There is always the existence of power in the society when people communicate, although it might not be evidently observed. At most instances, communication is assumed to take place between equal people, but this might not always be the case. There are basically different types of hierarchy that exists in the society which makes some people to be more powerful than others. This is a communication that takes place in intercultural communication.
Those who are powerful either knowingly or unknowingly creates an environment that makes their communication more profound, hence asserting their authority over the others. People can be found in one communication group due to involuntary or voluntary cases. Involuntary occurs for instance when a person is of a certain gender, race, ethnic group, age and physical ability. The voluntary orientation occurs because of education background, geographic location, marital status, and socio-economic status.
Basically those in the dominant group of communication usually impede those who are not in the same category with them. The most powerful in the society in terms of communication are usually also more privileged when it comes to many issues. There are some power relations that are usually rigid than others. For instance, power that occurs between gender is more rigid in changing than power that occurs for instance in a relationship between a student and a teacher.
There are however many complication that can occur in intercultural communication due to the barriers that exists. The minority have been mostly powerless in communication compared with the other groups in the society. Basically the whites have always believed to be superior over many minority groups, especially the blacks. This is being ethnocentric. Many developed countries have looked down upon the less developed countries especially from Africa as they believe that the people from these countries can not be equated with them.
The blacks whether immigrants or those who were born in the developed countries thus continue to be seen as less important people in the society, hence can not even be listened to, or be given an opportunity to prove their prowess in any arena by the whites. The white race believes to be the most dominant race than all the other races, hence undermining the rest. Many of the black people are also stereotyped in the American society. Many blacks can be found to be imprisoned more than the whites, yet in essence, it can not be said that the blacks are the ones who commit crimes more than the whites.
But because of stereotypes, they are just considered to be naturally criminals. Any black seen walking around the white dominated area is usually looked at as a person who is bound to commit a crime even if a person has got no such intentions. This can occur because of generalizing issues that blacks are criminals, yet the whites commit crimes just as the blacks. In fact, because of stereotypes, the black suspect is more likely to receive punishment or a harsher punishment than a white suspect charged with the same offence.
In most cases, stereotypes occur in unconscious manner, thus the only way to overcome it is by having a conscious way of avoiding it. In many white homes, children might grow up hearing the N word often used by their parents against the black people, hence the children also grow up with the same stereotypic nature the elders have over the blacks. Because of stereotype and prejudice that is rampant in the society against the blacks, they usually find themselves victims of discrimination.
The blacks have been discriminated over many issues in the society ranging from political, social, and economic perspectives. In many instances, the blacks have been denied equal opportunity in the society by the more powerful whites. Discrimination can be exhibited in various forms that include subtle non verbal to verbal insults. Because of prejudice and stereotyping the less powerful people find themselves being even eliminated in the society through various means that can include genocide. This is a very mild form of discrimination. Discrimination can be at interpersonal or institutional level.
Although there are nowadays less cases of interpersonal discrimination, the institutional level discrimination are still very high. At institutional level, the blacks are usually denied equal representation in different institutions in the society compared to their white counterparts. As already explained, the blacks usually find themselves at the wrong hand of the law more than the whites, not because the blacks commit crimes than whites, but because the law enforcers are bound to look for mistakes among the blacks than they would do with the whites.
Discrimination is even evident in the law paying job application fields in which a white man, who has got a criminal record, has got higher chances of getting employed than a black man who has got a clean criminal record. In such a case, the employer is not interested in the records of the employees, but rather concerned with the race of the applicant. Therefore, despite many efforts that are put in the society to show that there is equality in different spheres, intercultural communication still plays as a major hindrance in the achievement of this.
Courtney from Study Moose
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