Intercultural Communication: Definition, Functions, and Forms

Intercultural communication is a process of communication that occurs between people who have different cultures, be it different races, ethnicities, socio-economics, or a combination of all these differences. Intercultural communication continues to grow, especially when humans can freely communicate because of technological developments.

Culture is a way of life that develops and is embraced by the community and continues from generation to generation. Communication that is established because of differences is the result of diversity, experiences, values, and also perspectives from each culture. Hamid Mowlana said that intercultural communication is a human flow across national boundaries . Meanwhile, Fred E. Jandt said that intercultural communication is a face-to-face interaction between people who have differences in their culture.

Definition of Intercultural Communication

Guo-Ming Chen and William J. Sartosa said that intercultural communication is a process of negotiation or exchange of symbolic systems that guide human behavior and limit them in carrying out their functions as a group. Furthermore, intercultural communication is carried out by:

  1. By negotiating to involve humans in intercultural meetings which also discuss a theme that is being contested. The symbol itself does not have a meaning but it can mean something in a context and that meaning is negotiated or fought for.
  2. Through the exchange of symbol systems that depend on agreement between the subjects involved in the communication, a decision is made to participate in the process of assigning the same meaning.
  3. As a guide a cultural behavior that is not programmed but useful because it has an influence on our behavior.
  4. Shows the function of a group so that we can distinguish ourselves from other groups and identify with various ways.

In addition, the study of intercultural communication is rooted in several other scientific studies, such as sociolinguistics, sociology, cultural anthropology, and psychology. Of the four scientific studies, psychology is the main reference in explaining cross-cultural communication, especially cross-cultural psychology.

The Role of Language in Intercultural Communication

Communication that occurs between cultures is often heard. This is because their different culture or lifestyle will create misunderstandings between the two individuals. Thus, it is necessary to have something that can reduce the level of misunderstanding between the two individuals so that conflict does not occur. It can be found in both verbal and nonverbal language.

The Nature of Intercultural Communication

There are several kinds of the nature of intercultural communication, namely:

1. Enculturation

Enculturation refers to the process by which culture or culture is transmitted from one generation to the next. We can learn culture, not inherit it. Culture is transmitted through learning, not through genes. And for parents, groups, friends, schools, religious institutions, and government agencies are the main teachers in the field of culture.

2. Acculturation

Acculturation refers to the process by which one’s culture is modified through contact or direct exposure to other cultures.

Intercultural Communication Function

1. Personal Functions

Personal function is a communication function that is shown through communication behavior originating from an individual. Here’s the identity on the private function:

a. Declare Social Identity

In the process of intercultural communication there are several individual communication behaviors that can be used to express social identity. The behavior is expressed through language actions both verbally and non-verbally.

It is from language behavior that self and social identity can be known, for example, one can know the origin of one’s ethnicity, religion, or level of education.

b. Declare Social Integration

The essence of the concept of social integration is accepting unity and unity between individuals, between groups but still recognizing the differences that each element has. And it should also be understood that one of the goals of communication is to give the same meaning to the message that is shared between the communicator and the communicant.

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In the case of intercultural communication involving cultural differences between the communicator and the communicant, social integration is the main goal of communication. And the main principle in the process of exchanging intercultural communication messages is that I treat you as your culture treats you and not as I wish. In this way communicators and communicants can increase the social integration of their relationships.

c. Increase knowledge

Often in interpersonal and intercultural communication we gain shared knowledge, learn from each other’s culture.

d. Escape

Sometimes we communicate with other people to escape or find a way out of the problems we are facing. We call such communication choices functioning as communication to create complementary and symmetrical relationships. Complementary relations are always carried out by two parties having different behaviors.

Behavior in a person functions as a complementary behavioral stimulus from another. In a complementary relationship, the difference between the two parties is maximized. Conversely, a symmetrical relationship is carried out by two people who mirror each other’s behavior.

2. Social Functions

a. Supervision Social Function

The first social function is supervision. The practice of intercultural communication between communicators and communicants of different cultures functions to supervise one another. In any process of intercultural communication this function is useful for informing “developments” about the environment.

This function is mostly carried out by the mass media which routinely disseminates the development of events that occur around us even though the events occur in a different cultural context.

b. Bridge

In the process of intercultural communication, the communication function carried out between two people of different cultures is a bridge for the differences between them.

The bridging function can be controlled through the messages they exchange, the two of them will explain each other’s different interpretations of a message so as to produce the same meaning. This function is carried out by various communication contexts including mass communication.

c. Value Socialization

The function of socialization is a function to teach and introduce the cultural values ​​of a society to other people.

d. Entertain

The entertaining function also often appears in the process of intercultural communication. For example watching traditional dances. This entertainment is included in the category of intercultural entertainment.

3. Expressing Social Identity

With intercultural communication, the individual can show his own social identity.

4. Expressing Social Integration

Intercultural communication can unite and unite between individuals in these interactions.

5. Increase Knowledge

Intercultural communication can also provide new insights, even insights that the individual has never known.

6. Relationship Interaction

In addition, intercultural communication can also create complementary and harmonious relationships.

Principles of Intercultural Communication

1. Relativity of Language

It is the general idea that language influences thinking as well as behavior that has been voiced most by linguistic anthropologists. In the late 1920’s and throughout the 1930’s, it was proposed that language characteristics influence the cognitive processing of words.

