Responsibilities of The Federal Communications Commission
In addition, one of the responsibilities of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is to ensure that individuals or groups do not behave in an obscene manner on television. Wh en TV broadcasts do include content that is classified by the FCC as obscene, profane, or ind ecent, the FCC has the legal authority to levy a fine or even revoke a television station’s lice nse. The threat of such punishments prompts many stations (especially those that air live b
roadcasts with potentially controversial material, such as MTV’s Video Music Awards) to us e a 5- or 10- second delay. This delay allows the station to censor itself before profanity or nudity is bro adcast to viewers. The dominant culture of a society, then, can exert a great deal of pressur e on those co- cultures it perceives as being troublesome or possibly deviant, so much so that the co- culture may begin to self-regulate to prevent punishment from the dominant culture.
In the U.S., for example, refusing to shake someone’s hand in a professional setting can be vi ewed as deeply offensive. However, many Muslim men and women living in the U.S. do not engage in physical contact with the opposite sex; thus, they must regulate their own co- cultural practices to prevent negative repercussions, especially in the workplace (Gibbs, 20 17; Jafar, 2017). Some regulatory nonverbal behaviors people in that situation have used in clude handing a business card, or faking a sneeze (Jafar, 2017; Hareem, 2013). In situations where co- culture practices differ from dominant culture customs, members of the dominant culture c an take the opportunity to educate themselves, for instance, by learning alternative ways of greeting, such as placing a hand on one’s heart or bowing (Gibbs, 2017; Jafar, 2017).
How Do Cultures Differ From One Another? Cultural Dimensions
Cultural researchers provide several lenses through which we may study and compare cult ures. Here we examine Hofstede’s dimensions of culture, Hall’s concept of low- and high- context in culture, and then time orientation.
Dimensions of Culture
While working at the international technology company IBM, social psychologist Geert Hofs tede studied variations in 100,000 company employees across 50 different countries spann ing three geographical regions. This research resulted in five cultural dimensions, or how in dividuals’ cultural memberships impact their values, in which countries differed from one a nother:
- individualism/collectivism 2. power distance 3. uncertainty avoidance 4. long- and short-term orientation 5. masculinity/femininity (Hofstede, 2001)
Each country received a score for each dimension, and that score represented how close to one end of the continuum the country was. It is important to note that these scores refer to the country’s dominant cultural dimensions and that individual differences do exist within g roups. You can see all countries’ scores using Hofstede Insights’ country comparison tool av ailable at https://www.hofstede-insights.com. Individualism/collectivism, Hofstede’s first dimension, considers the extent to which count ries value the individual and personal rights versus the community and the public good. In i ndividualistic cultures, there is a tendency to focus on individual rights, identity, and achiev ements. The United States, for example, is an individualistic culture. Members of collectivist
ic cultures, however, focus more on group obligations, identity, and concerns. Collectivistic cultures such as China, Costa Rica, and Indonesia tend to value a strong sense of group iden tity and promote group goals and values. We will return to the concepts of individualism an d collectivism later in this chapter.
Power distance exists on a continuum ranging from high to low and refers to the degree to which a culture emphasizes inequality differences between communicators, affecting overa ll communication behaviors and cultural norms. Consider the relationship between a mana ger and her subordinate. In a high power distance society, the “power” dynamic between th e two would heavily influence how they communicate with one another, and the power diff erential would be at the forefront of both of their minds when they interact. In a low power distance culture, the manager and subordinate would communicate freely and with little th ought of their power differences, as if they were coworkers of more equal status. Research has examined how non- U.S. exchange students in the U.S. perceive relationships between students and teachers in t he U.S. These international students found their U.S. relationships to be very casual and info rmal in the U.S.’s lower power distance society, contrary to the high power distance dynami cs they experienced at home (Wilson, 1993). Think about how you feel when you are unsure if you will get a job you interviewed for or h ow you feel when you send a text to your friend that he may get mad at you about. How co mfortable do you feel waiting without “knowing with certainty”? Uncertainty avoidance ref ers to the degree to which individuals of a culture tolerate the negative feelings associated with ambiguity, or a society’s reaction to the unknown (Minkov & Hofstede, 2014). In high uncertainty avoidance countries—such as Finland and Germany— by having more rules, one will be able to predict what will happen, thus reducing any uncer tainty and associated negative feelings (Minkov & Hofstede, 2014). On the other hand, in lo w uncertainty avoidance countries, such as Jamaica, India, and South Africa, individuals are more comfortable with the unknown, with new innovations, and with unstructured days at work or school. Long- and short-
term orientation refers to how focused a country is on values related to either the past and present (short-term orientation) or the future (long-term orientation). Long- term oriented countries—such as China and South Korea— tend to value tradition and emphasize that efforts be put toward long-term goals. This long- term orientation is focused on status differences in relationships, perseverance, shame, and frugality (Hofstede & Minkov, 2010). Children are raised to “not expect immediate gratifica tion of their desires” (Hofstede & Minkov, 2010, p. 497). In moderately oriented countries —or normative cultures— traditions are maintained, though not as strongly focused on. Change is accepted, though ov er time and with suspicion, such as in Sweden, Poland, and the U.S. In short- term oriented countries—such as Pakistan, Nigeria, and Canada— children are taught to keep up with societal images of normality and stability, but also to va lue individuality and reaching one’s goals (Hofstede & Minkov, 2010). A core difference to identify in long- and short- term orientated cultures are the differing vi ews of aging. In long-term oriented cultures, old age is viewed more positively— people are more joyful about becoming old and do not seek to avoid aging (Hofstede & Min
kov, 2010). On the other hand, in short- term oriented cultures, old age is perceived more negatively and people attempt to prevent aging. Because of this, individuals communicate differently with older generations in each culture. A common interpersonal communication phenomenon in short- term cultures is “elderspeak” in which younger individuals speak slowly to aging adults, re peating themselves and using fewer words (Kemper, Ferrell, Harden, Finter- Urczyk, & Billington, 1998). Older adults perceive this as patronizing and dehumanizing (Si mpson, n.d.).