Literature Review (1)





The Mindmap layout


The Mindmap graphic (click to view)







1.3.1 Systems-thinking approach and Chaos Theory

1.3.2 Dialogical approach





2.2.1 Berry’s system of acculturation

2.2.2 The Bennett Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity

2.2.3 Adaptation as a learning process

























I approached the writing of this first literary review from a systemic perspective. To help me organize my thoughts and plot out the logic of my research approach, I drew a mindmap of the literature review. Although I realize the difficulties to communicate asynchronously about these things, I will do my best to outline my thinking process.

The mindmap on page 5 conceptualizes my literature review writing approach.


The following acronyms will be used throughout this document and will be explained in the literature review:

IC  = intercultural

ICC = intercultural communication

MCI = multicultural Identity

TC  = Third-Culture


The left side of the graphic refers to a general introduction to ICC. My research will be informed by the available literature on three compatible approaches to ICC: Systems view, Chaos Theory, and the Dialogical Approach. The three approaches directly relate to the research question, which takes up the central position in the mindmap.

The right side of the graphic refers to the literature that more closely relates to the research areas and relevant research question on “maintenance and nurturing of multicultural identity.”

IC COMPETENCE: refers to studies of a person’s effectiveness in IC situations.

MCI/TC PERSONHOOD FORMATION: refers to scholarly definitions and models of identity formation processes in IC contexts. For the purpose of my research, I will use the term Multicultural Identity to refer to processes that see the emergence of a new kind of personhood, beyond the initial monocultural acculturation of a person’s formative years.

PROCESSES OF IC ADAPTATION: refers to scholarly definitions and models of processes of IC adaptation, referred to in the literature by several terms.

CONTEXT: refers to scholarly considerations of the role of context in processes of IC adaptation, MCI formation, and IC competence development.

TRANSFORMATION: refers to a new dimension brought about by dynamics of IC exposure. It is not necessarily a higher stage of adaptation, but rather a new kind of MCI that may develop from processes of mutual, shared, and dialogical IC relational experiences. For now, I will use the term Third-Culture Perspective to refer to such processes of transformation.

The three main areas, IC COMPETENCE, IC ADAPTATION PROCESSES, and MCI FORMATION are closely interrelated. The arrows in the graphic represent the level of dialogical relationship between the three areas of inquiry.



The area more closely related to the research question develops at the interface between MCI Formation and IC Competence, as a result of processes of IC adaptation. The relationships between these areas are clearly dialogical and systems based.

Dashed lines:

A dash line indicates the possibility of a relation between two areas. Not every stage of adaptation will therefore lead to the development of MCI, and not every form of MCI will necessarily entail a process of personal transformation and the emergence of a third-culture perspective.

Mono and bidirectional arrows:

They indicate factors that may influence processes of MCI formation



The following literature review will serve as an informative, starting point of my research. I will start with a general overview of the research area, and then present the literature that is more closely related to my research question.

Since this document follows a systems-thinking approach, the division of the literature review into sections is arbitrary, as all parts are intrinsically interconnected with one another.

In PART ONE I provide the broad framework for my study, beginning with a general introduction to the field of Intercultural Communication (ICC). I will then present three compatible approaches to IC that will inform my research perspective and guide my research inquiry: systems view, Chaos Theory, and the dialogical approach.

In PARTS TWO, THREE, FOUR, and FIVE I present the literature that is more closely related to my research question.[1] I will follow a systems-thinking approach to emphasize the connections between the three main areas of literature considered for this study: IC COMPETENCE, IC ADAPTATION PROCESSES, and MCI FORMATION.

In PART SIX, I relate the literature to my research question.


1. Intercultural Communication (ICC)

ICC is an interdisciplinary, systemic and broad-scope approach to the understanding of culture and its impact on the human experience and globalization processes. It offers a valuable perspective for the analysis of complex IC issues like identity, personal and cultural transformation.

There is a large body of literature on ICC, stemming from as diverse fields as linguistics, anthropology, education, communication, psychology and cultural studies. Over the years ICC studies have extensively explored transcultural sojourners’ experience, levels of participation in their new cultural environment, and relevant issues of personal change, e.g. IC contact, reflection, adaptation stress, self-shock, disintegration, acculturation, learning, increased cultural and IC awareness, development of ICC competence, and personal growth. This literature review will not present the history of ICC. It is however important to understand the academic debate that takes place in this particular field.

Over the past 50 years, ICC has developed into an independent field of inquiry within Social Sciences. This process has been supported by the emergence of specialized publications like The International Journal of Intercultural Relations, The Journal of Intercultural Communication Studies, The Journal of Intercultural Communication published by Göteborgs University, and several publishers specializing in ICC topics, like Sage Publications.

I would suggest that there are at least two main approaches to the study of ICC:

1.2 Functionalist approach

In this approach the goal is to describe and predict human behavior in IC settings (Martin & Nakayama, 1999, p. 4). Accordingly, cultures are viewed as static and separate from one another. Such approach emphasizes a rather essentialist view of cultures, which is defined as “the view that there are certain ‘‘essential’’ values which are shared by all members of a culture or by all humans by virtue of being human” (Evanoff, 2006, p. 428). This is a contested view, as “the idea that there is a ‘‘common core’’ of cultural values shared by everyone within a given culture, is as fragile as the argument that there is a ‘common core’ of values shared between cultures” (Evanoff, 2006, p. 428). According to the functionalist approach, the goal of ICC is to equip people with the necessary behavioral and cognitive skills to communicate across cultural differences. Functionalists tend to consider culture as a primary source of identity that would impose its traits on its members by – for example – equating culture with nation, and suggesting a causal relationship between country of origin and a certain behaviour (Holliday et al, 2004, pp.4-5).

Edward T. Hall (1976) is considered among the most prominent scholars of ICC. His studies focus on the understanding of the fundaments of ICC.

The works of Fons Trompenaars (2010) and Gert Hofstede (2010) also well represent this approach. They provide a complex taxonomy that covers the meta-differences found across all human cultures. Such differences are presented as inescapable aspects of human cultures that can be conquered through appropriate IC training.

William Gudykunst and Stella Ting-Toomey (1988) have also contributed to scholarly studies rooted – although not exclusively – in the same perspective.

Functionalist scholars are mainly preoccupied with suggesting categories like power distance, high context/low context, individualism/collectivism, time orientation as defining parameters of cultural behaviour common to members of the same society or country. Functionalist practitioners offer hands-on practical solutions through structured training.

