Fabio Quassoli

Fraintendimenti interculturali

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The paper analyses intercultural miscommunication from a micro-sociological perspective. Drawing on an empirical research that was done in some public services for foreign immigrants in Milan, it starts introducing the main perspectives from which the relations between miscommunication and cultural diversity are usually studied. Then it focuses on how the perception of heterogeneous language competences, background commonsense knowledge and cultural traits can stress the taken for granted assumptions which assure shared meanings and common understanding in ordinary everyday interactions. Putting into brackets the relevance per se of cultural differences as a good explanation for intercultural miscommunications, it investigates how people who experience it accounts for misunderstanding. Particular attention is devoted to incongruent definitions of situations and their management, as well as to difficulties to attach social attributes to people, when language competences are difficult to evaluate, shared communication schemata can not be assumed as resources at hand and cultural differences are supposed to shape social action.

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