High context refers to societies or groups where people have close connections over a long period of time. Many aspects of cultural behavior are not made explicit because most members know what to do and what to think from years of interaction with each other.
In high-context cultures most of the information is in the physical context or is internalized in the people who are a part of the interaction. Very little information is actually coded in the verbal message.
Low context refers to societies where people tend to have many connections but of shorter duration or for some specific reason. In these societies, cultural behavior and beliefs may need to be spelled out explicitly so that those coming into the cultural environment know how to behave.
In low-context cultures most of the information is contained in the verbal message, and very little is embedded in the context or within the participants. We can easily say: in a low-context culture, most of the information must be in the transmitted message in order to make up for what is missing in the context and to members of a low-context culture, speakers in a high-context culture seem to talk around a subject and never get to the point.
This movie is related to four countries, Japan, American, Mexico and Morocco. In the four countries, Japan is the high-context country, American is the low-context country. Japan is a typical high-context country; now let’s talk about the high-context culture in the movie. When the film appeared a Japanese deaf-mute girl, no matter the background is noisy or quiet, the dialogue is always few, or is silent, the director just use the move of lens to put the plot progress. Whether Chieko wanders in dance floor, or she plays with boys in fountain after taking ecstasy. Whether she confronts her father, or stands naked in front of the young detective. There is no any word among them, but we must have known Chieko’s despair and loneliness. Chieko is laughed at by others for her physical disability and her mother’s death brings her great harm, all of this lead to her strange behavior. She uses the extreme and even perverted way to balance the conflict in heart. All these complex emotion are expressed as quiet, silent in Japanese culture.
But in the low context culture, the America couples communicate in a direct and frank way. For example, the America couples almost communicate by language and vocabulary. Their marriage gets in danger because of the little son, Sam’s death. They came on vacation in Morocco to get away from things and mend their own marital woes. Along the way, they struggle to communicate their frustration, guilt, and blame. There is no doubt that it’s conductive to resolve contradictions. In comparison, if the same things happen in high context culture, the communication is most by language through body language, distance, context, and atmosphere. And, in this situation, it’s no doubt that the problem will be difficult to solve.
In 1998, management consultants Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner published their “Seven Dimensions of Culture” model to help explain national cultural differences in organizations and to show how managing these differences in a heterogeneous business environment is a major challenge for international managers.
Affectivity and neutrality is the degree to which individuals display their emotions. In an affective culture, people display their emotions and it is not deemed necessary to hide feelings. However, in a neutral culture, people are taught not to display their feelings overtly. The degree to which feelings become manifested is therefore minimal. While emotions are felt, they are controlled.
In the neutral culture, very little physical contact between people, communication between people is more delicate, because emotional expressiveness, rarely, the heart needs to get it. In the affective culture, between the human and the human body contact more public nature, Communicate with rich expression, hyperbole, full of body language
The Mexican nanny, Amelia takes the children with her to the wedding in a rural community. It’s a grand wedding, people enthusiastically talk, and they cuddle and kiss to greet each other. People eat and drink, they singing and dancing, their abundant body language and distinct emotion expression embody the characteristic of affective culture. In contrast, the Japanese’s plot is relatively quiet, silent. No exaggerated facial expressions, rich body movements and steadily advancing plot. In the neutral culture, very little physical contact between people and communication between people is more subtle, it needs to appreciate each other’s thought. In the movie, because of mother’s suicide, Chieko can’t communicate with father very well, and also have any intimate physical contact with father, the silence and the distance between them reflects the Japanese neutral culture.
In addition, when Japanese talks their expression is also neutral. For example, when the detective talks about the mother’s death with Chieko’s father, through the whole dialogue, both of them have almost no facial expression and body movement, they seems as peaceful, but in fact they are roaring inner heart. It’s a typical neutral culture. Chieko’s deaf and mute cause her can not communicate with father, friends and other people in a normal way，thus lead to the generation gap between father and daughter and the diaphragm between normal people and deaf people. In this situation, communication dose be the matter of language, but in fact, the real reason leads to Chieko’s tragedy is the whole human beings are lack of communication consciousness and lack of tolerance and understanding. If we initiatively communicate with the people around us, many contradictions will be resolved. Communication is not just by language but by heart.
Courtney from Study Moose
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