Culture involves the way people live, work, their thoughts and perceptions of the world. Intercultural communication is a symbolic, interpretive, and contextual process in which the degree of difference between people is large and important enough to create dissimilar interpretations and expectations about what are regarded as competent behaviors that should be used to create shared meanings. A good American and East Asian relationship is important to people on both sides of the ocean because of the grand potential for trade.
The degree of difference between people is important in that here is where the confrontations begin, here is where international disagreements begin, here is where wars begin, and here is where the loss of soldiers in war begins. Trade disagreements, and cultural disagreements and any other kind of perceptional difference could potentially cause something so devastating that words cannot describe what the fate of the world could be.
With the onset of communication in the 19th century the tension was immense, tomorrows technology could be the worlds greatest gift, yet if the world is not mature enough to utilize it, it could also be the worlds greatest devastation. It is important to reflect on national and cultural identity to understand what is different among people of different nations. History teaches that culture always changes because of internal or external influences; even our own cultures and values change over time.
Our world today is a world in which people from different nations and cultures are getting closer and closer because of economic and political reasons. Because cultures are becoming closer, communication is the most important quality for anyone to enhance if they want to work in the international society. The history of communication and the relationships that were formed in the early part of worldwide communication still reflect the relationships held between nations today. The question is how have cultural differences evolved more closely or farther apart as communication increased?
Although many things have indeed changed in individual cultures and values, the knowledge of how international relations work today can only be learned from studying that of yesterday. At the turn of the century the worlds wide gap began closing because of technological advances, which scattered products of civilization and shortened the wide distance between men. Asia seemed very close because of great modern inventions, however the feeling of closeness was only on communications terms.
Culturally the effect of new communication between two very different cultures brought about a very complicated result. American influence was nominal at the end of the nineteenth century as compared to the twentieth. The awareness of Western ideas trickled into Asia as imperialism became more pronounced via technological advances. During this time (end of the nineteenth century) the awareness of Western strength induced people to think more about international relations (Asian and American.
When this occurred in the Western powers consciousness, men realized the fact of racial and cultural diversity. Because of communication and a closer feeling to unknown civilizations, the strength of America began to realize that life in one part of the world is no longer inconsequential to life on the other side of the world. New stories of the emergence of civilization arose, the best qualities of mankind differed and total different lives were lived. How could two different truths exist on one planet with such a newfound closeness?
The answer is some accepted the closeness and some did not. The history of communication and the relationships that were formed in the early stages of world communication still reflect the relationships held between nations today. Before the invention of the telegraph, communication could only travel at the speed of the person carrying it. From the moment the technology was first discovered until today, cultures have become closer, relationships between countries have become either stronger or weaker, some countries became more Westernized, some did not.
The importance of American international communication began with the first telegraph transmission and still has not ended with the last e-mail that was sent. The importance of studying the first spark in the communication revolution will help determine todays American international relations as they began and future possibilities of alliances. Culture Culture is the art, literature, music and other intellectual expression of a particular society or time (Crowther, 285). Culture involves how people live, how they think, and their perceptions of the world.
A cultural change would include a change of how a person views their place in the world. Intercultural communication is a symbolic, interpretive, transactional, contextual process in which the degree of difference between people is large and important enough to create dissimilar interpretations and expectations about what are regarded as competent behaviors that should be used to create shared meanings (Koester, 93). Cross-cultural communication is the study of a particular idea or concept within many cultures to compare one culture to another on the aspect of interest.
While intercultural communication involves interactions among people from different cultures, cross-cultural communication involves a comparison of interactions among people from the same culture to those from another (Koester, 95). The following is a discussion in the aspect of interaction between nations and cultures when they first encountered each other (via new technological communication of the late 19th century. ) Development of international communication Today many tendencies are apparently different in the values of those in Japanese society as compared to the late nineteenth century.
Values on social relationships increased rather than declined, less value is placed on broad societal concerns, more emphasis on personal feelings and mood, and less value is placed on efficiency and work and more on the balance between work and leisure (Keeplinger 48). The influence of American culture is obvious; the culture of America has influenced the wider culture more than being affected by it. The Asian culture was a self-contained culture; they had their own defined social principles in the realm of human relations, government responsibilities, and moral codes.
China was the traditional alley down which the Chinese developed their perceptions of the world (Iriye 34). Before communication was available to the world, Asian officials tended to generalize their opinions about the United States. At the time of the Opium War, Chinese officials felt that American merchants were good barbarians (Iriye 35). It is necessary to note the importance of Americans in the formation of the Chinese view of the United States.
Permanent communications were not established until the late 1870s, and contact with foreigners in China was often the only way through which the Chinese further developed their perceptions of the world. Today, much of Asia is underdeveloped, but a number of important exceptions exist. Japan has successfully modernized its economy, as have Taiwan, South Korea, and Singapore. The majority of the continent’s population is employed in agriculture characterized by low yields and low labor productivity. Rice is the food-staple crop of the south and east, although wheat and other dry grains are also grown, and exported to other countries.
In Asia’s drier interior regions, the raising of cattle, sheep, and horses are important. Lumbering is an important industry in most Southeast Asian countries. Marine fisheries are extremely important throughout coastal Asia. Japan is the world’s leading fishing country, and China follows closely. Mining also is an important activity in most Asian countries; petroleum is the most important mineral export. Many areas have petroleum resources, but Southwest Asia contains the largest reserves. The comparative advances in Asia sets an excellent base for determining the benefits of communication.
