Identity Negotiation in Relation to Context of Communication

Topics: Communication, Cross-cultural communication, Tourism Pages: 18 (6080 words) Published: September 19, 2012
ISSN 1799-2591 Theory and Practice in Language Studies, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp. 219-225, March 2011 © 2011 ACADEMY PUBLISHER Manufactured in Finland. doi:10.4304/tpls.1.3.219-225

Identity Negotiation in Relation to Context of Communication Ying Huang
School of Foreign Languages & Literature, Yunnan Normal University, Kunming, China Email: Abstract—This paper explores how tour guides negotiate their identities in a multiple context of communication. The context is characterised as professional, commercialized and Chinese. The discussion is based on an investigation into the communication between Chinese tour guides and their international tourists. Findings indicate that to communicate effectively and appropriately in these contexts, tour guides have to actively construct meaning through a negotiated balance of content, identity and relationship. Index Terms—identity, context of communication, tour guides, intercultural communication

I. INTRODUCTION In intercultural communication, perceptions and strategies of communication, to some degree, are determined by the context of communication. In terms of context, there are two perspectives: a specific context of situation and a larger context of culture. The latter includes tribal economics, social organization, kinship patterns, fertility rites, seasonal rhythms, concepts of time and space. It is a more abstract, and not easy to change (Kramsch, 2008, p. 26). With the development of globalization, communication between people from different cultures is increasing every day. People travel cross-culturally for different purposes: education, tourism, business, leisure and so on. Among them, tourism has attracted quite a large number of people. As an important component in tourism industry, tour guides’ service quality means quite a lot to the experience of the tourists. In China, foreign language speaking tour guides are also called international tour guides. They are employed by travel agencies which are authorised by China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) for receiving foreign tourists. International tour guides provide service to people from a country other than China. Their service is different from the service to domestic tourists because they will encounter both language and cultural barriers (Cai & Woods, 1993). When international tourists visit China, they bring with them different cultural baggage filled with cultural norms, behaviours, value systems, and communication styles. These differences may lead to misunderstanding, miscommunication or even conflicts. But what strategies do tour guides employ to overcome these difficulties, to solve problems and to sooth conflicts? In front of conflicts, how do tour guides negotiate their identities? To answer these questions, a research was conducted in Yunnan Province of China. Ting-Toomey’s mindful intercultural communication model was chosen as the starting point to build a possible theoretical framework. In addition, this study take into account the perspective of tourism as the context for understanding the essence of tour guides’ communication and the strategies they employ in their interaction with international tourists, and how they negotiate their identities in the specialized context. II. LITERATURE REVIEW In Ting-Toomey’s (1999, p.28) identity negotiation perspective, identity means “the reflective self-conception or self-image that we each derive from our cultural, ethnic, and gender socialisation processes. It is acquired via our interaction with others in particular situations”. According to this definition, identity is the reflective view of a person’s self, and this reflection is relevant to his or her culture. Identity meaning is relevant to questions such as “Who am I and who are you?” Ting-Toomey differentiates two groups of identities: primary and situational identity. The primary identities include cultural identity, ethnic identity, gender identity and personal identity....

References: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] Cai, L. P., & Woods, R. H. (1993). China 's tourism service failure. The Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, 34(4): 30-39. Chen, G. M., & Starosta, W. J. (1998). Foundations of intercultural communication. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Cohen, E. (1985). The tourist guide: The origins, structure and dynamics of a role. Annals of Tourism Research, (12): 5 - 29. Gao, G., & Ting-Toomey, S. (1998). Communicating effectively with the Chinese. Thousand Oaks, London, New Delhi: SAGE Publications. Gudykunst, W. B., & Kim, Y. Y. (1997). Communicating with strangers: An approach to intercultural communication: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Gudykunst, W. B. (1994). Bridging differences: Effective intergroup communication (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, London, New Delhi: SAGE Publications. He, G. W. (Ed.). (2000). Zhong Guo Lu You Ye Wu Shi Nian (Fifty years of China 's tourism development). Beijing: China Tourism Publishing House. Huang, Y. (2008). A study on intercultural communication of professional tour guides in Yunnan. Kunming: Yunnan People’s Publishing House. Kramsch, C. (2008). Language and culture. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press. Park, M. K. (2000). Social and cultural factors influencing tourists ' souvenir-purchasing behaviour: A comparative study on Japanese "Omiyage" and Korean "Sunmul". In K. S. K. Chon, T. Inagaki & T. Ohashi (Eds.), Japanese Tourists: SocioEconomic, Marketing and Psychological Analysis. New York, London, Oxford: The Haworth Hospitality Press. Ting-Toomey, S. (1999). Communication across Cultures. New York, London: The Guilford Press. Wu, B. Z., & He, C. Y. (1999). Scenic Regions in Yunnan. Kunming: Yunnan University Publishing House. Yi, Z. T. (2000). Xian Hua Zhong Guo Ren (A Talk on the Chinese). Shanghai: Shanghai Arts Publishing House.
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Ying Huang was born in Yunnan, China in 1968. She received her M.A. degree in 1997 in Applied Linguistics and her Ph. D degree in 2005 in Intercultural Communication, both from La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. She is currently an associate professor in School of Foreign Languages & Literature of Yunnan Normal University, China. She has wide research and teaching experience in TESOL and Intercultural Communication, particularly in teaching English majors and tourism students. Some of her selected publications include Intercultural Communication of Professional Tour Guides in Yunnan (Kunming: Yunnan People’s Publishing House, 2008); English for Academic Communication in Intercultural Context (Beijing: Science Publishing House, 2009); English for Business and Tourism (Wuhan: Huazhong University of Science and Technology Publishing House, 2009). Dr. Huang is holding the position as Chair of School Committee of School of Foreign Language & Literature of Yunnan Normal University.
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