Greg DuBois

Greg DuBois

I'm an English Instructor (from the USA) at SISU, eager to learn alongside you in this multi-cultural setting. Special interests include cultural identity, values, and IC training

Location Shanghai, China


  • so there is a common event which occurs in all human societies, but it is ritualized and carried out in unique ways...good examples!

  • Thanks for reposting! Yeah, I also am a bit skeptical of the value of figuring out what the 'national level' cultural values are of any given nation. On the other hand, Hofstede's work is statistically brilliant...

    I think the link is nationally instituted, managed, and distributed education systems. These have major impact on the socialization of future...

  • Thanks for your comment! I very much agree that there is a global trend toward fast-flowing, perhaps overwhelming, streams of information being delivered personally (smartphones facilitate this to no end!). I don't know if it could be called a 'culture' on its own, but I would definitely consider it a global trend that is infiltrating most, if not all, cultures.

  • I saw the pictures...empty, silent city!!! It must have been surreal...

  • Hi Ziying! I'm curious--if you could have given either Dr. Chen or Dr. Johnson some advice during this time, what would you have told them and why?

  • thanks for your analysis here!

    I also sometimes wonder if expectations/assumptions of power come into play. It's possible that Dr. Chen thought that Dr. Johnson had all the power in the world to extend the contract, but in actuality, he may not have had that power at all...

  • Hi Songjia! I'm curious--do you think that Chinese culture has been changing in the past few years regarding this aspect of cultural values?

  • As an American, I dearly hope that nobody is using Hollywood as a model for how to live, eat, dress, or maintain relationships :D

    That being said, I have noticed that Disney has a tendency to get rather 'preachy' in their childrens' movies...

  • @MuhammadAtique , thanks for continuing to point this out! I totally agree with you that for many religious groups, the values that they derive from their religion are more important, perhaps stronger, than those that they get simply from the country that they grew up in. One interesting question that I have often wondered about is how do sets of religious...

  • thanks for pointing this out! Do any specific examples come to mind from your experience?

  • Glad you found it to be a great learning experience!

  • Glad you found it a great learning experience! Care to share an example? :D

  • Glad you found it to be invaluable!!

  • Thanks for pointing this out; using an experimental design to study values is incredibly difficult, which is why most of the big names in cross-cultural psychology have use cross-sectional designs to compare populations from different countries. But even so...still difficult!!

  • I think the same could be said of the USA...once groups are formed, their 'natural propensity' has great sticking power. Thus, increasing contact across groups, and thereby awareness and understanding, is usually considered the intermediary step in between separated groups and the rainbow nation.

  • great summary here!

  • @ChengAngel , well, there is a difference between 'intercultural' and 'international' communication. It's pretty easy to have communication that is not international...but yeah, for 'intercultural'...

    I think it depends on how you are thinking about the communication event. For example, if I'm communicating with a white, Christian American who grew up in my...

  • Yeah, I think I would agree with most of your analysis here! The only thing that I noticed, when talking with many of my friends, is that they thought the behavior of Chen Lin (and his friends) upon arriving at Markus's place was NOT representative of Chinese norms at all. Actually, they all thought he was pretty rude, and they wouldn't have done so...

  • @SylvieKrauss , I wonder the same thing...have I become less representative or normal of my home culture because i've lived abroad? I think...yes. Definitely. haha. But there are some core values where I still share and identify strongly with my American roots, I think.

    So what were the 5 that you listed?

  • @MitthiasTang , ok that makes sense. Thanks for your answer! I think in the USA, we do this weird thing where 'thinking for yourself' and 'going your own way' is idealized, and 'following the crowd' is looked down upon...but eventually, if everyone is 'going their own way', then if you choose to 'go your own way' then you are still just 'following the crowd',...

  • Two interesting questions I've been asking myself as I go through this exercise:

    1) is this value 'cultural' or 'personal'? In other words, do I see this represented in my home culture? is it common, widespread? Is it likely that I have this value because my culture gave it to me? this just part of who I am as an individual?

