untitledUnderstanding intercultural communication: negotiating a grammar of culture, Routledge, 2013

Writing this  book has been a great adventure. I took the grammar of culture which I developed in Intercultural communication & ideology and attempted to go through every part and describe how it works in everyday life.

My model has been Irving Goffman’s The presentation of self in everyday life. I took the courage to dispense with academic referencing to other research, and instead to rely on what I hesitantly might call a disciplined analysis of observation. This observation was enhanced by interviews carried out during the writing of the book and those carried out in the past. This research material is not however referred to as separate instances of data.

See my interview about the book

Ethnographic narratives

In every chapter there are at least two ethnographic narratives, the methodology of which has been developed in previous publications. They provide a fictionalised reconstruction which is based on interviews and critical incidents. They are written with the same rigour as employed in good ethnographic research; and this rigour is evidenced by the fact that they take me to places I have not been before as I submit myself to the realities expressed by the characters and incidents involved. They allow me to get to and to reveal meanings which would not be accessible in more established objectivist research.

The narratives are themselves the first step in analysis. A second step is the application of categories of cultural action which apply aspects of the grammar.

“Through extending his seminal notion of ‘small cultures’ to a much grander ‘grammar of culture’, this is much more than a textbook in intercultural communication. Lucidly written and illustrated by finegrained personal vignettes, Holliday provides a refreshing synthesis of culture and the intercultural which will both engage interested readers, and illuminate experienced researchers.” Malcolm MacDonald, University of Warwick, UK. Editor, Language & Intercultural Communication

“This book is a useful reminder that culture is constructed, perpetuated and changed through small acts of communication in everyday life. It offers a clear, practical methodology for escaping the essentialisation of people, behaviours and events … Most enjoyable are the illustrative anecdotes of intercultural (mis)communication presented for analysis and interpretation.” Claire Kramsch, University of California, Berkeley, USA

9781137463494(En)countering native-speakerism: Global perspectives, (Editor) with Anne Swan and Pamela Aboshiha, Palgrave 2015

  • The notion of the ‘native speaker’ has historically dominated the profession of English language teaching to the extent that native-speakerism has become a wide-spread, tenacious and much ‘taken-for-granted’ ideology.
  • The book presents current findings about the extent to which the dominant ideology lingers or is being dismantled by new perspectives about the realities of who teaches English and what they teach in the second millennium.
  • Chapters by new doctoral graduates of Canterbury Christ Church University: Ireri Armenta (Mexico), Yeonsuk Bae (South Korea), Irasema Mora Pablo (Mexico), Ayesha Kamal (UK, Kuwait), Caroline Fell Kurban (Turkey), Victoria Odeniyi (UK), Nasima Yamchi (Germany, UAE), William Sughrua (Mexico), and from Yasemin Oral (Turkey).

“Importantly, this is a volume of chapters written by authors who are mostly new to the field. They are teachers of English writing about themselves and their ELT colleagues and students, or about people in close proximity to them. … not anecdotal tales … but painstaking, thorough pieces of research conducted in the international settings where the author-practitioners work.” (Anne Swan, Pamela Aboshiha, Adrian Holliday, pages 2-3)

“I cannot in any way speak for the ‘non-native speaker’ subaltern. My aim is to make sense of the circumstances which create native-speakerism and the unfortunate hegemony within our profession which thrusts the majority of its members into the subaltern position on a daily basis. I can do this from an insider position because I have lived the ‘native speaker’ persona throughout my career and understand much of the detail of how the ideology operates.

