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Increasing the Participation of Non-dominant Cultural Groups in Public Dialogue: Development Communication Experiences in North America
Unformatted Document Text:  Increasing Participation 1 Increasing the Participation of Non-dominant Cultural Groups in Public Dialogue: Development Communication Experiences in North America Cultural diversity in New Mexico, the United States and in Canada, coupled with the increasing movement of peoples around the world, presents communication scholars with many practical challenges in intercultural communication. One major challenge relates to increasing the representation of ethnic and cultural groups in community decision making processes of the dominant North American culture. In part, differences in values, norms, and language among community members make the process problematic. Community members whose cultural background does not utilize the same values and ways of communicating as those which are predominant in North America are expected to assimilate to a decision making process where the voicing of personal opinion is expected, where time constraints are more important than the cohesion of the group, and where competition and the desire to win is valued. It has been theorized (Karlberg, 2003) that it is possible to bring about social change without the use of the contest and protest norms of communication that are imbedded in the North American economic, political, and legal systems. This norm of adversarial strategies includes situations where community members attempt to communicate in order to bring about development for any particular community’s economic, political, and judicial structures. Generally it has been necessary for adversarial legal remedies to be exhausted, and for a conflict to escalate to a point of harming all parties involved, before a suggestion is made that the parties begin a process of negotiation to settle disputes. Often these adversarial situations involve, and are exacerbated by, the divergent histories, values, societal power, and communication norms of members from varying cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The Problem In February of 2003 an article appeared on the Op-Ed Page of the Albuquerque Journal, written by United States Senator Jeff Bingaman (N.M.), regarding the settlement of a long standing dispute over ownership of 9,500 acres of New Mexico’s Sandia Mountain. In the closing paragraph of the article, Senator Bingaman wrote: “Difficult land and water issues can be settled outside the courtroom to everyone’s benefit. All it takes is a willingness to come together for the good of New Mexico, and to put individual interests aside for the sake of progress.”

Authors: LaFever, Marcella.
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Increasing Participation 1
Increasing the Participation of Non-dominant Cultural Groups in Public Dialogue:
Development Communication Experiences in North America
Cultural diversity in New Mexico, the United States and in Canada, coupled with the increasing
movement of peoples around the world, presents communication scholars with many practical challenges
in intercultural communication. One major challenge relates to increasing the representation of ethnic
and cultural groups in community decision making processes of the dominant North American culture. In
part, differences in values, norms, and language among community members make the process
problematic. Community members whose cultural background does not utilize the same values and ways
of communicating as those which are predominant in North America are expected to assimilate to a
decision making process where the voicing of personal opinion is expected, where time constraints are
more important than the cohesion of the group, and where competition and the desire to win is valued.
It has been theorized (Karlberg, 2003) that it is possible to bring about social change without the
use of the contest and protest norms of communication that are imbedded in the North American
economic, political, and legal systems. This norm of adversarial strategies includes situations where
community members attempt to communicate in order to bring about development for any particular
community’s economic, political, and judicial structures. Generally it has been necessary for adversarial
legal remedies to be exhausted, and for a conflict to escalate to a point of harming all parties involved,
before a suggestion is made that the parties begin a process of negotiation to settle disputes. Often these
adversarial situations involve, and are exacerbated by, the divergent histories, values, societal power,
and communication norms of members from varying cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
The Problem
In February of 2003 an article appeared on the Op-Ed Page of the Albuquerque Journal, written
by United States Senator Jeff Bingaman (N.M.), regarding the settlement of a long standing dispute over
ownership of 9,500 acres of New Mexico’s Sandia Mountain. In the closing paragraph of the article,
Senator Bingaman wrote:
“Difficult land and water issues can be settled outside the courtroom to
everyone’s benefit. All it takes is a willingness to come together for the good of
New Mexico, and to put individual interests aside for the sake of progress.”


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