Shannon Ahrndt, University of Missouri-St. Louis
Copyright Year: 2020
Publisher: University of Missouri - St. Louis
Conditions of Use
Covers the content expected. I appreciate all the works cited sections at the end of the chapters as well to see their references. I think a section at the beginning of each chapter defining key terms would be beneficial. I also like the... read more
Covers the content expected. I appreciate all the works cited sections at the end of the chapters as well to see their references. I think a section at the beginning of each chapter defining key terms would be beneficial. I also like the explanation of some of the exercises that have been used when looking at cultural awareness. It provides a lot of resources to look into to use for courses.
I believe the content is accurate and free of bias, but there are several points in the book that the author tells their own story. I think these would make better boxed out discussion or authors thoughts rather than in the middle of the text. The author also lists all of their references.
The content is up to date but I think many of the sections and references will seem poorly written as time goes on (refers to things in recent history, etc...). I do like the historic timelines of important dates and those will be easy to update. But the in-text references will be harder to update.
Fairly clear but I think a chapter in the beginning that clearly defined key words, or having tabs off of the text to do so would be helpful. Some of the definitions of terms you had to read the whole section to decipher the authors definition. Also, lots of first person story telling. I like the stories, but think they should be separated from the researched information.
The author is consistent throughout the entire book.
The text is obviously divided but I think it may even be more beneficial to break into even smaller segments. I like books that make it easy to break up the reading into small segments with clear places you can stop and resume at later dates. This does have several subsections you can do this with in some chapters but others it doesn't work as well. Chapter 1 is a bit too long and reads dry.
Topics are all introduced but I find the flow of the book a bit choppy for some reason. It might be because the book jumps from personal story to research, then to definitions and back and forth.
I did not have any issues with interface with the online text.
No issues that I noticed but I will admit, this is not my strong point.
It is a book about Intercultural Communications. It can't get much more culturally relevant than that. The examples the text used are all relevant to evaluating cultural awareness and competence.
I like the exercises at the end of the chapters. I also enjoy the authors personal notes, just wish they were introduced outside of the chapter reading. I would also add a list of terms and definitions at the beginning of the chapter for quick reference. Overall a good text. My biggest concern is the amount of timely references made in the book and how they will hold up and read with time.
This book, unfortunately, is not comprehensive. The textbook proposes a focus on intercultural communication and, while this is a recurring theme throughout (particularly in the opening chapter), much of the content focuses more on the... read more
This book, unfortunately, is not comprehensive. The textbook proposes a focus on intercultural communication and, while this is a recurring theme throughout (particularly in the opening chapter), much of the content focuses more on the "intercultural" side of "intercultural communication." The selections compiled by the editor into this text stem largely from Sociology and, while this is helpful to a degree from the perspective of interdisciplinarity, Communication teachers looking to use this book in an Intercultural Communication course will find the book quite light in terms of explicit focus on communication theories, practices, and situations. The text does not include an index, though it does include highlighted key terms throughout. Such terms are also noted at the outset of each chapter alongside core learning objectives. Each chapter also ends with a bulleted summary of key themes and most chapters (there is an inconsistency here) also include some exercises for students. Unfortunately, the learning objectives and summaries are often quite lengthy; a more refined list of student goals and key takeaways would be helpful.
The book does not contain, to my eye, significant issues in accuracy of content. The primary issue, as noted elsewhere in this review, stems from the need for a richer focus on Communication Studies as a discipline, broadly, and Intercultural Communication as a rich subfield of that discipline, specifically. Of particular concern, in my view, is that multiple chapters (namely, Ch. 5 on class and Ch. 7 on sexuality) lack a rich engagement with scholarship and other evidence. Rather than drawing upon work by academics and others, these chapters rely primarily on Wiki sources. And, while such sources can be useful as sites for general information, they lack a needed rigor and richness in the context of a textbook to be assigned to students.
