The Construction of Intercultural Identity in the Context of Globalization Dai Xiaodong Shanghai Normal University
Introduction • Cultural identity in globalization • Cultural identity: membership of a group of people who share common values, symbols and customs • Blurring of cultural boundaries and the development of intercultural identities • Intercultural identity as transformative identity that bridges the gap between the Thin Global Identity and the Thick Local Identity • Outline of the presentation • Dynamics of globalization • Intercultural identity as a response to globalization • Possible way of constructing intercultural identity
Globalization and Its Impact • Globalization as complex interconnectivity • The unprecedented historical process that turns the world into an interrelated whole • Uneven and asymmetrical development of globalization • Impact of globalization • Global consciousness • Interaction and interdependence of cultures • Redefinition of cultural identity
The Dynamics of Globalization • The basic driving force of globalization－the dialectical interaction between universality and particularity • Accumulation and expansion of universality • Sedimentation and spread of particularity • The gap between universalization of the particular and particularization of the universal • Universalization reduces concrete cultural experiences into abstract ideas and breaks up cultural boundaries • Particularization is locally oriented process, which produces cultural meanings from local perspectives and concrete life experiences • Tension between universality and particularity
Intercultural Identity as a Response to Globalization • Global identity ― Thin Identity • Global identity loosely unites the world but does not lead to intercultural understanding • It is deprived of cultural content and mainly concerns human nature • Local Identity ― Thick Identity • Local identity best expresses local reality • It facilitates interpersonal understanding among local members, but may produces obstacles to intercultural communication. • Intercultural Identity ― Intermediate and Transformative Identity • Intercultural identity as a link that aligns universality with particularity. • Intercultural identity has the potential to transform the local into intercultural and universal, • and enhance intercultural communication and mutual growth.
Intercultural Identity: Its Definition • Intercultural Identity as the Extension of Cultural Identity • Intercultural identity embodies openness to cultural others, the ability to negotiate differences and the potential to reach intercultural agreementsand achieve mutual growth • Two-directional extension: extension toward particularity (co-culture attributes and individuality) and extension toward universality (universal principles or norms)
The Transformative Potential of Intercultural Identity • Openness to Cultural Others and New Possibilities • Extended Framework of Meaning • Intercultural Value Orientation • Mindfulness and Patience • Being Capable of Establishing Intercultural Ties • Being Capable of Integrating Diverse Cultural Elements and Achieving Identity Extension
Ways to Construct Intercultural Identity • Adler’s Multicultural Man • Adler identifies multicultural man as a universal person who is grounded in both the universality of human condition and the diversity of man’s cultural forms. He adapts himself to different communication context, recreates his identity constantly and maintains indefinite boundaries of self. • Multicultural man is vulnerable, having difficult in defining his belongingness, the meaning of social life and may become marginalized or even turn into a stranger. • Yoshikawa’s Double Swing ― Man of In-betweenness • Yoshikawa double-swing model produces an identity-in-unity, man of in-betweenness, who is fully able to accept and draw nourishment from both cultural differences and similarities. • This model fails to recognize the uneven and asymmetrical development of world cultures, and that people need to cultivate a specific sense of belongingness in order to survive and enhance their positive identity and self-esteem.
Y.Y. Kim’s Individualization and Universalization • Individualization of cultural identity involves a clear self-definition and definition of the other that reflects a capacity to see one’s connectedness to humanity without being restricted by categories of social grouping. • Universalization of identity serves as a mind-set that integrates rather than separates, all the perspectives represented in intercultural communication. It accentuates a cognitive orientation based on both human universality and cultural diversity. • In logic, both individualization and universalization demand for thorough removal of cultural boundaries, reducing cultural identity into individual traits or abstract universal principle.
Two-Directional Extension Model • The Logic of Identity Extension Model • Extension as a way to increase sharing with others • Identity extension does not aim at removing cultural boundaries but rather increasing cultural overlaps and cultivating intercultural commonalities. • More sharing facilitates intercultural understanding and helps develop intercultural reciprocity.
Assumptions of Two-directional Extension Model (I) • Cultural identity is historically embedded and socially constructed, both rational and emotional. • Cultural identity is constructed through historical times and shaped by specific social conditions; a product of both rational choices and historical contingencies. It expresses collective value identification and group emotional affiliation. • Cultural identity can not be reduced to individual traits and can by no means be wholly generalized into universal principles. Thus in constructing intercultural identity, we have to take cultural tradition into account and pay due sympathy to cultural members’ emotional affiliation.
