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Defining values

This week we focus on values, what they are and how they are expressed across cultures, whether traditional, modern, Eastern or Western.

We focus this week on values — what they are and how they are expressed across cultures, whether traditional, modern, Eastern or Western. Like the iceberg metaphor, values are a hidden part of culture and should be carefully considered.

As we explore the topic of cultural values this week, the main questions we seek to answer is, “How can I clarify my own values and better understand yours?” Or for intercultural encounters, “In what way do values influence how or what we communicate?”

Since the late 19th and early 20th Century as the modern world became more interconnected, people became more acutely aware of how cultural differences affect social behaviors and interaction within groups. In an article that you’ll read for this week, we’ll review how scholars like Émile Durkheim, Ferdinand Tönnies, Max Weber, Franz Boas, and many others began suggesting constructs, categories or taxonomies to try to describe the ranges of values that seem to influence people most. This line of research continues actively today through the work of Geert Hofstede, Shalom Schwartz and others. It has also been a key focus of the SII at SISU over the last 20 years.

We hope that this week’s content will help you better understand the continuing relevance of values to your life and ongoing intercultural interactions. Values, whether investigated at individual or cultural levels, usually represent the deeper, less visible aspects of culture (like the bulk of an iceberg). It is important to take time to reflect on what they might be and how they influence us.

The next step asks you to make a list of some of your most important values.
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Intercultural Communication: Dynamics of cultural identities in global interaction

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