14 Jan

Cultural and social misunderstanding, how stereotypes have there way, pt 2

Module 3 w1 1In the context of intercultural interaction and communication stereotypes, ethnocentrism and prejudices are the contributing factors of intercultural conflicts and misunderstandings. Misunderstanding occurs when we project cognitive similarities, our assumptions that others hold the same meaning about objects, symbols or icons. The assumption that you and that other person or group holds the same meanings to be true does not promote understanding. Cultural norms are often believed to be universal by many and when they encounter others that are deviating from expected behavior the person can be insulted and altercations can occur. In order to counter misunderstandings that extend from these projections a communicator should take a step back and acknowledge that although we share many similarities our communication is contextual and situational. Because we are entering a new situation or different context we should not make implicit assumptions about meanings and should observe, question and ask for clarification so that we are not lead into misunderstanding or conflict.

Over-generalizing about a particular group has a long historical background in which many people have been abused, segregated, chastened or marginalized because of those generalizations turning into negative stereotypes that become common held beliefs about those groups. These stereotypes often begin as what may appear as a benign comment like saying that all Asians are great at math, but that stereotype may in itself place an undue burden on an Asian that does not excel in math. Or also in turn create the expectation that if you are not Asian you are not qualified for a job that requires advanced mathematical skills. Stereotypes can cause a wide array of damages. In an effort to reduce intercultural misunderstanding Hall (2005) posits that we engage in avoiding, accommodating, competing, compromising and collaborative styles as our way of dealing and managing conflict in intercultural communications.

14 Jan

How different groups are portrayed in the media

The portrayal of certain groups (i.e. older people, Asians and women) in the media influence other’s perceptions by the use of stereotypes, which lead to cultural misunderstandings. Earlier on we touched on the female and male portrayals in the media and how the conflicting picture created by those portrayals creates dissonance due to the unrealistic examples that individuals have to try and reach. The more we continue to propagate the stereotypes and depict certain groups in particular frames the more we propagate that image and create a reference frame for the public to use when they encounter such individuals. The normative view of Hispanics and Latinos is that they work as laborers, housekeepers and gardeners and do not speak English and are uneducated. This is a typecast or stereotypical representation that is not truly representative of all Hispanics and Latinos, however when many people encounter a person in that group they may approach them with hesitance because they expect them not to speak the same language. Also, often times people will speak to them under the assumption that they lack education and have to speak to them at a different level so that they can understand. The use of stereotypes in the media is done to connect to schemas that people already have in their minds, however the continued propagation and reinforcement of those stereotypes continues to solidify them as a reality and attitude of the culture in general. When an American born Hispanic child goes to school and is being educated but every media reference point or example tells them that thy best they can achieve is being a laborer the child can then turn into the self-fulfilling prophecy.

