Intercultural communication overview

Culture isn’t just “High Culture” like opera or literature or ballet. Photo. By Steve Evans from Citizen of the World (Malawi) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

We often mean different things when we talk about culture. There’s High Culture, which is a product of a culture or society that people believe has great value.

And culture is more than local traditions. Photo. By Montanabw (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

There’s also folk culture, which is related to the local traditions that are familiar to people around the world.

Origami is a traditional art form associated with Japanese culture. Photo. By Emre Ayaroğlu (originally posted to Flickr as bull) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Subcultures can unify people across cultures by providing a shared interest. Subculture movements such as the hippies or the punks helped to bring people together across cultures as they provided young people with a sense of community and purpose. As communication has become easier, with the growth of the internet, subcultures are now able to expand their influence very rapidly.

Cosplay is an example of a subculture. Photo. By Jacob Ehnmark from Tokyo, Japan (Harajuku denizens [3]) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

However, these things are really just the tip of the culture iceberg; culture is a very complex thing. We don’t want to make the mistake of thinking that intercultural communication is just about speaking English or just a matter of talking about certain narrow features of culture. We’re going to have to think about lots of things you can’t really see.

Culture is like an iceberg. Most it is under the surface. Here’s the one we think sunk the Titanic. Photo. By The chief steward of the liner Prinz Adalbert [Public domain, Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Featured image: By Steve Evans from Citizen of the World (Malawi) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons