Perspective of intercultural communication

Posted by in Communication, Derivations

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.