Wow, nunca habia hecho un examen tan, tan, tan, TAAAN, mounstruoso. Consistió en solo dos preguntas, se abria el examen por Internet a las 9.00 am, y teníamos hasta las 4 pm para entregarlo. Teníamos todo el material y estabamos en casita con comunicación abierta con los compañeros y todo ¿Uy que facil no?

7 horas de examen y apenas logre terminarlo, me falto tiempo y a mis compañeritos a quienes tenía en linea tambien. miren las preguntas….

  1. Research in Intercultural Communication can be roughly divided into two approaches: cross-cultural and intercultural studies. Please discuss the principal ideas/theories/models of these approaches, as well as principal researchers and their approaches. Please discuss critically also, why we need both approaches and how they complement each other, or is this distinction relevant at all?
  2. One way of studying and learning intercultural communication are so-called “critical incidents”. These are events which, in the best case, can awake intercultural awareness and promote intercultural learning. Try to remember one that kind of incident in your own intercultural experience ( or that of somebody else, told to you) and analyze it. Use your intercultural communication knowledge to explain the theoretical background of these incidents.

Que inocentes preguntas no? Bueno, solo por que pues ya pasó el examen y soy un poco obsesivo, pues ahí va la respuesta a la primera pregunta… No creo que nadie la termine de leer, pero si quieren un condensado breve de que chingados estoy estudiando pues leanla.

The field of Intercultural Communication (IC) is quite difficult to theorize when the object of study and the unit of analysis are diffuse, and is even more difficult to make appropriate divisions to a field with so few conventions. IC is certainly divided normally into two rough approaches: cross-cultural and intercultural studies, although the main elements of the field are at least elusive. One is perplexed when trying to delimitate the object of IC, the key concept “culture”, with a quick search one is able to find myriads of definitions, many of them reasonable; on the other hand, the very diffuse delimitation of the unit of analysis that normally is bounded to national borders creates even more complications. Moulakis (2003) says that “IC resists theorization because of the indeterminacy of culture on the one hand and the always concretely situated particularity of communication on the other”.

Research in IC is expanding rapidly to a diversity of fields within the social sciences. Even just focusing in one kind of research, such as the empirical social approach presented in the International Journal of Intercultural Relations, Hart (1999) using a citation analysis is able to isolate four major disciplines as the most influential in IC research, being Psychology the most influential of all, followed by communication, sociology and last anthropology.

The influence of many more fields is easily noticeable if we take into consideration the three paradigms of research in IC proposed by Martin and Nakayama (2004), being: i) the social science approach (also called functionalist approach), where quantitative methods are used describing and predicting an external reality, measuring and predicting how culture influences communication. ii) The interpretative approach, based primary in qualitative methods, participant observation and rhetorical analysis, where the main goal is to identify culture as created and maintained through communication (Carbaugh 1996), and iii) the critical approach, where it’s emphasized the context in which communication occurs and the power relations in communication. The textual analysis is one of the methods preferred in this approach.

With so many fields influencing the field of IC, it is understandable to realize why it is so difficult to arrive to conventions on key items. According to Moulakis (2003) “Despite the large number of academic and para-academic programs… it has not been possible to establish a distinct discipline of IC” he argues that it has not been successful to construct a persuasively unified intelligible field of study around the unity of its subject or the coherence of a specific methodology; on the other hand, scholars do study IC despite of the dis-unity of the field, most of them trying to answer the question “How do people understand one another when they do not share a common cultural experience?” (Bennett).

Even with the diffuse definition of the field of IC in general, it is generally accepted to perform research according to one of the two main divisions, being it: i) cross-cultural and ii) intercultural communication. According to Scollon (1997) “Cross-cultural” has its primary concern understanding how individuals are products of their own cultures, and it is about the comparison of typical individuals, if such term even exists, with proto-typical individuals across cultures. The most common understanding however, is in research design, when two distinct populations are studied separately and then inferences are drawn about their distinctiveness.

Probably the best well known representatives of the cross-cultural line of research are Hofstede (1983, 1993, 1997), Trompenaars (1997) and Schwartz (2003). Their empirical work and quantitative research with values across borders have been very influential.

The main problem about the term cross-cultural is that it treats groups as categorically different, and supposes a very strong internal coherence within each group. Normally the descriptive mathematical mean is reported and compared with other units of analysis, (e.g. countries or nationalities) without a clear reference to the standard deviation of the data. To illustrate this, it is simply not feasible to suppose the same internal coherence in the data presented for Mexico, which its foundations are found in hundreds of very different pre-Hispanic cultures, influenced by a strong colonial and religious pressures from Spain, and a very strong hierarchical caste system, and Finland, with a smaller territory, and a very strong egalitarian culture, and a somehow more cohesive ethnic background. Both countries are presented in the three studies presented above. In his study, Schwartz (2003) empirically conclude that there is indeed internal coherence if the country is the unit of analysis, but he does not says if this internal adherence is statistically valid for all the countries in his study.

Scollon (1997) also argues that cross-cultural does not imply any mechanism of social and historical change. The term “Intercultural”, on the other hand imply that any social interaction is both a reflection of cultural symbols and a modification or restructuring of those symbols. He says that “Not only is the people transformed in each intercultural communication, the resources of the participating cultures are also transformed”.

