The Cultural Interface: The Role of Self

Gill, Satinder (1998) The Cultural Interface: The Role of Self. In: Proceedings Cultural Attitudes Towards Communication and Technology ’98. University of Sydney, Sydney, pp. 246-251.

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With the increasing use of communications technology across cultural boundaries, and within cultural boundaries, we see shifts taking place both within a culture about itself, and across cultures about each other. Yet in what way are the shifts distinct, if so, from those which occur in face-to-face interaction? Consider the following simple example of a change in addressing: A Japanese person who would normally when referring to a colleague address him/her with surname to the addressee, changes to first name referral when communicating via email in the c.c. section of the mail header, and in the message itself. Neither would normally address the other by first name. Yet in a meeting at another company, Japanese persons addressed themselves by first name and surname, and the non-Japanese person with the Japanese form of name and ‘san’. They were adapting a traditional form of respecting the non-company person to a non-Japanese person in this manner of elevating my address in relation to their own. The addressing was a mixture of English and Japanese. This is in contrast to the consistency of addressing in the email situation, which is also an act of politeness to the English speaker’s cultural norm.
Consider another example of a British subject being asked if they ever communicate differently with a non-British person in email. The reply is that it depends on the person’s competence in English. Yet in a face-to-face situation,
we would not necessarily judge someone’s competence in understanding our utterance by the level of their English, but by their ability to make sense of what we are saying in relation to the situation. A Japanese person in a face-to-face setting may be highly competent in communicating, yet in a video conference, finds that due to poor quality of communication channels, he misunderstands and that the emphasis is placed on ‘competence’ in language as being equivalent to competence in communication.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: Cultural Attitudes Towards Communication and Technology, Proceedings > CATaC Conference 1998
Depositing User: sandra subito
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2020 15:40
Last Modified: 06 Dec 2020 15:40

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