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Framing interculturality: a corpus-based analysis of online promotional discourse of higher education intercultural communication courses

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Tony Young



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


This paper examines how intercultural communication (ICC) and the notion of culture are framed in on-line promotional discourse of higher education intercultural communication courses. It analyses a specialised corpus comprised of 14,842 words from 43 course websites of master’s programmes in intercultural communication in the UK and the US—internationally, the two largest providers of such programmes. It combines corpus tools with a ‘situated meaning’ approach to allow patterns and trends to emerge from the collection of texts first and then to closely examine the key items in their contexts. The analysis reveals ambivalent positions reflected in promotional on-line discourse. While a small number of courses acknowledge cultural ‘complexity’, culture is still very often reduced to an essentialised and static notion, despite growing criticism against such an approach in ICC literature. Intercultural communication is valorised as a combination of desirable skills and knowledge conducive to effective communication of different cultural groups and for those working in international arenas. Significant differences between the UK and US courses are identified with regard to the extent of associations with diversity-related social categories such as ethnicity, gender, social class and the agency of culture, reflecting regional differences in historical roots and positioning of ICC courses and market orientation. The lack of interpretive, critical and constructivist positions on culture in promotional discourse, is discussed in the context of neoliberal discourse and the current thinking towards professional competences dominant in Britain, North America, and other parts of the world.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hua Z, Handford M, Young TJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development

Year: 2017

Volume: 38

Issue: 3

Pages: 283-300

Print publication date: 01/06/2017

Online publication date: 05/02/2016

Acceptance date: 16/12/2015

Date deposited: 07/03/2016

ISSN (print): 0143-4632

ISSN (electronic): 1747-7557

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/01434632.2015.1134555


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