Autobiography is the resource made to inspire and motivate people to learn and reason from intercultural experiences. People can attain intercultural experiences through various things, such as visual media or in-person (Pascal, 2015 p.3). In comparison, Biography is an in-depth account of a person, including personal life events, experiences, family structure, relationship, life story, education, and works (Woolf, 2017 p.5). This paper focuses on intercultural frameworks and theories, then compares two biographies, one belonging to me and another for a person in my class, by filling the intercultural autobiography to demonstrate self-awareness and the other person in my class. The paper will also compare and contrast the two biographies by employing intercultural theories and frameworks.
2.0. Intercultural theories and frameworks
There are three most used intercultural models: the onion model, Confucian cultural variables, and the high and low context culture. The three models are widely used. The onion model was created in 1973 by Geert Hofstede. The model evaluates cultural differences aiming at several dimensions: indulgence, doubt evasion, authority space, maleness, and longstanding alignment (Signorini et al., 2009 p. 260). The Confucian model, created in 2013 by Lusting and Koester, explains the family as an example of all cooperative associations and social steadiness and order depending on the unequal association between people (Calafell, 2020 p.415). Individuals should be given desirable treatment, and they should receive education and skills in workplaces. The third model, the high and low context patterns created in 1989 by Edward Hall, focuses on the two cultures: the high context and the low context culture.
The onion model theory proposal was by Geert Hofstede and other interculturalists. For them to describe the cultural phenomenon, they used the metaphor of an onion. They believed regardless of the exterior color of an onion, what was inside was still unknown. When they meet someone, people’s first impression is the outer appearance, rituals, signs, and how they speak or do things (Signorini et al., 2009 p.261). The onion model is used to show the way culture has many layers. There are many explanations of the model, although the simplest model comprises four main layers. The core is surrounded by a layer referred to as rituals. These are mutual activities. The need for these activities is not to accomplish a goal; rather, they are deliberated to be important to the culture members. The rituals can be as simple as how people keep their hygiene, for instance, taking a shower in the morning or evening, shaking hands as a greeting, or even some tenderly touching the fingertips and pointing to the heart as a form of greeting. The rituals vary slowly with time. Due to that, they are observed for the sake of the culture. The forms of greeting and respecting others, holding social and spiritual ceremonies, serving tea, using greetings when writing a letter are cultural rituals.
In the onion model, the second layer around the core is referred to as the “heroes.” This layer represents a fictive person, either living or dead, who has the features held in high regard in the culture (Signorini et al., 2009 p.262). This real or imaginary person serves as a model of character and impacts the culture. The third layer in the onion model is about symbols. It represents cultural symbols, such as words used in language, objects, pictures, cultural monuments, or other symbols, such as food, architecture, hairstyles, flags, and traditional clothing. An example can be French gastronomy which is the main symbol for the French culture, and it has received protection by UNESCO as the invisible world heritage. These days, most symbols happen to be branded, for example, BMW, Louis Vuitton, and apple. Although there is a difference in these symbols, they normally change per the monetary fashion, but others are depended on the culture.
The Confucian variables model is the main foundation of social culture in various countries. It is a multifaceted social, religious, moral, and political thought concerning how individuals relate with others and the proper behavior (Calafell, 2020 p.412). This model’s concepts support loving devotion to one’s family and prioritizing shared interests, individual cultivation of morals, and unsatisfactory gender roles. Hence, three scales were created: family notions, individual cultivation morals, and sex-role concepts. Additionally, there was a scale to determine Confucian values on gender since it has a close relationship with teenage sexual manners.
The other intercultural theory is the high and low context model. This model explains the range of the clarity in which messages are shared in culture and the importance of communication background (Kittler et al., 2011 p. 65). This model shows communication methods among people using their communication abilities, including body language, gestures, verbal messages, relations, or non-oral messages. The high and low context model usually refers to nationalities, dialectical groups, or regional communities. Nevertheless, the model can also relate to professions, businesses, other social groups, and other online and offline communication settings. There is less direct oral and non-oral communication in high-context cultures, using minor communication signs and understanding more meaning into these minor straight messages. In contrast, low-context cultures require direct oral communication to comprehend the message being passed clearly and depend greatly on clear verbal skills. Although this high context model and low context cultures propose a popular structure in intercultural communication studies, it faces criticism for being deficient in empirical proof.
2.1 Two intercultural biographies
This section comprises two biographies, my Biography and another biography from another person in my class. The creation of these biographies was through filling an intercultural autobiography questionnaire by myself and another person.
2.2 My intercultural Biography
I am Ionela Tataru, born in 1986 and 34 years of age, Romanian Nationality. I was born in Bacau city in Romania. It is a beautiful country, and we experience four seasons. I am glad we can go to the sea and enjoy the snow during winter compared to the United Kingdom weather, which is not delightful.
I attended a sport high school, and those were the most beautiful years of my life. I made many friends and played all kinds of sports. I have been playing sport(handball) since I was eight years old. It is a beautiful team sport that can easily teach one how to become part of the team. I am passionate about sport in my life.
I come from a small family, my grandparents were born in 1933 in Bacau, and they worked in lands and took care of their home by selling groceries and earning their money. My parents managed to finish high school, and they both graduated and married at a young age, although I married at the age of 30. My mother was a chef, and my father an automotive mechanic. While I was young, we used to have dinner as a family and spend most of the weekends in my grandparents’ home. I currently live with my husband, daughter, and mother, who help me raise my daughter.
Men largely dominate our country, but I see women being more capable and doing better than most men. In our culture, we celebrate Christmas, Easter holidays, and Valentine’s day. My mother has her own house, and we do not pay rent there.