1.2 Interpretive approach

This approach is rooted in the constructivist tradition, whose goal is to understand and describe – rather than predict it – human behavior in IC settings. It emphasizes the value of thick description and narrative analysis and shares its foundations with relevant social studies areas such as anthropology. “Researchers are concerned with understanding the world as it is, and describing the subjective, creative communication of individuals, usually using qualitative research methods” (Martin & Nakayama, 1999, p. 5). Accordingly, cultures are not viewed as sealed, independent boxes, although they are still considered objects of independent observation. Martin & Nakayama (1999) consider culture, in the interpretive paradigm, as generally “socially constructed and emergent, rather than defined a priori, and […] not limited to nation-state collectives” (p. 6).

According to Geertz (1973), another representative of the interpretive approach, cultural meanings change over time and are passed on from one generation to the next. Cultures are considered dynamic and changeable as people continually construct and reconstruct their “webs of significance”.

1.3 New approaches to ICC

More recently, attempts have been made to shift the focus of ICC studies away from the two main perspectives mentioned above.

Evanoff (2001) criticizes current approaches for focusing on the needs of a “cosmopolitan elite” “to successfully conduct business overseas, participate in international conferences, engage in international negotiations, and the like, all within the framework of the dominant paradigm of globalization” (p.2). He advocates for a revised, more authentic approach to ICC, squarely located within the broader context of globalization processes. Evanoff (2001) suggests intercultural dialogue as a practical application of ICC. That would help us “to break out of our cultural mindsets and explore a wider range of what it is possible for humans to achieve. It also enables us to work together on common problems when necessary” (Evanoff, 2001, p.5).

McPhail reminds us that “Communication, as it has been practiced and continues to be practiced in Western culture, is geared towards social control and the maintenance of existing ideological and epistemological structures” (cited in Rodriguez, 2002, p.4).

Rodriguez (2002) challenges current prominent approaches to ICC and the functionalist view of cultural transmission as a “bedrock assumption of popular definitions of culture” that would support the idea of people as passive cultural bystanders (p.5).

These alternative approaches to ICC will be examined more in details later.

1.3.1 Systems-thinking approach and Chaos Theory

ICC is evolving from a Cartesian approach of explaining fixed cultural differences to a more systems-based way of making sense of a very complex reality. Young Yun Kim has been an ICC scholar for several decades. Her work has shifted from an interpretive approach (Martin & Nakayama, 1999, p. 5) to one clearly anchored in systems-thinking and rooted in a dialectical perspective similar to Martin and Nakayama’s (1999).

Kim (1994) rejects the premises of the functionalist perspective: “We now need to acknowledge the common misconception that a person’s cultural reach is categorically fixed forever by whatever slot into which one is born and raised. In so doing, we need to suspend the prevailing notion that such occurrences would necessarily involve ‘throwing away’ or ‘being disloyal to’ one’s original identity” (p.7).

Fred Casmir (1999), recognizing the impracticality of current ICC views, embraces Chaos Theory as the supporting basis of his Third-Culture Building model. Citing Paul Geisert and Mynga Futrell, he argues that when “a system becomes more complex, one’s ability to make precise statements or decisions about it decreases. In a complex situation, a person simply cannot marshal enough meaning or precision to make a logical decision” (cited in Casmir, 1999, p. 94).

In an earlier article, Casmir (1992) supports Bateson’s views[2] on systems understanding, beyond the traditional transactional cause-effect model (p.415). With regard to ICC studies, he believes that “rather than identifying social or cultural systems as predictably stable and orderly, chaos theory may come closer to the observable state of such entities, when thinking of them as basically unpredictable and inherently chaotic” (Gregensen and Sailer, cited in Casmir, 1999, p.95).

In a complex world, people cannot make decisions based on limited, logical understanding. A new dialogical process is needed (Casmir, 1999, p.94), one that would allow for ambiguity and meaning under chaotic circumstances. Challenging current ICC approaches, he suggests that “it becomes very difficult to explain why and how changes develop which eventually impact an entire group, by using maintenance, descriptive or status-quo oriented cultural models” (Casmir, 1999, p.97).

Similarly, Rodriguez (2002) compares cultures to living systems, where ambiguity may be the key to survival for “open and vibrant systems—the only systems that evolve and strive.”  He believes that “ambiguity makes for new experiences, new understandings, new ways of being, and new kinds of relations with each other by keeping meaning incomplete.  Regardless of our most strenuous efforts, no meaning, again, is ever absolute, ever devoid of ambiguity, or ever devoid of interpretation” (pp.2-3).

Aneas & Sandin (2009) also support a systems-thinking view of culture. For them,  “culture is a ‘system’ and not the sum of a collection of fortuitous traits. It is an integrated whole which cannot be understood by examining its components individually and in isolation. It is a dynamic whole which is in flux, and constantly changing, and which reveals itself as being in interaction with the world in a multiplicity of complex and diverse situations and contexts (Par. 57).

1.3.2 Dialogical approach

Referencing Stanley Deetz’s work, Rodriguez (2002) argues that “Communication is about dialogic, collaborative constructions of self, other, and world in the process of making collective decisions. This includes the production and reproduction of personal identities, social knowledge, and social structures” (cited in Rodriguez, p.5).

In their paper on dialectical thinking, Martin & Nakayama (1999) offer a thorough analysis of approaches to the study of ICC. They point out that “intercultural communication research should be more relevant to everyday lives, that theorizing and research should be firmly based in experience, and in turn, should not only be relevant to, but should facilitate, the success of everyday IC encounters (Ribeau, cited in Martin & Nakayama, pp. 7-8). Their model is based on the recognition of the iterative role of context; an emphasis on the relational aspect of culture to be considered holistically and not in isolation; and the rejection of dichotomous perspectives (pp. 13-14). It would offer “researchers a way to think about different ways of knowing in a more comprehensive manner, while retaining the significance of considering how we express this knowledge” (p. 13).

Such paradigm seems compatible with Evanoff’s (2001) advocacy for a more inclusive IC dialogue, in which “the goal of an integrative approach is to find ways of combining seemingly opposite cultural tendencies into a wider framework which, in the end, will hopefully help to resolve cross-cultural conflicts and also offer a fuller and more holistic view of human possibilities” (p.15).


2. Processes of IC Adaptation


For my research, I will consider adaptation dynamics of individuals who moved after completing their primary socialization process in their original culture (Kim, 1988, p. 38).

