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Relativity in cultural differences
By definition, cultural relativity is the general and overall summary of an individual’s beliefs and way of life and activities, defined and drawn by their culture. This is an anthropological theory developed in the 20th century, and it defines how society reacts towards different aspects in life that face it daily because it has a lot of influence on every individual’s way of life.
Due to the environment and societies we are brought up in, we hold different values, behaviors and activities. We have different practices due to our beliefs. These are the tradition and the practices we found being practiced by those who were before us. What may be considered right and justifiable in one community may be totally unacceptable in another. From the perspective of cultural relativity, cultural differences are defined by the societies we are brought up in. Society traditions and values differ because of the diversity of their cultures especially from the view of what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, or what to say ‘Yes’ or ‘no’ to. Bearing in mind therefore that we are all different as cultural relativity illustrates, it is important to respect and acknowledge other people’s cultures and practices. The reason is that it is only through respecting other people’s cultures that they will also respect yours as well. The simple reason is that the same way another person’s culture seems right or wrong is the same way your culture seems right or wrong to others. From the above argument therefore, it is clear that cultural differences imply our diversity, based on our beliefs, customs and ethics (DeFleur, H, Kearney, Plax & DeFleur, L. 23).
Stereotype by definition, is a set form or perception concerning something and prior generalization. Stereotyping is associating people, events, aspects and phenomena with given characteristics, and such a conclusion may be right or wrong.
We form stereotypes mainly due to earlier experiences, encounters or plain prejudice or bias towards a given aspect. We usually use stereotypes when we want to judge something prior to testing it. People usually stereotype especially when they want to bias or discriminate against something. Philosophers and scholars maintain that although stereotype has a strong hold upon people especially those who hold strong views on given doctrines, it has negative effects on those who hold them.
A stereotype may interfere with effective communication when the audience holds a different perception of the speaker (DeFleur, H, Kearney, Plax & DeFleur, L. 42). This may have a positive or negative effect on the message that the speaker is passing across, depending on the nature of the message.
Low context and high context cultures
High context communication is the habit of using rich context messages when communicating with an audience. This is using language that is highly sophisticated in high context communication.
Low context communication on the other hand uses simple and understandable language that makes the message easily understandable to everyone.
High context cultures use high context mode of communication, and vice versa. These two aspects help us understand cultural differences, since the way society communicates shows the perception it holds on different aspects such as issues of gender and sex, individualism and unity, femininity and masculinity etc. The way society communicates defines how simple or complicated their lifestyle and way of life are. The complexity or simplicity of the way people communicate defines and sets the difference between their lifestyles and ways of life.
DeFleur, Halls, Kearney, Peter, Plax, George, & DeFleur, Leakey. “Fundamentals of Human Communication”. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2005.