The very term Intercultural Communication as a field is contested by Scollon (1996) arguing that it is impossible to maintain an exclusive focus on face to face interpersonal interaction as the basis of IC studies. He contends that one alternative could be interdiscourse communication – the communication across the discourses of generations, genders, regions, corporate, and so on. I think that the best term in this sense would be Intercultural Relations, as it is not biased just with physical contact, but has a broader range to interaction, even if it is mediated.

I believe that the term cross-cultural should not be used to describe the process of intercultural communication, but it has a better context when used to refer to the research design process; nevertheless, I could propose another more accurate research term to what is done in value studies like Schwartz and Hofstede’s, and it is culturally sensitive international research. With this term it becomes clear that the unit of analysis is a country, but the focus or objects of the study are habits or values immersed in a cultural environment.

It would be impossible to review all the principal theories in the IC field in the limited space and time available, so I will try to recapitulate some of the most important features in it.

Stephen Dahl (2004) catalogues all of the main concepts in cross-cultural and intercultural communication, let’s say the classic authors in the field, while Gudykunst (2003) makes a categorization towards different theories could be organized besides the typical cross-cultural or intercultural definition. He proposes 5 general categories: i) theories focusing on effective outcomes, ii) theories focusing on accommodation and adaptation, iii) theories focusing on identity negotiation, iv) theories focusing on communication networks, and v) theories focusing on acculturation or adjustment.

Some of the very influential authors in IC are Triandis (1972) who is the first one to introduce the concept of “subjective culture” or a “characteristic way if perceiving its social environment”. This is particularly important as it settles the basis for the different kind of vale studies later used. Even in the fifties, Kluckhohn & Stodtbeck developed an early values-based model for understanding differences between groups (1951). These authors were later used as the basis for the well known functionalist cross-cultural studies such as Hofstede’s (1980). Hofstede describes values as having both intensity (how much importance we give to a particular value) and direction, meaning that we usually make a judgment about which side of the value we stand for (either for or against). (2001). His work with IBM, has been widely acclaimed as well as criticized, because of his methodology and sample and because of the kind of inferences that he made. One achievement that he accomplished is that he managed to put the Intercultural Communication field in scholars mind.

Many comparative studies has been taking place even before those so well known such as those done by Dean Barnlund (1990) who compared japanese and U.S American communication styles. In the forties, before IC, Ruth Benedict (1946) writes the Chrysantemum and the sword in a wartime effort to bring anthropology to the allies’ side.

On the anthropological side, E.T Hall, who is normally regarded as the father of IC field, is the very first to realize the importance of systematic research in cultural differences and non verbal communication and proxemics. Although he is the first to use the term IC, Scollon (1997) points out correctly that the early history of the field can be traced to the twenties even in Russia, and owes a lot to contributions to Linguists such as Whorf-Safir, who says that language greatly influences perception. I personally believe that the usage of IC skills in a systematic way and the documentation of it could be traced to catholic missionaries all over the world, especially in the Americas. As this history is not part of the English speaking world, then E.T Hall could be seeing as the first one to name a field that has been along for many years, but undoubtedly not its father.

On the more actual scholar environment, Spencer-Oatey (2000) is the first to introduce the notion of culture as an onion, with basic assumptions surrounding the inner values at the core. This model and the iceberg model are very useful when explaining the basics of IC to new people, as it is very understandable and visual, although sometimes seen as a very simplistic way of describing reality.

On another line of thought, in the Intercultural part of the IC field, the models of integration and acculturation has been very influential and discussed due to the practical application in the short term. Kim and others like Adler, Milton and Jannet Bennett, and John Berry have devoted many years studying the acculturation process and in some cases culture shock.

Berry’s model imply in a four quadrant display, that if the individual manage to keep his or her old network and is willing to retain his old values in the new culture, then it is easier to integrate, than if you don’t. Then you could be assimilated or separated from the host society. This kind of models, does not incorporate different scenarios, such as the possibility that one does not need or want to integrate in the host society, or if it is actually rejected for some reason from it.

Milton Bennett’s phases of Ethnorelativism and Ethnocentrism, introduce the new variable of the individual stance against the actual intercultural experience. Some people are more prepared, and some people have a specific mindset that can allow them to adapt and survive more at ease in a new environment. I find this model quite useful as it can serve as starting point for intercultural training, if it is possible to determine where the subject is at that time. The research on culture shock by Janne Bennet and Adler help to establish trainings beforehand departure, so individuals could be more prepared to the hardships of going abroad. In many cases Culture Shock is not presented as it is shown in models, but it can give a very insightful idea about what is to come in any new place when faced with a new culture.

Other writers such as Donald Carbough, take a more interpretative stance, and analyze language communication and cultural traits in the communication field, He sees culture as created and maintained through communication. Another author with strong input in the interpretative area could be Muller-Jacquier who created a framework of criteria for the analysis of communicative events, and argues that all cultural differences are hidden in linguistic manifestations, but as these expressions are found in all languages, they are also culture specific.

It is impossible to do an exhaustive review of the principal authors and theories as it is always necessary to balance between extensive review, and critical discussion. This discussion about cross cultural and intercultural differences also applies when trying to choose the most influential authors of the field and their theories.

Sí, se que es un poco obsesivo poner todo el ensayo, pero al menos así habrá documentación de que vine a Finlandia para alguna cosa además de pasar frío. La segunda pregunta esta por el estilo, pero ya es demasiado