As Kim (1988) recognizes, “in reviewing literature in the field of cross-cultural adaptation, one is most likely to be left with a sense of disarray. Different terms are used by different investigators to refer to essentially the same process, and the same terms are defined by different investigators in different ways” (p.28). In the present study, I will broadly subscribe to Kim’s (1988) definition of cross-cultural adaptation, as “the process of change over time that takes place within individuals who have completed their primary socialization process in one culture and then come into continuous, prolonged first-hand contact with a new and unfamiliar culture” (p. 37-38), although nowadays we are unlikely to maintain a degree of complete unfamiliarity with many of the world’s cultures.

Anthropologist Calervo Oberg (1954) defined culture shock as the main factor in dynamics of IC adaptation. He suggested a U-curve to represent the ups and downs of IC adaptation, which was viewed as adjustment to a changed cultural context. This perspective considered IC adaptation mainly as a psychological hurdle, with processes of IC adaptation entwined with complex developmental issues. There are several studies on IC adaptation as a psychological dilemma. R.S. Zaharna (1989) explores the connections between the discrepancies experienced in new cultural settings by transcultural sojourners and their search for identity affirmation. From a similar perspective Ward, Bochner, and Furnham have examined the acculturation process in several publications. In The Psychology of Culture Shock (2001), they offer useful insights into social identification theories and how they apply to specific groups of international sojourners. The psychology slant of their work offers a good augmentation to ICC perspectives.


Since then, ICC studies have emerged that question Oberg’s original idea of culture shock. Issues of IC adaptation are being viewed more and more as related to identity formation processes rather than to issues of psychological adjustment (Onwumechili et al, 2003, p. 46). “The shift to cultural identity has now generated investigations surrounding issues of culture building and multiculturalism” (Onwumechili et al, 2003, p. 46).

2.2.1 Berry’s system of acculturation

According to Berry (1997; 2008), acculturation may occur at four different levels. Assimilation, where individuals adhere to the other cultures values; separation, where individuals adhere to their own cultural values, and reject the other’s norms;

Integration, where one achieves acceptance of both sets of cultural norms to a greater degree (making the best of both worlds); marginalization, where rejection of both cultures occurs.

2.2.2 The Bennett Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity

Milton Bennett (1993) developed a six-stage developmental model of intercultural sensitivity on each individual’s ability to successfully engage cross-culturally. This process builds upon our knowledge and awareness of our and other cultures as codified by Hofstede (2010).

1. Denial: Individuals do not recognize cultural differences;

2. Defense: Individuals recognize some differences, but see them as negative;

3. Minimization: Individuals are unaware of projecting their own cultural values and see them as superior;

4. Acceptance: Individuals shift perspectives to understand that the same “ordinary” behavior can have different meanings in different cultures;

5. Adaptation: Individuals can evaluate others’ behavior from others’ frame of reference and can adapt behavior to fit the norms of a different culture. The key skill is perspective-shifting, the ability to look at the world “through different eyes;”

6. Integration: Individuals not only value a variety of cultures, but are constantly defining their own identity and evaluating behavior and values in contrast to and in concert with a multitude of cultures. They shift frame of reference and also deal with resulting identity issues (M. Bennett, 1993, 2004, 2007).

2.2.3 Adaptation as a learning process

From a constructivist perspective, Jean Piaget (1982) believed that the mind creates schemas to organize processes of learning and understanding. Such schemas change based on new experiences and make room to accommodate them and to differentiate an increasingly level of complexity. The goal of such devised constant process of refinement is the integration of accumulating knowledge and experience. Understanding and functioning in the world depends on how successfully one is able to assimilate, accommodate, differentiate and eventually integrate the ever-changing schemas that result from multiple exposures to reality.

IC situations show a clear link between adaptation processes and learning. Oberg (1954) had also defined culture shock as a stage of IC experience. Similarly, von Glaserfeld (1989) sees perturbation as a prime event in the learning process that helps achieve a different level of understanding (p.6); Jaeger and Lauritzen (1992) call it dissonance (p. 6). Thus, learning occurs at the interface between meaning and experience and develops within a context that is both personal and social. Von Glaserfeld’s (1989) constructivist perspective provides a valuable tool for the understanding of processes of IC adaptation. Supporting von Glaserfeld’s ideas, Cobern (1993) also emphasizes that “construction takes place in a context – a cultural context created by, for example, social and economic class, religion, geographical location, ethnicity, and language” (p.1).

In earlier studies such as Oberg’s, IC stress was viewed as something to be first endured, then resisted, then conquered. Kim (1994) instead views individuals as open systems and believes that stress can lead to a high degree of self-awareness and personal growth. Echoing von Glaserfeld’s (1989) idea of perturbation, and Casmir’s (1999) views of cultures as open systems, she believes that “individuals as open systems experience a state of disequilibrium or stress in the face of challenges, followed by a struggle to regain an equilibrium. Stress, as such, is viewed as a manifestation of a generic process, a temporary personality disintegration. […]  Stress occurs whenever the capabilities of an open system are not totally adequate to the demands of the environment, as is likely to be the case when a person is confronted by a person or an event whose cultural identity threatens his/her own (p. 11).

This is consistent with Piaget’s (1992) theory on schemas, and with more recent ideas on cultures being always in flux (Martin & Nakayama, 1999), and the emerging “quantum understanding of culture” (Rodriguez, 2002). In an environment characterized by active IC adaptation dynamics, “this process continues as long as they are in communication with, and are challenged by, the milieu in which they must function. As such, the interrelatedness of stress and adaptation describes the process of organizing and reorganizing oneself–-the process that, in the context of intercultural interface, involves the continual reinventing of oneself beyond the parameters of the original cultural identity” (Kim, 1994, p. 11). IC interaction would then see “the creation of new mental constructs. This is not to suggest that the old constructs will disappear, nor that a gradual and partial acquisition of each other’s initial cultural constructs will not take place. It only means that the new constructs constitute a decisive transformational element” (Kim, 1994, p.13-14).

These dynamics have been recognized by Gudykunst (1993) in his Anxiety/Uncertainty Management Theory (AUM), which applies to interpersonal and intergroup communication. He suggests that the acquisition of new mental constructs in IC situation can be successfully achieved through the mediation of mindfulness anchored in communication awareness (see the section on ICC Competence for more on this topic).

