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Beyond Culture Paperback – December 7, 1976

4.4 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A fascinating book." -- Ashley Montag,  Chicago Daily News

From the Publisher

Edward T. Hall opens up new dimensions of understanding and perception of human experience by helping us rethink our values in constructive ways.

"A fascinating book." -- Ashley Montag, Chicago Daily News

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor Books (January 7, 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385124740
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385124744
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #187,033 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a brilliant book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am looking forward to reading more of Hall.
Hall was one of the influences on Robert Moran, a professor who teaches Cross-Cultural Communications at the American Graduate School of International Management (see his book "Managing Cultural Differences"). Although Moran and his co-authors draw on dozens of sources, somehow Hall and his concept of Low-Context and High-Context cultures made a big impression on me in Moran's class. My only regret is having waited so long to actually read this classic.
Hall introduces the concept of context as an human behavioral influence. A high-context situation is one in which much of the communication is non-verbal or understood because of the shared context. He characterizes societies as being either low-context, which are typical of northern Europe, or high-context, most dramatically represented by Japan. Context even affects language, and human speech patterns will change, depending upon who they are speaking to and the context of the communication.
I also thought that his concept of `action chains' was perceptive. An AC is a sequence of events in which two or more individuals participate. Shaking hands is a simple chain; becoming engaged is a more complex one. Again, different cultures vary in their emphasis on completing action chains. An American may be very casual about dropping an ongoing chain, which may be very negatively received in other cultures.
His chapter "Culture as an Irrational Force" is full of good common-sense advice on getting along with other people. Hall has provided advice to diplomats and corporate executives, and his book reflects this practical experience. While it delves into theory, his concepts always have a concrete application.
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Format: Paperback
It's amazing to me that the (brilliantly simple) ideas found in this book aren't more a part of public consciousness and discussion, especially 25 years after its publication. These aren't high-flying concepts. They're experimentally proven and frighteningly basic revelations about how humans function, and the fact that they were never a part of my curriculum in one of the best prep schools in the country and then a top Ivy League school simply drives home Hall's point about the state of academia. My only complaint is that the book jumps around quickly and doesn't always spend as much time as I'd like on particular threads. It also isn't particularly actionable, but given its conclusions this is not surprising. I recommend Maps of Meaning by Jordan Peterson for another fascinating look at how the cross-cultural human psyche is configured. It's a powerful counterpoint to the fashionable but vacuous idea that everything in culture is an arbitrary construct, unconnected to millions of years of evolution of the human organism.
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Format: Paperback
Hall provides us with simple but logical comments on culture
and its influence on behavior. Leading us from his first
experiences as anthropologist to the creation of his well-
known communication theory (high- & low-context communication).
What does culture do for us in our daily-lifes? Do we have to
look at it from a neutral point of view or is it just one
more issues we should feel guilty about? His journey through
culture helps us identifying key-issues that all of us should
care about in general. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as
I did.
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Format: Paperback
I read this book for the first time over 20 years ago after I graduated from college with an unrelated science major which I found loathesome and never used. I had already read "The Hidden Dimension" when working with an architect. I am not about to read this one again due to its complexity and the fact it "sunk in" then. Here are some of Hall's highlights:
Ch. 1 (The Paradox of Culture): "One wonders how many individuals who have been forced to adjust to eight-hour, nine-to-five schedules have sacrificed their creativity, and what the social and human cost of this sacrifice has been."
Ch. 3 (Consistency and Life): "He is forced into the position of thinking and feeling that anyone whose behavior is not predictable or is peculiar in any way is slightly out of his mind, improperly brought up, irresponsible, psychopathic, politically motivated to a point beyond all redemption, or just plain inferior."
Ch. 7 (Contexts, High and Low): "... in high context systems, people in places of authority are personally and truly (not just in theory) responsible for the actions of subordinates down to the lowest man. In low context systems, responsibility is diffused throughout the system and difficult to pin down ..."
Ch. 11 (Covert Culture and Action Chains): "The investigation of out-of-awareness culture can be accomplished only by actual observation of real events in normal settings and contexts. ... Culture is therefore very closely related to if not synonymous with what has been defined as "mind".
Ch. 12 (Imagery and Memory): "Our problems in education are exacerbated by eductional systems and philosophies that stress verbal facility at the expense of other important parts of man's mind ..."
Ch.
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