Understanding Mediated Intercultural Communication: An Ethnomethodological Study of Social Media Engagement Practices of Asian Expatriates

Reynaldo Gacho Segumpan, Jean A. Saludadez


This paper is part of a larger research that attempted in providing an explanation to Bennett’s (1998) question: “How do people understand one another when they do not share a common cultural experience?” This study explored what are the Asian expatriates’ practices when they engage in mediated intercultural communication. Specifically, the study aimed to answer the following research questions: (1) When do Asian expatriates engage in mediated intercultural communication? (2) Why do Asian expatriates engage in mediated intercultural communication? and (3) What social media platforms do they use and for what purposes? While many scholars have examined expatriate adjustment and integration, it is evident that not many studies have explicitly explored the use of online social media during the adjustment and integration process. No known study has specifically investigated the use of online social media by Asian expatriates (Theemling, 2013). Social edia are becoming so integrated into our lives (Meek, 2011). More than personal interest, social media usage is a phenomenon that has received little research focus (Kim et al., 2009). The study used ethnomethodology as its analytical frame to locate meanings in the social media engagement practices of 20 Asian expatriates. Data were collected from the asynchronous online forum between November and December 2015 that were analyzed with the help of NVivo 10. Three themes emerged from the data: (a) Social media engagement as everyday practice consisting of eight sub-themes: The practice of ground rules, the practice of “greetings,” the practice of thoughtful thinking, the practice of saying “thank you,” keeping conversational partner, renewing relationships, source of information, and source of entertainment, (b) social media engagement as a practice of building professional communities consisting of two sub-themes: Developing expatriation work and intensifying information, and (c) social media engagement as a search for virtual space consisting of two sub-themes: Trading tools and rendering rich media. Our findings highlighted the usefulness of ethnomethodology in understanding meanings which are in the practices of Asian expatriates’ social media engagement.

Aus. J. Bus. Sco S. & IT. Vol 4(4), October 2018, P 136-148


Intercultural communication; Asian expatriates; social media engagement; ethnomethodology

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