2.3 Role of context in the relational dynamics of adaptation processes

Peter Adler’s (1977) model of Multicultural Identity (MCI) was based on an etic perspective that views identity “based not on a ‘belongingness’ which implies either owning or being owned by culture, but on a style of self-consciousness that is capable of negotiating ever new formations of reality” (p.3). Accordingly, a multicultural person is “neither totally a part of nor totally apart from his or her culture; instead, he or she lives on the boundary” (p. 3). In his study, Adler suggested that an ever increasing level of IC adaptation will result in the development of a MCI detached from previously avowed cultural allegiances. One of the main tenets in Adler’s research is that “The multicultural person is always in flux, the configuration of loyalties and identifications changing, the overall image of self perpetually being reformulated through experience and contact with the world. Stated differently, life is an ongoing process of psychic death and rebirth” (p.7). Such devised form of identity appears to achieve a high level of independence from specific contexts. Whether this idea is universally applicable to the experience of IC sojourners will be a fundamental area of inquiry in my research.

Lisa Sparrow (2000), a former ICC teacher of mine, criticizes Adler’s (1977) views by emphasizing the importance of context in identity formation processes. In her research on non-Westerners’ attitudes towards IC adaptation, she argues that identity cannot be considered apart from social realities. Her research shows that, no matter what, we remain connected to our original culture, in spite of Western ideas of self-avowed identity construction (p. 175). She also points out that Western concepts of identity are an illusory luxury (p. 181). Ultimately, her research shows that context cannot be considered apart from one’s adaptation processes.

Her work will inform my critical approach to my research and will be discussed in more details in the next section.


3. Multicultural Identity (MCI) / transcultural personhood Formation

This section will present a summary of definitions of IC identity and ways in which such forms of identity may evolve towards MCI. Some critical positions will also be presented.


It has been difficult it is for scholars to agree on a shared definition of IC identity. Y.Y. Kim has written extensively about IC identity and explains that “the term ‘intercultural identity’ is employed exchangeably with related terms such as ‘interethnic identity,’ ‘interracial identity,’ ‘intergroup identity,’ ‘multicultural identity.’ ‘meta-identity,’ ‘transcultural identity,’ ‘species identity,’ and ‘universal identity’ (Kim, 1994, footnote 3, p. 18).

For the purpose of this review, I have adopted Kim’s notion of IC identity to indicate processes that lead to the emergence of an identity beyond its original monocultural framework. MCI (or transcultural personhood) will be used instead to signify the complexity of IC identity as developing from multiple exposures to other cultures. I have adopted this term from Adler (1977).

For Kim, IC identity is complex and develops along a stress-adaptation-growth dynamic trajectory (Kim, 1988). It is built on “an individual’s ability to grow beyond their original culture and encompass a new culture, gaining additional insight into both cultures in the process” (Kim, cited in Wichert, 1996). She argues that processes of IC identity development are intertwined with issues of acculturation. Language competence, and the ability and opportunity “to access interpersonal communication and mass media channels, combined with the motivation to do so, result in acculturation into the new culture and the development of an intercultural identity” (Kim, cited in Wichert, 1996).

In more recent studies, Kim (1994) has embraced an alternative “Systems Approach to identity” (pp.7-8) that envisions the possibility of complex identities that interact in a constructionist, dialogical fashion towards a possible identity transformation.

Consistent with Adler’s ideas (1977), Kim (1994) states that IC identity “further includes a vital component of an emotional identification of oneself that is not limited to one’s own social group but to other cultures as well, thereby projecting an outlook that is not locked into a parochial group interest but, instead, one in which one sees and identifies with others’ perspectives” (pp.8-9). She believes that “to move in this new direction requires us to examine the experiences of numerous everyday folks who recognize that the boundaries of a cultural identity are seldom impermeable, engage in cultural cross-borrowing, and understand that cross-borrowing of identities is often an act of appreciation that leaves neither the lender nor the borrower deprived, symbolically or otherwise (p. 7). This view of IC research has inspired my own approach to this qualitative inquiry into the lives of transcultural sojourners.

For Kim (1994), IC identity formation processes depend on external (Present

Past, Context) and internal factors (Temperament, Desirability), both influenced by power issues (pp. 13-14). Her model is clearly located within a systems-thinking tradition such as Casmir’s and Martin and Nakayama’s, although the latter place her among traditional humanistic, interpretive scholars (Martin & Nakayama, 1999, p.5).

Eventually, Kim’s (1994) views on IC identity development point towards cultural transformation, with the evolutionary emergence of an in-flux IC personhood that “would discourage the obsessive adherence to the rigid categorization of people, [and the] exclusive loyalty based on past group affiliations” (p. 17). This is summarized in a recent paper on Intercultural Personhood (Kim, 2008) that confirms Kim’s systems-based, evolutionary view of IC identity. The term Intercultural Personhood would then be synonymous of MCI.


As mentioned earlier, Peter Adler (1977) postulated Multicultural Identity as a form of identity characterized by indefinite boundaries; issues of marginality; the risk of diffuse identity, loss of authenticity, and dilettantism. Nevertheless, he described this “new kind of person” as an emerging protagonist in today’s global society. “The identity of the ‘multicultural,’ far from being frozen in a social character, is more fluid and mobile, more susceptible to change, more open to variation (p. 3). This kind of “universal person” would transcend the contextual boundaries of single cultures.


Janet Bennett (1993) uses cultural marginality “to indicate a cultural lifestyle at the edges where two or more cultures meet” (p.113). Several groups fall under the umbrella of this broad definition, including immigrants, refugees, global nomads, and long-term IC sojourners (p.110).

Her approach to IC identity stems from an IC training perspective similar to Milton Bennett’s (1993). To provide a model to deal with the practical consequences of cultural marginality, she suggests two kinds of marginality: encapsulated and constructive marginality. The marginally encapsulated person has difficulties moving between different cultural frames of reference, mainly due to unresolved issues of loyalty towards one or more cultures. The marginally constructive person instead has developed a more secure sense of identity and has the ability to move back and forth between the different frames of reference found in different cultures (J. Bennett, 1993, p.113).

As Evanoff (2001) points out, “the constructive marginal sees this emptiness as space for individual creativity; in the absence of clearly defined rules opportunities arise for creating new ways of doing things. The encapsulated marginal, on the other hand, experiences this emptiness as loss and disorientation; since all standards are culturally constructed, nothing is true and nothing is worth doing. Moving beyond culturally prescribed norms means either that the individual will begin to decisively construct his or her own identity or that there will be a loss of identity, difficulty in decision making, alienation, excessive self-absorption, multiplicity, and a “never-at-home” feeling (p. 23).

Both Adler’s MC person (1977) and J. Bennett’s cultural marginal (1993) display the characteristics of cultural bridges, i.e. of people capable to operate effectively across cultures. The outcome of this kind of IC identity development would then be IC competence.


