How Social Diversity Strengthens a Literate Society

Instructor: Amy Kousch

Amy has taught English and communications courses and has a master's degree in agricultural communication.

In this lesson, we will examine how diversity strengthens a literate society through the lens of communication theory and then identify how pluralism ultimately increases our capacity for change management.

Social Diversity and Strong Communities

Take a moment and think about how a how a forest teems and flourishes with growth and beauty. Trees provide habitat for animals, while insects regenerate leaves into nutrients for plants. None of these living beings is the same, and yet they all contribute to the overall success of a forest. Or, for instance, consider a choir and the observation that its musical resonance is derived from all different voices, ranges, and styles coming into tune together.

A diverse literate society is like these examples. The many ways we learn and communicate contribute to a greater equitable society of meaning-making and comprehension which ultimately increases our innovative capability as a whole people.

Pluralism and Meaning-Making

So, let's first take a look at pluralism and cultural awareness. Pluralism simply means that more than two ways or modes of living are coexisting in the same area. The United States would be considered a pluralistic society because of the vastly different cultures all living in the same country.

In order for a diverse society to live and work together well, there needs to be a sense of cultural awareness. Culturally aware individuals are not only attuned to the value systems of others, but are also self-reflective and have a deep understanding of self, bias, and personal values. In this way, culturally aware communities cultivate a fruitful appreciation for similarities and differences between diverse groups of members.

One way that pluralism enhances a society's ability to collaborate and innovate is through communication. Let's look at linguistic semantics to understand this idea better. Linguistic semantics is the way that words convey meaning and how that meaning is interpreted in different situations based on culturally and socially programmed connotation, or associations with words, for both the speaker and the receiver.

Connotation:

The way we experience words and meanings is largely based on emotional associations developed during our formative years.

connotation graphic

We can see, using our connotation graphic, that many unique word associations exist based on an individual's unique experience with that word. The more meanings, interpretations, and expressions that we, as a diverse society, are able to access and use, the more accurate and meaningful our communication with each other. This wide range of meaning-making and platform for expressions is only possible as a result of pluralism.

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