High Context Culture Vs Low Context Culture Cultural Studies Essay

With the fast development of globalisation, many states across the Earth have become extremely related to each other in many Fieldss majorly in civilization. In this competitory universe every organic structure have many opportunities to pass on with others irrespective of different states and civilizations therefore we can see intercultural communicating often and in really common. Context and Cultures are the chief constituents, which we can see frequently in these yearss. Many states been divided into high-context civilizations and low-context civilizations ( Hall cited in Singh, Zhao and Hu 2005:135 ) . As Jandt ( 2004:61 ) mentioned, when different people from high-context civilizations and low-context civilizations meet, they will meet with many jobs since different civilizations may impact apprehensions of communicating in different ways. The chief purpose of this work is to compare the differences between high-context civilizations with low-context civilizations and to detect how different type of civilizations react in different state of affairss including linguistic communication, clip, personal infinite, and interpersonal relationships. It will besides analyze the jobs happening in the communicating procedure between two civilizations and seek to supply recommendations and the ways of get the better ofing the troubles.

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What is Culture

To measure the influence of one ‘s civilization on the behaviour within a squad, a expression at the definition of civilization is needed. Although there exist many definitions of this term in the literature, the likely best known is that from Hofstede which says that

A ” Culture is the corporate scheduling of the head which distinguishes the members of one human group from another Culture, in this sense, includes systems of values ; and values are among the edifice blocks of civilization. ” ( Hofstede in Mead, 1998, p. 4 ) .

A Following this definition, person ‘s civilization can be seen as something that is single to a peculiar group whose member ‘s behaviour it influences in unvarying and predictable ways ( Mead, 1998 ) . It is learned and passed on from one coevals to the following and includes a certain system of values, norms and behaviours ( Mead, 1998 ) .

Definition of Context

Context can be defined as “ The environment in which the communicating takes topographic points and which helps to specify the communicating ” ( Jandt 2004: 33 ) . Dr. Edward Hall foremost put the theory of high-context and low-context civilizations frontward in 1976 ( Jandt 2004:61 ) . A civilization can be either high context or low context, which is related to the manner people pass oning with each other. Jandt ( 2004: 61 ) defined high-context civilizations, as a civilization where the significance of message prevarications in physical environment or its already shared by people therefore people do non necessitate to state or compose it more. In low-context civilizations, people have to state or compose more because there is small shared significance of message in communicating. As Hall ( 1976 cited in Jandt 2004:61 ) stated inA Beyond Culture, more information is needed in the familial message in low-context civilizations in order to do up for what is losing in the context. The most typical states of high-context civilizations are Asiatic states includingA China, A JapanA andA Korea. The low-context civilizations can be found inA Switzerland, A Germany, and North America including theA United StatesA ( Jandt 2004:62 ) .

Difference between the Context Cultures

There are several cardinal differences between these two types of civilizations, among which the manner a message transmitted is the most obvious one. People from low-context civilizations prefer direct manner of unwritten communicating and they ever emphasize the efficiency of communicating so people seem goal-orientated and tend to utilize short sentences and brief replies to convey their significances evidently ( Kennedy and Everest 1996: 54, Rinner 2005:14 ) . For people from high-context civilizations, this is non a good manner of communicating. They believe that people should see assorted factors in the context such as feelings of their middlemans by which they can set up harmonious and pleasant relationships ( Kennedy and Everest 1996: 54 ) . Their significances and ends are frequently conveyed in an expressed manner and sometimes reflected by some signals in the environment. In add-on, high-context civilizations lay great emphasis on accommodations of contents and ways during conversations and seek to do linguistic communications be in agreement with the context. Therefore, when two civilizations run into, people may easy misconstrue each other. Low-context persons may experience really baffled with what their middlemans said, and people from high-context civilizations are likely to see their colloquial spouses as impolite and rude, which may discontinue the conversation or even lead to interrupting of relationships. Last, organic structure linguistic communication is more of import in high-context civilizations instead than that of low-context civilizations ( Mitchell 2000: 21 ) . Since the same gesture may transport different significances in different states, the frequent usage of organic structure linguistic communication of one civilization could easy take to misconstruing or embarrassment for people from another civilization.

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Problems involved in Context Cultures

The different contexts of civilization non merely affect ways of communicating, but besides have different impacts on people ‘s attitudes toward clip and personal infinite, every bit good as their behaviours of interpersonal relationships.