Relevant to my research topic is the definition transcultural identity. Willis et al (1996) suggest that “people with a significant intercultural experience in their formative years develop a Transnational or Transcultural Identity” (p. 2). This echoes Adler’s (1977) and J. Bennett’s (1993) views, as outlined above. Willis et al (1996) argue that exposure to IC situations during the formative years creates the condition for the emergence of transcultural identity and of a higher level of IC competence.   I must point out that the term transcultural in my research has a broader application. It refers to people that have developed a transcultural perspective through multiple extended experiences in other cultures and that have outgrown their original monocultural acculturation. Such broader application is acknowledged by Tobie (2009).

3.5 The dialogical approach to MCI formation

The approach presented in this section relates to the dialogical approach to ICC outlined in PART ONE. Here I will look more closely to new trends found in the dialogical view of IC identity.

In 1987 Muneo Yoshikawa introduced the concept of the Double Swing Model. Its name derives from the symbol of infinity and signifies a state of cultural “dynamic inbetweennes” where individuals meet on neutral ground.

Martin & Nakayama (1999) argue that “the most challenging aspect of a dialectical perspective is that it requires holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously” (14). Such perspective “reminds us that people are both group members and individuals and intercultural interaction is characterized by both” (p.15). Similarly, Matoba (2003) also suggests the need for IC convergence.

The dialogical approach finds resonance in several articles presented in this review (Rodriguez, 2002; Casmir, 1992; Casmir, 1999; Kim, 1994; Evanoff, 2001; Onwumechili et al, 2003; Xie, 2008). It generally implies letting go of closely-held ideas on one’s cultural identity to venture into a new stage of IC transactions, one that is characterized by a high level of ambiguity (Rodriguez, 2002). I see this stage being located at the interface of processes of MCI formation and ICC competence development. It is an area of transition closely attuned to processes of personal transformation, which will be addressed later in the relevant section. As I mentioned in the introduction, I have approached the writing of this review from a systems-thinking perspective, which implies that my presentation of the literature does not follow a linear rational, but rather encloses different levels of reasoning. This confirms my thesis argument that maintenance and nurturing of MCI is a multidimensional process.

3.6 Alternative VIEWS OF MCI

Sparrow (2000) disagrees with Adler’s and J. Bennett’s etic views on identity and suggests that some people – mostly non-Westerners – display instead a holographic identity that is externally ascribed to a person, and that carries embedded connections to that person’s original culture (p. 178). This brings her to ask “…whether the ideal of a free-acting individual is in itself a western or male viewpoint and second, whether it is an optimal view at all” (p.176), and “…whether the concept of an individuated self, capable of free choice and action is not a construct of western languages and cultures” (p. 178). I believe these are important questions that I should address in my research. She concludes that the results of her research “tend to point to the capacity to integrate cultural identities within oneself, rather than to transcend them as constructivists suggest is possible” (p. 182).

Similarly, Onwumechili et al (2003) argue that “although the multicultural and intercultural person concepts are intriguing, we contend that they are most operative and effective among those who have an individualist or independently self-construed orientation to the world. This is not necessarily the case for those with collectivist or interdependently self-construed orientations” (p. 54). These very ideas find resonance in Xie’s reflections (2009) on IC competence.

Considering identity formation processes in transient people with recurring re-entry experiences, Onwumechili et al (2003) suggest a model based on “Cross and Strauss’ (1998) ‘everyday functions’ of identity: buffering, bonding, bridging, code switching, and accenting individualism” (cited on page 58).[3]

Like Sparrow, Xie (2008) also criticizes current approached to ICC competence. She recognizes that the role of power imbalances has often been disregarded in ICC studies, and that such studies usually focus on the individual and do not consider the larger cultural contexts from which IC experiences originate. The development of personal skills to overcome issues present in IC situations is not enough; a more comprehensive contextual understanding of ICC is needed. Furthermore, she criticizes the use of standardized ICC competence inventories as being biased and generated by dominant cultural discourses (p. 26).


4.         Intercultural Communication Competence

In this area, too I found a very large body of literature that would be difficult to summarize. The literature is rich, as it relates to models for IC training and their application to an array of IC situations. Most available definitions of ICC competence reflect a Western perspective and their use find many scholars in disagreement (Deardorff, 2004, p. 51; Xie, 2009).  Here are some of the terms used in the literature to refer to ICC competence: “cross-cultural adaptation, intercultural sensitivity, multicultural competence, transcultural competence, global competence, cross-cultural effectiveness, international competence, global literacy, global citizenship, cultural competence, and crosscultural adjustment” (Deardorff, 2004, p.32). In this section I will attempt to present some of them.[4]

People that find themselves in a marginal position where identity negotiation processes are constantly at work attempt to maintain an overall sense of balance and functionality. They live at the interface of ICC situations, with a need for understanding a broad spectrum of cultural meanings. To overcome the discomfort and misunderstandings embedded in such experiences, and to improve the quality of their IC interactions, transcultural sojourners develop affective, behavioural, and cognitive resourcefulness that may lead to ICC competence. Collier (1989) suggests that intercultural communication competence “is defined as the mutual avowing confirmation of the interactants’ cultural identities where both interactants engage in behavior perceived to be appropriate and effective in advancing both cultural identities”. Stella Ting-Toomey (1993) defines ICC competence as “the effective identity negotiation process between two or more interactants in a novel communication episode” and links it to communicative resourcefulness, i.e. “the knowledge and the ability to apply cognitive, affective, behavioral resources appropriately, effectively, and creatively in diverse interactive situations (pp.73-74).

The link between ICC competence and communicative resourcefulness is important. The latter concept implies that “a resourceful intercultural communicator knows how to negotiate self-other identities effectively, knows when to follow situational rules and cultural scripts, and knows when to transcend or transform conventions to obtain maximum relational and situational outcomes” (Ting-Toomey, 1993, p.90). Kim (1988) goes even further, by postulating a cultural transformation ensuing from the stress-adaptation-growth process, where  “strangers may reach a level of adaptability in which they are capable of creatively conciliating and reconciling seemingly contradictory characteristics of peoples and events by transforming them into complementary, interacting parts of an integral whole” (p.145). This will be looked at more in details in the section on Transformation.

I support a broad definition of ICC competence that would include several levels of resourcefulness: effective identity negotiation, communication, cognitive, affective, behavioral, ethical resourcefulness (Ting-Toomey, 1993), but also contextual knowledge and relational, dialogical factors.

