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Culture

In: Social Issues

Submitted By crispsatay
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Culture by Crisp Satay

Everyone has his own definition of “Culture” – and when this word is used, generally, most audience has a rough idea of its meaning. However, when asked for a definition, many will keep mum or pretend to be in deep thought. Out of a number of definitions, offered by sociologists and experts on culture, we picked the one written by Geert Hofstede as an example. He defined Culture as “the collective programming of the mind of members of a group which is reflected in its particular assumptions, perceptions, thought patterns, norms and values”.

One of the key words in this definition is “collective” because culture refers to a group of people and not a single individual. And, a culture is strong if the programming is broad as well as deep. Once programmed, at a young age, members of a particular culture will retain this “programming” throughout their life, and often, they aspire to pass on as much of this “programming” as possible to their next generation. This is often manifested in parents’ hope that their children will marry spouses who are from the same dialect group, race and religion.

Unlike an object with physical properties like dimensions of size, weight, colour and texture, culture is difficult to quantify. Hence, comparing different cultures will require a set of common yardsticks with indices the magnitude of which are represented by numerical values. Amongst the many models advanced to allow for cultural comparisons and to provide us with a better understanding of cultural differences are those from Hofstede and Trompenaars.
The dimensions listed in Hofstede’s model are: “Power Distance”, “Uncertainty Avoidance”, “Individualism”, “Masculinity” and “Confucian Dynamism”. The meaning of these dimensions are somewhat intuitive except for “Masculinity” which refers to the cultures’ degree of preference for material...

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