Unique assignment number 868015
Closing date 10 March 2014
Contact lecturers Prof KB Khan, Ms B Sibango
1. 1 Social Science Approach - The Social Science Approach: This approach, also known as the functionalist approach, was most popular in the 1980s and is based on research in psychology and sociology. 1. Assumptions:
a The existence of a describable external reality.
b Human behaviour is predictable.
2. Goals: Describe and predict behaviour.
a. Quantitative methods
b. Data is usually gathered by questionnaires and sometimes by observing subjects firsthand. 4. Culture is assumed to be a variable that can be measured, and the research goal is to predict specifically how culture influences communication. 5. Methods:
a. From the 9/11 example, researchers using this approach might want to measure attitudes toward Middle Easterners, then try to predict and prevent hate crimes against them. b. Several contemporary research programs take a social science approach. i. Gudykunst's uncertainty reduction studies have found that people in individualist or collectivist cultures vary in their strategies for reducing uncertainty during initial encounters. ii. Communication accommodation theory originated from studies focused on identifying when and how people change their communication patterns to accommodate others during an interaction. iii. Some social science studies explain how communication styles vary from culture to culture. iv. Other studies have investigated how travelers adapted overseas. 6. Strengths and Limitations: Many of these studies have made useful contributions; however, this approach has limitations. a. Many scholars now realize that human communication is often more creative than predictable. b. Reality is not just external but may be constructed by human beings. c We cannot identify all of the variables that affect our communication. d We cannot predict exactly why one intercultural interaction seems successful and others do not. e. Some of the methods used have not been culturally sensitive, and researchers have sometimes been too distant from their subjects. 7. To overcome some of the methodological problems, social scientists have developed strategies to achieve better equivalency in their measures. Brislin (1993) suggests that researchers need to establish at least two types of equivalency: a. Translation equivalence requires that research materials go through multiple steps of translation using different translators until versions are obtained in both languages that give the research concepts equivalent meanings. b. Conceptual equivalence is obtained by making sure that the notions being investigated have similar meanings at various levels. Limitations of the Social Science Approach
Communication is more creative than predictable
Cannot identify all the variables that affect communication
Difficult to predict why one intercultural interaction seems to succeed and another does not. Researchers may not understand the cultural groups they are studying (Big NO, NO) Translation and conceptual equivalence are recommended; however efficacy is debateable.
1.2 Interpretive approach
An approach to intercultural communication that aims to understand and describe human behaviour within specific cultural groups based on the assumptions that (1) human experience is subjective, (2) human behaviour is creative rather than determined or easily predicted, and (3) culture is created and maintained through communication. One of the ways that intercultural communication can be studied is through an interpretive perspective, which focuses on understanding the lived experiences of members of various cultures and groups (Martin & Nakayama, 2012). This approach is based on three major tenants: Human experience is subjective.
Human behaviour is creative rather than determined or...