Q: What problems can you anticipate when you are communicating with someone who holds a different context orientation?
Now think about your own surroundings. Even within your own race/gender/age groups/etc. you have high- and low-context people.
As we examined in the past five chapters, perception is selective, learned, culturally determined, consistent (or is it?), and inaccurate. Thus, it depends on the family you were born into, the race of your family, the religion we practice, and the people you interact with; perception can vary from person to person. As we grow older with different experiences, even within the same family, even identical twin can develop radically different perceptions.
We have 195 countries in the world, and how many different languages? How many religions? So, this many different reasons to have different perspectives. Our textbook states that, “Perception is selective, learned, culturally determined, consistent, and inaccurate.” So, we choose what it right for us, right? Even a deviate behavior in one country can be a normal behavior in another country. The book gave a good example in Nigeria. One country has different religions and cultural behaviors among its various regions: north, central, and south. Can you think of similar patterns in America? Our American norms and values change as well. Immigrants bring in different sets of values, religions, and cultural practices; changing political parties can bring in different values. Immigration is a prime example as we deal with different people from different backgrounds. The US has had radically different immigration policies in the past, swinging from nearly isolationism to open borders and everything in between. Thus, the current debate over immigration policy is nothing new, but it is obvious we have learned precious little from the previous debates on the issue and are merely repeating the same pattern, seemingly unaware of such past discussions.
As we learned in chapter two, culture is based on symbols. Cultural symbols, as we have noted, can take a host of forms, encompassing gestures, dress, objects, flags, and religious icons. However, it is words, both written and spoken, that are most often used to symbolize objects and thoughts. Notice the link between symbols and culture in the definition of the word symbol advanced by Macionis:
For me the first time when I saw the American flag designed swim suit usage in the US, I was shocked.
Cultural pattern taxonomies are used to illustrate the dominant beliefs and values of a culture. Here we can talk about how certain countries play a huge role in influencing other countries. America and many Western countries set/develop new cultural norms. However, Japan, China, and South Korea have played significant roles in shaping modern globalized culture as well: music, anime, foodways, fashion, filmmaking, and politics. As we discussed at the beginning of the class, media plays a huge role. So even within a culture when certain people practice particular cultural values, or let’s say a young group is listening to pop music, dress more Western, speak a Western language, eat certain Western food and another “local” group who listens to traditional music, dress more traditional, speak the native language, eat certain local food can conflict with one another. I remember when I first told my father that I am in love with an American and wanted to get married, his first reaction was “he is an outsider.” Even though, today, the world is interconnected more than ever, we are worried about our differences. Thus, when we communicate we face cultural, social and values issues.
Our textbook discusses that according to Kohls, the dominant American cultural patterns include personal control over the environment, change, and time and its control, equality, individualism/privacy, self-help, competition, future orientation, action/work orientation, informality, directness/openness/honesty, practicality/efficiency, and materialism/acquisitiveness.
And now think of all this to answer these questions, employing the new terms and concepts you have learned in the course:
What problems can you anticipate when you are communicating with someone who holds a different context orientation? Also, think about your own surroundings. Even within your own race/gender/age groups/etc. you have high- and low-context people.