Key Concept #48: Communication Accommodation Theory by Howard Giles

Key Concepts in ICDThe next issue of Key Concepts in intercultural Dialogue is now available. This is KC48: Communication Accommodation Theory by Howard Giles. As always, all Key Concepts are available as free PDFs; just click on the thumbnail to download. Lists organized  chronologically by publication date and numberalphabetically by concept in English, and by languages into which they have been translated, are available, as is a page of acknowledgments with the names of all authors, translators, and reviewers.

Key Concept #48: Communication Accommodation Theory

Giles, H. (2015). Cultural accommodation theory. Key Concepts in Intercultural Dialogue, 48. Available from:

The Center for Intercultural Dialogue publishes a series of short briefs describing Key Concepts in Intercultural Dialogue. Different people, working in different countries and disciplines, use different vocabulary to describe their interests, yet these terms overlap. Our goal is to provide some of the assumptions and history attached to each concept for those unfamiliar with it. As there are other concepts you would like to see included, send an email to the series editor, Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz. If there are concepts you would like to prepare, provide a brief explanation of why you think the concept is central to the study of intercultural dialogue, and why you are the obvious person to write up that concept.

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Howard Giles Profile

ProfilesHowie Giles, past Head of Psychology and Chair of Social Psychology at the University of Bristol, England, has been Professor of Communication at the University of California, Santa Barbara (with affiliations with Linguistics and Psychology) since 1989.  He is a Charter Fellow of the Intercultural Academy and elected Fellow of other Associations in Psychology, Communication, and Gerontology.


Giles has worked in language, intercultural, interpersonal, health, lifespan, and media arenas, with intergroup communication being his umbrella identification; the other subfields are subtended by this.  In this regard, he was editor of the 2012 Handbook of Intergroup Communication and with Jake Harwood is co-editor of the upcoming Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Intergroup Communication.  With Antonis Agardiki, he will be co-convening the 1st International Symposium on Intergroup Communication in Thessaloniki in June 2017.  Giles is currently Chair of the International Communication Association’s Intergroup Communication Interest Group which he founded with Scott Reid in 2003, and was co-founder with Peter Robinson of the International Conferences on Language and Social Psychology (ICLASP); the 15th ICLASP will occur in Bangkok in 2016.

Conducting cross-cultural research across dozens of nations and ethnic communities around the world, Giles has worked in an array of intercultural settings, including between-gender, interability, interethnic, intergenerational, police-community, and gay-straight relations.  Within these, for example, he has explored language attitudes, ethnic identity, tourism, acculturation, and successful aging.  Among the research questions he has posed are:

•    How when, and why do we mark our many social identities via language and communicative practices – and how transactively doing so sustains, reshapes these very same identities?

•    How do we age successfully as well as possibly unsuccessfully from different cultures’ standpoints, and how can communication be empowering or disempowering in these regards?

An integrative framework across these domains has been Communication Accommodation Theory, being its architect in the early 1970s (see Key Concepts in Intercultural Dialogue, #48).   Giles has recently been working to inject the salience of “culture” into intergroup theory and was editor of the “Intergroup and Intercultural” section of the International Encyclopedia of Communication (2008-).  Elected Past President of the International Communication Association and the International Association for Language and Social Psychology, Giles is founding/current Editor of the Journal of Language and Social Psychology (1981-) and the Journal of Asian Pacific Communication (1990-) as well as elected Editor of Human Communication Research (1995-98.  He is also General Editor for Peter Lang Publishers of a book series entitled, ”Language as Social Action.”

Giles spent much of his “leisure” time as a Reserve Detective Lieutenant in the Santa Barbara Police Department.  He did this for 15 years and was the recipient of over a dozen outstanding service awards.  This experience fueled his interest in researching police-community relations which is currently a very hot topic in the American media and public discourse.

It is possible to download his vita, or send him an e-mail.

Work for CID:
Howie Giles wrote KC48: Communication Accommodation Theory.

UCSB job ad

The Department of Communication at the University of California, Santa Barbara invites applications for a tenured senior Associate or Full Professor faculty position, with an anticipated start date of July 1, 2014.  The successful candidate will complement one or more of the Department’s core areas in interpersonal/intergroup communication, media communication, and organizational communication, and any of our cross-cutting emphases in communication and technology, media neuroscience, globalization, family, group, health, political, legal, or intercultural communication.  Candidates must have a Ph.D. in Communication or related discipline and an exceptional record of scholarship. The successful candidate will be expected to assume the role of Chair for a 3-year term beginning July, 2016.  Thus, administrative experience is highly desirable.

Applicants should submit a cover letter highlighting qualifications, a curriculum vitae, evidence of teaching excellence and administrative effectiveness, three publications, and a list of 3 references along with contact information to the appropriate sections of the job search website.  Questions should be directed to the Search Committee Chair, Dr. Howie Giles, at giles AT The search committee will begin screening completed applications on November 1, 2013, and all materials need to be submitted before this date.

The department is especially interested in candidates who can contribute to the diversity and excellence of the academic community through research, teaching, and service.  UCSB is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer.


Jon Nussbaum-Fulbright

Jon Nussbaum
Penn State University

Fulbright to Wales

I was initially invited to attend a Fulbright International Colloquium entitled Communication, Health and the Elderly organized by Nikolas Coupland, Howard Giles and John Wiemann held at the University of Wales conference centre, Gregynog  Hall, Newtown, Mid Wales, UK in 1988.  While at the conference, I engaged the three organizers, each of whom had experience with international scholarship through the Fulbright Association, in the possibility of being awarded a Fulbright research award to study the interpersonal behavior of older adults living independently and well as dependently in the UK. I wrote my Fulbright application with the help of former Fulbrighters Robert Norton and John Wiemann. Nik Coupland, a Professor within the Centre for Applied English Language Studies (now the Center for Language and Communication Research) within Cardiff University, Wales, UK., “sponsored” my research application with the promise of an office, faculty residence, and various appointments at Cardiff University. The faculty within my home department at the University of Oklahoma and the administration within the College of Arts and Sciences supported my extended visit to Cardiff.