Multicultural conflicts - Intercultural training using the Four-Ear Model theory

Seminararbeit, 2009
21 Seiten



1.0 Introduction
1.0.1 What is Communication?
1.0.2 Definition for Culture

2.0 Stereotyping and Intercultural conflicts

3.0 The Four-Ear Communication Model
3.0.1 Perceptions of day-to-day conflicts
3.0.2 Tolerance in multicultural settings
3.03 The Four-Ear Communication Model’s application in overcoming intercultural tensions between German natives and international students from East Africa
3.0.4 The Four Ear Model in Mediation

4.0 Conclusion:

5.0 Bibliography:
Internet sources

1.0 Introduction

The movement of people and goods from one corner of the world to another has been observed more than ever before from the last century to date. This had been dur to the forces of globalization, which is related to the transparency that has prevailed in the world in the last century, whereby the world has become a global village. It is connected to the markets and the word Globalization generally referred to as „the dynamic and multidimensional process whereby natural resources become more and more internationally mobile while national economies become increasingly interdependent“ (Carson 2006: 1). This trend carries with it mobility and more contacts between people, sometimes leading to fruitful relations while a time leading to conflicts. Successive relationships has seen people travelling from one place to another, some of which were impossible to cross to prior to this era. It has seen an increased opportunity and an understanding between mankind such that intercultural exchange has been made possible and co-existence promoted. However, border porosity has brought with it conflicts especially in situations where there are insufficient resources and markets. In extreme cases, such situations are likely to lead to intolerances and attacks between members of different groups within a society are most likely to take place. These exchanges are done via communication and happen differently between the different groups leading to various actions, some of which could be offensive to individuals since human beings are independent and each reacts differently to different situations.

In this paper, an analytical method will be employed to find out why intolerance sometimes exists in multicultural settings and if intercultural dialogue and training can be used to reduce such tensions. The question that will try to be answered is: Can intercultural training using the Four-Ear Model help boost tolerance in multicultural settings? The motivation for writing this paper is based on the prevalent cases of ‘unnecessary hatred’ that is sometimes expressed though violence in many parts of the world today. Globalization calls for more understanding between people who abide by different cultures and religions. Lack of understanding of other cultures apart from one’s own does not make the situation any better hence leading to vices such as racism and bad ethnicity, which translates, into conflicts and sometimes-even war. It is upon the realization that humanbeings could be assisted to co-exist peacefully through intercultural training that this paper is written. A famous theory by a German psychologist, Friedemann Schulz von Thun, will be used in order to better understand the causes of such conflicts and how such problems could be solved. A closer look will be the relations between international students and natives (i.e African students in a German multicultural setting) and how the Four-Ear Model could be utilized to promote tolerance for that case. This is due to the fact that hundreds of students from East Africa travel to Germany every year to acquire further education and many a times, they are faced with problems related to conflict of cultures. Apart from the obvious similarities amongst all human beings-most aspects such as, interaction, entertainment, travel, dressing, eating etc that are everyone’s daily activities seem to be different between east African and Germans (European) because a great difference of culture between Germany and East Africa exists. These conflicts are however avoidable and a confortable stay for the students can be achieved through intercultural training which is also the aim of this paper.

The first part will constitute definitions for the terms culture and communiation, which will be followed by an analysis of intercultural conflicts and an introduction of the Four Ear Communication Model. Towards the end, will be examples of conflict situations and ther relation to the Four-Ear Model whereby suggestions for avoiding an escalation of the conflict situations will be described.

1.0.1 What is Communication?

Communication is the process of interaction between two or more people in which an exchange of information takes place (cp: Nagy 2005: 1). Every kind of communication has a sender and a receiver of the message. The interpretations of the message depend on factors that are both intrinsic and extrinsic to the sender and the receiver of the same message. The interpretation „could in one way or the other alter the meaning of the message“ (Nagy 2005: 2). The most important person during communication is the receiver since he/she is the target of the message. As remarked by Michael Foucault the French Sociologistand a theorists on discourse:

„What I have said is not ’what I think’ but often what I wonder it couldn’t be thought“ (Foucault 1979: 58 cf. Bartels 2008/ 9). Communication takes place either between individuals on a personal basis or between one or two groups on a mass basis, in which case it involves a group of receivers and a sender or a group of sendersand receivers. A medium of communication such as television, radio, or printed media could also be involved. Here, important is the transfer of the intended message by the sender to the receiver and that the message is correctly understood in the way that it was meant. Communication is aimed at creating dialogue whereby the intention is not only to sell products but to generate a feeling of cooperate culture. In the process of communication one receiver may interpret the message differently from the sender’s intention while another receiver could easily understand the message because people interpret information differently based on their understanding or also on their belonging to different cultures. This is what is referred to as having or not having the same concept map as described by Michael Foucault, the famous“(cp: Bartels 2008/: 16).

