Communication refers to the act of passing information from one source to another. This process involves sending and receiving messages between a sender and receiver.
Diversity encompasses various issues such as gender, disability, class, and sexual identity. Gender pertains to masculinity and femininity while sexual identity relates to one’s sexual orientation, which can be heterosexual or homosexual. Class refers to the different economic and social strata that people belong to based on their economic power.
The rich typically belong to the upper class, while average income earners are part of the middle class, and the poor are in the lower class. In considering contemporary diversity issues in communication, it is important to recognize how each of these groups relates to one another and to society as a whole. Gender is viewed differently depending on culture. Societal norms often dictate gender roles, particularly in labor divisions. Men and women communicate differently based on their biological makeup as well as their socialization and cultural background.
Culture is a system of knowledge, attitudes, norms, values, and rules that govern a group of people and are passed down from generation to generation. Communication varies between cultures because words are assigned different meanings and are bound to specific contexts. Within a culture, there may be small groups referred to as co-cultures. When people interact with others from different cultural contexts outside their own, they engage in intercultural communication. However, due to the various cultural changes and experiences one can encounter when entering a new culture without proper preparation for its norms, they may suffer from cultural shock.
When discussing cultural norms, messages are interpreted with careful attention to nonverbal cues and the context in which they were conveyed. However, not all cultures prioritize these factors, particularly those that place great emphasis on language. In certain cultural groups, specific roles are assigned to individuals based on their gender identity. Men are typically expected to embody traditional values and assertiveness. They are often viewed as the leaders of their families and protectors of society due to their historical status as the stronger sex.
Females are traditionally associated with maintaining the family unit and societal bonds. Each society has established rules and regulations that govern behavior and conduct, which must be followed strictly. Failure to comply can result in severe punishment by the relevant authority. Some cultures prioritize group collaboration while others emphasize personal growth and achievement.
In society, different cultures can coexist with one another. However, there are common experiences that arise from cultural dominance. Those belonging to minority groups face various challenges because they are dominated by the main cultural group. The dominant group usually benefits from its majority, controlling political leadership, economic power and decision-making processes which tend to favor the majority. They benefit from the shared cultural context where they enjoy majority rule. Despite these benefits, they lack exposure to other cultural diversities which could benefit them in various ways.
On the other hand, ethnic minorities are usually disadvantaged in various ways.
Communicating with the dominant group can be challenging because their language may be unfamiliar. As a result, individuals from minority communities must learn to adapt to the ways of the dominant society in order to interact successfully and make sense of their surroundings. However, this adaptation can also pose a risk for the ethnic community as it may lead to abandoning its own culture through acculturation. The dominant culture has the potential to swallow up minority cultures through intermarriage and acculturation, leading to conflicts that strain family bonds or even disintegrate societal fabric within minority communities.
It is important that conflicts arising from acculturation are addressed and managed in a way that does not result in cultural enmity. This can best be achieved by appreciating cultural diversity and respecting every society’s norms.
Cultural communication must be effective in order to attain the intended meaning. The conveyed message should be understood by the receiver in order to get the intended feedback. In view of cultural diversity, communication ought to be ethical regardless of cultural barriers. It is therefore important to understand all the important communication cues that accompany verbal communication before communicating effectively. This is one of the ways of ensuring that ethical principles are maintained in regard to diverse cultural contexts.
Ineffective communication arises from differences created by cultural diversity, which can result in codes not sending the intended meaning and creating ambiguity. Lack of proper understanding of cultural diversity can create culture shock leading to confusion and breakdowns in communication processes.
Further examination of communication diversity involves issues relating to gender, race, and economic class. As explained earlier in the essay, gender refers to the masculinity and femininity of a person. Gender is determined at birth based on the newborn’s biological features. Cultural expectations are then transmitted to the child by parents and other older members of society through observation and communication. The society is responsible for shaping women to fit their roles as well as their male counterparts, as expected by their culture.
Race refers to the major divisions of humankind with distinct physical characteristics. However, different cultural orientations can exist within one race, creating diversity. In many cases, communication requires a common identity and a set of norms, rules and roles that allow people to share and shape a common world that they can identify with. This common culture identifies the different races that exist in the universe.
Language is one of the key identities of a race; it is a set of codes assigned meaning by its users. Proper understanding of one’s language is essential for learning about one’s culture.
The racial diversities that exist in the universe have helped make it into a global village due to advances in information and communication technology.
The invention of the internet has enabled people from diverse cultural and racial backgrounds to interact by sharing ideas and discussing important global issues. As different races interact through the internet, it has become necessary to learn about different cultural orientations in order to alleviate ambiguity that arises from misunderstandings. Communication has greatly reduced racial prejudices by addressing assumptions and highlighting the pride of belonging and identifying with a particular society.
Economic class is a category that defines the poor, the average, and the rich. Communication in these categories is different because of the status that society accords to each economic class. The rich are characterized by their tendency to keep to themselves and even show coldness, remaining strangers to their neighbors. They do this in an attempt to maintain the status quo. The middle class is freer in their socialization and interaction with community members. High levels of interaction exist among the lower class and poor who interact freely without any restrictions.
- For notes on Communication Principles, visit http://www.roch.edu/course/spch2214/Communication_Principles_Notes.htm
- Find books on Computer Science at http://www.12manage.com/books_cs.html
- To access the summary of a book titled Communication and Organizational Culture” visit http://www.netlibrary.com/urlapi.asp?action=summary&v=1&bookid=74192
- Jones S. (1997) wrote “Virtual Culture: Identity and Communication in Cyber society”. It was published by Sage Publishers in New York.