13 Jan

Developing a campaign

  1.                I.     Situation Analysis (SWOT): This step is assessed for both internal and external areas as needed.
  2. Strengths – Define the advantages, strengths, resources, and the unique selling point the organizations has.
    1.                                                         i.     Provides the organization with a realistic view of what is positive about them and that are occurring with competitors.
    2. Weakness – Identify areas that need improvement, should be avoided and what leads to losses.
      1.                                                         i.     Isolates areas that require attention and are a threat to the organization and also identifies the weakness of the competition.
      2.                                                       ii.     This provides a point of reference to guide the creation of objectives later on.
      3. Opportunities – Identify opportunities for your organization such as markets, products, locations, placement, technology, population, social patterns…etc.
        1.                                                         i.     Enumerating areas of opportunity allows the planners to recognize things that can be used to the advantage of the campaign or that should be highlighted as successes and areas of potential development for the organization.
        2. Threats – Classify obstacles faced, what competition is doing, changes in the market or standards of quality or service or financial problems.
          1.                                                         i.     Listing threats creates a point of reference for problems that are real and that need to be addressed through the campaign or management in order to assist with the success of the campaign efforts.
            1.              II.     Campaign Goals and Objectives
            2. Goals are long-term and broad, while objectives are measureable and allow for a gauge of campaign progress. Typically, both goals and objectives are delineated at the early stages of the campaign as they set the actual campaign in motion. They are what the campaign end results should be and set the tone of the campaign.
              1.            III.     Research – This serves to outline the information that has been learned and will contribute to marketing the brand/product/service. Research supplements the affirmations made through the SWOT (what you already know) and assists in understanding what you do not know. The three areas listed below are devised during the research phase.
              2. Strategies
              3. Methodology
              4. Summary of Findings
                1.            IV.     Target Audience – During the research phase a target audience or population segment should have been identified. At this step of the process the audience is refined and a primary audience should be identified. You may also identity influencers and gatekeepers as they correspond to your situation. The audience must be profiled and include the items listed below so that an understanding of the consumer and how to reach them can be clarified.
                2. Demographics
                3. Psychographics
                  1.              V.     Budget – How much money is available for your campaign and what is the projected cost of the campaign.
                  2.            VI.     Marketing/Message Strategy – This is the operationalizing of how you will achieve or deliver your marketing objectives. How will you sell x amount of things so that your goals can be met. This part of the process includes the items listed below in detail, with specifications, advertisement, press and media communication…etc.
                  3. Communication Plan
                  4. Creative: Advertising, media, promotions and marketing communication
                    1.          VII.     Timeline – This is a timeline that provides dates for when the various campaign components are being worked on, due and go into effect. The timeline will reflect the amount of time that the campaign is being given to run (from start to end).
                    2.        VIII.     Evaluation – The evaluation process is key to the campaign and organization. It provides a check on the efforts and ensures that the campaign is working, if it is not this provides an opportunity to make corrections or to modify marketing plans so that goals and objectives can be positively impacted. The evaluation process will also tell the organization if the choices made for marketing were beneficial and can show things to avoid in the future.
12 Jan

Perspective of intercultural communication

Intercultural communication is divided into three perspectives: interpretive, critical and cultural. To better understand what it all means a we need to understand what culture is, culture is various aspects that come together to form shared cultural identity; e.g. race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, and class. As we attempt to understand intercultural communication the three aforementioned perspectives are vital as interpreters of our observations.
Interpretive Perspective
The interpretive perspective wants to explain behavior. The guiding assumption in the interpretive approach is that people socially interpret what is meaningful in how they interact (Hall, 2005). In intercultural communication the interpretive perspective makes most sense when thinking about the sense making process that we all undergo when we are entering situation that are foreign or new to us. The perspective also takes a stand on culture being a system of sense making, we evaluate how certain acts make sense, how they go together and how actions are coordinated, the framework for our understanding and knowledge is laid out within this sense making process. The interpretive approach is typically represented by the research practice of ethnography.

Critical Perspective
The critical perspective to intercultural communication takes the role of using knowledge to show the reality of injustices that are taking place in life. Knowledge is used to take a serious or critical evaluation at how power imbalances in cultures, society and other groups have come to be and more importantly how they continue to exist. The critical standpoint provides a criticism of society In hopes of leading to a physical, emotional or psychological liberation (Hall, 2005).

Cultural (Traditional) Perspective
The traditional perspective often focuses on improving the overall effectiveness of people. By evaluating predictability, researchers take a look at groups that fit into certain categories and by using quantitative measures predict the likeliness of certain events or behaviors occurring. Knowing the likeliness that a certain behavior will occur empowers people to be able to produce the effects that they desire and we are able to conceptualize theoretical frameworks to explain these behaviors.

The three intercultural perspectives are different approaches to understanding and research and serve a unique end goal. Simply put the interpretive approach seeks to make sense of the interactions that are taking place, the critical perspective seeks to find and resolve the disparages in cultures and the traditional perspective not only looks at society but also makes sense of the patterns and actions taken to provide theoretical frameworks and be able to predict behavior through those observations.

Theories of Intercultural Communication
Cultural Convergence
The theory of cultural convergence says that in a closed social system different cultures will tend to converge (unite) over time and integrate and at the same time retain some of their own uniqueness, a greater cultural uniformity. However, if communication is restricted the trend is opposite and will diverge further. Cultural convergence is especially significant to the study of communication and culture as it provides an area of focus for the hybridization of cultures, languages and the way that regions shape. Take for example the South Texas region where the dominant culture is of Hispanic origin and has merged into a cultural uniformity with the American culture which is on its own a fusing of many other cultures and ethnicities. Through the understanding of the integration of the cultures we are able to pick up on distinguishing characteristics from the originating influences and also use that to contextualize our understanding.

