The paper considers alterations that take place in the course of intercultural Ñommunication, caused by rapid growth of the new mass communication medium, playing a significant role in the cultural integration. Their function in the process is surprisingly ambiguous: wide audience, new cultural space impacts greatly public consciousness and the character of interaction between the cultures.
Integration of the telecommunication and communication means guarantee remote access and immediate exchange for the data, sound and audio images. The new mass communication medium created favorable conditions for establishment of the virtual relations and ties between people. The evolution of information in communication gives the base for the new forms of the social contacts based on the systems of technological interaction. Nowadays the virtual world is interpreted as a free-standing social reality featured by special semeiotic, normative, psychological and managerial aspects. «The new media, indeed, affect and involve us fully as social and political as well as economic beings.» (Poster, 1999; page 11)
Virtual community as a part of new media
Exploring the new communication medium, people tend to establish new collective forms of interaction for the psychological comfort, professional, or individual purposes. The Internet is a communication medium with its own logic and language, it is not confined to one particular area of cultural expression, it cuts all of them. (Castells, 2001, page 200). H. Rheingoldand (1998), a well known American ideologist of informationalism, defined the term virtual community as a self- organizing electronic network of interactive communications integrated around common interests or purposes.
Value of subjects or events for a person is governed by a subjective attitude towards them, the personal interest. The interest can be understood as a conscient or inconscient desire, favour/aversion, proneness, sympathy/antipathy, love/ hatred felt by people. The main feature of such interpretation is the fact that interests are socially conditioned by the life style. Many scientists consider the world wide web as the virtual space where more open and comfortable relations between people can be formed. However interactions in the virtual communities are rather oriented to reproduction of the structural integrity on the ground of similar interests, ideals, values and wishes.
As it has been observed by some researchers, communications in the virtual space are characterized by fleetingness of relations. It is caused by changes in interests and their attitudes of people towards the psychological peculiarities of the virtual communication. In reality communications between members of separate teleconferences forums, and chats can grow into the long-term and effective relations and the members will be also able to maintain personal and business bonds in real life.
The phenomenon of the virtual community lies in the possibility to realize the intensional data exchange and to control with the account for the global discourse into the world of computer-mediated technologies. Each new virtual community is considered to be not only a generalized entity with the already existing social and cultural interactions but rather a expectable territory where new relations and forms of communication can be formed. A.Krocker and M.Weinstein (1994) pay attention to the problem of the so called «lonely crowd». In their point of view the technologically generated community proficiently masks the human loneliness. The problem of emotional poverty distinctive for the modern culture is referred to the category of traditional themes in the present-day humanities: E. Durkheim, R. Merton, E. Fromm, etc. The overwhelming majority of social contacts are utilitarian, and their arguments are functional. The deep singleness and impoverishment of the emotional life provoke stresses. It is possible to create a corporative resource but members of the corporation will utilize it in the utilitarian way, never allotting it with communicative or interactive functions.
Communication in the virtual community implements the compensatory function. It is most likely that computer mediated communications provide tools to solve more everyday problems like the ability to keep in touch with concrete people, to promote oneself or the corporative image, to keep informed of the world’s news and events, to be aware of specific information, etc.
Demand for self-expression, development of different communicative scenarios, search for methods of self-identification are the motivational factors in development of different forms of the internet communication. When creating a virtual community, the individual creates the virtual identity that is manifested in real occupations of those who ranked themselves among the community. The process of socialization combines a free choice of forms of informational interaction with enforcement, and network society’s sanctioning of these communicative practices. Thereat, enforcement is already revealed in the process of mastering of the native language, which organizes the individuals’ thinking. (Konstantinov, 2008)
The first knowledge of the person about the social Internet-reality is got in the process of basic socialization. It is almost impossible to set the lowest age threshold of the basic cyber-space socialization: the basic socialization process starts from the moment of getting the information about the Internet cyber-space phenomenon existence, and this very moment of primary informing depends upon various social-economical, political and other factors.
In its turn, the basic socialization process can be divided into two stages: 1) archetypical and 2) instrumental-cognitive. In the process of the archetypical stage of the basic socialization, cyberspace subjective reality is formed in the mind of the individual on the basis of cultural artifacts: while getting acquainted with publications, advertisements, films, books, novels and so on and so forth. Thereat, the process of socialization goes on exclusively on the basis of perception of social myths, connected to the cyber-space functioning; and peers, parents, teachers of the corresponding classroom disciplines act as socialization agents. It is important to notice, that the archetypical stage of socialization process is originally inherent in cyber-space. Yet, before the global computer networks have appeared, mythological image of the virtual environment has been created in the literary works of writers-fantasts and been forecast in scientific publications. Thus, in their conscious, future computer users have performed social constructing of the objective reality of a new human-machinery world, which advent has been only awaited.
