Title

U.S. Leaders and U.S. Values: A Blind Spot in Understanding Ourselves and the Muslim World

Publication Date

7-1-2007

Degree Name

MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management

First Advisor

John Ungerleider

Abstract

This inquiry grows out of an Intercultural Communication (ICC) perspective as it examines how a diverse group of U.S. leaders understands the relationship between the United States and the Muslim world. These leaders explain in interviews with an NGO project team the trends they have observed, what they believe drives these trends and how they both expect and desire the relationship to evolve in the future. When we apply value orientation theory with an ICC lens to the interview data, the results suggest that American cultural values, particularly how U.S. Americans value religion as well as the separation of religion and politics, impact and even inhibit how these leaders approach interventions in this relationship. This significant insight implies that the United States must first reconcile the inherent contradictions within its own cultural value orientations before it can effectively repair the tensions and misunderstandings in the U.S.-Muslim world dynamic. Because the U.S. maintains the complicated paradox of a highly religious and a highly secular society, the U.S. holds a special opportunity to reconcile tensions between the West and the Muslim world. This unique understanding of the religious and the secular, if properly harnessed, could create the foundation for building a critical bridge between these two cultures.

Disciplines

Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication | International and Intercultural Communication

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