Because the world’s languages ​​differ so much in terms of their semantic characteristics and structure, it seems reasonable to say that people who speak different languages ​​will also differ in how they perceive and think about the world.

2. Language as a Mirror of Culture

Language certainly reflects a culture. The greater the cultural differences, the more visible the differences in communication, both in language and in non-verbal cues. The greater the differences between cultures, the more difficult it is to communicate.

3. Reducing Ambiguity Between Cultures

Do you know Sinaumed’s, the greater the differences between cultures, the greater the uncertainty and ambiguity in a communication. Much of our communication seeks to reduce this uncertainty so that we can better describe, predict, and explain the behavior of others.

Due to greater uncertainty and ambiguity, it takes more time and effort to reduce uncertainty and to communicate more meaningfully.

4. Differences Between Cultures

The greater the differences between cultures, the greater the self-awareness of the participants during the communication. This has both positive and negative consequences. On the plus side, this self-awareness may make us more alert. it prevents us from saying things that might feel insensitive or inappropriate. And the negative, of course, this will make us too careful, not spontaneous, and lack confidence.

5. Early Interaction and Differences Between Cultures

Cross-cultural differences are particularly important in early interactions and gradually diminish in importance as relationships become more intimate. Although we always face the possibility of misperceptions and misjudgments of others, this possibility is especially great in situations of intercultural communication.

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6. Maximizing Interaction Results

In intercultural communication as in all communication, we certainly try to maximize the outcome of the interaction. The three consequences discussed by Sunnafrank (1989) suggest important implications for intercultural communication. For example, people will interact with other people who they think will lead to positive results.

This is because intercultural communication is difficult, and maybe Sinaumed’s will avoid it. Thus, for example, Sinaumed’s will choose to talk to classmates who have a lot in common with you rather than people who are very different.

Second, if we get positive results, we continue to engage and improve our communications. When we get negative results, we start to withdraw and communicate less.

Third, if we make predictions about the meaning of our behavior that will produce positive results. In communication, Sinaumed’s tries to predict the outcome of, for example, the choice of topic, the position you take, the nonverbal behavior you display, and so on. Then, Sinaumed’s can do what you think will give a positive result and try not to do what you think will give a negative result.

Forms of Intercultural Communication

Intercultural communication certainly has its forms. The following forms of intercultural communication, namely:

1. International Communications

International Communications or international communication is a form of intercultural communication that occurs between two or more countries. This form can be seen from various kinds of diplomacy and propaganda activities which are often related to intercultural or intercultural and interracial or interracial conditions.

This form of communication tends to be related to the interests of a country with other countries which include economic, political, defense and other issues.

2. Interracial Communication

Interracial communication or interracial communication is a form of communication that occurs when there is an interaction or communication process between individuals or groups of different races. This form of communication has the main characteristic that the communicant and communicator come from different races. Race itself is a classification of a group of individuals based on biological characteristics.

3. Inter-Ethnic Communication

Interethnic communication or Interethnic Communication is a form of communication in which the communication process comes from different ethnicities. Ethnic groups are groups of people characterized by a common language and origin. Therefore, inter-ethnic communication is intercultural communication.

Factors Occurrence of Intercultural Communication

In the occurrence of intercultural communication there are several factors, namely:

1. Mobility

Travel from one country to another is no longer a special thing, or activities like this have become common activities carried out by the community. This happens because of the lucrative business opportunities and guaranteed education. So that there was widespread mobility and there were various cultures that united in one area.

2. Economy

Economic factors also affect the existence of intercultural communication. As an example, the country of Indonesia which has a developing economy will experience dependence on countries that have a high level of economy. Thus, there was a transfer of work and there was a unification of the culture within

Technology has been growing rapidly lately. So that technology is also able to bring a broad culture into an area that can influence the nation’s culture. Therefore, technology is able to make intercultural communication easier and more practical. Even sooner or later, technology can have an impact on cultural exchange on a large scale.

4. Immigration

It’s not strange anymore, when we walk in our own house, we see strangers around us. This happened because of immigration activities for an interest. Thus, there was a unification of culture or commonly known as acculturation. Acculturation causes intercultural communication.

5. Politics

Political interests also contribute to the impact of the emergence of intercultural communication. Like when the Arab King visited Indonesia, or vice versa, when President Jokowi visited Australia. It is this country visit that brings intercultural communication.


Benefits of Studying Intercultural Communication

Unlike the case with intercultural communication. Communication that lies in a person’s lifestyle or way of life is different and often creates misunderstandings between individuals when communicating. So, we need to study this intercultural communication.

If we want to learn this intercultural communication, then we will get benefits in communicating. It’s like when we meet people whose lifestyle is different from ours. This is so that misunderstandings and even disputes do not occur when communicating with that person.

Then another benefit that we can get is when our position as a third person sees two people fighting because their communication misunderstood each other. So, that’s where we can become a bridge between the two until the misunderstanding is over.

If Sinaumed’s is interested in studying intercultural communication, you can read books as additional knowledge and information that you can get at . As #FriendsWithoutLimits, we always give our best so that you have #MoreWithReading information.