The press actually exerts a strong influence on the process of basic socialization, and in the course of this process, construction of the virtual reality world takes place on the personal level. Thereat, social myths compensate the individuals the lack of basic knowledge about society functioning in the cyber-space, and also contribute to shaping of the socialization process continuation motives.
Thus, at the given stage, the process of socialization is concluded in constructing of the future virtual identity, and also in cognitive integration of the person with the roles of these or those subjects, acting in the cyber-space. Precisely on this very stage, the user is got first acquainted with social norms, functioning in the cyber-space, and also digests basic elements of the network ethics. His behavior forms the system of inter-connected roles and expectations of the contact with the virtual environment. Thereat, there is created a pluralistic reality, which has a well-defined fragmentary character; in the result of his cognitive experience, the person accepts the cyber-space behavior models of evaluative orientation, which are well-spread within the public conscience.
The archetypical stage of socialization is over after the user has been connected to the telecommunication networks, and further the instrumental-cognitive stage begins. We are to take into consideration that on this new stage the individual has to be socialized simultaneously in two dimensions. First of all, it is a social community of the cyber-space. Secondly, it is a concrete Internet-community, wherein the individual participates. In the process of the instrumental-cognitive stage of socialization, the user meets alternative patterns of thinking and behavior, and also a reconstructive form of social memory of virtual network societies. Thereat, the individual studies concrete role orientations, studies to perform social navigation in the cyber-space and to interact with others, cognates normative models of social interactions, he experiences the impact of social control mechanism on himself.
Processes of socialization of the virtual network communities’ participants take place in the frames of in-group attitudes and intergroup interactions development. So, it is possible to single out the following: 1) forms of ritual interaction: presentations, forms of address, greetings, goodbyes and so on; 2) usage of peculiar pseudonyms – «nicknames»; 3) special symbolic systems, being used only in the given social group – national language, jargon, slang, etc.
Independently from motivation of the individuals, having entered the virtual group, and in order the community, which has gathered the necessary number of participants, could function efficiently, the users should experience the feeling of collective identity. «Maintained with computer help, the context of communication obligatory stipulates the act of imagination, which has to provoke the image of integrity with other individuals, who are most often faceless or even anonymous» (Foster, 1997; page 25). Due to collective identity, virtual network community becomes the subject of social interaction.
Solidarity of the Internet-community is defined by the degree of its attractiveness from the point of view of the user, participating in it. Individuals think, feel and behave in accordance with the social characteristics of the communities, which they belong to at a certain moment of time. In the course of communicative practices, performed on a regular basis, community participants build up a collective «we», i.e. collective identity. Yet, at the end of XIX century, E. Durkheim has revealed an integrating quality of the group conscious: «The group thinks, feels quite differently, than its members would do it separately. Then, if we base on these latter ones, so we shall not understand anything of that, what is going on inside the group.» (Durkheim, 1995; page 91)
Does the formation process of collective identity of virtual network communities’ participants contain the elements of subjectivity? The answer to this question will be certainly positive, because, as it has been asserted by J.M. Jasper: «Collective identity is not simply a pattern of the cognitive boarder, it is more than this – it is emotions of other participants of the group, based on the care of their membership maintenance.» (Jasper, 1998; page 18).
Thus, informational culture of users should be considered as a precondition of socio- cultural integration and also of disintegration of the cyber-space social system, taken as a whole. Informational culture characteristics are latent and reflect the activity of a person as a cognizing subject, who is constantly interpreting senses, being hidden in symbolic interactions.
Thereat, the process of senses interpretation presents by itself a social process. Interpretation depends as on the language, by which means communication is performed, so on the user’s culture, historical context, social structure, and also on political factors. Moreover, users’ cognitive abilities take their origin in the previous social interactions, and it means we are to consider this factor as well.
It is accepted that language is one of the most important factors of the person’s identity, that is why it became traditional to speak about close language and culture connection. Culture is created during the process of the interactions of individuals. A person belongs to a particular culture not only because of the system of knowledge, which he or she shares with the other people, but also due to patterns of activity and interaction accepted in the community. Common knowledge and activity patterns (or interactional knowledge) shared by the particular community members ensure harmonic interaction and successful mutual understanding in the intracultural communication process.