This textbook is inconsistent in terms of relevance. At times, examples are up-to-date (as in parts of Ch. 7 on sexuality). More often than not, however, the data marshaled and the examples proffered in this book lack a necessary recency. There are, for instance, multiple occasions where data is marshaled from the 1990s or 2000s. Such data is not explicitly connected to the present moment or even a more recent moment. It is, instead, used without sufficient context in a way that is troubling and would, in my view, lead a faculty member assigning this textbook to have to fill in the gaps on her own.
The seven chapters compiled by the editor into this text are, by and large, clearly written. Terms are clearly defined and highlighted, and the book appears as one would expect a textbook to appear. The prose is accessible was easy to follow. At times, however, I would have appreciated more explicit engagement with the student audience. It is not always clear that these chapters conceive of students as the primary audience; for instance, this is more common in Ch. 1 and Ch. 2 and much less so in later chapters.
By and large, the textbook has a clear flow and is consistent in terms of terminology and framework. Because the chapters are taken from a variety of original open-access sources, however, there are occasional repeats in key terms and the style of language/prose is not always as consistent as one would like. Moreover, as noted elsewhere in this review, there are a few chapters that lack exercises for students at the end.
The textbook can certainly be divided into modules over the arc of a semester, quarter, or other class. I wish, though, that the chapters were more even in length. Ch. 1 and Ch. 2 are quite dense, and would likely need to be split up over a few days (depending on the level of the course and one's students). The latter chapters, on the other hand, were quite short and, at times, led to me desiring more information, content, and examples. That said, chapters all contain helpful subheadings and would be easily assigned to students in this regard.
Yes. The textbook, as compiled, moves from overarching theory in the beginning chapters to more specific subject areas. This makes sense at a logical level.
Yes. I found no significant issues with the interface. Links (at least those I clicked, worked) and images, charts, and figures were clear on the pages.
There are a handful of grammatical errors in this text. I noticed a few typos, words missing or out of order, and so forth. By and large, however, this is not a distracting issue.
I found no significant issues here. The textbook works purposefully to cite examples across identity categories and life experiences.
I went into my reading of this text hopeful that I could assign it in a forthcoming upper-division Intercultural Communication course. I am, however, disappointed with the end product due to the reasons that I have noted above. And, for those reasons, I will look elsewhere for an open-access text on intercultural communication.
This is not just a comprehensive assemblage of material about the topic, but it actually stretches the conventional boundaries of "intercultural communications" in the best way possible -- and in a way that is long overdue. Intercultural... read more
This is not just a comprehensive assemblage of material about the topic, but it actually stretches the conventional boundaries of "intercultural communications" in the best way possible -- and in a way that is long overdue. Intercultural communication, as a field, has always been one of those subjects best approached as a "praxis," a vibrant, supple, dynamic combination of theory and practice that must react to changes in the "real world" just as nimbly as it responds to the development of new concepts and hypotheses. As such, any textbook in this discipline must be sensitive to shifting social values and cultural conventions to a degree that isn’t necessarily the case with other dimensions of communications studies, per se. Ahrndt’s text fulfils this requirement at the Olympic level. She not only covers the best and most enduring of the legacy material, but expands what “intercultural” means to include sub-divisions within the American “body cultural,” including LGBTQ+ populations, hearing impaired, differently-abled, gender fluid, religious, and other affinity groups not usually addressed in a text of this sort. She also addresses the “intercultural” communication dynamics among African-American, Native American, and Latinex, and several types of Asian, Arab, and Indian sub-continent populations whose immigrants and American-born descendants interact with Americans of European descent.
