Cultural Differences in Network Communication

How Polish, German and Ukrainian Netizens Use Social Media

by Grażyna Piechota (Author)
©2018 Monographs 162 Pages


This book tries to answer the question how the identity and cultural values of individuals are being modified by the Internet and its global culture. It is based on unique research projects focusing on foreign students and their way of communicating in the new media. The aim is to explore the relationship between the cultural affiliation of young Internet users from Poland, Germany and Ukraine and their attitudes as well as communication behaviour in Internet interactions.
The author presents an in-depth analysis of network communication and its influence on possible changes of cultural identity. Creating an alternative platform for discussions, network communication becomes a place for a new type of identification – a cosmopolitan one. It is also the frame in which self-reflection and modification of cultural identity take place. According to the author, the social media thus might also be perceived as a tool for building tolerance with respect to the cultural differentiation of the world.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • 1 State and Society in the Era of Migration
  • 1.1 Global Society
  • 1.2 Contemporary Migrations
  • 1.3 Deconstruction of the Nation State
  • 1.4 Cosmopolitan Europe
  • 1.5 Civil Society and the Challenges of a Multicultural Society
  • 1.6 Multicultural Citizenship
  • 2 Multiculturalism and Shaping Individual Identity
  • 2.1 Multiculturalism
  • 2.2 Tolerance in Intercultural Relations
  • 2.3 Cultural Differences
  • 2.4 Cultural Differences and Attitudes to Immigrants
  • 2.5 Shaping Individual Attitudes
  • 2.6 Individual’s Cultural Identity
  • 2.7 Globalisation as a Factor Shaping Individual Identity
  • 3 Media and Intercultural Communication
  • 3.1 Intercultural Communication – Theoretical Issues
  • 3.2 Barriers to Intercultural Communication – Prejudices and Stereotypes
  • 3.3 Functions and Impact of Mass Media in Intercultural Communication
  • 3.4 New Media and Their Significance in Contemporary Communication
  • 3.5 Characteristics of Communication in Social Media
  • 3.6 Social Media in Intercultural Communication
  • 3.7 Tolerance in Network Communication
  • 4 Empirical Aspects of Network Communication Processes in the Light of Migration and Cultural Differences
  • 4.1 Research Methodology
  • 4.2 The Role of New Media in Overcoming Stereotypes and Prejudices of Students
  • 4.3 Summary of the First Stage of Research
  • 4.4 The Significance of Social Media in Shaping Students’ Attitudes to Immigrants
  • 4.5 Summary of the Second Stage of Research
  • 4.6 The Use of Social Media in Communication Processes of Representatives of High- and Low-Context Cultures
  • 4.7 Summary of the Third Stage of Research
  • Network Communication and Cultural Identity of an Individual – Summary Attempt
  • References
  • List of Tables and Charts
  • Index of Names
  • Index of Subjects

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The research for this monograph would not have been possible if it had not been for people from universities cooperating at all three stages of research. I would like to thank Dagmar Preiss-Allesch from the Protestant University of Applied Sciences in Berlin and Olga Vygovskaya from the Borys Grinchenko Kyiv University for the organisation and for making this research possible. Special thanks are also owed to all lecturers engaged in the project during my meetings with students and to authorities of each university who allowed me to carry out this research.

Prof. Dr. habil. Magdalena Ratajczak from the University of Wroclaw deserves special thanks for preparing the scientific review and for her remarks that improved the quality of my work.

I would also like to thank all students who agreed to take part in surveys in Berlin, Krakow and Kiev. Thanks to their consent to share their opinions and the will to conscientiously complete their questionnaires, the research project was possible.

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Analysing social processes that have taken place on a global scale in recent years, the occurrence of a few global phenomena could be noticed, including increased migrations, conflicts rooted in cultural differences, in particular religious differences, and the rising importance of communication in social media. Contexts of communication processes, including cultural differences, define new challenges in functional analyses. Adopting the cultural paradigm in communication in social media means taking into account the differences that influence the effectiveness of communication and the reception of content transmitted with the use of social websites. According to Gloria Ladson-Billings and Jamel Donnor, in the research of racial issues it is important how you “will be named”. Naming someone simultaneously denotes the hierarchy and place in the structures of power. Racial constructs are becoming the determinants of social groups’ functioning in contemporary societies affected by the phenomenon of migration, in connection with communication processes that are rooted in cultural differences.