This fact is proven in the success of America. The United States also has a wide range of natural advances that sets it apart from the rest of the world. Most of Americas success can be attributed to the fact that if they had to, with the resources available in the country, America could subsist on their own (of course we would miss the Swiss chocolate, and German BMWs! ) China has the natural strength to grow, yet even with natural strength- healthy foreign relations are an essential. China, in the majority of examples, did not allow foreign influences to penetrate their culture.
Their policy was the preservation of the faith and the state in effect leading to the underdevelopment of much of the region (Iriye 40). The statement earlier said if they had to. . . America could subsist on their own is a statement that must be read into. If America must, their strength is grand enough to allow them to survive. However, Americans recognized the importance of using the world community to their benefit, rather than seeing them as ghastly barbarians. Japan, on the other hand, did allow American influence to penetrate them, and the influence on Japanese culture is overwhelming.
Not only is Japan today a prominent state and affected by American influence, Hong Kong has British influence, and the multitude of other examples with Western influence and advanced features. As research goes on American attitudes and perceptions of the rest of the world in mid-nineteenth century, those enlightened regarded the notion of human nature different everywhere (Heyer, 64). Within the intellectual circles of America, Charles Darwins evolutionary ideas about the history of civilization, religious beliefs, and evolution of man contributed to certain concepts regarding other cultures.
Therefore, based on a type of social evolution, which is parallel to human evolution, a sequence of societal development appears: from savagery to barbarism, civilization, hunting, pastoralism, agriculture, and ultimately commerce (Heyer, 64). The bizarre behavior of the unknown tended to be regarded as primitive, therefore inferior (yet still human, at least! ). Although Americans were unsure of moral issues about the Non-Western society, there is no denying the fact that money speaks sense in a language all nations can understand.
Good American and East Asian relations were important to Americans because Asia was a potential market. Ending Asian isolation was a frequent theme in public policy statements. Also, it seemed just for Asian countries to be brought into contact with the advanced countries of the West (Iriye, 17). After all, America was the embodiment of perfection, and the satisfaction of going to such a primitive, underdeveloped, and distant land as an advisor and teacher would reap the benefits of great achievement. . . Right?? America meets new countries Today, there is an obvious occurrence affecting the diversity of world cultures.
Also, today the influence from other cultures is natural and expected because the world is so small. Imagine how large the global village was in the nineteenth centuryit was huge, and America was very far away from the other inhabitants. It was not such an expected thing to maintain contact with the family one left behind if they immigrated to America, which, in turn, led to the development of one American culture. This pre-communication American culture expected to live happily alone, and was not too interested in becoming the biggest power in the world. Then came easy communication.
At first, it would have been unimaginable how America could become the most powerful nation because of the geographic position in the world; Europe was in the center of it all. When America was able to meet, communicate, trade and take knowledge easier from the rest of the world, her geographic position became supreme and also the nation became supreme. This obvious occurrence, which in 1999 is not so shocking, sparked many countries to ignore the emergence of grand technology in the nineteenth century to save their heritage. Maybe it is still shocking to nations today.
For example, the Chinese government announced in 1996 their rules that were intended to increase control over cyberspace by forcing computer networks to use only the approved links, and they forbade the spread of information that could hinder public order (Golding, 1). When America met China for the first time after easy new communication and easy transportation were developed, the Chinese merely tolerated the Americans and the Americans the Chinese (Iriye, 11). The Chinese remained insensitive to new ideas and changes the Westerners wanted to bring.
Japan, on the other hand, was more isolated than China, but open to new ideas. When the West arrived in Japan, they were very receptive of foreign culture and ready to learn from the West because of their pragmatic view of the world. The Japanese engaged in a serious debate, lasting over half a century, on maintaining foreign contact (Iriye, 11). In the end, trade and commerce did open up to Japan, and later the flow of cultures. Although Great Britain was still the hegemonic power in the early twentieth century, the world was looking at America wondering what it would do next.
As communication helped the word spread about this land of opportunity more and more people wanted to immigrate, or at least come to America to see what all the talk was about. Many Chinese and Japanese came to the United States and saw it first hand from the 1860s on (Iriye, 39). For the Chinese the personal meeting did not make as grand of an impression as it did for the Japanese. For example, the Japanese were almost desperately interested in learning more about the military strength and power that the West held.
However, the Chinese government was perfectly happy with maintaining their status quo. Although it is difficult to talk about an evolution of Chinese policy toward the United States, the reason is well understood; No clear formulation of policy towards the United States was felt necessary. The fact is that China, in the beginning, never considered America as a direct threat (Iriye, 44). Because of Japans grand interest in the Western strength, particularly Americas strength, between two and three hundred Japanese students were studying in America by the year 1873 (Iriye, 45).
The product of science and technology impressed all; railroads, arsenals, the gaslight, flush toilet, and many other material progresses were studied and brought back to Japan. To put it lightly, Japan loved America and the modernisms she brought. Japan loved the moderninity so much that she sold her soul for the new flashy lights of the West. When Japan met America, she did not think of the political and economic changes it would bring and the fact that Japan wanted it separate from social and ideological changes.
They did want Western methods, yet technology, but they did not discuss the implications that brought with it. It was known that the Western countries were powerful and aggressive, yet Japan opened her doors freely to America and the Chinese chose to keep them closed for the most part. The first meeting of Asia to America was with mixed, unknown emotions (meeting defined as economic, political, or cultural interaction. ) These mixed emotions lead toward tension. Tension with Japan and tension with China.