Intercultural Communication Theoretic Concepts Within A Case Study Of A Chosen Individuals Experiences

Intercultural Communication Theoretic Concepts Within A Case Study Of A Chosen Individuals Experiences

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The purpose of this essay is to discuss intercultural communication theoretic concepts in the context of a case study of a chosen individuals experiences. It will cover the concepts of culture shock, attribution theory, ethnocentrism, cultural adaptation, with reference to the experiences of Warren Surtees and also reference to academic sources.

Warren Surtees was born in 1955 in Auckland, New Zealand. Spending his first twenty years of his life living in Papakura, Warren came from a working class family and is one of five brothers. All of Warren’s family were New Zealand-European, with his family tree leading back to roots in England. Warren was also raised catholic by his mother, however did not sustain any strong religious views after moving out of his family home. Having grown up in what he thought was a diverse neighbourhood, Warren believed he had a wide understanding of different cultures and was particularly interested in travelling the rest of the globe to learn more about different ways of living, and shortly after turning twenty years old Warren embarked on his five year long journey which would begin in South East Asia.

Upon arrival to India, Warren experienced culture shock, a term originially coined by Oberg (1960). Oetzel (2009) dicusses cultural shock as the reaction that an individual has in a physical, psychological and emotional sense when experiencing a culture that is different to their own for the first time. Ting-toomey and Chang (2012, p.95) list feelings of “anxiety, bewilderment, confusion, disorientation, and perplexity” along with a strong feeling of wanting to leave the location. The concept of culture shock appropriately describes the sensation felt by someone when dealing with these differences, a...


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...n order to make friends and to be able to connect with people, Warren had to take an acculturation approach (Oetzel, 2009) and learn how to interact with people in a physical way as well as using his words so he would not come off as cold or rude to new acquaintances.

In conclusion, Warren’s experiences are an excellent case study to use when discussing intercultural communication theories. His experiences highlight the importance of attribution theory, acculturation, and cultural adaptation when travelling to new places and also provide context to explain the common concepts of culture shock and ethnocentrism. His experiences show the importance of not only making the effort to experience cultures unlike your own but also the importance of having an open mind when doing so in order to make the most of the learning opportunities that the diverse world has to offer.

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