Submitted: 15 September 2010
A critical review of Eunson, B 2008, ‘Intercultural communication’, Chapter 16 in Communicating in the 21st century, John Wiley & Sons Australia, Brisbane, pp. 509–49. The nation-states are becoming more multicultural. The interaction between people of diverse cultures, which can be very different, affects the society as well as the workplaces. Eunson tries to show how intercultural communication occurs and what is important to consider in interaction with people from other cultures.
On the example of negotiation Eunson outlines how communication can be influenced by moral barriers or the way how different cultures build relationships.
By presenting different definitions of the term culture and by illustrating the general process of acculturation along Bennett´s developmental model of intercultural sensitivity, Enuson affirms that interaction with people of different cultures results in an increase of intercultural sensitivity and the ability of intercultural competence. He underlines this opinion by presenting the pyramid model of intercultural competence by Deardorff. To explain acculturation processes he seizes on the suggestion of Berry, who define different dimensions of cultural variation.
Eunson attempts to illustrate the diversity in verbal and non-verbal communication of the different cultures along the Hofstede´s model of culture, the “GLOBE” model developed by House and the “Context” model of Hull. Despite the justified criticism on those models, he asserts that such theories are able to support the understanding of cultures, their kind of communication and to make cultures comparable.
In the context of that criticism he recommends to consider that not all people behave typically equal and therefore, generalization about particular communication characteristics should be done with care. Moreover he points out that in the research of the cultural communication the buildup of racist stereotypes should be avoided.
Later in the text, with reference to Huntington's work "Clash of civilizations", Eunson stresses the problems in communication which can arise because of differences in cultural and religious beliefs. In this context Eunson appreciate Joshi's assumption about multiculturalism and his opinion that diversity and integration of cultures which will going along with an increase of efficiency in organisations and a better mutual understanding. 1
Enuson offers a checklist of “rules” for intercultural communication. To demonstrate how to use the models practically, he incorporates the discussed results in different verbal and non-verbal communication situations in the paragraphs of “The Chinese” and “The Americans”.
Although, he previously admits the limited value of the findings, especially regarding the models of Hofstede and House and despite his advice, against generalization of characteristics, he uses these results for the justification and explanation of Chinese and American communicative behaviours. Unfortunately, he does not indicate which scientific methods in the remaining mentioned models have been applied. Nevertheless, the article and the presented models are able to show the reader ways to develop more sensitivity and understanding towards other cultures and mutual communication.
In summary, the text is well suited to give the reader an overview the status of research regarding intercultural communication. The author presents an excerpt about some different communication models and its application in practical situations. However, the use of these results, for explaining intercultural communication comprehensively, should be taken carefully because of blurred research methods in some cases.