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Intercultural communication builds bridges of understanding between different people in various circumstances. Every intercultural encounter is also a human encounter, whether people come from the same national background or from different parts of the world. Every human being is unique, with unique life experiences, relationships, languages, feelings, and faith. That is why construction of intercultural bridges often is troublesome. The common denominator of all communicational activity is understanding, which involves e.g. listening, interpretation, cultural assumptions, use of stereotypes, and prejudices. Several of these aspects affect, in specific social settings, the everyday construction of meaning. The result might be lack of understanding and misunderstandings, or, because of political or ideological reasons, even unwillingness to engage in understanding. Intercultural communication is a complex phenomenon and deserves cross-disciplinary studies in order to shed some light on the processes.
In this book, researchers with different backgrounds and experiences try to answer the following questions: From a variety of approaches, what can we learn about constructing new bridges of understanding? How can the insight be utilised in everyday intercultural encounters?
The editors are Øyvind Dahl, Professor at the School of Mission and Theology, in Stavanger, Norway, Iben Jensen, Lecturer at the University of Roskilde, Denmark, and Peter Nynäs, Researcher at the Åbo Akademi University, Finland.