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Week 2 Conflict and Conflict Resolution as Cultural Activities
The Value of “Failures” (Thomas and Inkson)
Finding an opportunity for self-knowledge
Discovering what makes us feel threatened or uncomfortable
Accepting our limited knowledge of others
Recognizing how distinctive different groups can be
Accepting that the bumps on the road to cultural adjustment can keep us awake
Appreciating that building real relationship across boundaries takes us beyond our
comfort zones
Reason to Engage Cross Culturally
Concern: Culture is an important factor in ethnoreligious strife and other forms of
identity conflict
Pragmatism: Realities of cultural diversity raise questions: How universal can CR
practices be?
Respect: Listening to voices that often go unheard. Avoiding “cultural imperialism”
Empowerment: Meeting people where they are at. Need for “culturally appropriate”
Learning: Cultural encounters are opportunities for mutual enrichment, cross fertilization,
and personal growth
Ideas to Explore
CR as cultural activity
Culture as a resource
Cultural empathy as a value and analytical tool
Cultural humility as a source of wisdom and creativity
Cultural intelligence/competence as a goal and process
Culture is...
Shared mental programs that condition individuals’ responses to their environment
Not just a set of surface behaviors, it is deeply embedded
The values, attitudes, and assumptions about behaviour that are shared by people in
specific groups
Augsburger: Applying Cultural Analysis to Conflict
Universal: Conflict as a sign of human energy, evidence of human urgency, competitive
striving for the same goals, rights and resources
Cultural: Each culture develops it repertoire of conflict behaviours, its hierarchy of
values, its code of laws
Individual: Each person ranks even commonly held values with different degrees of
importance. Each person is multicultural in identity
Thomas and Inkson
Personality (specific to individuals and inherited and learned)
o Shallowest level
o Based on the specific genetic makeup and personal experiences that make each of
us a unique individual
o Because of personality, each of us has many behaviours and understandings that
are quite different from those of others, even though we’re from the same culture.
Culture (specific to groups, learned)
o Middle level
o Based on common experiences that we share with a particular group of our fellow
human beings
o Cultural values, attitudes, and assumption about proper behaviour give us
something in common with a definable group of others, but no with all of the,.
Human Nature (biological and universal)
o the deepest level
o based on common biological reactions such as hunger, sex drive, and nurturing of
the young, that all member of the human race have in common.
o because of human nature there are many behaviours and understandings that all
people share, even though they come from difference cultures
Cultural Intelligence (Thomas and Inkson). This mean being skilled and flexible about
understanding culture, learning more about it from your ongoing interactions with it, and
gradually reshaping your thinking to be more sympathetic to the culture and developing your
behaviour to be more skilled and appropriate when interacting with others from the culture.
There are three parts of cultural intelligence:
o Of the culture and of fundamental principles of cross-cultural interactions
o Knowing what culture is, how cultures vary, and how culture affects behaviour
o Based on knowledge and mindfulness
o Develop cross-cultural skills and become competent across a wide range of
situations. Involves choosing the appropriate behaviour from a well-developed
repertoire of behaviours that are correct for different intercultural situations.
o Practice mindfulness
o The ability to pay attention in a reflective and creative way to cues in the cross-
cultural situations encountered and to one’s own knowledge and feelings
Cross-cultural CR as an Odyssey: Danger that lie Ahead
Culture blindness: “Didn’t think of that”
Fragile efforts at inclusion: “Let’s not talk about our differences.”
Presumptuous universalism” “All people should express themselves, make meaning, and
do things more or less the same way I do.”
Self-serving comparison: the stereotypical “other”
Intellectual shortcuts: “cultural monolith” misconceptions, neglect of personality
differences and multiple group affiliations, static conceptions of culture
Relativism as an absolute: “There is no common ground.”
Worthy Goals
Cultural Awareness: deeper understanding of conflict and relationships
Cultural Competence: preparedness to work with culture
New Learning: cross-cultural insights into human experiences of conflict and