Sociocultural and sociolinguistic aspects 
of international communication in the Barents Region

Course Unit Code: Б3ДВ5

Type of course unit: advanced emphasis

Level of course unit: first

Year of study: 4 year

Semester when course unit is delivered: 7/8 semester

Number of ECTS credits allocated: 10 ECTS

Name of lecturer(s): Ksenia Yartseva; Ksenia Medvedkina

Description: This course is devoted to the cultural, social and linguistic aspects of intercultural communication in the Barents Region. It rests upon such aspects of intercultural dynamics as ethnocentrism, stereotyping, differences in values and communication strategies. The course explores how national cultures of BEAR differ in the key areas of inequality, collectivism/individualism, masculinity/femininity, uncertainty avoidance, power, time, etc. and how these differences affect cross-cultural communication. Students will get acquainted with the history of intercultural contacts in the Barents Region and their linguistic consequences. They will see how a language can be the reason of oppression and the key point of struggle for one’s rights and equality. Within this course students will realize how the kind of language we use can tell others who we are or who we imagine ourselves to be. To sum up, the course develops intercultural competence for a variety of contexts.

Learning outcomes of the course unit:

Upon successful completion of this course students should be able to:

  • demonstrate their knowledge of the main dimensions of national cultures and describe the cultures of the Barents Region in terms of Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory;
  • reflect on and analyze social and linguistic aspects of intercultural communication in the Barents Region;
  • appreciate the importance of social factors in international communication and act innovatively in related problem solving situations;
  • estimate and compare linguistic situations and language policies in different countries of BEAR;
  • be aware of the underlying reasons of communication failures (of social character) in cross-cultural contexts and develop appropriate strategies to avoid them;
  • show their understanding of different politeness strategies and awareness of specific communication strategies in different cultures (in Nordic countries and in Russia);
  • be aware of differences in management, negotiation styles and business communication in general in different BEAR countries.

Mode of delivery: face-to-face, distance learning is also possible

Prerequisites and co-requisites: general English language requirements

Recommended optional program components: research paper on some aspect of intercultural communication in the Barents Region

Course contents:

MODULE 1 National and Linguistic Diversity of the BEAR. Part 1 (An overview of peoples living in the BEAR and the languages they speak. Biology, prehistory, typology).

MODULE 2 National and Linguistic Diversity of the BEAR. Part 2 (Language contacts within the Barents region, examples of divergence and convergence, language shift, contact language Russenorsk).

MODULE 3 Cultural Diversity in the BEAR. (An overview of different cultures within the Barents region characterized from geographic, historical and religious perspectives).

MODULE 4 Cultural Values and Intercultural Communication in the BEAR. Part 1 (Beliefs, values, diverse cultural patterns, Hofstede’s Dimensions of cultural variability)

MODULE 5 Cultural Values and Intercultural Communication in the BEAR. Part 2 (Reflecting on the cultures of the Barents region in terms of Kluckhohns and Strodbeck’s values, Hall’s high-context and low-context cultures, “face”)

MODULE 6 Cultural Identity and Intercultural Communication in the BEAR. Part 1 (Understanding identity, different types of identities (racial, ethnic, national, regional, age, gender, religious, organizational, personal, cyber identities) from the linguistic perspective).

MODULE 7 Cultural Identity and Intercultural Communication in the BEAR. Part 2 (Identity development, social identities influencing intercultural communication, identity negotiation in intergroup encounters, intergroup attitudes, stereotypes)

MODULE 8 Languages and Societies in BEAR Countries (Linguistic situations in different countries of the Barents region, language policies, the issue of indigenous languages, BEAR languages and English as lingua franca)

MODULE 9 Languages and Intercultural Communication in the BR. (Culture peculiarities as reflected in the languages of the BR, language and identity, contextualization, culture and rules of interaction: directness/indirectness, value of conversation, etc., the role of nonverbal communication)

MODULE 10 Communication Strategies for Intercultural Interaction in the BR (Different politeness strategies across cultures of BEAR, strategies of self-presentation, persuasive messages)

MODULE 11 Business communication across BEAR cultures. Part 1 (Comparison of the cultures of BEAR in terms of formality/informality, status relationships, managing and leading styles, motivation across cultures)

MODULE 12 Business communication across BEAR cultures. Part 2 (Greeting behaviours, personal appearance, gift giving, negotiation styles, decision-making, conflict management, virtual intercultural business communication)

Required reading:

  • Hofstede, Geert and Hofstede, Gert Jan. (2005) Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind. New York: McGraw-Hill. 434 p.
  • Martin, Judith N. and Nakayama, Thomas K. (2004) Intercultural Communication in Contexts. 3rd edition. New York: McGraw-Hill. 434 p.
  • Samovar, Larry A., Porter, Richard E. and McDaniel, Edwin R. (2007) Communication between cultures. 6th edition. Thomson Learning, Inc. 415 p.

Recommended reading:

  • Brown, Penelope and Stephen C. Levinson. (1987) Politeness: Some universals in language usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (www.genling.nw.ru/study/Soclinv/materials.html)
  • Finland: a cultural encyclopedia (1999) /Ed. by Olli Alho. 2nd edition. Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society. 352 p.
  • Gudykunst, William B. and Young, Yun Kim (2003) Communicating with strangers: an approach to intercultural communication. 4th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill. 468 p.
  • Lewis, Richard D. (2005) Finland, Cultural Lone Wolf. Boston: Intercultural Press. 227 p.
  • Lewis, Richard D. (2005) When cultures collide: leading across cultures. 3rd edition. Nicholas Brealey Publishing. 599 p.

Planned learning activities and teaching methods:

The theoretical part is presented in the form of lectures; practical skills are built through group and individual work at seminars (simulation and role plays). The use of case studies plays an important role in the delivery of this course.

Assessment methods and criteria: Individual assignments, presentations (25%), case study analysis (25%), written test (25%), participation/attendance (25%).

Through active participation in class sessions, individual assignments and test, the student can show the level of understanding of the material and the relation between theory and practice. Seminar presentations will measure the insights with fellow students and test his or her capability to formulate and defend viewpoints.

Language of instruction: English

Work placements: N/A