Home > News > Prof. John Storey Lectured on ‘Culture in Intercultural Communication’ at SJTU

Prof. John Storey Lectured on ‘Culture in Intercultural Communication’ at SJTU

December 21, 2011      Author: Duan Li, School of Media and Design

"Culture tends to be defined in one of four ways in Intercultural Communication. All these definitions come with considerable theoretical problems. It would be an even better research project if it embraced the concept of culture, as it exists in Cultural Studies." Prof. John Storey stated so after analyzing definitions of 'culture' in the current Intercultural Communication (IC).

On December 14, Prof. John Storey, Director of the Centre for Research in Media and Cultural Studies at University of Sunderland (UK) visited SJTU Cultural Industry Innovation & Development Academe (CCIIDI) and gave a lecture titled "'Culture' in Intercultural Communication: A Cultural Studies Critique" to faculty and students.

Prof. John Storey is a renowned cultural theorist, a member of the editorial board of the international journal Cultural Studies, and one of the most influential scholars in the modern "cultural studies". His works such as Cultural Theory and Popular Culture (2009) and The Articulation of Memory and Desire (2008) have huge impact on the discipline construction of cultural studies in China.

In Storey's studies, culture tends to be defined in one of four ways within the IC traditions: as the equivalent of society; as acts of communication; as a so-called 'common culture', marked by consensus; as individualized exchange. These four ways are true to certain degree and influential, but they come with theoretical problems of either far too expansive, or failing to locate communication in social action, or failing to situate culture in relation to questions of power.

Storey proposes the Cultural Studies concept of culture to be a productive alternative to the IC. In Cultural Studies, Culture is defined as "networks of meanings that are performed and made concrete in particular social practices". He takes smiling and name-card-exchanging in China and western countries as examples to explain that "signification, the social creation of meanings is a practical material activity". He holds that IC, from the perspective of Cultural Studies, is "to share a culture, to interpret the world and make it meaningful and experience it as meaningful in recognizably similar ways".

Seen from the Cultural Studies' definition of culture, "Cultures are never simply shifting networks of shared meanings; on the contrary, cultures are always both shared and contested networks of meanings. Culture is an arena of struggle". Therefore, Storey believes that the contested aspect of culture is the lesson IC can draw from the cultural studies concept of culture. He takes Japan as an example to how the geographic concepts of "West" and "East" become historical constructions directly connected to the imperial power of the West. In what Valentin Volosinov identifies as the 'multi-accentuality' of the sign, a sign can be made to mean different things in different contexts with different effects of power. Therefore, it is common to see such "an attempt to make what is always multi-accentual appear as if it were only ever uni-accentual". And he holds that it is about "who can claim the power and authority to define social reality" and "to legitimate particular 'regimes of truth'".

Storey's deliberate logical analysis has greatly expanded the academic vision of the audience. The participating teachers and students had extensive exchanges with him on cultural relativism, cultural studies in the context of globalization, and cultural policy research, etc.

Prof. Shan Shilian from CCIIDI presided over the lecture and made wonderful comments on it. Associate Researcher Zhu Ningjia, Associate Prof. Deng Lin and some undergraduates have made great efforts for this event.

Translated by Tian Cong