Communication Intercultural New Media
Bruce Mutsvairo, Susana Salgado
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 June 2022
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756841-0277


In broad terms, intercultural new media refers to scholarly attempts to fathom ways through which ICTs (new media) and digital technologies, in general, relate to and affect intercultural communication. This area of research explores the deep-seated yet complicated relationship between computer-mediated communication and intercultural communication, seeking to understand how, for instance, social media platforms, podcasts, mobile phones, text messaging, online games, virtual worlds, and streaming apps, among several other digitally delivered technologies that enable communication, are impacting verbal and nonverbal interaction between people from different cultural backgrounds. In other words, intercultural new media speaks to the interplay among technology, communication, and culture. This field of studies arises from the assumption that new media are deeply transforming communication across cultures. It has gained increasing relevance as geographical, social, and political boundaries have been diluted with the growing usage of ICTs by people worldwide to communicate in different settings and with different purposes. Robert Shuter has defined the terms of this field of inquiry called intercultural new media studies (INMS), which was devised to explore specifically the intersection between intercultural communication and new media and is composed of two main research areas: (1) new media and intercultural communication theory, and (2) culture and new media. This means that INMS approaches not only include the study of new digital theories of intercultural interaction, but also are meant to advance existing intercultural communication theories inquiring into their salience in digital communication and how new media shaped their development. In a world where the adoption of communication technologies has become more of a ritual among many, understanding how different cultures perceive, interact, accommodate, and accept each other in a tech-driven society has become highly essential. INMS research goes beyond the more common studies of how new media is appropriated and used in different cultures and how cultures affect the new media development; its main focus is on how new media impacts intercultural communication between both individuals and groups in different contexts. In other words, these studies are mostly concerned with the ways in which new media affect and shape communication between users who do not share a cultural background. How are customs, values, and beliefs individually and collectively shaped by the transformative new media discourse and affordances? In this article, we review relevant and influential studies exploring intercultural new media, appraising works that have historically shaped the emergence, development, and destiny of this area of research.

General Overviews

As new media environments and the related research continues to evolve, a notable shift has recently taken place regarding use of the term “new media” with recent articles exploring the interplay between technology and interculturality in choosing to use other terms, such as “social media,” “digital media,” or “digital cultures” instead. Examples of the first case include Cheong, et al. 2012 and examples of the latter include Atay and D’Silva 2019, D’Silva and Atay 2020, and Robson and Zachara 2014. While intercultural communication has been studied for decades, the study of “intercultural new media” emerged at the turn of the 21st century with interventions, such as Ess 2001, potentially laying the foundation for what was then a new and rapidly growing field, one that twenty years later seems to be on the verge of outgrowing itself. This is a concept that has motivated comprehensive approaches and diverse scholars from various fields, including new additions from linguistics and sociology, leading to important contributions, including dispatches, such as the attempt in Baraldi 2006 to critique globalization through the lens of intercultural communication, and the cross-disciplinary analyses of religion, culture, identity, and gender in Jandt 2018. While Shuter 2012 constitutes the most striking example of research that has contributed important theoretical insights to this area, clarifying and cementing the use of the concept and laying the grounds for this new field of studies, which the author names intercultural new media studies (INMS), approaches such as Ling 2008 and St. Amant and Kelsey 2011 have focused on the role of mobile communication in social cohesion and on effective communication with individuals from other cultures in computer-mediated contexts, respectively, demonstrating the relevance of interdisciplinarity in intercultural new media studies.

  • Atay, Ahmet, and Margaret U. D’Silva, eds. 2019. Mediated intercultural communication in a digital age. New York: Routledge.

    This edited book includes contributions focused on how globalization and digitalization affect mediated intercultural communication. While engaging with different topics from journalism, geolocation-based applications, online discussion forums, religious engagement online, and identity negotiation, it acknowledges the rapid variations in mediated environments and presents critical and cultural perspectives on the interactions between traditional and new media and how those influence and contribute to intercultural communication.

  • Baraldi, Claudio. 2006. New forms of intercultural communication in a globalized world. International Communication Gazette 68.1: 53–69.

