Chapter 2: Global Engagement and Culture

2.1 Introduction


Learning Objectives

After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

  • Identify your cultural identity.
  • Understand how culture, identity, and diversity are related.
  • Explain the role of Intercultural Communication in today’s global environment.
  • Demonstrate conflict management strategies in a global society.
  • Know where to go to find more information on study abroad opportunities at Indiana State University.

To explain the world’s population to young children, David J. Smith (2011) asked children to imagine the world as a small village. In 2016, The 100 People Project reconfigured the world’s population since Smith and represented the world again as 100 people, where one imaginary person represents the population from the real world. Using a model like this, we can also examine what nationalities make up the world’s population, what languages they speak, how old they are, and how wealth and education are globally distributed. (Simple version, Detailed version)

In the village, of the people old enough to read, 14 cannot read at all. Only 7 villagers would have earned a college degree. The poorest 11 villagers live on less than $1.90 USD per day. And the first spoken language would be Chinese.

Moreover, the people with less money are also less likely to have electricity and education. Besides simple cultural differences such as language or food preferences, cultural identity impacts individuals’ accessibility to certain resources such as shelter, electricity, running water, health care, education, and political and legal systems.

If we return to viewing the United States as a global village we find the following information by Kuzoian in the 2016 Business Insider article, “The United State as 100 People”:

  • 51 Women and 49 Men
  • 23 are under age 18, 63 are between 16 and 65, and 14 are over 65
  • 62 are Caucasian, 17 Hispanic/ Latino, 13 are Black,  5 Asian, 2 Multiracial, and 1 Native American
  • 16 are immigrants, 8 are children of immigrants, 76 are third generation Americans
  • 80 speak English at home
  • 71 are Christian
  • 80 are urban and 20 rural
  • 56 have pets (31 cats/ 37 dogs)
  • 92 have cell phones (68 have smart phones and 34 have iPhones)
  • 29 have Bachelors degrees
  • 10 people control 77% of the household wealth

Think about culture and communication as a reciprocal process: culture affects communication and communication affect culture. Both work together to shape how we identify as belonging to one culture or another, how we feel about belonging to a particular cultural group, how we communicate with other cultural groups, and how that group is regarded in the larger social system. As you will see, this is often a reflection of the language used to refer to a particular group of people or the relative value placed on their communication practices. In the U.S., political and economic power is not equally distributed among cultures. We can see this power imbalance reflected in various linguistic practices such as the dominance of English, terms used to refer to different groups of people, and lack of bilingual signs or documents.


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