… There is a [false] sense that ‘native speaker’ and ‘non-native speaker’ are real domains which simply need to be researched further … reflected in the establishment of standardised acronyms such as ‘NS’ and ‘NNS’ that fix the labels further in the minds of researchers and publishers, and the readers of the research, as definable and measurable entities.” (Adrian Holliday, chapter 1, pages 11 and 18)

“This volume makes an important contribution to our understanding of the vexed and vexing issue of native-speakerism in our field. By bringing together players from a variety of institutions and locations, by giving a platform to voices from the periphery, by collecting empirical evidence from the ground realities.” (B Kumaravadivelu, Forward, page xi)

Intercultural communication & ideology, Sage 2011

  • Investigates categories of cultural action and itemises the machinery for the illumination of inter-cultural processes and an alternative ‘grammar’ of culture shows how a dialogue between national structures and creative universal cultural skills can be carried on in new location
  • Looks at intercultural communication against the backdrop of an unequal global politics in which ideology plays a major role
  • Presents a critical cosmopolitan view that there are unrecognised cultural realities which have been pushed to the margins by Western definitions, and that it is therefore from the margins that we must learn the real nature of culture
  • Considers the way in which popular narratives of ‘culture’ lead us easily and sometimes innocently to the reduction of the foreign Other as culturally deficient
  • Suggests that dominant notions of cultural difference have not escaped from chauvinistic essentialism, and have been sustained by the academy’s need for ‘accountable theory’ and a denial of ideology in Western society
  • Is supported by empirical investigation involving interviews with 32 informants from a wide range of national locations across the world and with reconstructed ethnographic accounts and evidence from the media and literary fiction

“Taking on issues normally left in the margins, the author of Intercultural communication & ideology has revised the way we think of intercultural communication by insisting that we consider its ideological component. In this brilliant and engaging book about culture and the interstices that comprise the grounds for our interactions, Adrian Holliday shows us the necessity for a cosmopolitan process that expands the basis of our intercultural work. This is a compelling book that should be read by scholars and the general public alike. It is accessible, factual, and clear.” Molefi Kete Asante, Department of African American Studies at Temple University and author of Erasing racism: the survival of the American nation

“For interculturalists who feel limited by the essentialistic constraints of the individualism/collectivism divide and by the West’s propensity to define culture as nationality, Intercultural communication & ideology offers a refreshing and more complex frame for analysing and theorising intercultural communication. Advocating a critical cosmopolitan approach as analytical frame, Holliday attends to the influence of ideology and the marginalisation of non-Western cultural realities typical within traditional schools of thought in intercultural communication studies. A must read for those interested in understanding and analysing  intercultural interactions in more complex ways than offered by traditional Western perspectives.” Dreama G. Moon, California State University, San Marcos, USA

“On one level, this book ia an elegantly argued critical analysis of intercultural communication, urging practititoners to recognise the ideological nature of intercultural theories, particularly those which underline cultural difference. A such, it is highly theoretical and concerns itself with such abstract notions as the reification of cultural practices. At the same time Intercultural communication & ideology is highly accessible due to the richness and clarity of the examples Holliday uses to support his exposition.” Patrick Kiernan, Meiji University, Japan – Language Learning 18/1: 42-45, 2011

“The book … stands out through its profound engagement with and analyses of intercultural communication. It offers a wide range of empirical data that together with the thought-provoking activities and suggestions for investigations at the end of each chapter provide a rich theoretical, empirical and practical source for teachers, students and academics in the field. Above all, it enhances discursive reflection and unmasks any attempts at false objectivity of which there are countless examples, particularly in commercial intercultural training.” Karin Zotzmann, Southampton University, UK – Language & Intercultural Communication 1/3: 292-94, 201

“Holliday has perhaps begun a process for cultural studies much akin to starting what the late Howard Zinn has done for history in his long career. The title of Zinn’s memoirs speaks for the message of this work as well – You can’t be neutral on a moving train! Holliday’s book is in part a rant that unfortunately needs to be read. I suspect many academics will fault him on method and many practitioners complain of his complexity, while perhaps the appropriate response is, ‘Thanks for the kick in the pants, but go easy, man!'” George Simons, George Simons International, dialogin, The Delta Intercultural Academy

Intercultural communication: an advanced resource book for students, 3rd edition, Routledge 2016, with Martin Hyde and John Kullman

