Some years ago Paul Bohannan, writing about colonialism in Africa (Africa and Africans, 1964), coined the phrase "working misunderstanding" to characterize the kind of interaction and communication between dominant and encapsulated groups. He argued that the two groups never share "the major elements of their culture[s]," but rather develop "complementary", evaluations of each other's situation, which while allowing for cooperation in certain endeavors are nevertheless marked by mistrust and suspicion; Bohannan argued that communication between groups was therefore "faulty not merely incomplete." This "working misunderstanding" has, consequences not only for the groups involved but for the social scientist trying to determine the nature of the relationships between groups.

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