Intercultural communication overview

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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 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/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.

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And culture is more than local traditions. Photo. By Montanabw (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/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.

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Origami is a traditional art form associated with Japanese culture. Photo. By Emre Ayaroğlu (originally posted to Flickr as bull) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/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.

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Cosplay is an example of a subculture. Photo. By Jacob Ehnmark from Tokyo, Japan (Harajuku denizens [3]) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/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.

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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 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons