University of Hawai'i, Hilo
|Catherine Becker, Ph.D.|
This article integrates empirical research
with autoethnography. The hypothesis that Symbolic Convergence
Theory (SCT) claims that it provides a way to describe the
relationship between communication and the shared fantasies of groups,
may be based more on the fantasy of the analyst rather than that of the
group it is claiming to analyze, is tested. A neural network is
generated based on the text of the articles deemed representative
of “critical autoethnography” used in a recently
published SCT analysis. Then the network is trained to make
associations in proportion to the number of times specific articles
were cited in the SCT analysis, in attempt to model the cognitive
processes of the analyst. The empirical procedures, methods
and results are contexualized and using autoethnography.
Intercultural communication researchers and diversity trainers in search of relevant communication theories, models, and methods to guide their efforts need to consider that culture is communicative process that changes over time. Data-driven dynamic models (3D) such as cultural mapping, provide methods to accommodate for cultural change over time and variations within cultures. Four such approaches to intercultural communication research and diversity training are explained and examined for their contributions and limitations. Examples of applications in organizations are presented.
The new ethnography responds to postmodernist critiques by making problematic not only the relationship between the researcher and “researched,” but also the socio-cultural position of the researcher, the identity of the researcher as constructed through research, and the researcher’s alignment with academic institutions. Consequently, the new ethnography combines traditional, creative, and experimental methods with an account of the researcher’s personal involvement with the topic they are writing about. The new ethnography blurs the boundary between the genres of social science and the humanities.
Becker, C., Levitt, S. & Moreman S. (1998a). "Computers, New Information and Communication Technologies, Power and the Status of Women in Organizations." In Barnett, G. & Thayer, L. (Eds.) Organizational Communication: Emerging Perspectives VI. Norwood, New Jersey: Ablex.
This study focuses on the role that new information and communication technologies may play regarding the power relations between women and men in organizations. Access to and controls over flows of information are determined by one’s position in the communication network. Computers and new communication technologies (such as the internet) may enable an individual to gain access to important information while simultaneously increasing their network centrality.
Becker, C. (1997a). "The Analysis of Organizational Culture as a Thermodynamic Process." In Barnett, G. & Thayer, L. (Eds.) Organizational Communication: Emerging Perspectives V. Norwood, New Jersey: Ablex.
The ways in which thermodynamic concepts have been applied to the study of human communication systems are examined. Inconsistent discussions of the relationship between information and entropy in the social science literature are identified. Applications for the study of organizational cultures are specified.
(1997b). "Toward an Ethical Theory for Comparative Political
Communication Based on the Coherence Between Universal Human Rights and
Cultural Relativism." International and Intercultural
Communication Annual, Vol. XX. Sacramento: Sage Publications.
When UDHR (Universal Declaration of Human Rights) was being drafted by the United Nations in 1947, the executive board of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) was consulted regarding the document. The UHDR asserts that all human beings are entitled to a basic set of rights regardless of culture. The AAA executive board’s 1947 statement to the UN cautions that the declaration could be misused as an excuse to change cultures that are different from those in the West. These and the subsequent debates are examined for their philosophical assumptions and political consequences.
Ethnography is used to explore the intersection of communication and culture with the environment in the lives of two intellectuals. A social constructionist approach, that assumes that culture is created through shared symbols and overlapping meanings, is blended with theories of discourse as performative action. The role of communication in reproducing or transforming culture and power relations within specific contexts is considered.
This study explores how women in organizations define power, how they perceive powerful men, women, and behaviors in organizations; and how they relate power to information, computers and communication technologies. It is suggested that women with different levels of power might not perceive power similarly and that women with more power may have a stronger self-concept. It is also suggested that even if women in organizations tend to be reluctant to admit they desire power, they still seek its two main benefits: time and information.
Becker, C. (1998b). "The Ways in Which Communication May Foster or Inhibit Socialization: The Case of Brazilian Immigrants in Japan." In Gumpertz, G. & Drucker, S. (Eds.) The Huddled Masses. Cresskill, New Jersey: Hampton Press.
Changes in Japan's immigration laws opened the doors to an influx of South American immigrants into Japan. Almost 200,000 Brazilians immigrated, providing Catherine Becker with the opportunity to test a communication-based theory of cultural adaptation in a context other than the United States, which is where most communication research focusing on immigrant adaptation has been done to date.
School administrators in a private school identified the emergence of two co-cultural groups (blacks and whites) among the student population due to recent demographic changes in the environment surrounding the area where the school was located. Teams of students from an advanced upper division university course in intercultural communication conducted mini-ethnographies, interviews and surveys with affected groups. Cultural maps were generated using the most frequently mentioned concepts including administrators, teachers, people of color, the school, discipline, self-expression, cultural heritage, cultural diversity, and integration. The concept of "yourself" and "good" were included by the researchers to provide additional points of reference to indicate the average ways that individuals in the organization related to the core concepts and to assess the climate of diversity in the organization. Recommendations and applications of cultural mapping for addressing diversity and cultural change are provided.
The goal of this project was to use research to foster diversity at the University of Hawaii, Hilo. Objectives included relating diversity to student learning and pedagogy, describing diversity issues at UHH in terms of relationships among key groups and core concepts, and using research to provide a context for increasing understanding and facilitating dialogue. The project included interviewing faculty and students about diversity, a content analysis of the student newspaper, assisting with the production of a UHH diversity training video, participation in diversity related events, presentations, performances, discussions, and a the planning of a university-wide symposium.