The Notion of Culture in Linguistic Research
Many works on intercultural communication from the field of linguistics share the assumption that influences of culture on social interaction will manifest in communicative exchanges—and conversely, that an academic's look at these exchanges will be a sufficient basis for an adequate description of what intercultural communication is supposed to be about. Linguistic theory itself lacking of places to integrate culture as a factor into its concepts, urges scholars to borrow operationalizations of culture from neighboring disciplines like e.g. different strands of psychology, sociology or anthropology. Approaches resulting from this transdisciplinary orientation as a consequence share very divergent assumptions on how, at what moment in a communicative process and with what effects culture influences social interaction. While many surveys on similar behalf distinguish between primordial and constructionist approaches, a closer look at different strands of empirical linguistic research may reveal even more precise and detailed distinctions on how culture may be captured and framed. This article will present and analyze a selection of approaches from the mentioned field, e.g. from intercultural and contrastive pragmatics, interactional sociolinguistics, ethnography of communication, ethnomethodology as well as discourse analysis. In each case, the underlying notions of culture will be revealed and put into contrast. Additionally, this exemplary analysis may show that most of the empirical schools mentioned follow and adopt changing notions of culture from social theory over time.
academic concepts of culture; primordialism; constructionism; effects of culture on social interaction