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RADIUS – Kommunikation & interkulturelle Zusammenarbeit
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Intercultural Glossary


is taking on the traits of another culture, leaving the culture of origin behind.


describes the process of taking on and integrating elements of a culture (e.g. customs, habits, values, preferences, communication styles).

Acculturation strategy

describes a person’s or group’s reaction to contact with a different cultural group. The decision is whether to maintain relationships with (members of) other groups and whether to maintain cultural identity and characteristics. Assimilation, integration, separation, marginalisation are acculturation styles that can be distinguished.


encompasses the artefacts of a group (art, architecture, dress, food etc.) but also its norms, values, customs, beliefs and language. Culture is a system of self-explanatory concepts that members of a particular cultural group employ (usually unconsciously) to govern their everyday communication and behaviour in a manner that appears normal, comprehensible and predictable to others of the same culture.

Cultural awareness

means being aware of the influence of culture on human behaviour. One can distinguish (1) own-culture-awareness, (2) other-culture-awareness and (3) an awareness of the process and the effects of intercultural encounters (intercultural awareness).

Cultural differences

can either refer to values and norms or to concrete behaviours (customs) and communication styles.

Cultural standards

are all forms of thinking, evaluating and acting that the majority of members of a particular culture perceive as being normal, natural, typical and binding for both themselves and others.


means treating people who are basically equal in a different manner. Avoiding contact with a person, disadvantaging a person with respect to accessing goods or positions, and belittling a person are typical discriminative behaviours. In most cases prejudices are used to justify discriminative behaviours.


is a view of the world in which one’s own cultural group constitutes the centre of everything, and all others are ranked and rated with reference to it. In most cases ethnocentrism leads to overrating one’s own culture and demeaning others.


is the perception a person has about him/herself in relation to his/her environment. This perception is also shaped by the social environment.


are groups a person is a member of.


means incorporating something new. As an acculturation strategy for intercultural contact situations, integration means openness towards the elements of another culture without abandoning the culture of origin.


describes any forms of exchange between individuals or groups of different cultural origin.

Intercultural competence

encompasses the skills needed to communicate and act effectively and satisfactorily with people of a different cultural heritage.

Intercultural learning

is a form of social learning which leads to an increased awareness of one’s own culture and that of others, to a reduction in prejudice and stereotyping, to an enjoyment of cultural diversity and to skills which enable one to deal successfully with intercultural situations. Intercultural learning involves experiencing and comparing cultural differences.

Intercultural misunderstandings

occur when people of different cultural origins impart different meanings to a situation. These differences in interpretation are the result of culturally-divergent ideas of normality and appropriateness.

Intercultural training

is an organised and structured activity undertaken to promote intercultural competence and intercultural learning.


is lack of respect for the practices and beliefs of others.


can be the result of preventing a person accessing goods and positions or as an acculturation strategy, marginalisation can also mean abandoning one’s culture of origin without establishing any relationship to a new cultural environment.


means moving one’s place of residence from one country/culture to another on a relatively permanent basis.


refers to many cultures. Multicultural describes a setting in which members of different cultural groups are located in close proximity to each other. It does not necessarily mean that there is constructive contact between members of the different cultures. The maintenance of a peaceful atmosphere in such a setting does however require accepting the differences of others.


are implicit and explicit rules that steer a person’s behaviour.


are groups a person is not a member of.


is an attitude or judgement about a person or a group that is based on insufficient facts. Most prejudices demonstrate rejection or a negative attitude.


means differentiating people in terms of their worth on the basis of their cultural heritage.


(as an acculturation strategy) means maintaining one’s cultural identity and characteristics without being open to a new cultural environment and establishing relationships with other cultural groups.


are assumptions and beliefs about the traits of a group. They are generalisations, meaning that they deny individuality. In most cases – but not always - the contents of a stereotype are negative, i.e. demean the object of the stereotype.


is respect, appreciation and acceptance of diversity.


determine which behaviours a group considers as appropriate and inappropriate for specific situations. They are the basis of a person’s thoughts, emotions and behaviours.

Intercultural Glossary

Key elements of intercultural communication and cooperation

Workshops in Luxembourg

Travailler avec succès en situation interculturelle

Erfolgreich in der interkulturellen Zusammenarbeit


Info: Radius Luxembourg

application form (pdf)


new book publications

Kulturelle Vielfalt – neue Herausforderungen für kollegiale Zusammenarbeit und Personalführung Scheitza, Leenen, Groß, Grosch

Kulturfairness in der Personalauswahl Leenen, Scheitza, Stumpf

„Wieso sitze ich hier?“ – Widerstände in Fortbildungen zur Interkulturellen Kompetenz in Verwaltungsorganisationen Scheitza, Düring-Hesse

Interkulturelle Kompetenz als Anforderungsmerkmal in der Personalauswahl Leenen, Scheitza, Stumpf

Interkulturelle Öffnung der Verwaltung. Konzepte, Probleme, Beispiele Uske, Scheitza, Düring-Hesse, Fischer


further publications


Die Kunst des Brückenbauens

Standpunkte zur Vermittlung interkultureller Kompetenzen

Alexander Scheitza im Gespräch mit Prof. Juliana Roth in mondial - SIETAR Journal für interkulturelle Perspektiven 1/2010