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Advances in Intergroup Communication

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Howard Giles and Anne Maass

Advances in Intergroup Communication is a timely contribution to the field. It reflects developments in older, more established intergroup settings (e.g., gender, sexual orientation, organizations) whilst introducing newer studies such as the military and political parties. It also pays attention to emerging trends in new media and social networks and considers the developing field of neuroscience of communication.
The volume brings together authors from different geographical areas (North America, Europe, and Australia) and from different disciplines (particularly communication, linguistics, and psychology). Contributions are organized around five themes, corresponding to the five sections of the book: defining features and constraints; tools of intergroup communication; social groups in their context; intergroup communication in organizations; and future directions.
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Chapter Two: Shared Identity and the Intergroup Dynamics of Communication.

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← 18 | 19 →CHAPTER TWO

Shared Identity and the Intergroup Dynamics of Communication

KATHARINE GREENAWAY, KIM PETERS, S. ALEXANDER HASLAM, AND WILLIAM BINGLEY

Communication is a foundation of successful societies. Knowledgeable societies rely on teachers who are able to translate their knowledge into student learning and on scientists who can explain the significance of their findings to lay audiences. Healthy societies rely on health practitioners to be able to work together to identify the most appropriate ways of treating a sick patient. Productive societies rely on employees being able to exchange ideas with the members of other organizational units to design and develop innovative products (see Woo & Myers, this volume). As these examples attest, communication is often required to cross boundaries: from teacher to student, scientist to layperson, medic to nurse, and engineer to accountant. The boundaries that we describe here are created by people’s group memberships and associated social identities. And while strong societies are built on this kind of trans-identity communication, there is a great deal of evidence that social identities are in fact formidable barriers to effective communication.

Social identities can undermine communication outcomes for two key reasons. First, this is because the messages that communicators send across social identity boundaries tend to be of poorer quality than those they send within those boundaries. Second, this is because recipients tend to do a worse job of comprehending messages that are communicated across social identity boundaries rather than within them....

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