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Beyond cultural boundary: An empirical study of the third culture theory
Unformatted Document Text:  Third Culture Theory 4 1977; Ruben, 1977; Yum, 1982; Kim, 1988). The main focus of those studies was how strangers adapt or adjust to a new culture, not interactions between cultural strangers. Adaptation is regarded as something strangers (individuals) deal with in surviving in a host nation (structure). However, this asymmetrical stranger-host dichotomy can only explain one aspect (stranger’s perspective) of interpersonal communication with international partners. Casmir (1993) argued that such one-sided emphasis on a stranger’s adaptation seems to “ignore the ‘inter’ aspects of intercultural communication” (p. 415). Emphasizing the mutual interactions between intercultural partners regardless of stranger-host dichotomy, Casmir suggested a new perspective, “the third culture” beyond interactants’ original cultures. This study is exploring the third culture theory (Casmir, 1978; Casmir & Asuncion-Lande, 1989; Casmir, 1993) as a new perspective from which to look at interpersonal communication in an intercultural setting. This theory has not been tested. There have been a very few historical and ethnographic studies based on this theory (Metzger, Springston, Weber, & Larson, 1991; Reischauer, 1988). This study is to explicate the concept “third culture” and to test relationships with intercultural stress (culture shock). Third Culture Theory Definition First initiated by the concept of “binational third culture” by Useem, Donahue, and Useem (1963; 1967), the third culture theory has been elaborated by Casmir (1978;

Authors: Lee, Suman.
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Third Culture Theory
4
1977; Ruben, 1977; Yum, 1982; Kim, 1988). The main focus of those studies was how
strangers adapt or adjust to a new culture, not interactions between cultural strangers.
Adaptation is regarded as something strangers (individuals) deal with in surviving in a
host nation (structure).
However, this asymmetrical stranger-host dichotomy can only explain one aspect
(stranger’s perspective) of interpersonal communication with international partners.
Casmir (1993) argued that such one-sided emphasis on a stranger’s adaptation seems to
“ignore the ‘inter’ aspects of intercultural communication” (p. 415). Emphasizing the
mutual interactions between intercultural partners regardless of stranger-host dichotomy,
Casmir suggested a new perspective, “the third culture” beyond interactants’ original
cultures.
This study is exploring the third culture theory (Casmir, 1978; Casmir &
Asuncion-Lande, 1989; Casmir, 1993) as a new perspective from which to look at
interpersonal communication in an intercultural setting. This theory has not been tested.
There have been a very few historical and ethnographic studies based on this theory
(Metzger, Springston, Weber, & Larson, 1991; Reischauer, 1988). This study is to
explicate the concept “third culture” and to test relationships with intercultural stress
(culture shock).
Third Culture Theory
Definition
First initiated by the concept of “binational third culture” by Useem, Donahue,
and Useem (1963; 1967), the third culture theory has been elaborated by Casmir (1978;


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