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Critical theory forms the foundation for critical approaches in communication studies generally and is therefore applicable to intercultural competence. Although not a unified theory per se, critical theory is a school of thought or systemic approach that can be usefully applied to understanding communication within larger social, historical, political, and cultural contexts.

So for example, the meaning of the battle flag of the Confederate States of America comes from its use for various purposes at various points in history. In and of itself, the design of the Confederate flag only gains meaning from the contexts in which the flag has functioned and the purposes for which it has been used. For some, the flag today represents Southern pride and heritage and is used in contexts that ...

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