Which of the following refers to the process by which individuals or groups learn aspects of a culture that is not their own?


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Note: Word introduced by the American soldier, geologist, and explorer John Wesley Powell (1834-1902) in Introduction to the Study of Indian Languages (Smithsonian Institution, 1880), and used by him subsequently in a number of essays.

First Known Use

1880, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler

The first known use of acculturation was in 1880

See more words from the same year

Page 2

  • acculturation
  • continuity and change
  • cultural heritage

  • cultural relativism
  • cultural transmission
  • customs

  • cultural diversity
  • stereotypes
  • values

The process of contacts between different cultures and also the outcome of such contacts. Acculturation occurs when members of one cultural group adopt the beliefs and behaviours of another group. It may involve direct social interaction or exposure to other cultures through mass media. 
Syllabus p.51
Cultural heritage
The practices, traditions, customs and knowledge that define who we are socially and personally. Cultural heritage is an expression of the values that help us to understand our past, make sense of the present, and express a continuity of culture for the future. Cultural heritage can be analysed at the micro, meso and macro levels in society.
Syllabus p.52
Cultural relativism
The idea that concepts are socially constructed and vary across cultures. Therefore, individuals and groups must always view other cultures objectively and not judge them using the values and norms of their own culture as a measure of right or wrong. 
​Syllabus p.52​
Cultural transmission
The transmission of culture – such as traditions, values, language, symbols, cultural traits, beliefs and normative behaviour – across and between generations in society.
​​Syllabus p.53
Established ways of acting or cultural practices that are unique to groups in society. Customs have important links to the heritage, values and traditions of people.​
​Syllabus p.53
Cultural diversity
Appears as a society becomes larger and more complex, immigrant groups join the dominant culture, and subcultures form within the society. The more complex the society, the more likely it is that its culture will become internally varied and diverse. Cultural diversity implies a two-way sharing of ideas, customs and values among the various cultural groups that comprise the society. ​
​Syllabus p.52
StereotypeThe preconceived view of the characteristics of a group held by individuals who are not members of that group. These views are usually negative, generalised and inflexible, and ignore differences that exist between the members of the stereotyped group. 

Syllabus p.58

Deeply held ideas and beliefs that guide our thinking, language and behaviour. Differences in values exist among groups of people in society and are a part of one’s culture. Values can be challenged. 
Syllabus p.59

Students will develop knowledge and understanding of the nature of communication through a study of:

  • how culture determines the ways individuals encode messages, what mediums they choose for transmitting them, and the ways messages are interpreted
  • verbal and non-verbal communication
  • the role of communication in maintaining social relationships and social control
  • the individual’s rights and responsibilities in relation to communication, communication technologies and citizenship
  • the impact of changing communication technologies on: intra-generational interaction, language usage, cross-generational interaction, social interaction, cross-cultural interaction, globalisation

​PowerPoint Introduction (Maxine Johnson - SCA)

Every culture develops cultural norms and customs in relation to the way individuals communicate. Enculturation refers to the process of someone taking on the beliefs, rules and values of the dominate culture, usually in a subconscious manner. Acculturation is taking on other cultures' norms. Social norms 'encode' (inform) the way a particular society or group communicates messages to one another. If the receiver in the communication process cannot decode (interpret) the message due to a lack of cultural understanding the message may not be understood either. The miscommunication can also occur when the sender of the message has encoded the communication incorrectly due to not understanding the cultural norms.  The receiver should indicate they have understood the message through some feedback, such as nodding their head, so that the sender knows they have understood.

