There have always been thinkers going from the great Greek philosophers, such as Plato, Socrates and Aristotle, to the more modern ones such as Nietzsche and ET Hall. In this class we studied some of these more modern great thinkers and their philosophies. The three greater names we studied were ET Hall, David Pinto and Geert Hofstede. Before I go deeper on this subject, I think it is important to define what a great thinker is. According to the dictionary a thinker is someone who considers important subjects or produces new ideas, such as philosophers, theorists or scholars. In other words a great thinker is someone who has made an impact on society with their theories or philosophies of that what they considered or studied.
The first great thinker we discussed was E T Hall or Edward Twitchell Hall, an American anthropologist, who is remembered for his social and cultural theories, such as the Iceberg Metaphor. This metaphor shows a cruise ship sailing close to the iceberg for a look at this foreign territory. Part of the iceberg is immediately visible; part of it emerges and submerges with the tides, and its foundations go deep beneath the surface. The metaphor was developed for intercultural communication and relations, however, we used the theory for interpersonal and cross-cultural communication. The metaphor is used to show that we can always only see a small part of a society or person (everything above the water) and that we will never truly know what lies beneath the water.
A second theory Hall is known for is his theory around high and low context. This theory states that high context are groups or societies where people have close connections over a long period of time. Because of this most members will know what to do in specific contexts and there will be no need for certain rules to be made explicit. Low context on the other hand refers to societies where people tend to have many connections but of shorter duration or for some specific reason. In these societies, cultural behaviour and beliefs may need to be spelled out explicitly so that those coming into the cultural environment know how to behave.
Both of these theories were for me very understandable and clear. Of course I had already heard of the Iceberg metaphor, as it is an often used metaphor in the spoonie culture (the culture for people with chronic illness linked to heavy chronic pain, such as lupus, myastenia gravia and fibromyalgie). It’s also a metaphor in which I can really find myself. You will never truly know what a person feels or thinks, because you will never think exactly the same or feel exactly the same. The second theory was in my eyes a bit more of a way to explain and specify cultural and social differences, so of course it was harder to link it personal.
The second thinker we talked about was Geert Hofstede. Here we focused on his six cultural dimensions. These dimensions are: Power Distance Index (PDI), Individualism versus Collectivism (IDV), Masculinity versus Femininity (MAS), Masculinity versus Femininity (MAS), Long Term Orientation versus Short Term Normative Orientation
(LTO)Long Term Orientation versus Short Term Normative Orientation (LTO) and Indulgence versus Restraint (IND). This theory focuses on how values in the workplace are influenced by culture.
Overall I liked the idea behind Geert Hofstede’s theory and it was certainly interesting to read about, but I feel like it is a bit too theoretical to put into works in real life.
The third and last thinker we talked about was David Pinto. He described “Fine Meshed” and “Coarse Meshed” cultures and developed a Three-Step-Method on problems in intercultural communication. This Three-Step- method refers to obstacles that impede
effective communication. Although I was interested in the three-step-method I doubt that anyone would actively think about using it in a real-life situation.
To sum up I found this a really interesting class that certainly makes a person think. I do think, however, that very few of these metaphors and theories will be actively used in real life. They are in my eyes good for a better understanding of communication, but not necessarily for real-life use.