  • Explores social strategies for achieving successful intercultural communication
    Looks deeply at underlying social, political and psychological forces
  • Takes a stand against traditional theories of culture which depend on essentialist, Othering stereotypes
  • Maintains that cultural difference surrounds us all of us in increasingly complex and globalised societies

“This third edition was updated and the authors have added recent reading material, giving a clear voice to the ‘periphery’. I have been using and recommending this book for years. It is, I believe, the best textbook on intercultural communication on the market. What seduced me when I first read it was that it is ideologically coherent and consistent – although the authors claim otherwise at the beginning of the book (p. 5). It does not patch together contradictory ideas that may confuse readers, like so many other textbooks, handbooks or readers. I also like its ‘political’ messages. For instance, about essentialism, the authors write that it needs to be “recognised and fought against wherever it is found” (p. 2). Finally, the authors’ modesty and caution are commendable. They always remind their reader of the danger of working with ‘solid’ dichotomies (centre/periphery, essentialism/anti-essentialism) and of being critical towards their own critiques.” (Fred Dervin, University of Helsinki)

“The third edition of this widely popular resource book for the study of intercultural communication effectively incorporates recent theoretical developments in this dynamic field through carefully selected new readings, topics, examples and references. The book remains a key source for exploring a wide range of aspects of culture and communication in our increasingly complex world. Students and lecturers will find both the material and the format engaging and inspiring.” (Bojana Petrić, Birkbeck College, London University)

“Holliday, Kullman and Hyde have put together a highly learner-friendly textbook that offers an extensive coverage of the central issues of intercultural communication. They have successfully provided a multi-disciplinary perspective on the subject, which would be relevant for students of different fields such as communication studies, linguistics and sociology.” Tan Ying Ying, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

“This book helps the reader to gain a greater understanding of intercultural communication, of their own culture and of themselves. It does so by presenting engaging case studies of problematic intercultural ‘events’, by providing enlightening explanations and by inviting the reader to connect these cases to their own thinking and their lives.” Brian Tomlinson, Leeds Metropolitan University

Doing & writing qualitative research, 3rd edition, Sage 2016

New material on researching social media and creative intervention in ethnography and interviews

  • With a strong focus on using less traditional forms of data the Third Edition provides a new perspective on issues such as the role of the researcher and the impact they have on data, and also considers the impact of social, cultural and political complexities across a range of disciplines.
  • Approachable and logically structured, this new edition expertly sets out the many roles of writing in research. From the more theoretical subjects (e.g. research strategies, data types, and writing styles) to the nitty gritty practicalities (e.g. conventions, taking notes, and writing questions), each chapter covers many common concerns writers face when attempting to transform complex data and real world research experiences into textual products.
  • With fully updated examples and case studies as well as a strong focus on using less traditional forms of data like photographs, personal narrative, and creative non-fiction, this third edition introduces students to modern opportunities in data collection and sourcing that adds depth to their research.

“Holliday is aware of the acute need to explain with purpose and sensitivity the value, insight and complexity required when studying human interactions.  Through diverse forms of data collection, analysis and theory we are taken on a methodological journey that is both a practical fieldwork guide but also offers a new contribution towards an understanding of researcher positionality at an interdisciplinary level.”  Shane Blackman, Professor of Cultural Studies, Canterbury Christ Church University

Reviews for the second edition:

“Holliday uses qualitative methods to write the book itself … using examples and excerpts from qualitative studies written by scholars of various cultural and national backgrounds in a wide range of fields and at different levels of the academy – undergraduate class assignments, master’s theses, dissertations, and peer-reviewed articles in such fields as language education, fine arts, women’s studies, sports science, and nursing.” Gabriella Modan, Department of English, Ohio State University USA, Journal of Planning Education & Research 27/2:232-34, 2007

“The significance of postmodern awareness of the researcher and subjects to be researched is highlighted … The author’s main rationale for adopting the first person is to increase transparency and accountability by separating the researcher’s agenda from the other voices in the text.” Samad Sajjadi, Islamic Azad University, Parand Branch, Tehran, Iran – Discourse & Society 20/5: 650-51, 2009

