About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 5517-5526
Publication year: 2011
ISBN: 978-84-614-7423-3
ISSN: 2340-1079

Conference name: 5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2011
Location: Valencia, Spain

INTERCULTURAL COMPETENCE EVALUATED: THE END OF AN ILLUSION

W. Müller-Pelzer

University of Applied Sciences and Arts Dortmund (GERMANY)
In the past years intercultural communication has largely been analyzed as field of conflicts and misunderstanding. But nowadays it seems that the focus of current studies concerning intercultural affaires is changing. Instead of speaking about culture as an over-individual power which binds us, several authors focus on clearing the notion of self-competence. This promising turn is threatened by the inflationist use of the concept of “Intercultural Competence”: It raises the need to distinguish cross-cultural and intercultural behaviour, and, on the other hand, to state what competence is in opposition to capabilities, aptitudes, qualifications, attitudes and skills. Cross cultural behaviour (and research) is mostly interested in controlling communicative obstacles for practical reasons. Understanding is a strategic tool, and what we can’t control in this way, we have to avoid or to elude. This type of knowledge is a construction or a constellation of factors. Contrary to this, intercultural behaviour (and research) starts from the phenomenological evidence that constellations are abstractions from situations: there is a loss of nuances and atmospheres which give the situation a specific depth, weight and authority. Situations are here defined as internally diffuse, comprehensive entities with a characteristic meaningfulness. So, the reduction to constellations runs the risk to reduce the meaningfulness to only one perspective and to become short sighted. The Council of Europe and the European Union are openly boosting intercultural constellationism : Based on a lot of descriptors, groups of specialists all over Europe are working on lists of resources, of macro- and micro-competencies which are supposed to support a better linguistic and cultural understanding of European peoples. Without referring to controversial anthropological concepts, they advocate the development of an “intercultural personality”.
Nevertheless we dispose of sufficient phenomenological evidence to say that the current occidental model of body and soul (mind, consciousness etc.) is obsolete. The complete reconstruction of Phenomenology by Hermann Schmitz shows the crucial role of corporeal communication (leibliche Kommunikation) for intercultural communication. What goes beyond rules, i.e. what takes into account the diffuse and holistic significance of situations, may be called competence. A fortiori, there’s no hope for an intercultural algorithm. We are not the cooks of intercultural affairs who know the recipe before cooking, we only may grasp the edge of a situation hoping to reinforce by resonant corporeal intelligence some hints which can lead to a more comprehensive understanding. What may be teached, what obeys to rules, what has the structure of constellations, may be called capability, appropriateness, aptitude, skill etc. This is in line with the results of labour psychology research exposed by Erpenbeck / von Rosenstiel and represents a plea for a narrow concept of competence.
@InProceedings{MULLERPELZER2011INT,
author = {M{\"{u}}ller-Pelzer, W.},
title = {INTERCULTURAL COMPETENCE EVALUATED: THE END OF AN ILLUSION},
series = {5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2011 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-614-7423-3},
issn = {2340-1079},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {7-9 March, 2011},
year = {2011},
pages = {5517-5526}}
TY - CONF
AU - W. Müller-Pelzer
TI - INTERCULTURAL COMPETENCE EVALUATED: THE END OF AN ILLUSION
SN - 978-84-614-7423-3/2340-1079
PY - 2011
Y1 - 7-9 March, 2011
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2011 Proceedings
SP - 5517
EP - 5526
ER -
W. Müller-Pelzer (2011) INTERCULTURAL COMPETENCE EVALUATED: THE END OF AN ILLUSION, INTED2011 Proceedings, pp. 5517-5526.
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