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Cultural Communication

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Culture can be defined as, "learned behaviors that are communicated from one generation to another to promote individual and social structure" (Communication; Making Connections, 44). In other words, information and behavior that is appropriate to where we live, where we have come from, and the traditions of those places are handed down along generations to insure that they continue. These behaviors help us identify who we are and who our ancestors were. American culture is an eclectic combination of many races from all over the world coming together to create a culture unlike those found anywhere else. A very different culture can be found in Eastern Europe, specifically the culture found in France. Considering the events that lead up to the United State's War on Terror, and France's refusal to help, it is important for Americans to understand this different culture and many of the communication barriers that have lead to the hostility between the two nations. These communication barriers can be overcome through patience, understanding, respect for the other culture, and by seeking similarities between the two to create a common ground of understanding.

The social structure in most countries is most often created through war and political change. The American colonists overthrew their tyrannical government during the American Revolution. This drastic change allowed for the colonies to create their own sense of individuality. People of different ethnicities began to merge as they settled the same areas, yet still maintained many aspects of their homelands. America is now foreseen as a great Ð''melting pot' of diversity. For over hundreds of years, people from all over the world have come to America looking for the freedoms they are often denied in their native lands. As the Statue of Liberty states, "Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me," ( The United States prides itself on being considered a safe haven for all who seek it.

France also went under a drastic change after its own revolution, but with very different results. Up until 1789, the beginning of the war, less than half of the population actually spoke French. After the Revolution, the new French government tried to create a unified country based on the same language. This driot du sol, or, "law of the soil," stated that residency and ethnic identity were inseparable. ( In other words, if a person lived in France, he or she was French. It was not until recently that French government granted any remarkable rights or privileges to ethnic minorities

The French Revolution also had a dramatic affect on the age-old class system. Legal privileges that had been enjoyed by the nobility and clergy were extended to legal equality among all citizens. This, however, did not end the great barriers between social groups. In fact, it was not until after World War II that this social order changed with the post war economic expansion spreading to a larger number of the French population. Today, success, power, and money are much more important than birth in determining social status. Even with these economic advances, there are still many divisions among the classes. Politicians, business leaders, wealthy families, and senior civil servants still have a strong hold on the levels of power. The middle class is dividing into two different and distinct groups: the senior executives and professionals, and the growing mass of retail, food service, and clerical workers. The number of blue-collar workers has declined in recent years from industrial jobs to those in service jobs.

Americans do not have as rigid of a social structure. While there are the few financially elite, most American millionaires are self-made. They can be CEO's of major corporations, celebrities, inventors and politicians. The majority of the American working society resides in the middle class. Whether they are doctors, lawyers, teachers or nurses, they are still considered members of the middle class. The American blue-collared worker does not face the social exile that is often the case in other countries. They are well paid, equally represented and appreciated in our society.

Furthermore, the United States and France have different types of governmental systems. This could cause miscommunication and confusion while interacting, since there are many differences. These variations involve political offices and parties. France has a presidential republic, while the United States uses a democracy. The president leads the country along with the prime minister, and parliament. Also, France has four major political parties versus the US's two parties. Since the two countries do not run under the same systems confusion could easily occur and cause problems.

Religion also plays an important role in both French and American Culture. In France more than 80 percent of the population identifies itself with Roman Catholism. On the contrary, Christianity consumes the majority making up 33 percent of America's population. The dominant religion in both countries heavily influences family and values. In both France and America families consist of a breadwinner, a spouse and children. Women who stay at home became the ideal but not the reality for the working class. In France extended family members usually reside near each other, whereas in the US this is not the typical situation.

Language is one of the most obvious communication barriers. While English has been the primary language of the United States basically from the start of our country, French wasn't the official language of France until after the revolution. Now it is spoken by the vast majority of the country, however there are other dialects that are spoken. These include langue d'oc, High



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