From the Margins to the Center (Utilizing Co

From the Margins to the Center
Mark P. Orbe & Regina E. Spellers’
Utilizing Co-cultural theory in diverse contexts
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Co-cultural theory overview
Factors of interaction among underrepresented & dominant group
• Preferred outcome options;
(What communication behaviour will lead to the effect that I desire?)
– Assimilation (conformity)
– Accommodation (pluralism without hierarchy)
– Separation (reject common bond)
• Field of experience
– sum of the individual’s lived experience, influence of their past
Abilities to enact different practices
Situational context
Perceived costs and rewards
Communication approach
– non-assertive,
– assertive,
– aggressive
Assimilation to
Dominant Group
Nonassertive Assimilation (blend in)
• Emphasizing commonalities – downplay/ignore differences
• Developing positive face – more considerate/polite/attentive than others
• Censoring self –silent when comments are inappropriate/insulting/offensive
• Averting controversy – stay away from dangerous subject areas
Assertive Assimilation (standing out)
• Extensive preparation – do detailed (mental/concrete) groundwork
• Overcompensating – conscious response to fear of discrimination; “superstar”
• Manipulating stereotypes – conform to commonly held beliefs; exploit them
• Bargaining –make covert/overt arrangement to agree to ignore differences
Aggressive Assimilation (fitting in)
• Dissociating – break all connection with behaviors associated with your culture
• Mirroring – adopt dominant codes; make your identity (totally?) invisible
• Strategic distancing – avoid association with similar others; appear distinct
• Ridiculing self – participate in discourse demeaning to self (passive or not)
Accommodation in
a new group
Nonassertive Accommodation (delicate influence)
• Increasing visibility - covertly, strategically, maintain diverse presence
• Dispelling stereotypes - just be one’s self
Assertive Accommodation
• Communicating self - authentic, open, genuine manner; strong selfconcepts
• Intergroup networking - identify & work with those who share common
• Utilizing liaisons - identify others for support/guidance/assistance
• Educating others – enlightening others of new norms, values, etc.
Aggressive Accommodation (work with, not against; promote change)
• Confronting – may even violate the “rights” of others
• Gaining advantage - reference to oppression to provoke & gain advantage
Separation from
Dominant Group
Nonassertive Separation
• Avoiding - maintain a distance; avoid activities/locations/interaction
• Maintaining barriers - impose a psychological distance from others
Assertive Separation
• Exemplifying strength - promote recognition of similar other’s
• Embracing stereotypes - apply a negotiated reading to others
perception and merge them into a positive self-concept
Aggressive Separation
• Attacking - inflict psychological pain; attack other’s self-concept
• Sabotaging others - undermine the ability of others to take full
advantage of their privilege inherent in dominant structures
Emergence of Communication Orientations
Emphasizing commonalities
Increasing visibility
Developing positive face
Dispelling stereotypes
Maintaining barriers
Extensive preparation
Communicating Self
Exemplifying strengths
Intragroup networking
Embracing stereotypes
Manipulating Stereotypes
Using Liaisons
Educating Others
Gaining advantage
Sabotaging others
Censoring self
Averting Controversy
Strategic distancing
Ridiculing self
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