    DOI: 10.1177/1748048506060115

    The author aims to theorize globalization using an intercultural communication school of thought. Baraldi argues that the process of globalization stems from and is influenced by communication, creating the need to conceptually interpret it from an intercultural perspective. The author observes that the transnational interdependence of societies is only permissible thanks to specific forms of intercultural communication. Consequently, there is an irresistible need to manage conflicts emerging from various transcultural discourses as a way of preserving different cultural perceptions.

  • Cheong, Pauline H., Judith N. Martin, and Leah Macfadyen, eds. 2012. New media and intercultural communication: Identity, community and politics. New York: Peter Lang.

    As media become more and more interactive and shape global societies, this edited volume contributes theoretical discussions and empirical examinations of the changes in computer-mediated communication and intercultural communication. It takes an international approach and features research from diverse backgrounds, which delves into issues in the areas of identity, community, and politics.

  • D’Silva, Margaret U., and Ahmet Atay, eds. 2020. Intercultural communication, identity, and social movements in the digital age. New York: Routledge.

    This edited book offers a set of analyses of different contexts in which social media function as spaces for mediated cultural information. It examines the impact of the relationship between culture and social media on issues of identity and social movements, particularly how social media users of traditionally oppressed groups make their voices heard, cultivate communities, and further construct their cultural identities.

  • Ess, Charles, ed. 2001. Culture, technology, communication: Towards an intercultural global village. Albany: State Univ. of New York Press.

    This anthology analyzes the interactions of culture, communication, and technology by providing theoretical and praxis approaches, which include contributions from understudied countries, such as Kuwait, Korea, and Thailand. Its objective is to counteract the Anglo American presumptions that have dominated discussion and literature on computer-mediated communication. The collection emphasizes the cultural context in computer-mediated communication and discusses the importance of access and identity and the challenge posed by culture-bound values.

  • Jandt, Fred E. 2018. An introduction to intercultural communication: Identities in a global community. 9th ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

    Originally published in 1995. Much has changed since the first edition of this book came out. In the latest version, the author critiques the impact of today’s sociopolitical quagmires, including digital dilemmas, to understand their impact on intercultural communication. The book analyzes the deep-seated impact of social media on intercultural communication, going further to address cross-disciplinary insights and relationships of concepts such as religion, culture, identity, and gender with the field of intercultural communication, particularly in the age of new technologies.

  • Ling, Richard. 2008. New tech, new ties: How mobile communication is reshaping social cohesion. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/7568.001.0001

    This book examines how cell phones and mobile communication affect face-to-face ritual situations and how ritual is used in interaction mediated by mobile communication. It concludes that mobile telephones affect all kinds of interactions, including those mediated by mobile communication and those that are face to face, and that they strengthen social bonds among family and friends. It also provides interesting analyses drawing on the work of Durkheim, Goffman, and Collins.

  • Robson, Garry, and Malgorzata Zachara, eds. 2014. Digital diversities: Social media and intercultural experience. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars.

    This edited volume addresses the transformation of everyday life in the early 21st century by the new media and communication platforms. It presents a variety of accounts on the interface between online communication practices and the negotiation of increasingly complex social experiences, including the digitalization of the self, the meanings of mobility, the links between the “real” and the “virtual” worlds, political identities and narratives, and the “‘googleisation of everything.”

  • Shuter, Robert. 2012. Intercultural new media studies: The next frontier in intercultural communication. In Special issue: Intercultural new media studies. Edited by Robert Shuter. Journal of Intercultural Communication Research 41.3: 219–237.

    DOI: 10.1080/17475759.2012.728761

    This article constitutes an important milestone in this field of studies. It draws attention to the importance of studying the impact of new media on intercultural communication due to the ongoing “revolution in cross-cultural contact” and defines the parameters of a new field of inquiry called intercultural new media studies (INMS), which explores the intersection between ICTs and intercultural communication.

  • St. Amant, Kirk, and Sigrid Kelsey, eds. 2011. Computer-mediated communication across cultures: International interactions in online environments. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

    This book combines an examination of the use of cross-cultural digital media and practical advice on how to communicate effectively via online media with individuals from other countries and from different cultures. It focuses on the use of computer-mediated communication in education, and, in general, it offers an interesting reflection on the need to raise awareness of cultural differences online and to avoid misconceptions based on those differences.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.