Journal of Intercultural Communication, issue 5, 2002

M. Gene Aldridge

What is the Basis of American Culture?
What is it that intercultural communication students cannot afford to miss about the American Culture?


Culture is about survival of the human species. Central values and human capital formation drive cultures. This paper discusses intercultural communication theory from a historical-developmental perspective across the history of humankind, thus defining the uniqueness of the human cultural experience, namely, speech communication. Linking this unique empirical-based human cultural experience to specific cultures and their core values is the topic of this paper. Through a study of the empirical historical-developmental experience of the United States, this paper identifies a core value from the American culture. This paper posits the idea of a core United States cultural value that has implications for studies in intercultural communication leading to an understanding of the difference between first order change and second order cultural changes and research.

The paper suggests that intercultural communication between human groups is not a new phenomenon and may well hold key values to survival for humankind. Studies in intercultural communication research and theory building might do well to apply this anthropological and historical-developmental approach to the study of culture across the span of human time and evaluate those elements of different cultures which seem to be core values that promote survivability of humankind using human cultural capital.

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