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Open Access Research

Personal travel blogs as texts for studying intercultural interactions: a pilot test case study of an American sojourner’s blogs from Zimbabwe

Rick Malleus1* and Elizabeth Slattery2

Author Affiliations

1 Communication Department, Seattle University, 304 Lynn Hall, 901 12th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122, USA

2 English Department, Indiana University East, 2324 Chester Boulevard, Richmond, IN 47374, USA

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SpringerPlus 2014, 3:211  doi:10.1186/2193-1801-3-211

Published: 28 April 2014

Abstract

This paper makes the argument that personal travel blogs are an important site for studying self-reports of face-to-face intercultural interaction. The guiding research question is “Are personal travel blogs good sources of intercultural communication data?” A content analysis of an American woman’s travel blog, written on a sojourn to Zimbabwe, was performed using four intercultural communication constructs that served as frameworks for developing a rubric and for analysis. Those constructs are: culture shock, intercultural communication challenges, cross-cultural comparison and intercultural adaptation. Results provide evidence of written reflections by the blogger in all four coding categories. The evidence of culture shock provided in the blog was multifold, multifaceted, and congruent with many of the well-established elements of culture shock reported in the field. The evidence of cross-cultural comparison in the personal travel blog was, overwhelmingly, comprised of reflections comparing host and home cultures, both in environment and cultural practices. There was limited evidence of reflections about communication challenges or adaptation by the blogger on her sojourn. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications these findings have for the potential travel blogs might provide for analysis of intercultural communication as well as addressing the limitations of the study’s findings.

Keywords:
Travel blogs; Culture shock; Zimbabwe; Cross-cultural comparison