As a retired outsider, I have been following this discussion with interest. Although I have not read all offerings carefully, I have not noticed much about the cultural dimension of plagiarism.
When I taught international students, particularly those from China, I became increasingly aware of the way our Western culture of individualism and private ownership--even of ideas-- has affected our views towards and "rules" about plagiarism. In "The Writing Traditions of Chinese Graduate Students in the United States," Helen Snively points out that "the Chinese place a high value on the capacity to take on not only the words but also the style, the voice, of revered authorities.(37)." In her wonderful book, Listening to the World, Helen Fox demonstrates how students who have been brought up in communal cultures don't think its important to "deliniate whose ideas are whose and to sanction those who don't respect person boundaries (124)."
When I worked with international students in the Writing Centre, I explained to them that they had to adhere to these Western "rules" in order to pass courses. However, I did not assign any "ultimate" value to them, and I did show that I understood and respected the traditions of their cultures.
Thanks for all these interesting exchanges of ideas.
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