The problem of reaching mutual understanding (both cross- cultural and intracultural) is usually defined by researchers as the problem of cultural identity of the communicants , identity sets on the on the basis of self-identification with particular values and norms historically accepted in certain culture and gained by the person in the culturalization and socialization processes.
Development of anthropological paradigm in cultural and linguistical researches observes the problem of cross-cultural communication in a different way: cultural identity is defined not only by the language itself but by its usage for different communicative and cognitive aims in a certain linguistic and cultural environment. A certain language is regarded as a specific channel and a cultural code to establish mutual understanding. That suggests ability of a particular language usage in accordance with functioning conditions as a certain cultural code. It also means that it is impossible to decode correctly main points of the message having not enough knowledge of the culture.
A person realizes one’s identity being the part of a certain culture. This realization is fixed in language consciousness and is reflected in communicative behavior. Communicative behavior is the sum of norms and traditions of communication accepted in a particular lingual culture.
The subject of communication can recognize person as familiar or unknown due to person’s discourse activity. Such identity may be named as linguacultural identity. Linguacultural identity is an identity being formed on the basis of recognition and usage by the subject of communication models of discourse events accepted in a particular culture and gained by the subject in the socialization process.
Due to the rapid recent development of the communication and information means as well as the social, political, and economic changes, have led to the tendency that more and more people cross cultural barriers, that earlier were dividing them, and co-operate with representatives of other cultures, that are significantly different from traditional ones. Millions of people have found themselves in new cultures that threaten their linguacultural identity.
Cross-cultural communication is the process of personal interaction of individuals from different language and cultural communities. The popular opinion that people are able to reach mutual understanding just because they speak a common language is a dangerous illusion. Each language provides a unique system of means using which people understand and explore the world and others. According to this problem of interaction, the problem of intercultural communications became extremely important and interesting. It gives the chance to see distinction of consciousness sign mechanisms of representatives of different cultures, seeks to establish reasons and to define the connection with the recently emerged tendency of united cultural space spaces formation.
In order to understand a representative of the other culture a person should know of that there are different cultures, languages, norm, values, different ways of thinking and expressing the «self». This awareness can be defined as the first and the most important stage in the linguacultural transformation process , that provides a personality with an ability to restore the balance through the search for the correspondence of the image of the world and the environment that has been changed. It also helps a person to adopt himself to the endless variety of real communication situations and to choose definite discourse strategies and models of discourse events in each particular episode. Linguacultural transformation makes it possible to define a new person’s role in the changed communicative context and thus to save the integrity of a person. Thus there are two global tasks for a modern subject of communication: 1. A person has to be in a constant search for his or her identity and has to defend it; 2. A person should have an experience and ability to transform his or her linguacultural identity when he or she meets something strange unusual and alien. In other words a person should be able to transform himself and to save his own integrity.
The process of transformation begins from the stage of misunderstanding and even hostility towards the other culture and discourse activity leads to a result that a person not only accepts cultural differences, but is willing and able to adjust his own communicative behavior to conform to different norms, to empathize with people from different cultures. Such bi-cultural and bi-lingual person doesn’t forget the modals of discourse events accepted in native culture but integrates the other culture models into his or her language consciousness. Identity transformation gives a person an opportunity to decode specific cultural information coded in these or those models of cultural events, it also makes possible to reach psychological compatibility with the representatives of the other culture, it helps a person to understand and sometimes to accept new cultural norms and values. Experience of cross-cultural communication grounded on mutual understanding of the interlocutors gives a person a new basis for his or her identity, and broadens the space in which he or she can feel comfortable and understandable.
There are three major theories of the international communication processes analysis: cultural imperialism, cultural hybridization, and globalization.
«Media imperialism is often described as a process whereby the United States and Western Europe produce most of the media products, make the first profits from domestic sales, and then market the products in Third World countries at costs considerably lower than those the countries would have to bear to produce similar products at home.» (Ogan 1988; page 94).
Cultural globalization term «refers to worldwide cultural standardization – as in ‘Coca Colonization’ and ‘McDonaldization’ – as well as to postcolonial cultures, cultural pluralism, and ‘hybridization.’ The various aspects of globalization that have promoted growing contacts between different cultures, leading partly to greater understanding and cooperation and partly to the emergence of transnational communities and hybrid identities.» (Moghadam, 2005; page 35).
