographic co-cultures that developed because different ethnic groups or nationalities immigrated to specific regions of the United States. These regional co-cultures each have their own customs and traditions, dialects of the English language, and foods. Regional cuisines, from cheesesteaks and water ice in Philadelphia to green chile stew in New Mexico, grits and sweet tea in the South, and sushi in the West are examples of the influence of different cultural groups in parts of the United States (United States of America, 2010). Customs, traditions, and foods once unique to certain co-cultures also can become part of the dominant culture over time. Culture and Communication Chapter 3 The holiday of Cinco de Mayo, May 5th, for instance, commemorates the victory of the Mexican militia over the French army at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. The holiday is widely celebrated in the United States (though it is not celebrated in Mexico), especially in cities that have a significant Mexican population, and Mexican food is popular throughout the year in the United States. Co-cultures also develop in groups other than those who share ethnic backgrounds. You are likely a ...
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muthogacharity
School: Duke University

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a.
According to Brevan & Sole (2014), culture is a generally particular arrangement of
conventions, convictions, qualities, and standards, or benchmarks of conduct that have been
passed down from era to era by method of correspondence. Culture and correspondence go as an
inseparable unit and they depend on each other as an approach to increase understanding.
Societies are made through correspondence. You can state that culture is essentially the
remaining parts of correspondence.
b.
Focusing on culture is important with regards to being effective and a better
communicator. In the event that you focus on somebody's way of life it will wind up noticeably a
learning knowledge for you as well as you will have the capacity to demonstrate the other
individual that you will regard and attempt to comprehend what there their way of life brings to
the table. Giving yourself a chance to venture out of your customary range of familiarity and
gain some new useful knowledge about another person's way of life will likewise over the long
haul help you see that perhaps the other individual's way of life isn't that unique in relation to
your own.
Describe your own culture and share with us what mak...

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