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Hofstede Culture Dimension Essay

9257 words - 38 pages

HOFSTEDE: Cultures And Organizations - Software of the Mind
Culture as mental programming

In Western languages 'culture' commonly means 'civilization' or 'refinement of the mind' and in particular the results of such refinement, like education, art, and literature. This is 'culture in the narrow sense; 'culture one' Culture as mental software, however, corresponds to a much broader use of the word which is common among social anthropologists: this is ‘culture two’. In social anthropology, 'culture' is a catchword for all those patterns of thinking, feeling, and acting referred to in the previous paragraphs. Not only those activities supposed to refine the mind are included in 'culture ...view middle of the document...

The words in a language or jargon belong to this category, as do dress, hairstyles, Coca-Cola, flags. New symbols are easily developed and old ones disappear. Heroes are persons, alive or dead, real or imaginary, who possess characteristics which are highly prized in a culture, and who thus serve as models for behavior. Snoopy in the USA, Asterix in France. Rituals are collective activities, technically superfluous in reaching desired ends, but which, within a culture, are considered as socially essential: they are therefore carried out for their own sake. Ways of greeting and paying respect to others, social and religious ceremonies are examples. Symbols, heroes, rituals can be subsumed under the term practices. The core of culture is formed by values. Values are broad tendencies to prefer certain states of affairs over others. Values are feelings with an arrow to it: they have a plus and a minus side. They deal with: evil vs. good dirty vs. clean ugly vs. beautiful unnatural vs. natural abnormal vs. normal paradoxical vs. logical irrational vs. rational


Values are among the first things children learn - not consciously, but implicitly. Development psychologists believe that by the age of 10, most children have their basic value system firmly in place, and after that age, changes are difficult to make. Because they were acquired so early in our lives, many values remain unconscious to those who hold them. Therefore they cannot be discussed, nor can they be directly observed by outsiders. They can only be inferred from the way people act under various circumstances.

Layers of culture
As almost everyone belongs to a number of different groups and categories of people at the same time, people unavoidably carry several layers of mental programming within themselves, corresponding to different levels of culture. For example: • a national level according to one's country ( or countries for people who migrated during their lifetime); • a regional and/or ethnic and/or religious and/or linguistic affiliation level, as most nations are composed of culturally different regions and/ or ethnic and/or religious and/or language groups; • a gender level, according to whether a person was born as a girl or as a boy; • a generation level, which separates grandparents from parents from children; • a social class level, associated with educational opportunities and with a person's occupation or profession; • for those who are employed, an organizational or corporate level according to the way employees have been socialized by their work organization.

National culture differences “invention” of nations is recent ... nation is not the same as society Danger in thinking of “typically German” or “French” formation of countries in Africa ... But forces push towards integration, - dominant language, common mass media, national army, ... - just a matter of expediency

DIMENSIONS OF NATIONAL CULTURES Social anthropology In the first half of the twentieth...

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