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Non-Western Perspectives on Human Communication

Non-Western Perspectives on Human Communication
Implications for Theory and Practice

July 2002 | 248 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Published in Association with National Communication Association

What it means to be a self - and a self communicating and being in a particular culture - are key issues interwoven throughout Min-Sun Kim's impressive text, Non-Western Perspectives on Human Communication. Going beyond cultural descriptions or instructions on adapting to specific cultures, the author interrogates the very core assumptions underlying the study of human communication and challenges longstanding individualistic, Western models on which much intercultural research is based. Kim proposes a non-western way of conceptualizing identity, or the "self" - the cornerstone of cultural research -- illuminating how traditional western and non-western views can be blended into a broader, more realistic understanding of cultures and communication. Grounding her work in a thorough knowledge of the literature, she challenges students and researchers alike to reexamine their approach to intercultural study.


  • Interrogates embedded assumptions about the traditional [Western] study of human communication with stunning, thought-provoking insight
  • Illuminates issues surrounding culture and identity formation and challenges the reader to examine not only the study of human communication, but its engagement in everyday life
  • Informs complex academic theory with stellar writing, poignant examples, and careful analysis
  • Invites scholars and students to explore and integrate a long overdue multicultural perspective on human communication.



About the Author:

Min-Sun Kim (Ph.D., Michigan State University) is Professor in the Department of Speech at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Her research focus is the role of cognition in conversational styles among people of different cultural orientations. She is currently serving as an Associate Editor for Communication Reports and also as a reviewer for various communication journals.

1. "Who am I?": Cultural Variations in Self-Systems
Evolution of Western Self-Construction: "America's Civil Religion"  
Interdependent Self-Construals-An Alternative Framework  
2. Independent and Interdependent Models of the Self as Cultural Frame
3. Why Self-Construals are Useful
Parismony of Explanation: Impact of Culture  
Cultural Relativity of Communication Theories  
4. "Communication Apprehension": "Deficiency" or "Politeness"?
Motivation to "Avoid" Verbal Communication  
Traditional View: Communication "Avoidance" as a Deficiency  
Communication Avoidance Stemming from a Sensitivity to Social Contexts  
5. Motivation to "Approach" Verbal Communication: Is Communication Approach Always Healthy?
Assertiveness: "Standing up for your own Rights"  
Argumentativeness: A Subset of Assertiveness  
Critique and Summary  
6. Conflict Management Styles: Is Avoidance Really a "Lose-Lose"?
Prior Conflict Management Typologies  
Individualistic Bias in Past Conceptualizations of Conflict Styles  
7. Cognitive Consistency: A Cultural Assumption?
Fundamental Assumptions of Cognitive Dissonance Theory  
Is Cognitive Dissonance a Culture-Bound Concept?  
8. Attitude-Behavior Consistency: Cultural Ideal of the Individualistic Society
Predicting Behaviors: Deemphasizing Situations Over Attitudes  
Emphasizing Other Sources of Behavior  
9. Susceptibility to Social Influence: Conformity or "Tact"?
An Eco-Cultural Explanation of Conformity  
Conformity as "Social Sensitivity," Independence as "Insensitivity"  
10. Internal Control Ideology and Communication: Are Internals "Good Guys" and Externals "Bad Guys"?
Internal Control Ideology  
Relationship between Locus of Control and Communication Ideology  
11. Deceptive Communication: Moral Choice or Social Necessity?
Deception as a Moral Issue: Independent Perspective  
Deception as a Social Necessity: Interdependent Perspective  
12. Self-Disclosure: Bragging vs. Negative Self-Disclosure
Motivational Influences on Styles of Self-Disclosure  
13. Silence: "Is It Really Golden?"
Silence as Malfunctioning of (Human) Machines  
Neglected Component of Human Communication: Silence  
14. Acculturative Communication Competence: Who Bears the Burden of Adjustment?
Assimilation Model: "Marginal Man [sic]" Perspective  
Alternation Model: Bicultural Perspective  
Host Communication Competence: One-Way Assimilation  
Bicultural Communication Competence: Alternation Model  
15. The Sources of Dualism: Mechanistic Cartesian Worldview
Bias Toward "Yang" Communication Behaviors  
Particle/Wave Paradox: Implications of Personhood for Human Communication  
16. Dimensionality of Cultural Identity
Unidimensional Model of Self-Construals  
Bi-dimensional Model of Self-Construals  
Support for the Bi-dimensional Model  
Formation of Bicultural Identity  
17. Into the Future: Implications for Future Inquiry
Key features

1. examines the text to which traditional studies of human communication center on Western orientation

2. investigates the extent to which those orientations are inapplicable interculturally

3. brings multicultural perspectives to scholarly analysis

4. brings multicultural perspectives to everyday interactions

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