Culture, communication, context, and power

Authored by: Adrian Holliday

The Routledge Handbook of Language and Intercultural Communication

Print publication date:  May  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138389458
eBook ISBN: 9781003036210
Adobe ISBN:


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As an update on the first edition, this chapter’s review of the sociological paradigms, postpositivist and postmodern, that govern the way we think about the intercultural will consider new thinking regarding discourses of culture and the grand and personal narratives that support them on an everyday basis by constructing essentialist blocks and boundary-dissolving threads. The author also looks at the types of research necessary to address how these narratives operate and how they implicate the researcher as a participant within them. In contrast with dominant postpositivist research that falsely constructs intercultural learning as a measurable, linear development in competence, the implications of the postmodern paradigm are discussed in terms of non-linear connectivities, of how the intercultural and the cultural merge, and how learning needs to delve into pasts to understand the arriving Other intercultural traveller as a normal aspect of our existing societies. This discussion takes in a renewed conceptualisation of third spaces and hybridity as normalities found everywhere. To conclude, the concept of ‘culture’ itself in relation to national identity is presented as a poetic and figurative concept with full knowledge of the discourses and narratives that falsely politicise and commodify it.

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