Hall`s Conception of Culture According to Context

Handout # 3-
Facilitator: Ana Guisela Chupina, Ph.D.
Multiculturally Infused Teaching and Learning: A Workshop for Faculty in Diverse Disciplines
Alliant International University
Edward T. Hall’s Conception of Culture According to Context
High Context
Low Context
 Loose schedules, flux, multiple simultaneous
Last-minute changes of important plans.
 Time is less tangible.
 Tight schedules, one event at a time, linear.
 Importance of being on time.
 Time is more tangible (e.g., it is spent, it is
wasted, and it is “money”).
Space & Tempo
 Synchrony, moving in harmony with others and
with nature, is consciously valued.
 Social rhythm has meaning.
 Synchrony is less noticeable.
 Social rhythm is underdeveloped.
Comprehensive Logic
 Knowledge is gained through intuition, spiral
logic, and contemplation.
 Importance of feelings.
Linear Logic
 Knowledge is gained through analytical
reasoning (e.g., the Socratic method).
 Importance of words.
Restricted Codes
Elaborate Codes
 “Shorthand speech,” reliance on nonverbal and
 Verbal amplification through extended talk or
contextual clues. Overall emotional quality more
important than meaning of particular words.
 Little reliance on nonverbal or contextual cues.
 Economical, fast, efficient communication that is
 Doesn’t foster cohesiveness but can change
satisfying, slow to change; fosters interpersonal
cohesiveness and provides for human need for
 Provides for human need to adapt and change.
social stability.
 Stress on argument and persuasion; being direct.
 Stress on social integration and harmony; being
Handout # 3-
High Context
Low Context
Social Roles
Tight Social Structure
 Individual’s behavior is predictable; conformity
or role expectations.
Loose Social Structure
 Behavior is unpredictable; role behavior
expectations are less clear.
Group is Paramount
 Clear status distinctions (e.g., age, rank, and
position), strong distinctions between insiders
and outsiders.
 Human interactions are emotionally based,
person oriented.
 Stronger personal bonds, bending of individual
interests for sake of relationships.
 Cohesive, highly interrelated human
relationships, completed actions chains.
 Members of group are first and foremost.
Individual is Paramount
 Status is more subtle; distinctions between
insiders and outsiders are less important.
 Human interactions are functionally based;
approach is specialized.
 Fragile interpersonal bonds due to geographic
 Fragmented, short-term human relationships,
broken action chains when relationship is not
 Individuals are first, groups come second.
Personalized Law and Authority
 Customary procedures and whom one knows are
important. Oral agreements are binding.
 In face of unresponsive bureaucracies, must be
an insider or have a “friend” to make things
happen (e.g., going through the “back door”).
 People in authority are personally and truly
responsible for actions of every subordinate.
Procedural Law and Authority
 Procedures, law and policies are more important
than whom one knows.
 Written contracts are binding.
 Policy rules, unresponsive bureaucracy.
 People in authority try to pass the buck.
 Impersonal.
 Legal procedures.
Source: Bennett, C. I. (2003). Comprehensive multicultural education: Theory and practice (5th ed.). Boston: Pearson.