Hofstede’s Dimensions of Culture are to this day, applicable to everyday existence. It has allowed individuals to peal back the layers of societies outside of their own and culturally understand the dimensions we live and interact with on a daily basis. It is the foundation for cross-cultural communication. These dimensions are as followed; Individualism vs Collectivism, masculinity-femininity, power distance, uncertainty avoidance, and long-term orientation vs short-term orientation to life. Each one has their own relevance to a barrier that intercultural communication could encounter.
Individualism vs Collectivism is the idea that people define themselves and their relationships with others. It is kind of self-explanatory. In the individualist culture, the individual’s interests trump all others of related group. Individual ties are loose, and those individuals look after themselves and their immediate family. Modern individualism is justification of one’s inner beliefs. Sometimes the justification is masked by a competitive bias. The collective individuals are far the opposite. The groups interest prevails over one’s self. Cohesiveness and unquestioned loyalty are at the core of this ideal.
Personally, I find myself in both dimensions in a particular scenario of my life. As a martial artist, my sport is incredibly individualistic. My performance is completely dependent on my own physical ability and how I apply it to my opponent. The game plan I apply in the fight is a product though, of mass collectivism by my coaches and training partners. It is a great example of the contrasting styles of each dimension and how they balance each other out. Ying and yang.
Masculinity vs Femininity is the next dimension presented by Hofstede. This dimension examines how women’s role socially, varies from culture to culture than to men. Hofstede describes how masculine cultures emphasize those disparities and strive for the maximal distinction of such. Masculine cultures value assertiveness, competition, and material success. Feminine cultures value overlapping social roles. They stress quality of life, interpersonal relationships, and empathy for the weak.
Now, with this being said, in 2022 it is easy to label this ideal of dimension sexist, because it is. However, these are early observations of intercultural studies. I find myself applying all of these aspects of each dimension to my everyday life. Quality of life isn’t a process of though dictated only to femininity. Nor is assertive competition limited only to masculinity. These are universal traits and characteristics.
Power Distance is the third dimension described by Hofstede. It is the idea of how cultures deal with inequalities. Hofstede defines as “the extent to which less powerful people of institutions and organizations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally.” Culturally this dimension today has been broken in the United States. If I had to apply this idea of Power Distance to my own life, I would use todays political climate as my example. Fringe groups and corruption have highlighted and emphasized the consistencies in the systemic and openly regarded inequalities in the U.S. and around the world.
The fourth dimension is Uncertainty Avoidance. This is Hofstede’s most relatable dimension in my opinion. This dimension is used to explain the extent to which people feel threatened by uncertain or unknown situations. Stressors are at the core of explanation for this dimension. The name itself is self-explanatory but there are complexities to the application. Scenarios like new surroundings or confrontations can ignite this dimension symptoms of paranoia and anxiety. I have encountered this dimension plenty of times in my life and I am sure I have not seen my last. We all experience uncertainty in our lives. Whether it be a move to a new location or institution, or the development of a family, there is and will always be uncertainty. Our human nature tends to lead us avoid our stressors in order to find compliant content. That is where the avoidance is intertwined. Fight or flight.
The fifth and final dimension is Long-Term vs Short-Term Orientation. This dimension is last I believe due to is complexity. Its values are thrift, persistence, having a sense of shame, and ordering relationships. Stemming from Confucian work dynamism, it all refers to dedication, motivation, responsibility, and education. Individuals with this sense of commitment have organizational identity and loyalty. In short, this dimension forces one to choose their long-term or short-term oriented path of discipline. As a martial artist, the long-term is my decision. It was my decision when I started at a young age. Every aspect of this dimension is applicable to my everyday existence. As is the rest of Hofstede’s dimensions.
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