Intercultural Communication Ethics: Before the Conversation Begins


Chapter nine takes a look at Culture as the good. We forego considering the individual as primary, and learn about other cultures without presuming they are simply equal.

The authors do this through a review of four metaphors of communication ethics praxis:

Intercultural Communication


Culture Shock

The Inarticulate

Cultural differences work to provide us with insights, but they also create potential conflicts. There is importance and difficulty in difference.

Culture is unknown to the insider, invisible, as the norm that they think the whole world should conform to — though it is only their own culture that does so. It takes learning another culture to begin to recognize one’s own.

Culture is more like a close family guide in that we are born into a given ethical framework. It takes thoughtful communicative engagement to shift from one culture to another.

Arnett, Ronald C.; Fritz, Janie; Bell, Leeanne M. (2008-08-04). Communication Ethics Literacy: Dialogue and Difference (Kindle Locations 3216-3217). SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.

So when we go outside our culture, that family guide, we may experience culture shock. We lose the shape, the background of our expected experiences. It disrupts how we think. Often travelers get as tired from the strain on their thoughts and observations as the physical exertions of their travels.

Coming to understanding of this doesn’t mean being able to easily write it down or explain it to someone. We usually come to an inarticulate understanding that can’t quite find the right word.

Culture lives most often in the land of the inarticulate. The notion of gestalt is difficult to explain; the particulars are clearer— yet in the gestalt there is a resounding voice that appears, at first blush, inarticulate. Traditions live by a sense of gestalt— gestalt implies that something is greater than the sum of its parts. The gestalt of a culture lives in the whole;

Arnett, Ronald C.; Fritz, Janie; Bell, Leeanne M. (2008-08-04). Communication Ethics Literacy: Dialogue and Difference (Kindle Locations 3366-3369). SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.

Having explored the four metaphors, we now look at them in Les Miserables. A culture of poverty clashes with a culture of privilege, showing intercultural events can happen in the same national group. Marius goes through culture shock as he moves from a world of privilege to a world of paupery.


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