Problem

Inter-cultural misunderstanding

Other Names:
Social division through culture
Cultural gap
Unfavourable opinions of other cultures
Nature:
There is a degree of misunderstanding between different cultures. This leads to conflict, barriers between cultures, culture shock, and possible domination, exploitation or extinction of certain groups. The cultural gap may be formed by linguistic, religious or racial differences, and by different social customs and economic, political and administrative systems. Misunderstanding is fomented by ideological conflict and indoctrination.

There may be a cultural gap between nations as much as between individuals and groups. With individuals, the cultural gap may be a matter of education, family background, inherent intelligence or a matter of ethnic origin. The gap between different ethnic groups is aggravated by discrimination, prejudice, segregation, and economic and social disparities. Leaders or representatives of governments may personally surmount cultural gaps in international organizations or meetings and may be able to freely communicate as well as to understand, in processes of dialogue, deliberation, negotiation and agreements. However, their constituencies at home, the great masses of people to whom they are responsible, having little foreign contact, are subject to insularity and narrower views. This creates a great tension for leaders caught by the pressures of the world to assure that their nations play an active role, and pulled on the other side by conservative national feelings that wish little cultural change and minimal foreign influence.

Incidence:
Experts argue that it is impossible to obtain the deepest understanding of a culture if one is not fluent in its language. Knowing a country's language, although clearly helpful, is no guarantee of understanding its cultural mindset, and some of the most difficult problems have been created by individuals who have a high level of fluency but a low level of cultural understanding.
Reduced By:
Forced assimilation
Problem Type:
F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Subject(s):
Social
Culture
Date of last update
23.08.2001 – 00:00 CEST