As seen earlier, transcultural long-term sojourners change and gain a broader cultural perspective that not only may facilitate their IC effectiveness but also promote a new, more flexible and adaptable form of identity. As explained earlier, such process of identity development has been labelled by many IC scholars with various terms such as Multicultural Identity (Adler, 1974), Third-culture Identity (Useem, 1963; Useem et al., 1963), Dynamic In-betweennes (Yoshikawa, 1987), Marginal Identity (Lum, 1982). All these terms do not necessarily define the same degree of IC competence, though they all include a progression of identity development and the emergence of a new transcultural dimension in a sojourner’s life.

Like Adler (1977), Kim (1988) talks about a disintegration phase that derives from an initial internal and external conflict situation, and serves as the basis for the emergence of new evolutionary dynamics (p.144). The ensuing personal transformation is viewed as a form of internal growth that reflects on the sojourners’ ability to interact meaningfully and effectively with their new cultural environment, i.e. their ICC competence.

Howell (1992) believes that effective communication requires a higher level of awareness of how we interact with others. This is even more important in IC situations. He proposes four dimensions of competence: “Unconscious incompetence – this is the stage where you are not even aware that you do not have a particular competence. Conscious incompetence – this is when you know that you want to learn how to do something but you are incompetent at doing it. Conscious competence – this is when you can achieve this particular task but you are very conscious about everything you do. Unconscious competence – this is when you finally master it and you do not even think about what you have such as when you have learned to ride a bike very successfully” (p.29-33).

4.1 Motivation and Mindfulness

I would like to highlight two factors that appear to play an important role in the development of ICC competence:

Motivation sustains the curiosity at the root of IC encounters and reflects “our desire to communicate appropriately and effectively” (Gudykunst, 1993, p. 44). It also refers to “the set of feelings, intentions, needs, and drives associated with the anticipation of or actual engagement in intercultural communication” (Wiseman, 2001). Ting-Toomey,1993) includes communicative motivation as a factor in her ICC competence theory.

Mindfulness is a process by which people draw novel distinctions and categories when dealing with IC situations. This can lead to an enhanced awareness of multiple perspectives in problem solving (Langer, 2000). Gudykunst (1993) suggests that “it is only when we are mindful of the process of our communication that we can determine how our interpretations and messages differ from others’ interpretations of those messages” (p. 43).

This is very important when we consider the link between learning and IC adaptation processes. Citing Langer, Onwumechili et al (2003) remind us that, referring to people operating in IC situations, “those who create new categories resist being stuck with rigid categories, mindsets and ways of seeing the world. Rather than fully adapt to one culture, they live between the borders and boundaries of different cultures. Mindful communication is juxtaposed to mindless communication in which case one does not lend attention to or allow others’ perspectives and worldviews to permeate his or her way of being” (p.51). This is similar to Yoshikawa’s (1987) state of dynamic in-betweennes and posits the emergence of a MCI that may lead to cultural and personal transformation.

The bringing into awareness of IC differences through the practice of mindful communication is central to my research inquiry as it relates directly to people operating at the interface of processes of identity negotiation within an ICC setting. Ting-Toomey emphasizes the relational nature of mindful communication for people with multiple reacculturation experiences (cited in Onwumechili et al, 2003, p.52).

ICC competence theories find practical application also in the field of International Education. The 1996 report of the American Council on International Intercultural Education conference in Warrington, VA provides a link between ICC, learning, and education. The discussion at the conference was on finding answers to questions like “What is meant by a competency? What are the characteristics of a global learner? What are the developmental stages leading to global competency?” (p. 3). The outcome was a definition of a “globally competent learner” and a statement that “Global competency exists when a learner is able to understand the interconnectedness of peoples and systems, to have a general knowledge of history and world events, to accept and cope with the existence of different cultural values and attitudes and, indeed, to celebrate the richness and benefits of this diversity” (p.4). The conference findings emphasize that commitment to life-long learning, responsibility of global citizenship, and the challenge to make a difference in society are fundamental to the emergence of globally competent learners (p.3).

The need for “Habermasian critical awareness” aimed at “social transformation” is considered a first step towards a comprehensive model of ICC competence, beyond the mere development of individual IC skills. To this extent Freire’s [5] ideas on critical consciousness would provide a platform for dealing with issues of social structure and inequality (Xie, 2008, p. 26).

4.2 The DMIS, Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity

As outlined earlier, Milton Bennett’s work (1993, 2004, and 2007) on ICC competence finds application in his Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS), which offers six stages of IC adaptation. Transcultural sojourners that reach the stages of adaptation and integration recognize the value of having more than one cultural perspective, and experience their integration into their emerging MC identity and worldview. Milton Bennett’s model has found application in the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) for the measurement of people’s IC competence and awareness (Hammer et al, 2003).


5.         Transformation, an integral approach

Processes of MCI formation affect transcultural sojourners differently. The higher stages of IC adaptation correspond to an increase in dynamics of MCI formation that may eventually lead to a true transformation, as “an intercultural person’s cultural identity is characteristically open to further transformation and growth” (Kim and Ruben, 1988, p. 313). Kim and Ruben’s approach is anchored in the systems-thinking tradition that views people as open systems (p. 307), similarly to Casmir’s (1999) and Rodriguez’s (2002) views.

As cited in Deardorff (2004), “Kim and Ruben (1992) … advocate ‘intercultural transformation’ which is defined as the ‘process of change in individuals beyond the cognitive, affective, and behavioral limits of their original culture’” (p. 46).

For Adler (1977), “the multicultural person is a radical departure from the kinds of identities found in both traditional and mass societies” (p. 3). At some point, a person’s MCI takes on a new dimension, beyond that person’s original cultural experience. The resulting identity of a transcultural person “represents a new kind of person unfettered by the constricting limitations of culture as a total entity” (p. 11). I intentionally use the term transcultural as it indicates a newer dimension in an IC person’s experience, one that transcends affiliations to single cultures (Kim and Ruben, 1988, p. 318)[6].

This process of MCI building may progress beyond the highest stages of IC adaptation presented by Milton Bennett (1993, 2004, 2007) and reach “a ‘generative’ stage in which entirely new forms of culture are creatively produced” (Evanoff, 2002, p. 25).

This evolutionary process of MCI formation is supported by Mezirow’s Transformative Learning Theory (1991), which postulates emancipatory change through individual transformation. This theory confronts and challenges the taken-for-granted norms, leading to a dramatic shift or transformation in the learner’s way of viewing the world. In her analysis of transformational learning, Lena Wilhelmson (2002) also believes that “perspective transformation leads to a revised frame of reference, and a willingness to act on the new perspective” (p.187).

