ERIC Number: EJ1013104
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Reference Count: 18
The Paradox of Culture in a Globalized World
Jones, Rodney H.
Language and Intercultural Communication, v13 n2 p237-244 2013
Much of the work in intercultural communication studies in the past decade, especially in the field of applied linguistics, has been devoted to "disinventing" the notion of culture. The problem with the word "culture" as it has been used in anthropology, sociology, and in everyday life, it has been pointed out, is that it is used as a noun, conceived of as something "solid," an essential set of traits or characteristics of certain people or groups, something people "have" rather than something they "do". Among the most famous statements of this position is Brain Street's classic paper "Culture is a Verb" (1993), in which he argues that culture should be treated as "a signifying process--the active construction of meaning--rather than the static and reified or nominalizing" sense in which the word is often used in anthropology, some linguistics circles, and in everyday conversation. This view of culture is part of the broader dominance in the social sciences, pointed out by David Block in his paper in this issue, of a poststructuralist perspective on identity, which regards it as "a social process as opposed to a determined and fixed product," and many of the papers in this special issue demonstrate allegiance to this perspective. This article introduces various papers in this issue that take up where Block's theoretical argument leaves off, each providing a detailed description of a different kind of "practical project" and a different set of "objective circumstances," and each coming to a different conclusion about the relationship between what Simmel calls "subjective'" and "objective" culture. The author states that what is important about each of these conclusions is not just that they each add a piece to the theoretical debate initiated by Block, but that they also present their own "practical projects" for their authors for dealing with the increasingly complex problems that arise out of the paradox of culture in a globalized world, problems having to do with freedom, dignity, health and safety, education, equity, and economic opportunities. The way educators answer theoretical questions about structure and agency will in part determine the kinds of ethical positions that open up as scholars address these problems.
Descriptors: Cultural Awareness, Cultural Differences, Intercultural Communication, Global Approach, Social Structure, Ethics, Research Methodology, Self Concept, Language Research, Communication Research, Applied Linguistics
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
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