Cultural Communication and Intercultural Contact

Cultural Communication and Intercultural Contact

Cultural Communication and Intercultural Contact

Cultural Communication and Intercultural Contact


How is cultural identity accomplished interactively? What happens when different cultural identities contact one another? This book presents a series of papers, from classic essays to original expositions, which respond to these questions. The view of communication offered here -- rather than ignoring culture, or making it a variable in an equation -- is based on cultural patterns and situated communication practices, unveiling the multiplicity of factors involved in particular times and places. The contributors to this unusual volume represent a wide range of fields. Their equally diverse offerings will serve to clarify cultural distinctiveness in some communication phenomena, and lay groundwork for the identification of cross-cultural generalities in others.


This is a book about communication in cultural contexts, its meaningfulness to situated participants, the local forms it takes, and the moral orders created as participants interact socially. The chapters in the book explore how communication displays membership in communities, as well as the dynamics involved when persons from one community contact those from another. The book is also, and perhaps more subversively, about communication theory. It displays various conceptual lenses through which one can see culture(s) in communication and, in turn, communication in cultures.

Two problems that are basic both to the cultural practice and theory of communication run through the book. One is shared identity, the other is common means and meanings.

How is shared identity created in, yet influenced by communication? The authors demonstrate how participants in communities display shared identity in particular and revealing ways. Communication patterns are discovered and described with each getting done distinctly, and each associated with a particular group's sense of itself. The groups discussed in the book are diverse, namely, Teamsters, Blacks, Osage Indians, Anglos, and Americans broadly (as designating general patterns of a geographic and popular sort), Israelis, Aboriginal Australians, Zulus, Athabaskans, Western Apache, Warm Springs Indians, and the Ilongot. What the authors show are ways each group organizes their communication, at least on some occasions, and in so doing, demonstrates who they are, achieving what Philipsen (1989) has called, a communal function of "membering."

The second basic question could be posed: What common means and meanings of communication are associated with situations of communal life? Investigated are the ways communication is organized, the means available to people in contexts, and the meanings those patterns have for those who use them. Again, diverse resources are evident, both in local frames for speaking such as "calling" and "responding" among Blacks . . .

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