Cultural hybridization is unobjectionable when actors perceive it to be under their own control, but is resisted when they see it threatening their moral integrity. Others object to discussions of cultural hybridization that fail to recognize that effects of hybridization are experienced differently by those with power and those without power. The idea of cultural hybridization has been criticized severely because the very attempt to talk about cultural mixtures assumes that “pure” cultures existed prior to mixing. (Schultz, Lavenda, 2009)
The term “Globalization” was widely spread in the later 1990s and early 2000, it is important to notice that that it meant different things to different scholars. For some it was virtually a synonym for cultural imperialism, for others for the spread of modernity and for others its primary referent was economic, the spread either of free markets, or of fundamentalist free-market economic doctrine. (Downing, 2008)
New media technologies, widely available nowadays in different forms provide greater sender and receiver interaction than was possible ever before been. Therefore, the cultural imperialism argument that has been framed in terms of center nations with power over disempowered periphery nations must be reevaluated as the advanced media slowly penetrate into developing nations.
Intercultural media effects denotes the idea of change or modification to the culture of individuals living in a given society induced as a result of their exposure to media content produced in another society. Cultural diffusion occurs when an individual faced with a situation in which the cultural habits of his own society are not fully satisfactory, copies the behavior of the members of another society. While throughout history humans have interpersonally channeled cultural diffusion, today electronic media that span the globe at tremendous speeds can potentially contribute to the diffusion of culture. When exposure to imported television programs is found to influence some aspect of a local viewer’s culture, an appropriate label for this effect is media-accelerated culture diffusion (MACD). (Elasmar, 2008 ).
The concept «intercultural communications» was formulated for the first time in 1954 in G.Trager’s and E. Hall’s work «Culture and communications. Analysis model». In this work intercultural communications were defined as the ideal aim which the person should follow, in desire to adapt to the surrounding world as better and effectively as possible.
At the cultural level unstable identity «poses both dangers and challenges which, if they become part of a political movement, or a connected with the politics of feminism, ethnic/racial minorities, gay and lesbian positions, may lead to a fundamental challenge to modern social institutions and structures. Communication theory needs to account for electronically mediated communication and by doing so take its proper place of importance in general social theory.» (Poster, 1995; page 56)
Today’s features of intercultural communications are studied on a interdisciplinary level within the limits of such sciences as cultural science, psychology, linguistics, sociology, ethnology and etc., each of which uses special approach to the framework and to the analysis, therefore, it is clear that problem of intercultural communications cannot be reduced only to the language problem. The knowledge of language of the other culture carrier is necessary, but still it is not enough for a adequate mutual understanding of the participants of the communicative act. Moreover, cross-cultural communications assume existence of not only divergences between two different languages, but also distinctions when using one language .
Today, basing on E. Hall, E. Sapir and B. Whorf, F. Boas works and their followers (A. Kardiner, R. BenediÑt, M. Mead researches) it is possible to allocate some patterns (Piker, 1998) of intercultural communications:
The culture is impossible out of the communicative process;
The culture influences the behaviour of the person;
Language and culture are interconnected, exactly specifics of verbal communications depends on features represented by communicants from different cultures;
The sender and the addressee of the message belong to different cultures and realize cultural differences of each other;
Intercultural communications are based on a process of the symbolical interaction between individuals and groups, cultural distinctions of which is possible to distinguish.
Besides, in intercultural communication macroculture and microculture spheres can be marked out.
The types of culture allocated on continental sign and scale, have received the name of macrocultures. Many people are a part of one or other public groups possessing the cultural features. From the structural point of view it is microcultures (subcultures) in a structure macroculture. Each microculture has simultaneously similarity and distinction to the maternal culture that provides their representatives with a similar perception of the world. Differently, subcultures may be defined as cultures of different social groups and layers in one society.
The structure of our consciousness greatly reflects surrounding world that is why radical changes occurred in this world could not pass without leaving traces in a culture. Therefore prompt development of the mass communication means certainly should affect both culture in a whole, and in a particular intercultural communication.
However recently in a context of the present global problems necessity for occurrence of integrative type of culture arose, that will form a consolidation basis of all humanity. As a result there will be a rapprochement of national cultures and values, strengthening cultural, communication ties, and achievements of science and the arts, new forms of social and political activity will quickly spread and acquired in modern society, forming its integrity. Simultaneously with that formation of a new integral culture, or single cultural space, does not mean unification of cultural norms, ways of perception and comprehension of the world, cultural genotypes, systems of traditions. Any ethnos, state, or society should perceive from global system common cultural ties and interactions that are compatible with their traditions, mentality, psychological turn of mind.
