This entry is going to evaluate the differences in the cultural systems and make recommendations for an individual trying to interact and integrate with his colleagues from a different culture. Cultures are systems -of socially transmitted behavior patterns that serve to relate human communities to their ecological settings. These ways-of-life-of communities include technologies and modes of economic organisation, settlement patterns, modes of social grouping and political organisation, religious beliefs and practices. Cultural change is primarily a process of adaptation and what amounts to natural selection. Man is an animal and like all other animals must maintain an adaptive relationship with his surroundings to survive. Although he achieves this adaptation principally through the medium of culture, the process is guided by the same rules of natural selection that govern biological adaptation. In their works, Hofstede and Kluckhohn coined different cultural dimensions which individuals cling to in regards to cultural indifferences.
According to Hofstede, power distance is a term that describes how people belonging to a specific culture view power relationships - superior/subordinate relationships - between people, including the degree that people not in power accept that power is spread unequally (2001). Individuals in cultures demonstrating a high power distance are very different to figures of authority and accept an unequal distribution of power, while individuals in cultures demonstrating a low power distance readily question authority and expect to participate in decisions that affect them. Individualism is one side versus its opposite, collectivism, that is the degree to which individuals are integrated into groups. On the individualist side, we find societies in which the ties between individuals are loose: everyone is expected to look after him/herself and his/her immediate family. On the collectivist side, we find societies in which people from birth onwards are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups, often extended families (with uncles, aunts and grandparents) which continue protecting them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty. Masculinity stands for a society in which social gender roles are distinct: Men are supposed to be assertive, tough, and focused on material success; women are supposed to be more modest, tender, and concerned with the quality of life. Femininity stands for a society in which social gender roles overlap: Both men and women are supposed to be modest, tender, and concerned with the quality of life. (Hofstede 2001)According to kluckholn and Strodtbeck (1961) the following forms the dimensions of cultural diversities. The nature of people and their assumption about the basic nature and beliefs. In particular, others may be considered to be good, bad or have some combination. 'Good' here is in the traditional sense of being socially oriented. A bad person is thus considered selfish.
How you think about other people in this way will have a significant effect on how you respond to them. It also affects how you think about yourself. The relationship people have with nature. What do people think about nature and their responsibilities and rights around it? Some people believe that we should live in harmony with nature, preserving and supporting it. Others (and perhaps a majority now) see nature as our servant and supplier. This view allows us to plunder it without concern. In other parts of life, this translates into the use of all kinds of resource and whether it is used up or sustained. What duty do we have towards others? Should we act first to support others or can we just focus only on ourselves? Considering the group first supports society, but it also is limiting on the freedom of the individual. It also raises the question about who chooses what is right for the group. Mode of activity: What is the primary mode of action in an organisation or society? In some societies, there is a focus on 'being', where who you are is more important than what you do. Other societies are very action-oriented, and status comes from what has been achieved rather than an ascribed status. Privacy of space: How is space treated in society? Who owns it? What rights do people have to occupy it? Meetings are held behind closed doors and are by invitation only. The alternative is open ownership, where people can go where they please, and meetings are open to all who want to attend. Temporal orientation is also much more important: past, present or future? Some societies focus on the past, ancestors and traditionalism. Others are focused on the hedonism of today, while still, others plan carefully for the future.
From these two landmark studies, a series of cultural value orientations have been defined and described as influencing orientations to problems and potential solutions across cultural groups. The psychological study of values worthwhile for several reasons. Using the values concept, the researcher can aim to cover the whole of life-space, not just the positive and the negative, as with attitudes. Values are central to human thought, emotions and behaviour. They are cross-culturally relevant and valid, and finally, values allow both between-group and within-group comparisons. If we accept that values are important for the psychologist to understand, then the Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck theory of values orientations is a useful and valid framework within which to adopt while touring a new culture or interacting with individuals from a different regional background.
Hofstede, D. (2001). Planet of the apes: An unofficial companion. Toronto: ECW Press.
Value Dimensions: Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck Value Orientations. (n.d.). The SAGE Encyclopedia of Intercultural Competence.
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