Intercultural Interaction

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2) Define popular culture. How can cultural group portrayals in popular culture forms influence intercultural communication?

Popular culture is difficult to define, but always reflects a system of prevailing social norms. Manifest in popular media such as television, music, sports, and film, popular culture infers both a collective aesthetic and a collection of values and beliefs. Popular culture differs from what was once referred to as "high" culture ("Popular Culture" 2000). High culture distinguished and continues to distinguish itself from popular culture by subordinating the latter. However, a tremendous shift in academia has led to the critique of both "high" and "low" culture and a subsequent merging of the two ("Popular Culture" 2000).

Also known as "mass" culture, popular culture can be considered crude even as it shapes politics and policy ("Popular Culture" 2000). According to Chito Childs & Laudone (2004), popular culture is uniquely responsible for the shaping of values, beliefs and norms surrounding interracial friendships, interracial relationships, and race relations in general. Films that depict interracial couples "tend to reinforce the existing racial hierarchy, rendering interracial relationships problematic," (Chito Childs & Laudone 2004, p. 1). Popular culture is part mirror for social realities and part shaper of those realities.

One exception to the generally negative impact of popular culture on race relations is the breaking down of racial barriers depicted in hip-hop music videos as well as in the popular sports arena (Chito Childs 2009). Interracial friendships and relationships are depicted as being more normative among younger generations in particular (Chito Childs 2009). In an investigation of interracial interactions in South African schools, Dolby (2001) also points out that African-American popular culture icons like Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, and Tupac Shakur have impacted racial identities and relationships. Popular culture affects personal identity formation, and identity construction in turn impacts the development and maintenance of friendships and romantic relationships.

Therefore, popular culture can be used as a constructive tool in reshaping social norms. Ideal relationships depicted on television and movie screens need no longer be are race-dependent. Instead of showing interracial relationships as being characterized by the existence of stereotypes, those stereotypes can be replaced by the real communication problems that may arise in an interracial friendhsip. As film and television depict more interracial friendships such as those that develop in school or the workplace, those relationships are likely to become more common in the real world. Subsequently, popular media will begin reflecting back the harmonious interracial relationships that exist in the modern social arena[continue]

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"Intercultural Interaction" (2010, February 14) Retrieved November 21, 2015, from

"Intercultural Interaction" 14 February 2010. Web.21 November. 2015. <>

"Intercultural Interaction", 14 February 2010, Accessed.21 November. 2015,

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