Elements Of High And Low Culture Cultural Studies Essay

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The first step in this study is to clearly define the HC- versus LC culture concept. Throughout his book, Beyond Culture, Edward Hall (1976) focuses on the concept of HC vs. LC. In his view (Hall, 1976, p79), a HC culture is one in which people are deeply involved with each other. As a result of intimate relationships among people, a structure of social hierarchy exists, individual inner feelings are kept under strong self-control, and information is widely shared through simple messages with deep meaning. HC cultures use and interpret more of element surrounding the message to develop their understanding of message. In HC cultures the social importance and knowledge of the person and social setting add extra information and will be perceived by the message receiver. In HC cultures, messages are hidden and implicit. Therefore, communications between people mostly rely on nonverbal aspects. Countries such as Saudi Arabia, Italy, and Turkey mostly use nonverbal communication in their daily communication. Additionally, the relationship between people in HCC is tight, but managing time is flexible. The main reason for being so flexible in this type culture is these; history, religion, values, social structure, language and because people have strong relationship between themselves they don't mind whether they are late or earlier for a meeting or keeping promise.


A LC culture is one in which people are highly individualized, somewhat alienated, and fragmented, and there is relatively little involvement with others (Hall, 1976, p. 39). As a consequence, social hierarchy, as well as society in general, imposes less on individuals' lives, and communication between people is more explicit and non-personal. Thus, it appears that the social structure or hierarchy of a culture over a long period of time has a significant impact on whether a culture is HC or LC. In addition, the dynamics within and the uniqueness of each culture also have strong impacts on its current state. LC cultures rely on spoken and written language for meaning. Senders of message encode their messages, expecting that the receivers will accurately decode the words used to gain a good understanding of intended message. Hall differentiated both contexts according to their characteristics of cultures.

In the following section, the major elements of the culture are explained.

Elements of Culture:

There are many elements (food, shelter, religion, security etc.) when come together they create a culture. Among all those elements, Samovar et al. (2009) identified five basic elements of cultures because all cultures share a common set of components. According to Samovar et al. (2009), these are;




Social Structure


First of all, history, it is transmitted from generation to generation and helps perpetuate a culture's worldview. History highlights the culture's origin.

Secondly, religion is another feature of all cultures. I most cultures, people find in religion a reason for being and legitimacy in the belief that they are part of larger of context. The influence of religion can be seen in entire fabric of a culture since it serves so many functions. Religion defines the ideals for life, which in turn are reflected in the values and attitudes of societies and individuals.

Thirdly, values, according to Czinkota & Ronkainen (2006; 62) "values are shared beliefs or group norms that have been internalized by individuals". Values help to decide how people should behave. To extend that cultural values differ, that can be expected participants in intercultural communication will tend to exhibit and anticipate different behaviours under similar circumstances.

Fourthly, social structure is another basic element of culture. Government, family, and schools help the members of the culture organise their lives. These social systems establish communication networks and regulate norms of personal, familial, and social conduct. The ways in which these organisations function and the norms they advance are unique to each culture.

Finally, language is another element that is common to all cultures. The most important point of language is that, it is the key point of understanding culture. Because, language is the key to its culture and can be describe a mirror of the culture. Another important role of language is that it can Language can be divided in to two sub parts.

Verbal language is main important means of communications. In various forms, such as plays and poetry, the written word is regarded as part of the culture of a group of people. In the form of speaking, the real words spoken and the ways in which the words spoken and ways in which the words are pronounced provide clues to receiver about type of person who is speaking.

Non-verbal language is another mean of communication according to Hall (1976). Non-verbal language has strong affect in HC cultures comparing to LC cutures. Non-verbal language includes such as; time, distance between people, business agreements, friendship patterns etc.

In the following section, the major aspects of the high- versus low-context concept are discussed.

Before a businessman from the UK dealing with an another businessman from Saudi Arabia, the businessman from UK should know the basic elements explained previously and major aspect of HC cultures in order to avoid any misunderstandings and conflicts.

First of all, in HC cultures people is deeply involved to one other as chain. Business relations in this culture begins with a member of family than it will extend to all family members than friends of the family and finally to the society. To extend this chain will take time, but once chain business established it will last longer than businesses in the UK.

Secondly, in HC cultures promises are more important than contracts. The reason for that is in HC culture people having high level of involvement to each other. The promises made beginning of business determines whether the business will be long life or not. In the case of UK and S.A.; managers from the UK should not give any promises which they cannot do. Once promises made, managers from the UK must stands on promises they have made in order to expanding their business relations.

Thirdly, in cultures of HC people try to avoid direct confrontation to maintain the social harmony and the intimate relationship between the people, often by repressing the individual. Approvals and cordialities must be maintained, anyhow one feels. If something goes wrong or could not done as promised it is difficult to expect people from S.A behave as they were before.

According to Hall (1976) in HC cultures, communication between people mostly relies on physical contact. Therefore it is important for the UK person to know how start a business meeting with Saudi people. Because body language plays key role at this stage.

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