CULTURE AND COMPUTER-MEDIATED COMMUNICATION:
TOWARD NEW UNDERSTANDINGS
Special issue of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication
Charles Ess (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Fay Sudweeks (email@example.com)
School of Information Technology, Murdoch University .
Proposals due: October 1, 2004
Full papers due: April 15, 2005
Anticipated publication: January 2006
Gert Hofstede's oft-cited dimensions of culture, along with Edward T.
Hall's frameworks for understanding culture and communication
(including his distinctions between “high content/low context”
and “high context/low content” cultures, and between polychronic and
monochronic perceptions of time) have emerged as methodological
starting points for a considerable range of empirical research into how
far extant CMC technologies succeed or fail in fostering cross-cultural
At the same time, these frameworks can be challenged in a variety of
ways. First of all, such frameworks inherit the risks and difficulties
surrounding the notion of “culture” in general. Too often, our efforts
to define cultural characteristics assume a static and largely
hermetically-sealed notion of culture—one that is, in many instances,
operationally assumed to coincide with membership in a given nation-
state or group defined by a specific geographical boundary. Moreover,
the efforts of cultural theorists such as Hofstede and Hall to analyze
and define culture lead to generalizations that run the risk of falling
into overly simple stereotypes and binary oppositions. By contrast,
more careful reflection on “culture” should reveal that whatever else
we mean by the term, cultures are fluid, not static; members of
different cultures constantly intermix, hybridize, and develop their
own distinctive collocations of diverse cultural elements. Moreover,
given the complexity of human beings and their identification with
multiple cultures and subcultures, it is by no means clear how far such
characterizations as “high content/low context” and “high context/low
content” are adequate explanations of human behavior.
For this special issue of the Journal of Computer-Mediated
Communication , we invite submissions that explore (a) the utility and
limits of Hall's and Hofstede's and related frameworks for CMC
research, and/or (b) alternative frameworks for researching culture
that explicitly seek to move beyond previously identified weaknesses
and limits in Hall and Hofstede, et al., and that result in fruitful
and insightful findings as regards CMC.
Potential authors should submit a preliminary proposal of 500 words by
October 1, 2004, to the issue editors Charles Ess (firstname.lastname@example.org)
and Fay Sudweeks (email@example.com).
The proposal should indicate (a) the theoretical bases and/or earlier
research results to be used in analyzing, critiquing, and moving beyond
Hall's and related frameworks of cultural analysis, and/or (b)
alternative frameworks of cultural analysis, to be used for specific
empirical research whose goal is to test the fruitfulness and/or limits
of these frameworks, as applied to one or more types of CMC (e.g., the
Internet, the Web, and/or mobile communication). In addition, proposals
should clearly indicate the data to be analyzed, the methods used, the
actual or anticipated findings of the empirical analysis, and the
implications of these findings—including how the findings may confirm
and/or point to limitations of the cultural framework(s) used in the
Proposals should demonstrate awareness of key references in the culture
and communication debates. For potentially useful sources, prospective
authors may want to review one or more publications related to the
conferences on Cultural Attitudes Towards Technology and Communication
[CATaC], for example, Macfadyen et al. (2004); see also the CATaC
website at http://www.it.murdoch.edu.au/catac/.
Since JCMC is an interdisciplinary journal, authors should plan for
papers that will be accessible to non-specialists, and should make
their papers relevant to an interdisciplinary audience. In addition,
judicious use of the multimedia possibilities of web publication are
encouraged, e.g., screen shots, photos, etc.
Earlier submissions and questions are welcome.
Authors whose proposals are accepted for inclusion will be invited to
submit a full paper of roughly 7,000-10,000 words by April 15, 2005.
Anticipated publication date for the issue is January 2006.
Questions and submissions should be e-mailed to the special issue
editors Charles Ess (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Fay Sudweeks
Macfadyen, L. P., Roche, J., and Doff, S. (2004). Communicating across
Cultures in Cyberspace: A Bibliographical Review of Online
Intercultural Communication. Hamburg : Lit-Verlag.