Assumptions of Two-directional Extension Model (2) • Group commonality and intercultural differences constitutes the basis of cultural identity; intercultural differences can be reduced but never removed. • Common fate, common framework of meaning, shared memory as well as pattern of behavior make collective action possible and pave the way for the formation of cultural identity. With the development of intercultural communication, differences between cultures can be relatively transcended but can never be absolutely surmounted.
Assumptions of Two-directional Extension Model (3) • Accumulated intercultural experiences and reciprocal intercultural relationships help communicators to emancipate from ethnocentrism and cultivate intercultural awareness • intercultural communicators usually experience two stages of development: from ethnocentric to ethnorelative－from culturally oriented to interculturally oriented. Accumulated intercultural experiences are critical in removing cultural prejudices and misunderstandings. When people from different cultures become familiar to each other, they will have more objective understandings on foreign values and behaviors, and no longer take their own culture for granted. Better understanding, reflective thinking and further interaction will make it possible for people to draw upon each other and promote intercultural reciprocity.
Assumptions of Two-directional Extension Model (4) • Cultural framework of meaning makes up historical and social fact－independent of individual preference and interpretation, which cannot thoroughly dismantled, but can be extended and transformed. Extended meaning framework－meaning framework with cultural overlaps enhances mutual understanding. • Extended meaning framework leads to more cultural overlaps; more cultural overlaps will facilitate the process of intercultural negotiation and help to produce intercultural agreements.
Assumptions of Two-directional Extension Model (5a) • Intercultural openness and identity transformation are finally achieved by the establishment of new communication ethics ― constructivism－a shift of paradigm that transcends universalism and relativism. • The construction of intercultural identity calls for new intercultural communication ethics. Universalism deems that communication ethics is acultural and ahistorical, and universal principles and norms are absolute truths, regardless of real differences that exist among individuals, cultures, communities, societies or across historical times. Relativism asserts that different cultures conceptualize the world in different ways; different cultures should be equally regarded as true; only placing them in their own contexts can meanings be understood; there is no universal standard by which we can apply to assessing the value of cultures, and there is no basis of joint action.
Assumptions of Two-directional Extension Model (5b) • Constructivism holds that human beings are basically rational, who can engage themselves in diverse cultural perspectives; although individuals from different cultures will not automatically arrive at a shared perspective on the basis of shared values and understandings, they can construct common ground through a dialogical process. • This process involves reflective, critical thinking, creative integration of positive values from different cultures, and the development of a wider conceptual framework. In terms of identity construction, constructivism takes it as an open-ended project, in which intercultural communicators negotiate mutually accepted meanings and their desired images.
Assumptions of Two-directional Extension Model (6) • Manageable intercultural tension is necessary in developing cultural reflexivity and promoting mutual growth. • The construction of intercultural identity does not imply the disappearance of intercultural differences or conflicts, but rather the manageability of these troublesome situations. • Intercultural differences can not be removed, but they can be transformed into the dynamics of creation. • Cultural system has the tendency to reach equilibrium, hence may become stagnated without outside impact. Manageable intercultural tesion or conflict encourages people criticise each other, challenge each other and provides them with new dymanics. • Manageable intercultural tension or conflict urges people to reflect on their own weaknesses, participate in reciprocal competition, and enhance positive identity, which is conducive to mutual growth.Actually, new ideas are often produced at the interface of differences.
Conclusion • Globalization is the largest historical and social movement through which the world becomes complexly interconnected and structured. • Its basic driving force comes from the dialectical interaction of universality and particularity. • Intercultural identity plays an indispensable part in bridging the gap between the global and the local. • It embodies openness to differences, the willingness to engage in strangers’ life experiences, the ability to integrate diverse cultural elements into a coherent whole, and the potential to achieve intercultural agreements and identity extension. • The construction of intercultural identity does not lead to the removal of differences, but ontological openness to cultural others, the extension of meaning framework and transformation of communication ethics, making it possible for people to make maximum use of their own cultural tradition and effectively draw upon foreign resources. • More theoretical and empirical researches are yet to be done.
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