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ERIC Number: EJ888855
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Apr
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 5
ISSN: ISSN-1740-4622
Relativism versus Universalism: Developing a Personal Philosophy
Gareis, Elisabeth
Communication Teacher, v19 n2 p39-43 Apr 2005
At the core of intercultural communication lies the issue of cultural difference. Textbooks and courses focus on how difference can be approached and ultimately bridged by developing intercultural competence, particularly awareness of intercultural theory, knowledge of specific target cultures, and the communication skills necessary for engaging successfully in intercultural contact. The overarching goal thereby is to instill intercultural sensitivity, foremost by encouraging the development of tolerance and empathy. A great number of cultural differences make tolerance and empathy relatively easy. Students readily accept most eating habits in other cultures, clothing peculiarities, and gestures--to name just a few--as valid alternatives to the customs found in their own cultures. Tolerance and empathy are put to the test, however, when it comes to controversial topics, such as the unequal treatment of women across cultures (e.g., female circumcision, veiling, reduced educational and professional opportunities). In fact, the question arises whether tolerance is an appropriate response in some instances, such as the culture-related violence inflicted on girls and women through female infanticide or honor killings. By placing controversial differences in the context of the relativism/universalism debate, the activity presented in this paper provides students with a tool for analyzing contentious intercultural topics and for forming a personal opinion on how such issues should be handled internationally.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A