Intercultural Communication in Interaction: multimodal approaches

The project aims to analyze intercultural communication in interaction from a micro-analytical and multimodal perspective in order to single out how the interactants co-construct alterity, cultural key concepts, dimensions, language attitudes and identities on verbal, prosodic, and corporal-visual planes.

Concurrently, we also will concentrate on the emergence of intercultural spaces which arise as a result of the interwoven character of the disparate worldviews the co-participants bring into the interaction, but which are simultaneously poised to engage each other reflexively, resulting in the creation of something new.

The importance of focusing on the linguistic and gestural means involved in online meaning construction is due to the need of conceiving ‘understanding culture’ first and foremost from the participants’ point of view, which does not necessarily correspond to the researcher’s categories.

This leads to an crucial methodological issue that has been neglected in many studies in the field of intercultural communication: the necessary differentiation between communicative (from within) and extra-communicative (observer) viewpoint. Thus we aim to bring together pragmatic, sociolinguistic and cognitive research fields since the multimodal analysis starts with concrete interaction sequences, but concurrently represents a point of access to the conceptual and cultural level.

In methodological terms, one method will be the videotaping and transcribing of intercultural interactions occurring in natural, elicited and institutional settings, and the analysis of these using theories from the field of contrastive and intercultural pragmatics, interactional (socio)linguistics and cultural linguistics, as well as social semiotic multimodality.

As outcomes, we expect (a) publications at this innovative theoretical-methodological interface; (b) the creation of interfaces by linking existing platforms; and (c) the elaboration of concrete proposals for how to work with our data in foreign language classroom in order to encourage (self)reflexive intercultural learning.

Understanding Cultures