Other reviews

Alexandra Allan, Exeter University, Qualitative Research 10/3, 2010
Jan Browne, School of Health, Faculty of the Professions, University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales, Qualitative Research Journal 8/1: 74-77, 2008
Manish K. Thakur, Public Policy & Management Group, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, Forum: Qualitative Social Research 10/1, Art.9, 2009
1st edition
César Cisneros Puebla, Departamento de Sociología  Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Mexico City, Qualitative Social Research 3/4, Art. 46, 2002.
Jonathan Dickens, University of East Anglia, UK, British Journal of Social Work 32/7: 954-5, 2002
Jan Draper, Royal College of Nursing Institute, Journal of Advanced Nursing 39/3: 308-08, 2002
Anne Feryok, TESOL Quarterly 37/1: 190-91, 2003
Alyson McGee, Zayed University, Abu Dhabi, Applied Linguistics 24/1: 122-25, 2003

The struggle to teach English as an international language, Oxford University Press, 2005

  • Addresses cultural chauvinism in TESOL, in which the ideology of native-speakerism seeks to ‘correct’ the imagined cultures of the ‘non-native speaker’ Other. Interrogates the powerful ideology of native speakerismTraces this dominant professional view back to the corrective, behaviourist ethos of audiolingualism
  • Based on email interviews with 38 colleagues and students across the world, qualitative studies of life in classroom, curriculum and training contexts, and personal narrative of past professional practice

“This book is about more than one kind of struggle … the personal struggle of TESOL educators and researchers in various settings across the world seeking to make sense of and relate to the shifting realities and complex cultural and political interfaces brought about by the changing ownership of English … his own struggle as a writer who seeks to represent a less divisive and more inclusive vision of world TESOL founded on cultural continuity … by integrating a multiplicity of other voices.” Ema Ushioda, IATEFL Voices

“This is one of the most interesting books I have read this year, and one which raises many challenging and at times, disturbing questions for TESOL professionals. It belongs to the school of ‘critical pedagogy’, since the author seeks to explore and question some of the hidden values, assumptions, and beliefs which provide the basis for many long accepted principles and practices in our profession. Central to these is the notion of ‘native-speakerism’, which leads many western-educated TESOL professions to unwittingly impose a culturally-biased set of beliefs and practices on their students. … Holliday seeks to deconstruct the thinking and assumptions behind such notions as learner-centredness, learner autonomy, needs analysis, and communicative classroom practices … This beautifully written and highly original book should be required reading on graduate TESOL programs.” Jack Richards,

Other reviews

Thomas Leverett, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, TESL-EJ 10/2, 2006.
Stephen Moore, Prospect 21/3: 88-90, 2006
James Simpson, Leeds University, Applied Linguistics 28/1: 147-50, 2007.
Rani Rubdy, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, ELT Journal 61/1: 78-81, 2007.
Min, Y.-K., College of Education, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL, Journal of English for Academic Purposes 7/3: 206-07, 2008.

Appropriate methodology & social context, Cambridge University Press 1994

  • Distinguishes between two English language teaching settings – the BANA (British, North American, Australasian private sector) and TESEP (tertiary, secondary, primary state sector in the rest of the world)
  • Discusses how far common notions of communicative language teaching are and can be made appropriate to TESEP classroom scenarios where, it argued, most ELT takes place
  • Critiques the standard view of oral-based communicative language teaching and learner-centredness, and of the dominant ‘native speaker’ approach
  • Argues that a broader based communicative approach has the potential for addressing a broad diversity of classroom settings and cultural realities
  • Suggests the use of ethnographic action research into local contexts for making these methodologies more culture-sensitive.

“This book arrives in the wake of Linguistic Imperialism (Phillipson 1992) … While Phillipson suggests that the political domination of Third World communities through ELT is inexorable, Holliday shows how different layers of culture and context in the local teaching situations resist that domination.” Suresh Canagarajah, City University of New York (Baruch College), ELT Journal 50/1: 80-82, 1996.