Attitudes towards cultural difference A developmental model of intercultural sensitivity [ The key to the development of the sensitivity and the...
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Special project : Discuss your level intercultural awareness

Review Milton Bennett’s article on the stages of intercultural awareness. Next, discuss this article’s main ideas with somebody and try to figure out more or less which stage of awareness each of one of you is at. You will have to summarize the key points of this article for the other person, of course. Write 300–500 words about this experience and how useful the Bennett model is for categorizing a person’s level of intercultural awareness (based on how it worked on you and the other person). Conclude by stating:

  • to what extent the course has helped change your level of intercultural awareness,
  • what you think was the one most influential topic/activity/reading/or exercise that most helped with this change.

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www.intercultures.gc.ca toll-free|sans frais (Canada) 1.800.852.9211 Attitudes towards cultural difference A developmental model of intercultural sensitivity The stages of development of intercultural sensitivity provide elements for observations that can serve to diagnose the position of an individual on the matter of cultural difference. Difference is at the centre of the development of intercultural sensitivity. The stages of reaction to difference are more ethnocentric; there, difference is perceived as immutable and threatening. The stages of openness to difference are ethnorelativist and proactive; here difference is perceived as malleable, as a source of renewal, of equilibrium. Bennett offers us a conceptual tool we can use to situate certain personal reactions so that we can better discern the criteria for a genuine adaptation to another culture. Bennett's stages are an interesting tool for understanding some emotional movement and classic reactions to culture shock. The typology of the six stages is presented in a linear continuum, which might induce us to think that the development of intercultural sensitivity follows a continuous line of progress. We must therefore pay attention to the inevitable movement back and forth between the stages of openness and frequent regressions to stages of resistance and hostility. The continuum of the stages is not static, and it may happen that individuals will evolve and regress alternately, depending on the circumstances. The first three stages are denial [there is no difference], defence [against the difference] and minimization [of the difference]; they are more ethnocentric, while the second three stages are acceptance [a new way of seeing], adaptation [a new way of acting] and integration [a new way of being]; these stages are ethnorelativist. 1 Milton J. Bennett, A developmental Approach to Training for Intercultural Sensitivity , Intercultural Journal of Intercultural Relations, vol. 10, n o 2, New York, 1986. The key to the development of the sensitivity and the skills necessary for intercultural communication resides first in the vision [or perception] that each person has when faced with cultural difference. Bennett, 1986 1 []
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The stages of development of intercultural sensitivity Description of the stages The following grid is based on Bennett's work and provides a means for observing the interior development that is cultural openness. This grid is one of a number of means to observe the process of cultural openness, and cannot be used to make judgements about this person. It is simply a tool for diagnosing the position of an individual in response to cultural difference. The continuum of stages is not static, and individuals may alternately evolve and regress, depending on circumstances. This framework functions as an indicator of attitudes, and has the limits inherent in any grid or tool of this kind. 02 Diagram 1: experiencing difference Development of intercultural sensitivity Denial 123 Defence Minimization 456 Acceptance Adaptation Integration Ethnocentric stages Ethnorelative stages of resistance to openness
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