In our city, there are many cars, approximately every two families one has a car, the city is populated, there are businesses, train, and airport in the city. We also have good schools and universities.
2.3 Intercultural biography of the other person
My name is Charles Park. I am from the United Kingdom and was born in London, and am of British Nationality. Both my parents and grandparents were born in Italy. I come from a rich and established family. In our society, we are ranked among the upper-middle class. My family members are all educated, including my grandparents. My father runs a very prosperous business with the support of my mother, who is a housewife. Both my parents and grandparents are from Italy, and they are of British Nationality. The city of London, where I was born, has many rich and established people.
In my city, most of the people live in apartments, and others own their buildings. The majority of people are educated. But many people are not friendly, generous, and kind to others. Majority practice individualism in my society. I come from a single-family, and I stay with my parents and one sister. In my family, we do not associate closely with grandparents and other extended members of the family.
My society lacks gender equality. For transport, we use mainly buses, trains, and private transports. The majority of the people have access to the internet, possess a smartphone, and access social media. In my country, rural and urban residing people benefit from these advantages. In my culture, we celebrate the major holidays; Christmas, Holi, Easter, New Year’s Day, Carnival, Halloween, Father’s and Mother’s Day, Boxing Day, and Good Friday.
My education at the college and university level impacts my career life a lot. In my personal life and social life, the Holy Bible guides me a lot. I went to high school and completed it successfully. My parents hold post-graduate degrees from universities. My grandmother and grandfather are graduates and have worked in many administrations.
3.0 Compare and contrast the information taken from the biographies using Intercultural theories
|Intercultural theories and frameworks||Personal cultural profile||Cultural profile of another person|
|The onion model
|I am of Romanian Nationality, and in terms of power distance, in our culture, we practice high power distance; while disparities are normal, the hierarchy is given very high security. In my culture, we highly avoid vagueness. It implies it is difficult to change the way we do things. Living in harmony is good, and there are a lot of rules. I am also a socialist, and I prioritize teamwork, being loyal, fitting in place, and depending on each other. I practice more feminineness than maleness in my culture. It implies I adore cooperating, encouraging, giving support, and doing things together. When it comes to short-range goals, I do not focus much on them. Lastly, I have various social patterns that limit and restrict my time and life when it comes to involvement.||In terms of the authority gap, my friend’s culture in the United Kingdom observes low power distances, while all people are equal and can interrogate the authorities. There is low avoidance of risks in his culture, which implies change, fewer rules, acceptance of uncertainties, and a minimal number of rules. He is a nonconformist who prioritizes self-issues, self-sufficiency, privacy, and independence. Implies that he enjoys completing things on time, making great achievements, and being confident. He focuses on long-term goals and gives them a longstanding orientation. Lastly, when it comes to involvement, social patterns limit and restrict his time.
|High-Context and Low-Context Patterns||As a Romanian, I practice a culture pattern with high context with fewer words implying the meaning. There is sharing of many body language, backgrounds, physical settings, and experiences in my culture. My aim is dignity and agreement, and response is held in reserve and indirect. I am strongly bound to my family, the cultural rituals, and agreements. I am also deeply and strongly committed to my family and community. Loyalty is crucial in my society and family, and there is a permanent expectation of how to behave. I am more open with time, less planned, and prioritizing people’s necessities.||He is of British Nationality. In their culture, they practice low context, which implies direct communication, and words are paramount. He has a goal of conveying the correct meaning, and responses are perfect and obvious. He does not have a relationship with his grandparents; thus, he has a poor relationship with his extended family and society. Their society and family do not value loyalty, and they do not have a fixed anticipation of how one behaves. He is highly organized, and his time is well structured and used somewhat for others.
|Confucian Cultural Values||As stated under the Confucian cultural model, my focus is strongly on social status, honoring other people, and being loyal. I maintain and honor authority relationships and am always willing to abide by the superior’s commands strictly.||According to the Confucian cultural model, he loves loyalty in the workplace, does not have high respect for others, does not concentrate on social status, and has less respect for authority relationships.
The paper has identified and defined the different values and belief systems that are existing in different cultures. It has further demonstrated various cultural strategies and frameworks and communication between people from different cultures by applying theories to exercise diverse, multicultural corporate relations. In the paper, autobiography and Biography are well defined, and the three intercultural theories and frameworks. Additionally, there is the creation of two biographies using the intercultural biography interview answers from myself and another person. The paper concludes by comparing and contrasting my Biography and the one belonging to another person by employing intercultural theories and frameworks.
Calafell, B.M., 2020. The critical performative turns in intercultural communication. Journal of Intercultural Communication Research, 49(5), pp.410-415.
Kittler, M.G., Rygl, D. and Mackinnon, A., 2011. Special Review Article: Beyond culture or beyond control? Reviewing the use of Hall’s high-/low-context concept. International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, 11(1), pp.63-82.
Pascal, R., 2015. Design and truth in autobiography. Routledge.
Signorini, P., Wiesemes, R. and Murphy, R., 2009. Developing alternative frameworks for exploring intercultural learning: a critique of Hofstede’s cultural difference model. Teaching in Higher Education, 14(3), pp.253-264.
Woolf, V., 2017. The art of biography. e-artnow.
The interview questions answered for this research were the following:
- What is the structure of your family and relationships? What role do your parents and other members of your family play?
- What are your Nationality and that of both your parents and grandparents?
- What are your family life rituals? Do you celebrate special occasions and how you live daily?
- Which kind of environment did you grow in when you were born?
- What institutions or people have had a strong impact on you?
- What has been your family mobility? Has your family moved from one country to another? or changing profession?
- When did your school? What are your parents’ and grandparents’ education levels?
- What other facets of your life have influenced you?