Intercultural Communication CULTURAL IDENTITY Unit 1

Intercultural Communication
Unit 1
Week 2 / Session 1
• Discussion point 1 – what does culture and identity mean to
• What is culture?
• What is identity
• The Web of Identity (Livesey, 2004)
• What is social and ethnic identity?
• Discussion point 2
• Ways to compare and contrast cultures
• Fundamental differences between cultures
• Discussion point 3 - Fundamental differences between
• Discussion point 4 – History and culture
Discussion Point 1
In small groups, discuss and make notes on the following
questions below:
• What does cultural identity mean to you?
• What elements contribute to a persons cultural identity?
• How would you identify your culture?
What is culture?
“People become aware of their culture when
they stand at its boundaries: when they
encounter other cultures, or when they become
aware of other ways of doing things, or merely
of contradictions to their own culture”
Cohen, Anthony P. (1985)
What is culture?
There are many interpretations of what is defined and
known as culture.
• Acquired and passed down through generations.
• A system of beliefs and values within a society.
• Culture has been described as ‘…shared features
which encapsulate people together in a community’
(Shah, 2003).
What is identity?
The entirety of how we as individuals view or perceive ourselves as unique from others.
Racial, cultural and ethnic identities form part of one's identity, and identity will
change with development at a personal as well as at a social level along with
migration and acculturation (Bhugra, 2004).
Perceived as ‘dynamic’ and ‘fluid’ - because it is established and extracted in
Has substance - not only transmitted from generation to generation, but from cultural
group member to newcomer.
One or more specific cultural identities may be noticeable in a given conversation
The Web of Identity
• Complex and multi-layered interaction between identity and social
• Individuals are surrounded by
large social forces; they live their
lives with limited options available
to them when making decisions
and choices (Livesey, 2004).
What is Social and Ethnic identity?
• Social identity is thought of as the culturally defined personality
characteristics, which are ascribed to social roles, such as the role
of being a father, mother, friend, employer or employee (Bhugra and
Becker, 2005).
• Ethnic identity is a source of social identity.
• Composed of people who may or may not share the same race but
do share common cultural characteristics, including history, beliefs,
values, food and entertainment preferences, religion and language.
• Ethnicity typically incorporates both race and culture (Shah, 2004).
Discussion Point 2
In small groups, discuss and make notes on the
following questions below:
• What elements could be considered when
comparing and contrasting cultures?
• Which of these elements would you consider to
be the most significant?
Ways to compare and contrast
• Several methods and frameworks have been constructed to address
variances of cultural identities:
 Gudykunst’s (1985) variables measured in Intergroup research attitudes, perceived similarity, uncertainty, and attributions
 Giles and Johnson’s (1981, 1986) attention to variables - such as
group vitality, ethnic boundaries, and status
 Hofstede’s (1983) core symbols - identifies four dimensions of
culture: individualism-collectivism, power distance, uncertainty
avoidance and masculinity-femininity.
 DeVos’ (1982) symbolic emblems - used by ethnic groups to
differentiate themselves from other groups.
Fundamental differences between
• In any given nation or culture, differences
between people are much greater than
differences between groups (Billikopf, 2009).
• Education, social standing, religion,
personality, belief structure, past experience,
affection shown in the home, and numerous
other factors will affect human behaviour and
Discussion Point 3
Fundamental differences between
In small groups/pairs discuss the similarities and differences between
your cultures with regard to:
Gender roles
Social activities
Meeting and Greeting
Dining Etiquette
Discussion Point 4
Another important contributor to the cultural difference is the history of a
particular region or country. The events of the past certainly shape the moods
and opinions of people living in that specific country. When a large group of
people observe a set of traditions, social norms and values, it gives rise to
Pair work
• Discuss possible examples of where history has had an effect on your
culture. Can you think of examples for other cultures?
Homework – Blog task 1
Individual task – Out-of-class work
Interview an international student (preferably from a
different country to that of your own) and find out how
they felt when they first arrived in the UK. When
preparing your questions consider the following
cultural differences we looked at in our workshop today
that they may have experienced. Write a short
summary of your interview and post it on your blog
Ang, I. (1998), Out of bounds: inauthentic spaces and the production of identities, in M. Zournazi(ed.),
Foreign Dialogues: Memories, Translations, Conversations, pp. 153–167.
Bhugra, D. (2004). Migration, distress and cultural identity. British Medical Bulletin. 69:1–13.
Billikopf, G (2009). Cultural Differences? Or, are we really that different? [online] Available
at: [Accessed on 18th July
DeVos, G. A. (1982). Ethnic pluralism: Conflict and accommodation. In DeVos, G. A.,
Romanucci-Ross, L. (eds.), Ethnic Identity: Cultural Continuities and Change, Mayfield Publishing, Palo
Alto,CA, pp. 5–41.
Giles, H. and P. Johnson (1981). The role of language in ethnic group relations.
Behaviour. J. Turner and H. Giles. Chicago, University of Chicago Press.
Gudykunst, W. B. (1985). The influence of cultural similarity, type of
relationship, and self monitoring
on uncertainty reduction processes.
Communication Monographs, 52, 203-217.
Hofstede, Geert (1983a), "Dimensions of National Cultures in Fifty Countries and Three Regions," in
Expiscations in Cross-Cultural Psychology, J.B. Deregowski, S. Dziurawiec, and R.C. Annis, eds., Lisse,
Netherlands: Swets & Zeitlinger, 335-355.
Livesey, C. (2004). Culture and identity, Sociological Pathways. Available at: [Accessed 10th July 2012]
Shah, S. (2003) The researcher/interviewer in intercultural context: a social intruder! British Educational
Research Journal. 30:4, 549-575.
Tylor, Edward B. 1968 [1871] The Science of Culture. In Morton Fried, ed., Readings in Anthropology,
vol. II: Cultural Anthropology.
New York: Crowell