Communication Accommodation Theory
This theory focuses on language approaches to decrease or increase communicative distances. Communication accommodation theory explains the process that we undergo when communicating with others who do not share the same cultural or language background that we do. If a person is not a native tongue speaker we made the necessary adjustment to our speech to promote understanding and to be better able to serve.

Longitudinal Approach
The framework suggests that there are stages that individuals go through when they are adjusting to another culture. However, the theory does not imply that upon exposure to a different culture a person begins to adjust their behavior but rather that an individual experiences stress or difficulty based on their exposure and that over time the person learns and becomes accustomed to such new changes. The adaptation and change is evaluated on a whole and in lengthy terms. This is especially significant to the study of communication and culture as we are able to create a frame of reference for the long term changes that occur within people an their exposure to new cultures. An index is created in which we can more closely scrutinize and understand the process and its components.

12 Jan

The use of Novelas in Latin American countries

In Latin American countries the use of novella or tele-novellas (soap operas) can be appreciated as a pro-social use of media due to the topics and social issues raised in the storylines. The end of many of these programs is to provide social, political, economic and human rights information to a wise scale audience. The novellas are typically targeting women and young adults who make up the audience segment that is perceived to be at higher risk and propensity for unjust or unfair treatment in those countries. The audience is perceived to be more vulnerable and also to require more informative and educational programming to assist them with the plight.

Novellas take advantage of theoretical frameworks such as cultivation theory, uses and gratification, and agenda setting so to reach out that population. The story lines typically involve characters in situation and life’s that the audience can directly identify with because they represent them. Be it a young heroine facing the adversity of finding a way to become educated and making while she is discriminated against or ostracized due to her social-political place in society or even the homemaker and caring mother who works her hands to the bones to take care of her children and she is being violently physically and verbally abused by an estranged husband. Those stories are real to the population and through the use of Novellas the audience are introduced to changes in laws, social policies, political reform and options that they have at their disposal through social and welfare programs.

The overall effect of the media is positive in those cases as through the media information and education can be provided to a larger audience. The public is made aware that they are no longer invisible or bound to their situations as they can leave them and speak out to find assistance. A woman who is being beat will now know that she can reach out to the authorities and programs designed to assist in the removal of the threat or the removal of themselves from those situations. Woman are made aware that they will not necessarily loose their children and still be empowered to be productive and find a fulfilling place for themselves within society. Social programs will go after these cases to not only assist but to create a culture of continued assistance and communal reliance on each other to beat their odds.

Factors that influence how media impacts individuals are access to the media, re-enforcement, outreach, message clarity and message construction that is not at odds with the social reality that those individuals live in. Creating a character that is overly iconic or a heroine that comes across as above human would yield limited results, as her accomplishments would be taken as almost godlike and not feasible for the average person. Following the framework of social learning theory we know that people can learn through observation of behaviors and behavior consequences and they not necessarily need to take an action to accomplish the learning. So viewing and individual go through the motions and face challenges in a rational and methodical way provides a simulated and reflective environment for the audience to use as a tool to learn from and eventually mimic should they have the need to do so. The behaviors are learned, as the individuals become cognant of the information, choices and how-to deal with the consequences their actions may lead to.

11 Jan

Cultural and social misunderstanding, how stereotypes have there way, pt 3

Avoiding is the deferring or discounting of the conflict in the expectation that over time the conflict situation will dissipate or resolve itself through the progression of communication or development of information. By avoiding we are able to allow communication to proceed and other unknown factors to be exposed that allow us to better understand or come to a consensus. The use of competition allows for those involved to create close group affiliations, come to understanding over the shared experience and also to work together towards that end result.


Conflict Competing can be useful to release stress or to introduce an element of fun into a situation that does it is at an impasse. In situations where groups or individuals are working towards a goal and the opinions or suggested courses of actions are at opposing ends creating a friendly competition to build, work-out or find a resolution Using competition in situations where a misunderstanding has occurred or is occurring allows for the interaction and unification of the competition to foster understanding and the development of resolutions.

In situations where both parties have equal power and goals that are mutually independent using compromise as a tactic can be very advantageous. Finding a middle route or ground allows for the conflict resolution to occur by taking into account personal goals and relationships of the parties involved. The end result is a solution in which both sides will have gains and losses.