Our consciousness builds identity. Gloria Ladson-Billings and Jamel Donnor believe that we have a multiple consciousness stemming from identity that is changeable and multidimensional, and it is broken by religions, races, sexuality or geographical location of an individual. This influences the shaping of his or her consciousness. Multiple consciousness encompasses the changing identities of an individual, leading to the creation of new political constructs, like “political race”, which is the modification of the race–power hierarchy and which leads to revitalising democracy, through departing from traditional justifications of an individual’s place in the society, and their participation in power as the resultant of the represented race. These new constructs, taking up different forms depending on the country and continent, are usually based on modern civil rights movements, where borders delineated with racial segregation are crossed in favour of agreement and action through culture. A still dominating paradigm of individuals’ attitude to social inequality is compassion and appealing to the principle of humanitarianism, which is the major principle governing mobilisation of actions and shaping social relations. However, this paradigm ignores ← 9 | 10 → structures that are the source of inequality. In contrast, the construct of “political race” rather aims at structural changes (e.g. in education), which make ethnic, racial or cultural differences the source of development and not at replicating the established methods of social hierarchisation [Ladson-Billings, Donnor 2010: 404]. However, this monograph does not concern issues directly connected with race and in this respect is only limited to the theme of shaping individuals’ identities and modifications in this area, triggered with social, political and cultural changes. However, this only confirms that the issue of changes occurring in the identity and consciousness of individuals is not only a current matter, but it is also becoming a more and more necessary source of introducing effective social modernisations, reflecting quickly changing reality. Ladson-Billings and Donnor’s views on political relativism of race prove that the issue of multinationality and multiculturalism is becoming a more and more important subject of research and postulating structural changes in postmodern societies. The UK’s decision to leave the European Union (EU) is on the one hand an appeal to national and cultural identity, which some Britons declared to defend. On the other hand, the action itself seems paradoxical, considering thousands of immigrants living in the UK, also from the EU countries. Moreover, being fully fledged citizens of the country, migrants are allowed to participate in power structures, like the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who is a Muslim originating from Pakistan. This situation confirms existing divisions inside countries.

However, the phenomenon of “being named” described by Gloria Ladson-Billings and Jamel Donnor still prevails. It means defining people according to their racial affiliation, regardless of the criteria of equality and social justice. The perspective of perceiving individuals through race is stigmatising for some individuals and limiting for the society in general. “Being named” restricts the description of an individual, ignoring their achievements and position and encapsulating the individual solely in the racial construct [Ladson-Billings, Donnor 2010: 399]. Sylwia Wynter claims that dissimilarities create a favourable perspective enabling people who are excluded from political, economic or social activity to be able to look at reality “at a wide angle”, observing the environment from the perspective exceeding the “me/other” notion, not looking for an alternative only in either–or categories and also allowing for other solutions [King 1995: 265–290]. As could be observed, ← 10 | 11 → a distinct line dividing individuals into “us” and “terrorists” appeared after the attack on the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York in 2001 in the political rhetoric – a categorisation along the line of racial division or maybe even more of religious division. These divisions in political criteria boil down to creating a political race rooted in the race–power hierarchy. Political race is a construct consisting in creating interracial coalitions and alliances, leading to transformations in forms of participation and to revival of democracy [Ladson-Billings, Donnor 2010: 408–415]. On the other hand, Lani Guinier and Gerald Torres claim that the system creates injustices and political race may be an effective way to expose and destroy preserved hierarchies stemming from racial differences. They emphasise that political race undermines both social and economic racial consequences, departing from traditional understanding of race and the associated prejudices and stereotypes as well as inequalities perceived in the alternative evaluation system “either–or” [Guinier, Torres 2002]. Such a view makes it possible to breach dominating social categorisations that take place in structures, causing social exclusion. Political race appeals to the constant need for social renegotiations, looking for common grounds in the area of identity, national affiliation, citizenship and ethnic homogeneity.

Meanwhile, in Europe there occurs a dynamic renaissance of nationalisms. Political conditions of increasingly anti-immigration climate in the EU countries do not seem unfounded. The situation is similar in the USA, where Donald Trump won the elections using an anti-immigration message in the election campaign and making it an important part of his election programme. Surveys point to higher indicators of crime in districts inhabited by immigrant minorities, terrorist attacks take place, and tabloids explain social mechanisms and phenomena through simple messages, based on stereotypes. The answer to growing fears of people is not a reliable information policy. The source of information is usually mass media, new media and politicians’ rhetoric [Zientara 2012].


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2018 (October)
Network Communication Social Media Netizens Behaviours Intercultural Communication Migrants Politics
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2018, 161 pp., 4 fig. b/w, 16 tables

Biographical notes

Grażyna Piechota (Author)

Grażyna Piechota is a lawyer and sociologist. She works as Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Management and Social Communication of the Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski Krakow University. She specializes in civil society, political communication and networked communication.


Title: Cultural Differences in Network Communication
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164 pages