According to Mezirow’s theory on transformative learning, at the core of transformational learning lies individual learners’ ability to construe, validate, and reformulate the meaning of their experience. The emphasis is on ‘perspective transformation’ as a means to promote personal growth and, eventually, the emergence of a new society. Rather than a polarized society, Mezirow envisions a society that displays the traits of a third-culture, where the new is not just a better version of the old, but is instead based on a new thinking paradigm (Mezirow, 1991; 2000). Such transformational learning is dialectic, suitable to challenge and discuss cultural assumptions through cognitive reflection, which leads “to a dramatic shift or transformation in the learner’s way of viewing the world” by “bringing of one’s assumptions, premises, criteria, and schemata into consciousness and vigorously critiquing them” (Fenwick, 2001, p. 13). “Others’ views can act as mirrors for our own views, opening dialectic, helping us ‘unfreeze’ our ‘meaning perspectives’ (Mezirow, 1991) and assumptions” (Fenwick, 2001, p. 13).  This is consistent to Xie’s argument (2009) for a new approach to ICC education based on Freire’s critical pedagogy (p. 27). Processes of MCI formation that lead to the emergence of a transcultural personhood are therefore intertwined with processes of social transformation where the IC dimension plays a prominent role (Xie, 2008). In the next section I will expand on such view.


Mezirow’s theory of transformative learning is consistent with the transition to a third-culture envisioned by Casmir (1992, 1999). People in IC situations communicate at the interface between personal and socio-cultural dynamics. “What appears to be necessary is a new model for social and cultural relationships. That model needs to go beyond the mere adaptation of old paradigms whose conceptual bases may no longer be adequate” (Casmir, 1992, p. 418).

Here is a definition of TC Building:

What is important here is the realization that participants engage in an active, coordinated, mutually beneficial process of building a relationship. Building a relationship involves more than mere interpersonal communication techniques constrained by predetermined rules, standards, and value systems in expectation of predetermined results. In some cases, participants in such a process may, at least at the onset, not even be able to define the desirable outcomes of their interactions, beyond the fact that relationship itself is something they are striving to achieve and maintain. The forms, the ends, the values, the interactional rules emerge only as the process develops over time, similar to what we observe in the gradual development of cultures – thus the concept “third-culture building (Casmir, 1992, p. 419).

Casmir suggests a new, interdisciplinary paradigm not based on domination-fuelled approaches or rules of logic and reasoning, but instead based on “cooperative, non-threatening, mutually beneficial interactions” to address the many levels of human and environmental interdependence (Casmir, 1992).

More recently TC building has been defined as “the construction of a mutually beneficial interactive environment in which individuals from two different cultures can function in a way beneficial to all involved” (p. 92). Accordingly, Casmir’s model is based on “an ongoing dialogue, a communication process intended to both transmit concepts and negotiate new meanings, which will cease only with the disappearance of that culture – only to see it transformed into a new process as another culture emerges” (Casmir, 1999, p.105).

Casmir focuses on processes, not end states, and proposes his TC building model based on Chaos theory. He – however – disregards the complexities of contextual power issues, and focuses instead on the co-operative, dialogical engagement of individuals to establish a new cultural paradigm beyond the constraints of existing cultural taxonomies (p.92).

Xie (2008) dismisses Casmir’s model as “utopian”, as it “overlooks inequalities existing between cultures” (p.24).  Similarly, Belay (1992) has criticized Casmir’s model for excluding issues of power from his IC discourse (p. 441), and for not dealing with international communication issues, thereby failing “to capture intercultural interactional interdependence in its complexity” (p.440). He warns that where Third-culture building may occur, one needs to be aware of asymmetrical interdependence between the parties involved (p.440). Like Casmir, he also recognizes that in today’s world new identities have emerged that defy single categories. “Indeed, it’s not simply the world around the individual that has become culturally complex, but also the world within the individual. The individual is in constant tension, negotiating meanings and priorities with respect to the various definitional parameters of identity, such as nationhood, ‘race,’ gender, ethnicity, organizational belonging, and religious denomination” (p. 449). He also recognizes that “in assessing the implications of present-day processes, one should first consider that multiple identity entails traumatic challenges to the human personality. As members of cultures, nations, ‘races,’ genders, religions, and so on, individuals search for their places in a highly interconnected and interdependent world” (pp. 449-450).

5.2 Dialogical integrative model

Supporting the TC model, Evanoff (2005) suggests a form of IC integration based on cross-cultural dialogue. Such movement would transcend the limitations typical of IC adaptation processes. “Whereas adaptation may be conceived as the process by which sojourners adapt their personal norms to the norms of the host culture, integration concerns itself both with the psychological process by which individuals begin to incorporate values from the host culture into their own system of values and with the process by which the host culture may also be influenced by the values of sojourners. Transformation should be seen not simply in terms of individuals changing themselves to  fit into their host cultures but also as the process by which host cultures transform themselves to accommodate the presence of sojourners” (pp. 423-24).


Similarly, Roth (2003) envisions the emergence of a cultural Bricolage, or creolization which would lead “to the transgression of traditionally defined cultures along the lines of nation states, leading to the emergence of a new ‘third space’ or ‘third culture’ (Kaya, p. 173). Creolization leads to the emergence of new, transnational identities and syncretic cultures. Identity and culture no longer develop along fixed trajectories but in dynamic, interactional, and complex patterns” (par. 82). Roth offers a practical approach to the understanding of IC identities, inspired by Varela’s notion (cited in Roth, 2003) that scientific theories should explain our personal experience. Roth’s article (2003) is particularly relevant to my research approach in that it recognizes that:

Questions about culture and how it mediates identity are complex, and for those who have never spent time in another culture, comprise hidden dimensions. On the other hand, those who have moved between cultures, whether as individuals or living as minority or in a diaspora, often speak of the tremendous personal struggles involved along the lines of ethnicity, language, and the like (par. 6);

I am interested in identity, not the construct, but identity as a lived experience. In this sense, it is a dialectical construct, for it involves change and permanence (p. 23);

Increasingly I have become aware of the fact that we define who we are in terms of narratives of past events, the roles we have played in our lives, the successes and failures, in terms of the activities that we engage in, our occupation, marital status, number of children, or the music we listen to (par. 49);

We can construct our identities only if we are able to experience others’ reactions to our attitudes and behaviour. Unless we are defined by others, we cannot represent ourselves (KAYA, p.41), (par. 50);

cultural identity is rather acquired and renewed in a continuous dialogue between self and external world (KAYA, p.162), (par. 89).