When using collaborations as a technique to resolve a cultural misunderstanding the goals is to find a resolution that is mutually satisfactory. Both parties are expected to commit to high collaboration and low confrontation so that a mid-way solution of compromise can be found. The collaborative style functions on the premise that a solution can be arrived at that is acceptable by all involved and the process demands that the problem be defined, alternatives are sought out and that the alternatives are evaluated for their practical applications and that ultimately a decision is made by consensus of the involved parties.

Different cultures and groups communicate differently and that communication is highly contextual-it changes from situation to situation and being mindful of these differences allows us to minimize misunderstanding. Our interactions should be mindful and considerate of the needs of others. Our actions should not be guided or pushed on by assumptions regardless of how implicit they may appear as an understanding between you and another culture. Avoiding stereotyping can be assisted by avoiding the creation of resistance or arguments and by being respectful and learning about others.

11 Jan

Men and women in the media

Men and women are portrayed in very specific and re-occurring ways in the media. First we can look at how men are presented to understand the consequences and challenges raised by such portrayals.

Media Portrayal of Males
In the media a male is represented as stoic, strong, emotionless, leader, physically youthful and muscular and as an authoritative figure that exhumes high levels of influence. Males are also depicted as over women and in the role of protectors of women who are unable to protect themselves. The image presented sounds pretty good, heck its attractive and alluring to other males and females however, the results of engendering these stereotypes leads to conflicts in the viewing public.

Other males are expected to act in the same manner that males are depicted in the media and the resurgence of the typecast behaviors reinforces the desire for such traits. In real life men are led to believe that being cold, emotionless and controlling of women is the accepted behavior when in fact it may not be. The effects of the portrayal of males on television leads to real life problems such as arguments, violence, misunderstanding and emotional conflict within the person and their relationships, these effects cause a dis-connect between reality and the models that males see in the media.

Also, the friendship relationship between males on television is limited to the sidekick role in which there is humorous relief but no real emotional or inter-personal involvement. The relationships lack a facet of reality and are one-dimensional as they focus is primarily on the superficial. In the real world male-to-male friendships have the tendency to be disingenuous and because of the reflection in the media. Males are not expected to share their thoughts or innermost feelings because the socially constructed reality as shaped by the media does not provide a reference point for such behaviors. Males are given the excuse to be cold and dis-connected because society accepts the social reality presented by the media and adopts those as characteristics and expectations from males. A man opening up or showing emotions violates the expected behavior and is seen as weak and often ridiculed.

Media Portrayal of Females
Women are depicted very differently from men in the media. In reality women are less often represented in the media. The media is pre-dominantly focused on male characters. Think of voice-overs, the voices are typically male because the media presents them as more trustworthy, definitive and knowledgeable. Even in media aimed at youth and children the appearance of female characters is miniscule and when used they are depicted in roles that are very one-dimensional or hysterical. Female characters in youth television are maintained as homemakers, weak or the person in distress needing to be saved.

The female representation in the media is focused on the woman being a subservient character to male roles, weak, a homemaker, a caregiver, a mother, and hysterical. The representation takes on negative stereotypical behaviors that are re-enforced through society and their involvement with the media. There are cases where a woman is given a position of power but she is typecast as being mean, vile, dominating and having slept her way to the top. The merits of her accomplishments are robbed by the negative character portrayal. Take note that even when women are used in roles that give them power it is given to them by their sexuality an object of desire by a male. Thus the woman is objectified and de-humanized. The power that is granted to the female character is almost sinister and villainous she is able to exhumer power and control through the use of her feminine wiles; she can seduce people with her charm, sexuality and underhanded use of emotions and fragility. Females are more often represented as being young, thin, and tall and having hips an overall physical image that is not realistic. The woman is expected to stay young even in the years of maturity passing the 40’s. The woman is expected to bend, pull, tie and twist any part of her body to grasp on to the youth and attractiveness to stay relevant and to be able to be meaningful. When a woman is depicted as old she then turns into the punch line or object of ridicule in most media accounts. She must frantically find a way to cover up her age.

The representation of females creates a false reality for women who are socially expected to reflect what they see in the media. Women are not able to fit into the characters modeled for them and in their real life’s are continually in search of the fix for their deficiencies. The added negative effects of the stereotyped and hyped up media portrayals of females has been linked to a rise in young girls having eating disorders, emotional and other psychology maladies because of the stress of being like the right woman on the screen.


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