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An account of the Uncertainty Anxiety Management, Communication Accommodation, Intercultural Adaptation and Network Analysis theories of intercultural communication

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Introduction

MPhil in Intercultural Communication General Linguistics 897 Module 5 An account of the Uncertainty Anxiety Management, Communication Accommodation, Intercultural Adaptation and Network Analysis theories of intercultural communication B Leroni 28 February 2006 Responsible Lecturer: Mr J. Oosthuizen Table of Contents 1. Introduction 3 2. Hofstede's Dimensional Model of National Cultural Differences 3 2.1 Individualism-collectivism (IC) 4 2.2 Power-distance (PD) 5 2.3 Uncertainty Avoidance (UA) 5 2.4 Masculinity/femininity (MAS) 5 2.5 Long-term and Short-term Time Orientation 6 3. Shortcomings of the Dimensional Approach to the Analysis of Cultures 7 3.1 Propensity for Taxonomic Approaches to Oversimplify Complex Issues 7 3.2 Potential Respondent Bias 7 4. An Account of High-Culture, Low-Culture Theory and Cultural Identity Theory 8 4.1 High-Culture, Low Culture Theory 9 4.2 Cultural Identity Theory (CIT) 9 5. Key Differences between the Dimensional and Communication Models 10 6. Conclusion 11 Bibliography 12 Appendix A: Assignment Outline 13 1. Introduction This assignment examines four theories of intercultural communication placing particular emphasis on the factors that influence communication effectiveness. The theories that are examined are Uncertainty Anxiety Management, Communication Accommodation, Intercultural Adaptation and Network theory, each of which is discussed in sections two through five. The terms "subjectivist", "objectivist", "intergroup communication" and "interpersonal communication" are referenced in this assignment to describe the intercultural communication factors associated with each theory. It is therefore useful to start our discussion by clarifying the definition of these terms. "Objectivist" refers to the tendency to describe communicative behavior according to factors that are external to the individual, such as situational and environmental impacts (Gudykunst 2003:167). "Subjectivist" refers to the tendency to describe communicative behavior in terms of the personal perspectives and the voluntary choices of individuals (Gudykunst 2003:167). "Interpersonal communication" refers to communicative behavior that is motivated and guided by personal identity considerations, such as the communicator's self-esteem (Guirdham 1999:193-194). "Intergroup communication" refers to communicative behavior that is motivated and guided by social identity considerations, such as the communicator's ethnicity (Guirdham 1999:193-194). ...read more.

Middle

3.1 Concepts and assumptions The central hypothesis underpinning CAT is that communicators use particular communication strategies to indicate their attitudes toward each other and their respective social groups (Gudykunst 2003:172). These strategies, according to Guirdham (1999:214), involve either converging toward (convergence) or diverging away from (divergence) the verbal and non-verbal behavior of others. In the case of convergence communicator's shift their communicative behavior toward others, thereby reducing social distance (Gudykunst 2003:172). Divergence, according to Gudykunst (1999:172), involves communicators accentuating differences in their own communicative behavior to distinguish themselves from others, thereby increasing social distance. We infer that convergence and divergence is achieved by adjusting communicative traits, styles, actions and language use during the interaction. This movement toward and away from others is motivated and influenced by factors such as the social, psychological and personal characteristics that are present during communicative encounters (Guirdham 1999:214). 3.2 The nature and role of CAT communicative factors CAT describes intercultural communication with reference to four broad factor groupings. These are sociohistorical context, accommodative orientation, immediate situation and future intentions. Sociohostorical context refers to the context, based on past experience, in which the interaction is embedded. It includes communicator perspectives of intergroup relations and behavioral norms. (Gudykunst 2003:172). For example, positive previous experience with outgroup members is likely to result in accommodative behavior whilst the opposite is true in the case of negative previous experience. Accommodative orientation is, according to (Gudykunst 2003:172), about the tendency of communicators to respond to outgroup interaction in interpersonal, intergroup or a combination of interpersonal and intergroup terms. This informs communicator decisions to demonstrate accommodative behavior. Gudykunst (2003:172) adds that accommodative orientation is influenced by factors such as communicator social and personal identities, predisposition to outgroups and expectations of the encounter, such as the potential for conflict. For example, Gudykunst (2003:172) states that communicators who identify closely with their ingroup tend to view outgroup encounters from an inter-group perspective. ...read more.

Conclusion

The theory examines behavior with reference to the social relations that govern interconnections between individuals, as well as the individual's relative position in the network (Guirdham 1999:222). In the context of intercultural communication network analysis focuses on the role of interpersonal networks in facilitating outgroup communicative competence and immigrant acculturation (Gudykunst 2003:179-180). The remainder of this discussion will deal with Kim's (1986) proposition that outgroup communicative competence of personal networks is enhanced by the presence of outgroup members with outgroup ties (Gudykunst 2003:178). 5.2 The nature and role of communicative factors in network analysis theory Kim's (1986) perspective of network analysis is guided by three theorems (Gudykunst 2003:179). The first theorem states that the greater the heterogeneity of a personal network, then the better will be that networks outgroup communication competence (Gudykunst 2003:179). The second theorem proposes that outgroup communication competence improves according to the extent that outgroup members occupy central positions in the network (Gudykunst 2003:179). Finally, the third theorem holds that outgroup communicative competence improves to the extent that network members have frequent contact with outgroup members (Gudykunst 2003:179). 5.3 Interrelationship between communicative factors and the intercultural aspects of network analysis theory Kim's (1986) perspective of networks and outgroup communicative competence assumes that the greater the exposure that individuals have to other cultures through their networks, the better their ability to communicate with those cultures. Such exposure is facilitated by the meaningful presence, influence and outgroup connections of network members with different cultural backgrounds. Thus in the South African context a white English speaking network's communicative competence with black Xhosa speaking South Africans will improve, to the extent that the network involves a critical mass of influential black Xhosa members who have links to Xhosa networks. 6. Conclusion This assignment has examined four of the primary theories of intercultural communication. Whilst the individual theories emphasize different aspects of intercultural communication, their combined insights contribute toward an integrated understanding of the factors that impact on the effectiveness of intercultural communicators. ...read more.

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