Cultures and Co-Cultures
Large cultures like those in Italy, Vietnam, and the United States tend to develop many smaller co-cultures. A culture is “the system of learned and shared symbols, language, values, and norms that distinguish one group of people from another” (Floyd, 36). Co-cultures “are groups of people who share values, customs, and norms related to mutual interests or characteristics besides their national citizenship” (Floyd, 41). I belong to a college student co-culture. This both obstructs and enhances my communication with different co-cultures.
My co-culture as a college student is based on age and level of education. Co-culture greatly influences the ways that I communicate with people outside of my co-culture. My co-culture often obstructs communication with my grandparents who belong to an elderly co-culture. When I communicate with them, I tend to operate on a similarity assumption, meaning that I presume that they think the same way that I do. This often obstructs communication because I talk to them about my college work under the assumption that they know what I am talking about. This often turns out to be false and by the end of the conversation they don’t understand what I’m trying to convey any more than they did when I began speaking.
My co-culture also enhances my communication with different co-cultures. For instance, having a co-culture as college student helps me to better communicate with other co-cultures that use the same jargon communication code. Communication codes are “verbal and nonverbal behaviors whose meanings are often understood only by people from the same culture” (Floyd, 48). Jargon, one of the three communication codes, is a “language whose technical meaning is understood by people within that co-culture but not necessarily those outside it” (Floyd, 48). I am able to communicate easily with people from an American high school co-culture and those with a college student co-culture, as we all know the same jargon. In this example, the jargon would be text language. When I text with a high schooler, I am easily able to understand the meaning of the message I receive as well as being able to communicate back using the same jargon.
Co-culture greatly influences how people communicate with other people, as well how well they interpret other people’s communication. Co-cultures both enhance and obstruct communication between different co-cultures. I have personally found that co-culture also makes it easier to communicate with people with similar co-cultures and harder with people from very different co-cultures.
Floyd, Kory. Interpersonal Communication. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011. Print.