• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

What it means to be a self — and a self communicating and being in a particular culture — are key issues interwoven throughout Min-Sun Kim’s impressive text, Non-Western Perspectives on Human Communication. Going beyond cultural descriptions or instructions on adapting to specific cultures, the author interrogates the very core assumptions underlying the study of human communication and challenges longstanding individualistic, Western models on which much intercultural research is based. Kim proposes a non-western way of conceptualizing identity, or the “self” — the cornerstone of cultural research — illuminating how traditional western and non-western views can be blended into a broader, more realistic understanding of cultures and communication. Grounding her work in a thorough knowledge of the literature, she challenges students and researchers alike to reexamine their approach to intercultural study.

Dimensionality of Cultural Identity
Dimensionality of cultural identity

One great splitting of the whole universe into two halves is made by each of us … We call the two halves by the same names, and … those names are “me” and “not me” respectively.

— James (1890, 1918). The principles of psychology (I, 289)
Unidimensional Model of Self-Construals

The trend toward viewing the self-concept as including social as well as personal identities is laudable. However, certain erroneous assumptions have been made regarding individuals' personal and social identities. One such assumption is the Aristotelian categorization of the mutually exclusive categories of A and not-A: If you are individualistic (independent), you cannot be collectivistic (interdependent); you are at one end or another of a linear measure (or, occasionally, in between). Every ...

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