Is Culture Something We Have or Something We Do? From Descriptive Essentialist to Dynamic Intercultural Constructivist Communication

Øyvind Dahl (1)
(1) Centre for Intercultural Communication, School of Mission and Theology, Stavanger, Norway , Norway

Abstract

The descriptive understanding of culture is essentialist. One assumes that a group of people share values, codes and norms. Culture is according to this understanding something people have. People belong to this or that culture, and once one has learned the cultural codes one may predict how people behave. In the global world this understanding of culture has become more problematic. Cultures are mixed and more or less shared across the globe. Cultures have become hybrids where some elements are shared, others are not. The dynamic understanding of culture is constructivist. Culture is not something people have, but something they construct in specific human encounters where mutual relations and power are part of the context. Meanings are shared, interpreted and created when people do something together i.e. when they communicate.

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Authors

Øyvind Dahl
oyvind.dahl@lyse.net (Primary Contact)
Author Biography

Øyvind Dahl, Centre for Intercultural Communication, School of Mission and Theology, Stavanger, Norway

Øyvind Dahl is professor emeritus at The School of Mission and Theology, Stavanger Norway. His main interests are Intercultural Communication and Madagascar. He has published "Meanings in Madagascar. Cases of Interultural Communication" Westport, Conn.: Bergin & Garvey. 1999; "Signes et significations à Madagascar. Des cas de communication interculturelle". Paris: Présence Africaine. 2006; "Bridges of Understanding. Perspectives on Intercultural Communication." Oslo: Unipub. Oslo Academic Press. 2006; and recently a textbook in Norwegian: "Møter mellom mennesker. Innføring i Interkulturell kommunikasjon". Oslo: Gyldendal Akademisk. 2013.

Dahl, Øyvind. (2014). Is Culture Something We Have or Something We Do? From Descriptive Essentialist to Dynamic Intercultural Constructivist Communication. Journal of Intercultural Communication, 14(3), 1–10. https://doi.org/10.36923/jicc.v14i3.678

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