What is a “Co-Culture”? • A group that has little or no say in creating the dominant structure of society • E.G. Ethnic or religious minorities, homosexuals, the disabled, etc…
Why learn about co-cultural communication? • “Identification and explication of the communication practices of co-cultural groups are valuable and important for understanding how persons, marginalized in a dominant society, communicate with those who have direct access to institutional power.” FOR MORE INFO... --Orbe, p. 86
Co-cultural Theory of Communication Assumptions Co-cultural group members’ communicative experiences are responses to dominant societal structures that label them outsiders. The selection of different communicative practices is the result of ongoing, constantly changing series of implementations, evaluations, and revisions. Communicative practices are selected and employed for reasons that vary among co-cultural group members.
Co-cultural Theory of Communication Assumptions Each co-cultural group member has several strategic options from which to choose. The process of selecting communicative practices is influenced by several interdependent factors.
History • Mark Orbe's Co-cultural Theory is an answer to the question: • How do people traditionally situated on the margins of society; people of color, women, gays/lesbians/bisexuals, and those from a lower socio-economic status communicate within the dominant societal structures? • Orbe's work is based on two long-standing theories from other fields: Muted Group Theory and Feminist Standpoint Theory.
Background to CCT • Standpoint (feminist) theory • Each group has partial knowledge • Some partial knowledges are more complete than others: Subordinate group knows dominant more than dominant knows subordinate (why?) • It is important to learn perspectives of subordinate groups (why?)
Background to CCT • Muted Group (feminist) theory • Dominant group shapes the language of a society • Co-cultures must create their own language to make sense of their reality • Yet, dominant culture privileges one speech code (dominant) over the other (co-cultural), often through ridicule, marginalization, and (perhaps unintentional) dominance in modes of language creation and propagation
“It’s Always Whites’ Ball…” (Orbe, 1994) • Communicating with other African Americans • Learning how to interact with non-African Americans • Playing the part (Snap!) • Keeping a safe distance • Testing the sincerity… • Intense social responsibility
Six Universal Influences • Preferred Outcomes—“What communication behavior will lead to the effect that I desire?” • Field of Experience– “What past interactions have I had with dominant group members that will influence my current behavior?” • Abilities– “What are my physical and psychological limitations in communicating with the dominant culture?” Continued…
Situational Context– “In what situation am I communicating with the dominant culture?” • Perceived Costs and Rewards— “What do I stand to gain and lose from an interaction with a member of the dominant culture?” • Communication Approach– “Which of the three approaches will I employ to achieve my preferred outcome?”
Three Preferred Outcomes Assimilation – trying to get rid of all cultural differences in an attempt of fit into the dominant culture. Accommodation – insisting that the dominant culture reinvent or change the rules of society so it can incorporate the life experiences of each co-culture group. Separation – rejecting the notion of forming a common bond with dominant group and seeking to maintain separate group identities outside the dominant structure.
Three Communication Approaches Nonassertive – behaviors in which individuals are seemingly inhibited and non-confrontational; putting the needs of others before one’s own. Assertive – communication practices that encompass self-enhancing expressive behavior that takes into account the needs of others and one’s self. Aggressive – communication practices that can be perceived as hurtfully expressive and self-promoting. Aggressive practices assume control over the choices of others.
Comparing Co-Cultural Theory to CTI • How are they alike? • How are they different?
Applying Co-Cultural Theory: What practical suggestions does it lead to? • Would this apply to women and men? • Would it apply to other groups? • People with disabilities (e.g., Deaf culture as opposed to deaf people) • Gays, lesbians, transgendered individuals? • Other groups?