Mindscapes: A metatheoretical exploration in polycultural communication
Rooted in phenomenological sociology, in which reality is understood to be constituted by individuals' underlying assumptions about it, this study examines conceptualizations of reality and the cultures which arise from them as well as the resulting problems and potentialities for communication. Its purpose is to explore the utility of regarding groups with shared mindscapes as cultures in themselves, and to investigate how the recognition of that congruence can benefit the study of social interaction. The concept of mindscapes represents different logical structures which involve elements of perception, cognition, cogitation, conceptualization, behavior, design, planning, and decision making.
The study asks three research questions: 1. "How have prominent social scientists conceptualized culture?" 2. "In what ways can shared mindscapes be considered congruent with the concept of culture?" 3. "In what ways can the concept of mindscapes as cultures be integrated with the principles of intercultural communication?" An enriched cultural orientation is proposed to expand traditional conceptualizations, giving consideration to questions of meaning, power, multiple identities, and the social construction of reality; culture as epistemology and epistemology as culture emerges as a new paradigm. Finally, principles of intercultural competence are applied to crossmindscape interactions, emphasizing value orientations, expectations, and attributions, and proposing the discovery and development of cross-cultural/cross-scapal translators. The findings suggest that cognitive complexity, in place of a cognitively simple outlook, can alleviate the tendency to ethnocentric evaluations and judgments, and that conflict at all social levels holds potential for illumination if treated mindfully and as cases of intercultural contact.