Special value in cultural integration is given to the means of mass media, and their function in this process is extremely ambiguous. They, certainly, possess a set of characteristics (speed of information transaction, availability in any point of planets, possibility of simultaneous translation from any language and etc.) which allows implement in life the idea of integrated culture. However worldwide distribution of identical cultural samples, an openness of borders for cultural influences and extending cultural dialogue force to speak about globalization process in modern culture.
Means of visual and sound information transfer allowed to create ideal cultural patterns of global scale which form preconditions to the beginning of a new era – the metacultural period of economic development. Globalization of backbone links caused such way of cultural expansion which is carried out by transfer of cultural models on informational level, outwardly and unilaterally leveling sociocultural processes worldwide, forming cultural patterns. Universal cultural patterns do not reflect objectively sociocultural, political and economic conditions of the present and historical formation of culture of the countries where these informational paradigms are now being created and shaped. In effect, global informational patterns in the cultural plan can «mesmerize» consciousness and activity of broad masses almost in all Third World countries.
Informational cultural stereotypes, outwardly based on the on democratic principles, do not contain ideological elements of any religion, but ignore both fundamental historical roots, and features of economic development of separate countries.
Speaking about influence of the mass media means on intercultural communication at microlevel, it is necessary to point out that the general characteristic feature of all types is unconsciousness of cultural distinctions by its participants (with the exception elite). The matter is that culture propagandized by the majority of mass media means characterized by staginess, stereotypification, standardization, availability, clearness, created semblance of the accessibility of other, easier existence for the individual that should promote subconscious belief in advantages of certain way of life, to its noncritical acceptance and idealization.
Media do not have a simple one-way relation to society and culture, there is a continuous interaction between them and the outcomes are complex, unpredictable and different, depending on a particular situation. The media are more likely to influence indirectly, but the effects should not be underestimated.
The internet can be described as a new communication environment, that is why taking into account that communication is the most important human activity, all aspect of social life are being modified under the influence of internet itself and its users. Virtual communities, as a part of a network society, significantly influence people’s lives, mind, identity (both individual and cultural). This transformation causes many opportunities as well as challenges. On the one hand, internet provides various opportunities for educational purposes, free access to the information worldwide, quick information exchange, and this significantly smooth out social inequality, because the only thing you need is access to the internet. Moreover learning about the wider worlds, provision of social interaction basis, developing the imagination also attribute to the modern means of mass communication. On the other hand internet is rather chaotic system, with a great number of mistakes, false and harmful information, where it is not so easy to find what one’s needs in this information flood. Widely spread patterns and erased cultural as well as national borders, form system without explicit identity. Communication, as a part of human life, shifted from a real world to network, so if a person is off-line he or she is separated from the society. Person needs not only constant access to the internet, but moreover the presence in a virtual space. English is a most popular language in a net, still it is important to remember about the unity of language and consciousness. «For many people, widespread use of English can be considered a threat to cultural identity, and, in many parts of the world, can bring to mind of a long colonizing history.» (Kramarae, 1999; page 50).
For the most part of Internet users English is not a mother tongue, and not all of them have a good knowledge of English, that is why there is not an idle threat of the consciousness retrogression. Mass media have been said to lead to decrease in cultural standards, social diversity, personal isolation, increased passivity and depressive tendencies. «In our current era of globalization, international and intercultural communication in a single dominant language may have two opposite results: on the one hand, it may give rise to segregation between the haves and the have-nots; on the other hand, it may facilitate connections between the two.» (Hashimoto, Kudo, 2010; page 386).
And only facing representatives of other cultures, it is found out that habitual models of behaviour cease to work that one professions, places for leisure and entertainment, shops and it is etc. are more prestigious than others and a way to propagandized success not so is simple, and sometimes and is unattainable. It is especially dangerous to young generation when the emotional sphere develops on the basis of feeling of satisfaction or a dissatisfaction.
So, gradually the society and culture around the child becoming for it the only unique and existing world. World with which it completely identifies itself.
The picture of the world is formed under the influence of mass culture and kept in a consciousness of the person, this picture does not always adequately reflect the reality. In result the impossibility of an embodiment of one or other ideas can lead to feeling of inferiority in relation to own culture: loss of identity with own culture, absence of identification with a culture of the majority; feeling of loneliness (isolation); violation of the role expectations and feeling of the self-identification; the alarm passing in indignation and disgust after recognition of cultural distinctions, and, as result, teenagers death from an anorexia, alcoholism, a drug addiction, increased number of hermitry cases, all of this are the features of acculturation and cultural shock.
Thanks to mass medi