I found a good description, I prefer not to say “definition” since it is too serious, on the website.
Intercultural communication can be defined as any interpersonal interaction between persons belonging to different cultural or social groups, which differ from one another because of diverse backgrounds, communication and linguistic behaviors, communication interpretations, word meanings, and communication styles. Intercultural communication interactions include both verbal and nonverbal messages. Intercultural communication is dynamic because the process is always changing and evolving. This means one must continually improve and update intercultural communication skills and cultural knowledge.
Neighborhood is surely a place for intercultural communication. In some community which contains many immigrants from different cultural backgrounds, people are facing intercultural communication everyday.
Context is important to understanding culture. Context is a basis of identity and power. It influences the community most. Power and context are important force to shape the community culture. Context is the basis of the community culture. Power and identity affects how it develops. For example, in the Phillips Community, we can find buildings of different architectural styles; we can find houses with different decorations. Although the residents of the Phillips Community mainly were white people, the community is not like a normal white community. It has three churches, in which one is Spanish church, one is Italian church and one is Indian church. From the website of the Oregon State University, I found:
Contexts of communication are best thought of as a way to focus on certain communication processes and effects. Communication context boundaries are fluid. Thus, we can see interpersonal and group communication in organizations. Gender communication occurs whenever people of different sexes communicate. We can have mass communications to individuals, group, and organizations.
Using communication contexts as a means to help us study communication helps us out of problems some people associate with the intrapersonal context (some say the “so-called” intrapersonal context). Some people facetiously say intrapersonal communication exists when someone talks to themselves. It’s more accurate to define intrapersonal communication as thinking. While thinking normally falls within the purview of psychology we can recognize that we often think, plan, contemplate, and strategize about communication past, present, and future. It is legitimate to study the cognitive aspects of communication processes. So, even if some people call those cognitive aspects of communication thinking, it can be helpful to allow the context of intrapersonal communication to exist, thereby legitimating an avenue of communication research.
From quotations above, we draw a conclusion that context is an extremely important factor which has a huge influence on communication.
Cultural spaces define the boundary of a community. Every community has its own cultural space. I don’t think it will be a good idea to take the community and cultural space separately since they are so closely related. In addition, we can not talk about and understand cultural space if we take it away from the background. I found an interesting article about cultural space. Here is some abstraction:
In both the German and US literature on ethnic neighbourhoods, there is considerable debate as to whether living amongst co-ethnics hinders or furthers the integration process for immigrants. Using the detailed data on immigrant integration in the German Socio-economic Panel in combination with zip-code-level data on minority concentration and neighbourhood income levels, the research tests the extent to which ethnic neighbourhoods are economically, socially and/or culturally isolated spaces in Germany. The findings indicate that, although general neighbourhood quality is lower for minorities living within ethnic neighbourhoods, these persons are no more culturally isolated from Germans than their counterparts living outside these areas. Further, minorities living within ethnic neighbourhoods appear no more likely to maintain ties to their country of origin culture than those living outside ethnic neighbourhoods. This suggests that the correlation between social and spatial integration, assumed in much of the immigrant integration literature, requires more careful scrutiny.
From the abstraction above, we can easily see that there actually exist many different cultural spaces. But they are not independent. The cultural spaces of different cultural backgrounds can make up a brand new cultural space, which is a composition of various cultures but with a same core culture.
Culture gives the biggest influence on communication. In Tracy Novinger’s article, she gave out a clear explanation of this influence:
Communication specialists estimate that some two-thirds to three-fourths of our communication takes place nonverbally through behavior. Behavior itself is learned from our culture and all behavior communicates. Since we cannot stop behaving in one way or another, we cannot stop communicating. Therefore, during all of the waking hours that we spend with other human beings we “speak” volumes through the behavior our culture drilled into us. In addition, it is certainly possible to learn the most significant rules for behavior prescribed by a foreign culture so that we ourselves can communicate more effectively, as well as better interpret what someone is trying to communicate to us.
We always say that culture shapes communication. Communication is easier for people who are with the same cultural background. In the article Culture and Communication – The Relationship Between Communication and Culture, Characteristics of Culture, Glimpses of Culture, the author describes the relationship between culture and communication.
The relationship between communication and culture is a very complex and intimate one. First, cultures are created through communication; that is, communication is the means of human interaction through which cultural characteristics— whether customs, roles, rules, rituals, laws, or other patterns—are created and shared. It is not so much that individuals set out to create a culture when they interact in relationships, groups, organizations, or societies, but rather that cultures are a natural by-product of social interaction. In a sense, cultures are the “residue” of social communication. Without communication and communication media, it would be impossible to preserve and pass along cultural characteristics from one place and time to another. One can say, therefore, that culture is created, shaped, transmitted, and learned through communication. The reverse is also the case; that is, communication practices are largely created, shaped, and transmitted by culture.
To understand the implications of this communication-culture relationship, it is necessary to think in terms of ongoing communication processes rather than a single communication event. For example, when a three-person group first meets, the members bring with them individual thought and behavioral patterns from previous communication experiences and from other cultures of which they are, or have been, a part. As individuals start to engage in communication with the other members of this new group, they begin to create a set of shared experiences and ways of talking about them. If the group continues to interact, a set of distinguishing history, patterns, customs, and rituals will evolve. Some of these cultural characteristics would be quite obvious and tangible, such that a new person joining the group would encounter ongoing cultural “rules” to which they would learn to conform through communication. New members would in turn influence the group culture in small, and sometimes large, ways as they become a part of it. In a reciprocal fashion, this reshaped culture shapes the communication practices of current and future group members. This is true with any culture; communication shapes culture, and culture shapes communication.
I think culture may have a great influence on individuals. People are not born but educated to be who they are. If one’s brought up in a certain culture, he will not be able to get rid of the influence of that. The way in which we thinking, talking and behaving is affected a lot by the culture.
Overall, intercultural communication is affected by cultures, contexts, identities, power. It is easy to feel the relationship between them but hard to define what the relationship is exactly. Anyway, we can understand it by observation. That helps us to do research on this respect.
Oregon State University: http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/theory/contexts.html
Intercommunication Blog: http://culturespan.blogspot.com/2008/01/how-culture-affects-communication.html
Sage Journals: http://usj.sagepub.com/content/41/8/1423.abstract
Online Encyclopedia: http://encyclopedia.jrank.org/articles/pages/6491/Culture-and-Communication.html