6.         Research Question. Interface Between MCI Formation and IC Competence

In her integrative theory on communication and cross-cultural adaptation, Kim (1988) emphasizes that “if strangers are to become successfully adapted, they must above all enhance their host communication competence and actively participate in the interpersonal and mass communication processes of the host society” (p. 81).

Nowadays transcultural people are interacting concurrently with multiple cultural settings. The globalizing transformations that have affected the world over the past twenty years have considerably increased opportunities for communicating almost instantly across previously clear demarcation lines (Tobie, 2009). Such revolution in communication opportunities has changed the dynamics of IC adaptation. As Tobie (2009) writes, “it is no longer possible to simply ‘assimilate’ or ‘integrate’ … new arrivals considered severed from their group of origin. Indeed today’s immigrants stay in touch with their nucleus, thanks to the telephone which is now almost free, thanks to the web; they exchange videotapes, photographs, instant messages and webcam conversations with their relatives; they watch their national television channels thanks to satellite TV.”

This new scenario provides a backdrop for my research inquiry into the experience of transcultural sojourners and the ways in which they maintain and nurture their MCI.

Transcultural sojourners live at the uneasy junction between personal and social dynamics. They engage in a dialogical relationship with both their present and past cultural environments to which they have been exposed. To that extent, they are involved in the development of ICC competence at an appropriate[7] level that allows them to function in a culturally different setting and to retain a balanced identity.

Dialogical communication, as envisioned by thinkers such as David Bohm, Martin Buber, Fred Casmir, Muneo Yoshikawa, Richard Evanoff, Peter Adler, Lise Sparrow, and many others cited in this review, can provide a suitable perspective for transcultural sojourners’ ever-evolving MCI. It aims at the development of a high level of dialogue competence (Matoba, 2002, p. 143) that can also help address issues of oppression and power as advocated by Xie (2008).


The question may be asked whether the ICC competence emerging in an increasingly intertwined world would benefit from a Chaos Theory approach as suggested by Casmir (1999). In other words, is ICC competence more about understanding IC dynamics and IC relationships, rather than being about the mechanistic knowledge of fixed cultural traits? I would argue that one cannot possibly develop a well-rounded and dynamic ICC competence as long as this depends on factual and rather essentialist descriptions of others’ reality (Evanoff, 2006, p. 428). I believe that true and adapting ICC competence emerges from reflective, experiential, transformative learning stemming from dealing with the nuances, traps, and dynamics inherent in IC situations. Transcultural sojourners need more than a directory of “cultural differences to learn about,” although that has its merit. They might instead benefit from a new paradigmal approach to ICC, one that is outspokenly interdisciplinary, hardly scientific (in the way the hard sciences are), and widely chaotic with regards to predictability, ambiguity and definitions.


To conclude, I have added an initial set of questions relevant to the research topic, Nurturing and maintenance of MCI in the experience of transcultural people. They were iteratively derived from my reflections during the drafting of this first literature review.

What is it like for the respondents to be a MC person?

What is the respondents’ definition of MCI/transcultural personhood?

What is the respondents’ definition of ICC competence?

What do people do to nurture and maintain their MCI?

Is/was there a place where the respondents feel/felt they were completely themselves?

What are the factors of MCI/transcultural personhood in people with multiple transcultural experiences?

How do transcultural experiences affect processes of MCI formation in people with multiple transcultural experiences?

What are the consequences of the development of a MCI in people with multiple transcultural experiences? What – if any – are the transformative dynamics at play? What are the respondents’ transformative experiences with regard to their IC learning and MCI formation?

What is the role of context in the development of a MCI in people with multiple transcultural experiences?

How do people with multiple transcultural experiences go about developing appropriate ICC competence? What are their acculturation strategies?

What are the personality traits displayed by people with multiple transcultural experiences?

What are the perceived barriers to the development of a MCI in people with multiple transcultural experiences?

What motivates people to pursue repeated transcultural experiences away from their original cultures?

What are the dynamics of learning in processes of ICC competence development in people with multiple transcultural experiences?

What influence do transcultural people exert on their host cultures? What – if any – are the Third-culture building dynamics at play?

What are the factors that influence an individual’s internal negotiation of cultural identity?

What are the personality consequences of suppressing certain aspects of one’s identity and focusing on others?

Additional suggested questions

“…to what extent the solutions posed by the Bennetts’ ‘constructive marginality’ are valid for women and ethnic minorities.” (Sparrow, p. 175)

“…whether the ideal of a free-acting individual is in itself a western or male viewpoint and second, whether it is an optimal view at all.” (Sparrow, p.176)

“…whether the concept of an individuated self, capable of free choice and action is not a construct of western languages and cultures.” (Sparrow, p. 178)


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[1] Refer to my research proposal for more detailed discussion of my research question.

[2] Bateson, G. (1972). Steps toward the ecology of mind. New York: Ballantine.

[3] “Buffering is the act of protecting and insulating oneself from potential identity threats. One way this can be done is by ‘‘putting up a wall’’ between oneself and another interactant. Bonding functions to enhance personal connectedness via attachment to the cultural collective as a means of alleviating psychological stress. A transient accomplished this function by reestablishing friendship networks immediately upon reentry. Bridging refers to the attempt to be empathetic toward a cultural other’s worldview. This requires that the transient learn the latest news on community and personal occurrences before or immediately upon reentry and relearn the codes of the ingroup. Code switching is an adaptive function that temporarily relieves others’ negative perceptions of one’s cultural competency by not only relearning the code, but by attempting to adhere to it in order to appear as one of the ingroup members” (Onwumechili et al, 2003, p. 58)

[4] For a comprehensive overview of IC Competence, see Wiseman, R. (2001).

[5] View my posts on Freire and related issues at

[6] “The present term intercultural personhood is preferred because it is more general and inclusive than other similar terms without implying any specific cultural attributes. It portrays personal characteristics that transcend any given cultural group. Unlike the term multicultural person, it does not imply that the individual necessarily ‘possesses’ characteristics of more than one culture. Unlike the term universal person, it does not suggest an awareness and appreciation of all groups of the world (Kim and Ruben, 1988, p. 318)”

[7] Deardorff (2004) and Xie (2008) raise questions on the term “appropriate” ICC competence. This is a contested issue in the field of ICC.


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