Today’s world has become very diverse due to advances in technology and globalization. Countries are no longer isolated by borders and distance. The vast variety of transportation and telecommunication options create lucrative and beneficial opportunities for many nations around the world; such as political and economic agreements between nations, global markets, free trade, and emigration (Geddes, 2004). These opportunities generate the necessity for intercultural communication. Whether you are traveling around the world or interacting with your neighbors, you will encounter someone from a different culture. The cultural differences may be ethnic, gender, religious, generation, sexual orientation, disability, and various work or hobby groups (Samovar, Porter, & McDaniel, 2007). It is no longer viable to be ignorant of other cultures and the ways of communicating with people from cultures different from you own. To avoid miscommunication and misunderstanding while interacting with people from different cultures, one should attempt to learn as much as possible about other cultures’ worldviews, value orientations, and communication processes (Samovar, Porter, & McDaniel, 2007). To be an effective communicator, you have to know and understand your own culture and its effect on your communication. It is also important to understand the different aspects of verbal and nonverbal communication, such as symbols, kinesics, proxemics, and use of time. In this paper, I will examine my cultural and co-cultural identities and their effect on my behavior and communication. Communal Identity
A person may belong to multiple cultures, and share and exhibit their characteristics. I am a member of the American culture, the Russian culture, and the female culture. Every society consists of a dominant culture and numerous co-cultures. The dominant culture in the U.S. is composed of white male adults who assert control over major American institutions and influence perceptions and patterns of its co-cultures (Samovar, Porter, & McDaniel, 2007). There are many research studies dedicated to analyzing cultural patterns. The 4 major classification systems are Hofstede’s Value Dimensions, The Kluckhohns and Strodtbeck’s Value Orientations, and Hall’s High-Context and Low-Context Orientations. Hofstede ranks America as highly individualistic in his research of value dimensions (Samovar, Porter, & McDaniel, 2007). Traits of personal achievement, competition, individualism, independence, and straight forward communication are taught and enforced from early childhood. American culture has low uncertainty avoidance, exhibiting flexibility, openness to new ideas, and risk taking. America is a low power distance country, which values equality and informality. The U.S. culture ranks in the 28th percentile on masculinity values, meaning it is somewhat male oriented. America ranks low in long-term orientation, looking for instant gratification and short-term results. The Kluckhons and Strodtbeck’s value orientations classify cultural patterns based on “human nature orientation, person/nature orientation, time orientation, activity orientation, and relational orientation” (Samovar, Porter, & McDaniel, 2007). The Americans perceive themselves as both good and evil. Goodness can be achieved through change, control, and hard work. American culture is classified as controlling nature orientation, preferring to dominate their surroundings. Americans are future oriented and doing oriented, they are optimistic about the future and prefer action and efficiency. The U.S. dominant culture’s relational orientation is individualism. Hall’s context orientations examine culture’s message deliverance (Samovar, Porter, & McDaniel, 2007). High-context cultures place emphasis on nonverbal and indirect communication. Low-context cultures, such as the dominant culture in the U.S., are direct and open in their communication and deliver information through verbal messages....
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