Interpreting the word “accuracy” to mean the degree to which the text presents without error the theories, concepts, specialized vocabularies, relevant canonical literatures, and real-world case studies used to create a teaching instrument, this text is remarkably accurate across a wide range of core and cognate fields and sub-fields of intercultural communication. The author also does an excellent job with the photograph captions that pepper the text, providing clear, concise, but comprehensive commentary for these illustrations that accurately capture the political context of the events, issues, and objects they depict without overt editorializing or, at the other extreme, falling back on such vapid, "pro forma" descriptions that the captions rob the photos of their cultural vibrancy. Not being able to fact-check the entire text, I can’t guarantee that single piece of information it contains is correct in all ways, but I didn’t see any conspicuous errors, or even anything that suggested less than scrupulous attention to factual detail.
This is an extra-ordinarily relevant text. It’s really the model for understanding what “culture” means in the 21st century, especially in pluralistic societies and taking into account the meta-societies created by the emerging acceptance of multiple identities on many dimensions. Even the case studies are contemporary to the moment (this review is being written in January 2021), including as they do references to the Marriage Equality Act, the Summer of Ferguson, Take Back the Night, the Parks 51 controversy, and on-going tensions about Confederate flags and statues. Although as time progresses and events continue to unfold, these “teaching examples” might diminish in terms of their immediacy, they will still provide emotionally accessible insights into tensions, topics, and events that will retain salience for a very long time to come. The text can also be easily amended to augment the current material with anecdotes and information that “brings it up to speed” in subsequent editions.
One of the real joys of reviewing this text was how easy it was to read. The author moves along at a lively rate without short-changing important concepts or down-grading important theories into superficial versions of themselves. Instead, she condenses material without diminishing it, and does so using clear, approachable language that is deftly crafted and judiciously punctuated. Ideas are presented in digestible form and linked concepts are explored without falling into cumbersome, complicated grammatical constructions. Every chapter begins with a list of “key words” and any technical language or specialty vocabulary is explained organically within the text as it flows from point to point.
This book is very consistent in terms of tone and authorial approach as well as structure and organization. Each chapter is organized the same way, utilizing the same elements, and the informational content itself is recognizably the same authorial “voice” all throughout the work. Terminology remains consistent throughout the entire text, as well.
This book would be very easy to use as a course text. It’s broken up into subject-specific chapters that make intuitive sense, and each chapter is well-organized in a way that would translate easily to classroom presentation. Chapters build on each other as the book unfolds, but not to the extent that would prohibit instructors from re-arranging the chapters according to a different course organization, or using some and not others. This useful modularity continues within each chapter itself, in that instructors can avail themselves of all that each chapter offers, or can extract chapter sub-sections that can still stand on their own as teaching tools.
This book is very well-organized, in a way that leverages its modularity while simultaneously making it easy to use as a fully intact text, in its entirety. Specifically, each chapter begins with information about the source of the material within it, followed by a list of keywords and the learning objectives for that chapter. This is followed by the central material, augmented along the way with exercises, illustrations, relevant tables and graphs, and magazine-style “sidebars” in which the author raises pertinent questions or provides a more granulated look at the chapter’s main issues through a short “case study-like” story. Each chapter concludes with an executive summary of “key takeaways,” a chapter bibliography, and more structured and elaborate student exercises.
As far as I can tell, there are no serious problems with the technological interfaces or the various links associated with this book. It’s an especially nice feature to be able to click on citations to add immediate texture and enhancement to what’s being covered in the text at hand.
I didn’t find any grammatical issues in the text. There were a few instances of odd spacing and of double-words, although I strongly suspect that’s a casualty of my own computer clunky “reading” of the pdf rather than something that’s actually there in the text itself. I did notice that the word “Dutch” was not capitalized in the caption for the photo of Tiger Woods.