    2) Am I listing...

  • Hi Mitthias! Do you mean that 'crowd thinking' is valued in your culture? Like, is it something that people like/choose?

  • Hi Muhammad, thanks for your comment! I'm curious--do you think that patterns of dress or eating habits are values themselves? Or that they are influenced by, or maybe created by, values?

  • I definitely agree that values are really hard to observe. I'm curious, do you think that there is any way that values might become visible, and therefore observable? If so, how?

  • Awesome!!!

  • I actually have noticed body language when trying to figure out if someone I met in Hangzhou was Chinese-American or Chinese national. It doesn't always work, but there have been some times where it did!

  • Yeah I generally agree with you. Although sometime I wonder whether, even though people definitely have individual preferences regarding intro/extro, cultures probably do too. Like, there's still a norm in a culture for social interaction...

  • Andy, your phrase the 'color of culture' reminded me of a very interesting book on linguistics called "Through the Language Glass", by Guy Deutscher. It's not exactly about culture itself--more about whether or not language can actually shape the perception of reality. Most of us probably would agree pretty quickly that cultural inputs, especially from when we...

  • Hi Abigail! It's really interesting to me that at the time that you moved from city to city, you 'unconsciously' carried out intercultural communications...yet now, as you reflect on it, you realize that it was intercultural. Now that you are thinking back to those times, do you remember anything at the times when you moved which was new or exciting or...

  • Your comment has me thinking about this it possible that the degree of interculturalness of any given interaction is at least in part based on whether or not the people (or other entities) who are communicating perceive / believe that their communication is intercultural?

  • As I read this case, one key question comes to my mind.

    There are three possible frameworks from which to analyze the misunderstanding: individual personality, constructs of 'courtesy' or 'common sense', and cultural roots.

    For example--perhaps Markus just doesn't like it when plans change and when his expectations aren't met...or maybe there's a...

  • Good observations!!!

    So do you think that Markus's failure to adapt and 'let go of' his expectations is just an aspect of his personality? Or is it maybe linked back to his culture of origin? Or how about Chen Lin's failure to communicate about bringing friends or respect for the that just personal or cultural? Or both? Curious what you think!

  • This case study is really interesting, as it tends to jump between the perspective of Markus and Chen Lin--we get Markus's perspective at the coffee shop and when Chen Lin arrives with his friends. But then we see Chen Lin's perspective as they travel to the park and begin walking around.

    What if we flipped the case study around and got the other persons'...

  • I really like how you've expressed this! One of my Chinese friends had similar feelings once when she realized that she obviously was not conforming to the perception of 'Chinese-ness' that has slowly developed in my mind (having lived in China for almost 7 years). It was very awkward, but she was gracious. The experience taught me to be very careful when...

  • @YichengYang as a 'waijiao' working in China, I've grown used to the awkward pauses ;D Now when I meet new teachers in China, one of the first pieces of advice I give them is "don't be afraid of silence!" In almost every case, the answers that are eventually given are worth the wait :D

  • @DougFerguson , I think language is probably one of the most obvious barriers to shared meaning...although even among different subcultures which share the same language, there are definitely generational gaps too..It's definitely tricky to draw a line and say that certain aspects can be grounds for calling one group a unique culture, while other aspects...

  • Yeah, I definitely noticed some differences! Although, the one year I lived in Ningxia, I couldn't speak Chinese very my awareness of unique cultural aspects was somewhat limited.

    One of my close friends, originally from Fujian, said it was quite difficult for him to move from his hometown to Xi'an for his undergraduate study (because of...

  • This is one of the most fundamental challenges that exists in the field of intercultural communication. At what point does intercultural communication cease to be 'intercultural' and just be communication?

    I'm curious how you would answer your own question?

  • Strongly agree!! Creating shared meaning is somewhat easier when I am communicating with another American from the northeast (my 'hometown' cultural region. But outside of that, there are so many are they interpreting my non-verbal cues? Are my verbal cues matching the patterns of their verbal cues?

    This happens with generational gaps too;...