A misinterpretation of a message leads to misunderstandings and eventually generates conflicts whether in a political setting or even in the simplest home environment whereby couples argue over domestic issues. The language of the Mass media is not an exception either because they are sometimes twisted to satisfy the intention of the senders hence causing tension. Some of these conflicts are evidenced in forms of ethnic violence and interclan wars as the case of Somalia and neighbouring Kenya both of which fell into ethnic violence separately in 2008. It is through communication therefore that problems of miscommunications can be solved hence forging understanding and tolerance. Communication plays a great role in the day-to-day lives and in conflict resolution especially in guidance and counselling and in mediation. All are aimed at creating understanding and tolerance and which are designed to fill the gaps left behind by communication failures. According to Paul Watzlawick, a reknowned communication scientist, every behaviour is a kind of communication. This implies that the message must not necessarily be conveyed through words but actions could symbolize something, independent of whether it was intended for a particular receiver or not. In that process therefore, a message is passed from a sender to a receiver. An example of this is the use of mimic or actions and hand signals including the tonation of voices, dressing code, etc.

1.0.2 Definition for Culture

The term culture has been used differently depending on varieties of contexts.

„Anthropologists consider culture to be social behaviour whereas for others it is not behaviour but an abstraction from behaviour. To some, stone axes and pottery, dance and music fashion and style constitute culture; while no material object can be culture to others“ (Bartels 2008/ 09: 4).

According to the British anthropologist E.B Taylor (1832- 1917), culture involves a connection between man and man as a member of a society acquires society in which issues like knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, customs and other capabilities and habits. This definition is based on a complex connection between man and the society in which he lives, and also the things that surround him and which influence his behaviour (cp: Bartels 2008/9). Culture, according to an American anthropologist, Margaret Mead is „the learned behaviour of a society or a sub-group“(Bartels 2008: 4). This definition tends to lean more on the behaviour that is learned, indicating that culture can be influenced by time. Raymond Williams, one of the founders of cultural studies defined it as

„Culture includes the organization of production, the structure of the family, the structure of institutions which express or govern social relationships, the charactericts form through which members of the society communicate“ (Bartels 2008/9: 5).

This definition suggests that culture, which here refers to institutions such as the structure of the family and institutions that govern social behaviour in general, forms a connection between people who belong to the same group. Therefore, it is a group of norms that locks includes or excludes people who belong to that group/ institution and those who do not. All these definitions however seem to include everything. This lack of demarcation makes the discipline of cultural studies even more diverse and different from natural sciences, making it

„Difficult if not impossible to agree on a basic definition of the nature of the breasts that is cultural studies. Cultural studies is no tone thing, it is many things. It straddles the intellectual and academic landscape from old established disciplines to new political movements, intellectual practises and modes of inquiry such as Marxism; post–colonialism, feminism and post structuralism. It moves from discipline to discipline“ (Bartels 2008/ 9: 8).

The above distinction defines cultural studies and qualifies it not only as discipline but also a set of collected facts used to express diversity and definitions or explanations that are used as attempts to address numerous questions surrounding people. This however does not indicate that culture can be anything; rather it examines the different subject matter in terms of cultural practises aimed at exposing power relations and how it shapes cultural practises. Cultural studies is therefore aimed at the evaluation of the modern society and a radical line of political action aimed at understanding and changing the structures of dominance everywhere, and in particular in industrial capitalist society ( cp: Bartels 2008/9: 9).

Sticking to the definition by Raymond Williams, and keeping in mind the spread of capitalism and globalization that has enabled movement of people goods and the porosity of borders than ever before, the evaluation of cultures has become even more complex. This is because the transformation of the world into a global village has posed a challenge to culturally diverse world and the issue of co-existence. More contacts have been established between different groups of people within a region and the world as a whole. This has equally posed a challenge to the solid status of norms and practises amongst different groups. Moreover, there have been increased conflicts based on resources, diversity, etc. hence calling on more understanding and invention of ways to tackle it and promote co-existence.


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Multicultural conflicts - Intercultural training using the Four-Ear Model theory
Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg  (Institute of Political sciences)
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Buch)
626 KB
Multicultural, Intercultural, Four-Ear, Model
Arbeit zitieren
Hawa Noor Mohammed (Autor), 2009, Multicultural conflicts - Intercultural training using the Four-Ear Model theory, München, GRIN Verlag,


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