This book is absolutely culturally sensitive – in fact, I’d call it an exemplary model of how to do that well and gracefully. It’s also wonderfully diverse in the author’s attention to breaking up monolithic labels for what are rightfully heterogeneous populations. For example, she writes eloquently and sensitively about the diverse as well as the shared immigration experiences of the variety of Spanish-speaking peoples in the United States today, noting contrasts among Mexican, Puerto Rican, Central American, and other Latino and Latina groups. She repeats this useful approach several times, even when discussing the social biographies and the residual communication environments for different types of European immigrants. In subsequent editions, I’d love to see her complexify her discussion of the Native American experience a little more, focusing perhaps on the meaningful linguistic differences as well as cultural norms among different tribal groups and addressing the special situations faced by reservations in the Far North, as well as those on which casinos are located, a challenging setting for intercultural communication if ever there was one. Another place where what she’s already doing well could be expanded would be a bit more material on the escalating presence of immigrants from the Indian sub-continent, especially the women who are making such remarkable contributions to American science and medicine.
This is a highly readable, deeply sensitive, excitingly contemporary text. It preserves the best of the field’s canon while simultaneously introducing culturally salient, socially relevant, and intellectually invigorating new material that is highly relatable for today’s students and easily adaptable to a wide range of courses. I’m so taken with it that I’m already trying to figure out how I can use it in the courses I already teach, or use it as a springboard into ones I’ve yet to develop.
I have yet to find a textbook that fits with my Cultural Competence course, and this might just be the one! This text covers various theories of cultural competence, without going into a "boring theories section", which is difficult to find. The... read more
I have yet to find a textbook that fits with my Cultural Competence course, and this might just be the one! This text covers various theories of cultural competence, without going into a "boring theories section", which is difficult to find. The material is presented in an easy way for my undergraduate students to comprehend with tangible examples, rather than larger concepts and ideas that are often boring or more difficult to understand.
Content is timely and accurate.
This book is super relevant right now, and could be utilized in so many different types of social sciences courses. This text was written in 2020, which is imperative, given the current climate in the United States and has timely topics related to cultural events.
Text is very easy to comprehend, especially for undergraduate students in introductory courses related to cultural competence.
Consistent terms and material.
I love that the Learning Objectives are very clear and then what major terms will be focused on in the module - very helpful for readers (students) and faculty who want to organize for their own class. I also enjoy the Takeaways at the end of the module that are bulleted - easier to read quickly vs. a large paragraph of a summary. I think students would enjoy this too.
I feel that the material (especially in the 1st module) jumps around and covers a lot of material, that I'm not quite sure how I would adapt in my own classroom. It will make it difficult to specify which pages to read (or sections), but it is do-able. Just wish introductory terms were focused on first, and then go into more of the contextual issues later. But I also recognize, each curricula is organized by an Instructor's own preferences; and I may try to use the organization of this text for my class, is possible.
I enjoyed being able to click on citations or other images to discover more; very useful for an online textbook. I do wish there was a way to "highlight" specific things you like in the text that students can see, basically the Instructor telling students what is most important to read (I've seen this in other platforms and really enjoyed that).
No grammar issues.
Inclusive book to all types of identities and communities related to cultural competence in the United States in today's modern age.
Overall, this book is perfect for any course on cultural competence or diversity, equity and inclusion. It covers all the major groups/communities in the US; however, it could use more research and discussion on other diversity issues: ageism, body size issues and neuro-diversity.
Table of Contents
- CHAPTER 1: Introduction to Intercultural Communication
- CHAPTER 2: Social Categorization, Stereotyping, and Discrimination
- CHAPTER 3: Beliefs, Values, and Cultural Universals
- CHAPTER 4: Introduction to Race and Ethnicity
- CHAPTER 5: The Impacts of Social Class
- CHAPTER 6: Gender and Gender Inequality
- CHAPTER 7: Socialization and Human Sexuality
About the Book
Intercultural Communication examines culture as a variable in interpersonal and collective communication. It explores the opportunities and problems arising from similarities and differences in communication patterns, processes, and codes among various cultural groups. It explores cultural universals, social categorization, stereotyping and discrimination, with a focus on topics including race, ethnicity, social class, religion, gender and sexuality as they relate to communication.
About the Contributors
Shannon Ahrndt, University of Missouri-St. Louis