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10. Mai 13

The Melting of the "Iceberg" Metaphor

The picture of an iceberg, which is visible above the waterline with only one eighth of its mass, while most of it is hidden under water and may prove fatal to carelessly passing ships, has been a popular metaphor to explain the notion of overt cultural phenomena and their hidden meanings. In a recently initiated blog of the Intercultural Developmental Research Institute, Milton Bennett has called upon the intercultural community to come up with ideas to replace the iceberg metaphor – or rather simile, as he points out. more

The multitude of posted comments on the use of metaphors as well as the number of proposed metaphors seems to imply that a simile is helpful in the mediation of the meaning of culture. So I would like to propose the simile of an emergent script in an improvised play (there is probably a more technical term for that kind of theatrical format): People interact on the basis of their trained and previously played scripts, and they have the choice of sticking to their learnt roles, or to "switch off the auto-pilot" (as Elisabeth Plum and co-authors put it in their 2008 publication on Cultural Intelligence) and to try out new roles in the process of co-creating meaning and interacting in goal-directed ways. Needless to say that the newly developed script will only be of limited direct transferability in different contexts in the future, but it will add to the wealth and flexibility of potential interpretation/orientation patterns of those involved.

I am looking forward to comments from the systemic community!

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