Peoples from high-context or low-context civilizations hold different attitudes toward clip. Harmonizing to Komlodi and Carlin ( 2004 ) , most people in high-context civilizations neither have a criterion of clip nor take promptness earnestly. Sometimes they could alter the original program for different individuals based on their different relationships. On the contrary, low-context civilizations take promptness highly of import. Delay of work is ever considered deficiency of involvement. Furthermore, they see clip as trade good, or more exactly, as money. Chinese employees in American companies normally have the same experience of being criticized or even fired due to their late for work for merely five proceedingss. It is besides common that a German instructor gets angry with his Nipponese pupil for he or she failed to follow the original agenda despite the much better work he does.

In respect to personal infinite, people from different civilizations have their ain point of positions. Hall ( 1966 ) believed the infinite speaks to people every bit aloud as words. Peoples have unseeable boundaries of their personal infinites that may change with civilizations. Low-context persons may experience uncomfortable and violated when they talk with people from high-context civilizations because the latter base closer and touch a batch. In add-on, high-context civilizations require less regard for privateness ( Lebauer 2000 ) . It has been a common cognition that inquiring inquiries about age or wage is violative for western people whereas it is widely acceptable in most Asiatic states.

Equally far as interpersonal relationships are concerned, high-context civilizations are really different from low-context civilizations in many facets. Kim, Pan and Park ( 1998: 510 ) pointed out that people in high-context civilizations normally have a strong sense of duty for their whole group or household. Take a company as an illustration. If employees make errors about their work, the director or the top individual in this section is thought to hold to take portion of incrimination for the errors. The instance will be really different if it happens in low-context civilizations. Peoples in this civilization topographic point great accent on individualism and equality, and in effect they may go through the vaulting horse to other individuals ( Kim, Pan and Park 1998: 510 ) . This still remains a debatable issue in transnational companies or organisations which may do a batch of problems in direction and internal relationships. The corporate thought related to high-context civilizations can be regarded as another different point. As a Chinese parlance said, integrity is strength. Chinese people who represent high-context civilizations believe that the power of group work is much stronger than that of single work ( FitzGerald 2003: 81 ) . Last, high-context persons behave good in day-to-day life depending more on societal restraints than legal restraints, thereby swearing the words of their friends and sometimes collaborating with usual patterns instead than written paperss ( Kim, Pan and Park 1998: 510 ) . Unlike high-context civilizations, low-context civilizations regard Torahs and contracts more dependable and effectual than spoken words. Different attitudes of group work may do whole thing in a muss and it is possible that merely a small contention of the contract could destroy the whole concern due to opposite thoughts from different parties.

It is axiomatic that the difference of cultural contexts may convey a batch of jobs to people from different states during the communicating. Nowadays, the more frequent intercultural communications become, the more necessary solutions for forestalling these jobs are needed.


In general, the important manner to work out the jobs is that people should seek to understand and esteem civilizations of their middlemans every bit much as possible instead than do middlemans accept their ain civilizations. First of wholly, people should be cautious about word usage and avoid utilizing slang and slangs. It is besides necessary for them to non presume thoughts about their middlemans if they truly do non cognize. In order to do certain the messages are non misunderstood, people should inquire their middlemans to review what they said ( Deeks 2004 ) . Besides, excessively much organic structure linguistic communication should be avoided. Second, as an old proverb said, do in RomeA as the Roman do. People should esteem local civilizations and follow local imposts when they enter a foreign state. In a company or a school, people should act harmonizing to company regulations or school ordinances. Furthermore, Zielinski ( 2000 ) suggested that people had better make a via media if they can non accept different imposts or traditions. For illustration, Chinese people who frequently stand closer to their middlemans could stand a small farther while American people may accept a closer distance than their usual ways. Finally, the transnational instruction or cross-cultural preparation plan plays an of import function in companies and organisations, by which staff could larn more about different civilizations and have better communications with aliens, therefore good concern relationships are more likely to be built.


When Low-context civilizations interact with high context civilizations, there could be a figure of jobs in many facets including linguistic communication, attitudes toward clip and personal infinite, and interpersonal relationships. These jobs may non merely do misinterpretation and letdown of both sides, but besides may take to failure of concern, so effectual solutions are needfully needed. The indispensable manner is to understand and esteem different civilizations. Language usage needs to be paid much attending. Despite the cultural differences, people should follow local civilizations or do a via media if they can non accept another civilization. Multinational instruction can non be neglected for its major function in companies and organisations. Since the globalisation has been an inevitable tendency in many Fieldss today, intercultural communications will be progressively frequent and common. It would be of great importance for people to get the hang accomplishments of intercultural communicating. Many people have realized this importance, but they have non found effectual ways to get the better of the troubles in communications. Therefore, for making good cross-cultural communications, there is still a long manner to travel.


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