A closer look at cultural difference
  • ISSN 1018-2101
  • E-ISSN: 2406-4238


This article investigates how participants accomplish interculturality (Nishizaka 1995, 1999; Mori 2003) when they engage in talk about Korean cultural practices involving labels and descriptions which construct one another’s national/ethnic identity. Within the framework of Membership Categorization Analysis (Sacks 1972, 1979, 1992), three segments of conversation were analyzed between Korean users of Japanese attending a Japanese university and their Japanese work colleagues or college friends. The analysis challenges key assumptions about intercultural conversation in several ways: 1) by demonstrating that interculturality is not always achieved in talk among speakers from different nations who have different first languages; 2) through illustrating how cultural expertise is often claimed by ‘non-members’ of the culture; and 3) by showing how presumed cultural experts do not always enact their cultural memberships, even in the face of cultural critique. The study reveals that the various membership categorizations that occur are contingent on how the participants respond to the assessment of various cultural practices. The findings of this study provide further awareness of how cross-cultural identity construction and interculturality are accomplished in talk.


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