Verbal communication involves the use of spoken language and can be face-to-face, over a phone or via a speech.
Non-verbal communication involves anything not spoken, such as body language, facial expressions, tone and volume.
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Most psychologists believe that it is in our nature to form relationships, meaning that it is something that is a natural desire rather than learned. Baumeister and Leary (1995) call this a need to belong and claim it is vital for survival. Social exchange theory proposes that relationships are formed for our own selfish needs and are constantly assessed for maximising benefits and minimising costs. As a consequence we tend to have friends who are equals in terms of power and status. Friendships usually require trust of each other and support of each other. Communication is needed to create that trust and support. Just look at the self-help shelves in a bookstore to see how much people crave for quality relationships and how to communicate is one of the main forms of advice offered. Communication can prevent misunderstandings and express commitment to the relationship.

Where there is a power imbalance, the roles are different and it follows that the communication is also different. Communication is more often used as social control, or in other words, to exert power. This occurs at a social level so that any individual who deviates from social norms are brought back into line through forms of communication. On a micro level, this can be as simple as someone raising an eyebrow at you. On a macro level it can be in the use of language. Think about how language changed when Donald Trump became president of the United States. He and his associates used various forms of communication in an attempt to control the message that went out to American citizens and thus act as a form of social control (to keep people aligned with their ideologies). They used the term 'fake news' to try and control and reporting that went against the message they wanted to be heard. Another term that came out of this social control process was 'alternative facts'. President Trump also used Twitter to promote unsubstantiated claims in an attempt to control the message sent out to people and thus perform social control.

READ the Introduction on the website of the Centre for Communication Rights 

THINK: Consider how technologies have changed the way people communicate:

  • intra-generational interaction - the communication between people of similar age
  • language usage - how language has changed as a result of technologies eg emojis, abbreviations like LOL, CAPITALS = shouting
  • cross-generational interaction
  • social interaction
  • cross-cultural interaction
  • globalisation

Which of the following refers to the process by which individuals or groups learn aspects of a culture that is not their own?

Examine ONE of the following theories and identify its strengths and weaknesses:

  • Communication Accommodation Theory
  • Cross-Cultural Adaptation Theory
  • a school-selected contemporary intercultural communication theory

QUIZ: Communication Accommodation Theory - Giles (Quizlet)

For India (any cultural group but we will look at India) examine:

  • aspects of society and culture that are similar to or different from the student’s own cultural group through the research method of secondary research
  • the existence of group identity and commitment to cultural continuity
  • examples of potential intercultural misunderstanding
  • strategies for dealing with intercultural misunderstanding
  • the role of intercultural exchange in gaining cultural perception and values
  • the role of intercultural dialogue in effective intercultural communication.
Apply ethical research practices and follow the steps of the research process to:
  • develop a set of interview questions that includes both open and closed questions and is suitable for a person from a culture different from the student’s own
  • interview a person from a culture different from the student’s own
  • analyse and synthesise the results
  • present the findings and conclusions about these findings in an appropriate format.
​Note: Cultural difference may be based on gender, religion or ethnicity. 

One way to conduct a cross-cultural study is for one school to visit another school (David Kopycinski - SCA)

Which of the following refers to the process by which individuals or groups learn aspects of a culture that is not their own?

LEFT: This image is even better in the Flash version on the website http://www.mapsofindia.com/culture/indian-languages.html

BELOW: THE music video “Ek Sur”, more popularly known as “Mile Sur Mera Tumhara”, was released on India’s Independence Day in 1988. It was a small contribution to the country’s herculean post-independence task of building a unified national identity. The song’s lyrics were written in all 14 languages recognised by the constitution at the time. (The number has since increased to 22.) Playing off India’s many cultures, the performers sing: “When your song and my song meet, they become our song.” In typical Indian fashion, the video is both kitschy and irresistible. It has since attained legendary status, eclipsing even a hi-fi, star-studded 2010 remake. “Ek Sur” represents one piece of the ongoing effort to define who and what is “Indian”, one of modern India’s most pressing challenges.

S.A.P. 2013 'Language identity in India: One state, many worlds, now what?', The Economist, 25 June 2013, accessed 18 2013:  http://www.economist.com/blogs/johnson/2013/06/language-identity-india