& Low Context Cultures
High Context (e.g., Japan)
Low Context (e.g., U.S.)
Meaning is implicit in relationship & situation
Meaning is explicit in the words spoken
Emphasis on the group(collectivism)
Emphasis on the individual(individualism)
Straight talk valued
Face and Facework
person’s image in an interactional situation.
of face concerns & face needs in interaction.
Muted Group Theory
Muted Group Theory: Premises
Developed by Cheris Kramarae
The language of a particular culture does not serve
all its speakers equally, for not all speakers contribute in an equal fashion
to its formulation. Women (and members of other subordinate groups) are
not as free or as able as men are to say what they wish, when and where
they wish, because the words and the norms for their use have been formulated
by the dominant group, men. --Kramarae, quoted by Griffin,
Muted Group Theory: Evidence
Men and women perceive the world differently because
of different experiences based in the division of labor.
Does this pertain to Carol Gilligan’s theory of moral
development (A Different Voice)?
Men seek autonomy; they use ethic of justice.
Women seek connection; they use ethic of care.
Because of their political dominance, men have shaped
the public vocabulary to reflect male-oriented experiences and perceptions.
Muted Group Theory: Its Goal
“Lexical bias” is in public language: cartoons,
metaphors, terms for women’s speech, terms for sexual activity
Women are underrepresented in media, textbooks, cyberspace,
Women must use male oriented systems of expression
Women use private, “back channel” routes to discuss
* Feminist dictionary
To change the “man-made” linguistic system (in the
* Sexual harassment
* Glass ceiling
Muted Group Theory: Some Questions
Are women a muted group?
Is a person’s reaction to the theory influenced by
her/his own social position?
Are there other muted groups? Evidence?
Is this a scientific theory, a humanistic theory,
or does it draw from both perspectives?
Could some communication theories in this course
be biased against muted groups? How can that be assessed?
Developed by W. Gudykunst
Cross-cultural encounters between cultural in-groups
Strangers experience anxiety and uncertainty.
Strangers often overemphasize cultural identity and
Managing anxiety and uncertainty
Understand yours and others’ motivation
The ‘Aha’ Game/Critique
1. In what situations are people “strangers?”
2. What are cross-cultural encounters?
3. What are appropriate ways to communicate
in cross-cultural situations? How does one determine appropriateness?
4. Is appropriateness more important than effectiveness
when one is a “stranger?”
“If my interpretation is correct, then readers, on hearing my explanation,
will exclaim with their heads, “Aha
!” Something they have intuitively sensed will be made explicit”
(Tannen, in Griffin, 1997, p.455).
Women seek human conntion
Men are concerned with status:
Women talk more in private
Men talk more in public
To disclose details of life
To command attention
To convey information
Women tell stories about others
Men tell more stories than women
Desire for community
Focus on self
Women actively listen and ask questions
Men listen, but don’t ask question
1) Nonverbals are used when listeningto acknowledge, “I’m listening”
2) Questions establish connection
1) Nonverbals are not used because it would mean, “I agree with you”
2) Questions are not asked to preserve self-sufficiency and self-respect.
Women avoid conflict
Men initiate conflict
More comfortable with conflict
Male-female conversation is cross-cultural communication.
That masculine and feminine styles of discourse are best viewed as
two distinct cultural dialects rather than as inferior or superior ways
*Miscommunication between men and women is all the more insidious because
the parties usually don’t realize that they are in a cross- cultural
:*Tannen believes that both men and women need to learn how to speak
in the other’s voice.
*Mutual understanding will bridge the cultural gap between sexes.
Tannen mentioned that women needassertiveness trainingandmen need
Many companies do offer these trainingsessions
And they focus primarilyon
What people say and the way they say it.
Does a chorus of aha’s mean Tannen is right?
Do you agree with Tannen that genderlect should be taught like French,
Swahili, or any other foreign language?
Do you mind being “labeled” according to gender?
Can you think of any other ways women are different than men?