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Skip to 0 minutes and 7 secondsYou might have already heard of the term intercultural communication many times before. Here we would like to provide you with several commonly accepted academic definitions. Intercultural communication refers to the communication between people from two different cultures. Intercultural communication is a symbolic, interpretive, transactional, contextual process in which people from different cultures create shared meanings. Intercultural communication refers to the effects on communication behaviour when different cultures interact together, hence one way of viewing intercultural communication is as communication that unfolds in symbolic intercultural spaces. These are moments when a communication exchange has been affected by cultural differences.

Defining intercultural communication

You may have already heard the term “intercultural communication”. To help us think together, we provide several commonly accepted academic and applied definitions to clarify this concept and process.

Scholars and practitioners all need to clarify what they mean by certain terms. The term “intercultural communications” represents broad ideas that are difficult to express in just one way. Thus we like several of the following working definitions as starting points for exploring this topic:

  • Intercultural communication refers to the communication between people from two different cultures. (Chen & Starosta, 1998:28)
  • Intercultural communication is a symbolic, interpretive, transactional, contextual process, in which people from different cultures create shared meanings. (Lustig & Koester, 2007:46)
  • Intercultural communication refers to the effects on communication behavior, when different cultures interact together. Hence, one way of viewing intercultural communication is as communication that unfolds in symbolic intercultural spaces. (Arasaratnam, 2013:48)

You might want to consider which of these definitions best describes this idea and process for you. Perhaps you’ve seen another definition or statement that would be helpful for us and your fellow participants to see. If so, share your thoughts or other quotes (and their author and source) with us. Thanks!

References

  • Arasaratnam, L. A. (2013). Intercultural communication competence. In A. Kurylo (Ed.), Intercultural communication: Representation and construction of culture (Chap 3, pp. 47-68). Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications.
  • Chen, G. M., & Starosta, W. J. (1998). Foundations of intercultural communication: Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
  • Lustig, M. W., & Koester, J. (2007). Intercultural competence: interpersonal communication across cultures (5th ed.). Shanghai, China: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press.

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This video is from the free online course:

Intercultural Communication

Shanghai International Studies University (SISU)