Min-Sun Kim's Self Construal Theory


Self-construal theory:  Individuals within a culture may possess larger differences than individuals across two cultures.


         Culture A  <-------->  Culture B 
Individual A  <----------------->  Individual B
  Value Individualism              Value Collectivism   

While average differences across cultures may be great, it is possible to have greater differences within a culture.  Within a collectivist culture, while the average person may show greater affinity for collective values, it is possible to have individual members of the culture with strong individualist values.  The range of possibilities within a culture is often greater than the variance across cultures.

Also, Hofstede's model of analyzing culture is uni-dimensional - for example, individualism and collectivism are polar opposites- a step in one direction is a step away from the other direction.

She suggests a new model where people can be skilled at both or neither of independence and interdependence:

            |             |
            | Indepenent  | Bicultural
      High  |             |   (both)
            |  Marginal   |
      Low   |  (neither)  |Interdependent

                  Low           High

In the above diagram, biculturals are more skilled at moving between cultures. 
Marginals are poor at adapting to either culture.


On Communication Theories:

We need to remove the Western influence on communication theories and re-evaluate them from more than one culture (Western).  An Eastern influence will help make our communication theories more generalizable.  We need a multicultural approach to understand human communication.


My response:  This idea follows an Eastern / collectivist standpoint- which makes it seem difficult to ever become culturally unbiased when creating theories.  Also, theories from the Western point of view may not necessarily be invalid in the East, but rather just need to be refined so they can be generalized across cultures.