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Riordan Manufacturing Compliance Plan

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Individual Assignment Co-Cultures in a Multicultural Society COM/403 – Human Factors in Technology Ron Bell December 19, 2011


In the film “In the Heat of the Night,” the film depicted a black and white culture where the dominant group in the town is white, with the few blacks living on the out skirts of the town in run down slummy areas, while whites live in mansions. However, a little know chief who is white welcomes a black detective to Sparta, Mississippi to help him solve a case. As I have watched this show time and time again, it is funny to see how people in this fictional community communicate. The town is filled with hatred, but also people in Sparta communicate on a whole different level some because of race, and some because of dominancy. Despite a heavily prejudice police department, expertise have bought together this African American detective and a chief who by no means welcomes this individual, but because he does not have a choice, and Mr. Virgil Tibbs is asked to help, he is forced to communicated on a level that he would not have communicated.

In fictional Sparta, a co-culture was formed in the police force in a multicultural society. Typically white copes run the police department with a few blacks in the background, but they get the dirty jobs. Along come Virgil Tibbs and their world is turned upside down because now you have a African American who knows what he is doing, but how does he begin to communicate this to where he is understood and not Judged for the color of his skin but for his expert advice. Within the culture of Sparta, an umbrella encompasses the knowledge, beliefs, values, morals, customs, and other habits acquired by members of this society. The co-culture that exists is not only in the police department but also among the other members of that society such as African Americans. Co-Culture is a group whose beliefs or behaviors distinguish it from the larger culture of which it is part of and with which is shares numerous similarities. In this film “In the heat of the Night” the strong beliefs of the towns people is evident in the way they treat the African American community.

Creating a co-culture in a multicultural society in this film is out of the need to be identified with something. Mistreatment can cause groups to separate and be identified with their own norms, values, beliefs, customs and habits. It is obvious in this film that the African American community has been forced in to a co-cultural system because of the need to be live and communicate in a normal way.

Conflicts that might arise in a multicultural society are language; customs are different, work environment, religion, status, race, the environment, and social values. These things prevent effective communication, and the need to cross barriers. In the film, several barriers prevented communication. One evident is race. Virgil Tibbs was an African American in a white dominant society. At some point he was a threat to many in the town because he was talented and about to open up a can of worms bringing down wealthy white men who went about committing murders where they thought would have gone undetected. In the Sparta society this is not normal and therefore created conflicts in Sparta.

According to Martin and Nakayama, the contexts, the cultural identities and belongingness, and the political and religious contexts all work together to shape this conflict. Some people do not believe that riots and violence are an appropriate way to change social problems. In some of the episodes of “In the Heat of the Night” many violent outburst happened because of racial divide. The authors also note that society can be provoked into interrogating social inequities and begin the long process of changing any society. In any society where there is a multicultural group, it is possible that differences of opinion will arise, however the best thing to do is to communicate on a level that is understandable all around. Each person in the community or society should be able to afford that opportunity. People who live in a dominant society want to feel as if they are a part of that society and not settle for less.

The solutions to resolving intercultural conflict in communication is for people to listen to each other. Give each other a chance to say what is necessary without hurting any feelings. According to Martin & Nakayama, 2010 Intercultural conflict may be characterized by ambiguity, which causes us to resort quickly to our default style; the style that we learned growing up in handling it. Issues surrounding language may be important to intercultural conflict, and issues that is seen too often. In the film, many African Americans spoke a different language, not necessarily different as far as the formal English language but a language that the group can understand when harassed by the dominant society. When individuals do not know the language well, it is very difficult to handle conflict effectively, but this goes for anything that is different from the norm. One solution that is recommended to resolving conflict is forgiveness a key element in conflict resolution. It is not easy to forgive because those who are hurt in conflict still live with everyday pain from the conflict, and they do not always find it easy to forgive. In the film many African Americans including Detective Tibbs were treated poorly resulting in a long and on easy process. Of course in real world 1965 some of the conflicts that were shown in the movie actually existed in our society. Race has always been a factor is miscommunication, but over the years there have been a real change although a long way away, there have been some forgiveness.

Is conflict good or bad? Should conflict be welcomed because it provides opportunities to strengthen relationships? Or should it be avoided because it can only lead to problems for individuals and groups? (Martin & Nakayama, 2010). Conflict is a normal, useful process, and all issues are subject to change through negotiation, direct confrontation and conciliation are values, and conflict is a necessary renegotiation of an implied contract, a redistribution of opportunity to release tensions and renew relationships. Conflict may be a difficult process, but ultimately offers an opportunity for strengthening relationships. Working through conflict constructively results in stronger, healthier, and more satisfying relationships.

In the film and TV show the chief finally came around realizing that some of the things that the town had been doing was wrong, and he wanted the treatment of all that live in the town to be fair and square. The fact that the chief wanted to make an effort shows that conflicts can be resolved with some effort. It takes one person to take the initiative, and other will follow. Many people in the show started to make a change towards equality while other has remained negative and make no effort to move toward peace. The way in which people respond to conflict and influences by their cultural backgrounds. Most people deal with conflict the way they learned to while growing up and watching those around them deal with contentious situations. Conflict strategies usually reflect how people manage themselves in relational setting

Affective conflict occurs when individuals become aware that their feelings and emotions are incompatible. Compromising reflects a moderate degree of concern for both the self and the other person and involves sharing and exchanging information in such a way that both individuals give up something to find a mutually acceptable solution. The integrating style reflects high concern for both the self and the other person and involves an open and direct exchange of information in an attempt to reach a solution acceptable to both parties. This style attempts to be fair and equitable. Finally, the avoiding style reflects, supposedly, a low concern for both themself and the other person. In the dominant U.S. cultural contexts, a person who uses this style is often viewed negatively, as attempting to withdraw, sidestep, deny, or bypass the conflict. However, in some cultural contexts, this appropriate strategy if used by both parties may result in more harmonious relationships. People deal with conflict in a variety of ways and for different reasons, and if each party recognizes this, each conflict can be resolved in a peaceful way.


In the Heat of the Night (1967). Retrieved from December 19, 2011

Martin, J. N., & Nakayama, T., (2010). Intercultural Communication in contexts. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Samovar, L., Porter, R., & McDaniel. E. (2009). Intercultural Communication: A reader. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

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