  • Welcome to our course! I expect you will probably find that your generalized communication training will be incredibly helpful when taking a closer look at the unique elements of intercultural communication. While the IC discipline has roots in several different fields of study, I still think communication, along with sociolinguistics and anthropology, are...

  • I'm also quite interested!

  • Hell Huili! I'm very interested in your experiences in living in different regions within China...when I first moved to China in 2013, I lived for one year in Ningxia, but since then have been in Shanghai. Are each fo the different regions where you've lived quite different from one another? And if so in what ways?

  • Welcome to our course! If you like what you see, look into SISU's MA and PhD programs in IC. I can highly recommend them!

  • Hi Sophie, and welcome to the course! If I may ask, which university do you work at in the UK? I hope our course will be helpful as you continue interacting with others in your diverse community!

  • Welcome to the course, Tatiana! Sounds like you have a lot of cross-cultural experience to draw from!

  • Hello all and welcome to the course! Along with our esteemed lead educators, I am one of several course mentors who will be facilitating discussion throughout the next five weeks of our course. I hope our course will give you an opportunity to dig deeper into the complexities of culture and how it affects communication across (and among?) cultural groups....

  • Well, there might still be room to describe it as such. I think religious beliefs, for example, are very deeply held on a personal level, but thus also create communities of people who together can build a "culture" of that religion. Seems as though personal identities can transition or also be cultural when its not just you who is a particulae way or values a...

  • Hm, good point. The internet has wildly changed how people form's possible that most definitions of culture are still rooted in an assumption of geographic limitations--i.e., people who live near each other will be communities, and thus will develop common traits.

    But that's changing...

  • right. And also in my experience in China, there IS a sort of common identity as an expat/foreigner. Part of this is because Chinese culture very naturally/quickly boxes foreigners together and then chinese together (waiguoren and zhongguoren). But also, there is this sense that...because you're a foreigner, you go through similar struggles, similar...

  • interesting; so what makes you feel comfortable to express these sort of negative things among friends face to face...but not online?

  • Yeah, weather is almost certainly one reason! In China or US, the weather doesn't necessitate that style of people end up adopting it because they want to present themselves in a certain way.

    but then if you or I wear it because of weather/comfort, we are 'misinterpreted', haha

  • OK--so it manifests itself in social activity, but it's not so much a 'social identity.' it's something you hold very very deeply.

    So would you call it a cultural identity or a personal identity, then?

  • Thanks for sharing! I'm curious...would you say that there is an 'overall' sense of ‘European' identity that is carried in addition to the identity of whichever country/region you grew up in?

    If so, how does that affect communication and perceptions between people from different European countries?

  • A lot of literature about acculturation and adaptation of migrants quite commonly treats them as a culture--but they usually deal with groups of migrants that all come originally from the same country.

    To treat all migrants in a given country, regardless of their country of origin, as the same culture, would be very interesting...I think it's very possible.

  • Hi! I'm curious, why do you think that being a 'volunteer' is more of a cultural identity than a social identity?

  • Yes, I think background identities and other identities attributed via context can both be cultural identities, whether they are unchangeable, as you mention, or arise out of life's twists and turns.

  • You raise a good point...where is the 'line' between a social or cultural or personal identity?

    I think this question parallels what we asked in Week 1--what is culture? At what point can we call a group a culture?

    I think if we decide that we can call a specific group a culture, then we can maybe call it a cultural identity. At the same time, I'm not...

  • Hi Karen! I'm curious why you might say that cultural identity is not such a big part of your identity as a whole...and what else might be? More personal level factors?

  • This is really interesting!!!!! Thank you for sharing!

  • I'm really curious what you mean by your last...'i am culturally misunderstood'. Would you mind explaining it a bit more?

  • Hello again! Would you say that 'openness' is a cultural identity or a value?

  • You have a broad mix of 'interest' based identities and 'group' based identities! I'm curious, can you give us a deeper description of what it means to be 'Chinese'? Like, what are these basic, unshakable principles?