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Culture and Intercultural Communication Styles

Nowadays when the world is intensively interconnected via means of electronic communication, the representatives of various cultures interact among themselves more intensively than in the past. Intensive business and private interactions force people to think more about their communication styles and the reasons of possible misunderstandings. People try to discover the background of their communication styles. They find culture as one of determinants which influence their communication style repertoire.
There have been created many definitions of culture and probably new ones will be generated in the future. We have tried to select those definitions that display the relation between culture, communication, intercultural communication styles and related setting and processes.
The direct interconnection between culture and communication styles was established by E.T.Hall who points out a reciprocal relation between culture and communication.
“Culture is communication and communication is culture” (E.T. Hall, 1959, p.169)
The view of E.T. Hall could be supported by Ting Toomey, who also sees a strong reciprocal relation between culture and communication and points out that “the culture from which individuals come affects the way they communicate, and the way individuals communicate can change the culture they share”. (Ting Toomey, 1999, p.18)
A close connection between culture and communication is visible in definition by Scollon who defines culture as “culture is a verb”what means “culture is not something that you think or possess or live inside of. It is something that you do. And the way that you do it might be different at different times and in different circumstances. (Scollon, 2012, p.5)
To prove a close relationship between culture, communication and everyday life we can proceed with the definitions made by Damen, Mead and Andrew who explain how culture of a particular person is being developed. They define culture as “learned and shared human patterns or models for living; day-to-day living patterns. These patterns and models pervade all aspects of human social interaction. (Damen, 1987, p. 367)
With reference to the definition of culture as learned and shared human patterns and models for living we can deduce that culture is learned from other members of the same culture, people are not born with it. In terms of communication a member of a culture is taught how to interact with others.
The focus on the process of social and under certain conditions intercultural interaction within which culture is learned is supported by view of Milton J. Bennett who defines culture as “a result of the lived experience (praxis) of participating in social action.” (Bennett, Milton J.,2005).
The view of Milton Bennett could be supported by Avruch who views culture as “a derivate of individual experience, something learned or created by individuals themselves or passed on to theme socially by contemporaries or ancestors”. (Avruch,1998, p.9)
Keven Avruch makes distinction between local and generic culture while he defines local culture as “the complex system of meaning created, shared and transmitted (socially inherited) by individuals in particular social groups.” (Keven Avruch, 1998, p.9,)
Janet Bennett defines culture as „the learned and shared values, beliefs, and behaviors of a group of interacting people.“ (Janet M. Bennett,2012, p.15)
The view of culture and consequently intercultural communication style is close to the view of Ting Tommey who identifies culture as consisting „of the underlying set of beliefs and values that drives people’s thinking, reacting and behaving. (Ting Tommey, 1999, p.10)
Ting Tommey also points out that culture as “learned system of meaning is hared and transmitted through everyday interactions among members of the cultural group from one generation to the next”. (Ting Tommey, 1999, p.9)
The connection between the individual as the carrier of multiple cultures and the carrier of multiple communication styles which he/she is expected to use in communication across cultures is proposed by Hopmann. In his view culture is not monolithic and restricted in its effects to a single level of social structure, including the nation-state, culture does not map transparently onto something called nationality. (Hopmann, 1996 in Keven Avruch, 1999, p. 44)
Keesing views culture as a system of knowledge, shaped and constrained by the way the human brain acquires, organizes, and process information and creates „internal modes of reality“. He focuses on necessity to study culture within the social and ecological petting in which humans communicate. (Keesing, 1974, p.89 in Gudykunst, 1988, p.29)
Also the definition by Miller and Steinberg points out that people choose among various communicative strategies based on situations in which receivers of the message respond. They assume that „when people communicate, they make predictions about the effects, or outcomes, of their communication behaviours. They also take into account the importance of knowledge of past events and expectations about future events while making predictions“. (William B.Gudykunst, Stella Ting-Toomey, 1988, p.18)

 

 
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