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Disciplinary Approaches to Culture: An Overview

Culture plays an essential role in shaping how people see the world. It creates the lenses that form one’s perspective, which influences how meaning is made from observations, perceptions, interpretations, and evaluations. Intercultural competence, also known as cross-cultural competence, is the ability to effectively comprehend, respond to, and communicate with people from diverse cultural backgrounds in a variety of contexts. To be interculturally competent requires the necessary skills and the capacity to juggle multiple cultural vantage points simultaneously.

In this entry, several definitions are showcased from a variety of disciplines. Intercultural competencies are framed through the perspectives of cultural anthropology, political science, sociology, psychology, and communication. The entry discusses cultural paradigms, characteristics, and competencies as well as the role and value of measuring intercultural competency.

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