Context is the term used to describe cultures based on how explicit the messages exchanged are and how much, and context means in certain situations. Anthropologist Edward T. Hall had introduced this concept first in his book Beyond Culture in 1976. There are two types of context culture, first is high context and the second one is low context.
High context refers to societies where members have close connections for a long time. Various factors of cultural behaviour are not made explicit as almost all members know what to do and what to think because of years of togetherness. Ex: Your family
Low context refers to societies where members tend to have many connections but of the short period. Here, the cultural behaviours may need to be spelt out explicitly so that those coming in the cultural environment can know to behave well.
Difference between Both Cultures
The difference between low and high context culture may be understood well with the following example. Imagine you meet someone at the first time, you are totally unaware about that person. You both do not know anything about each other, so here you both need to spend the time to know each other. This is a low context communication.
But, if you have been married for ten years, here, you do not even need to talk to communicate. Your partner looks from across the house, and you get exactly what your partner is thinking. It is a high context communication.
There is the different aspect about both cultures:
- Association- Relations are made slowly and depend on trust. Growth depends on relations and society’s mutual benefits.
- The study- Various sources are used, the research is done mainly by observing the other.
- Stability- Here, the change is slow and time does not easily schedule.
- Association- Relations are made fast and end fast. Growth depends on procedures and paying attention to the ambition.
- The study- a single source of information is used. The research is done by following the explicit directions and understanding of others.
- Stability- Tasks are done at particular times. Change in low-context culture is swift, and time is a commodity to be spent or saved.
Keep it always in mind that every person uses these both high-context and low-context communication; you can choose one over the other. The kind of relationship we have with others and our situation dictate the extent to which we rely more on literal.