Tuesday Thoughts::Cultural Dimensions

Where do you want to go?

Oh, the world has gone bonkers! Have you seen the news lately? (Of course, you have, we all have) Between Brexit and the inevitable impending doom about to engulf the US with the current presidential election circus (which ends today) and the horrible acts of inhumanity happening in North Dakota, and the hundreds of other things happening all over the world, where are we going to end up?


Where are we going? While studying cultural issues during my masters I learned about “Cultural Dimensions” See Geert Hofstede. There was one particular dimension in the American society that resonated; that one trait that many foreigners (myself included) struggle to understand. Individualism. The “me” above the “we” the “I” above the “Us”

Individualism is the opposite of collectivism. It is known as 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.

These huge distances in cultural dimensions is the hardest to understand for multicultural couples who come from different types of societies (See Hispanic and anglo for example)

According to geert-hofstede.com, the United States is one of the most Individualist cultures in the world, with a score of 91. Guatemala, on the other hand, scores just 6 in the individualist scale. (source http://www.clearlycultural.com)

Where is the balance? Should we strive to push individualism or collectivism? Should we address the importance of family units beyond the nuclear family or should we just care for our offspring and spouse?

Where do you want to go? I ask myself as I stand here today. Thirty-something millennial ready and wanting. I want to do more for society. I want to achieve more as a person. Wanting to go more places. But as individualistic as that might sound with all its “I’s” above all, I want to do it for the collective group, not just for me.

Just remember that today, on election day. Remember WE can make a difference. We can have an impact. We can do this.

For more information about Hofstede cultural dimensions:

These four groups became the Hofstede dimensions of national culture:
Power Distance (PDI)
Individualism versus Collectivism (IDV)
Masculinity versus Femininity (MAS)
Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI)
National Culture Dimensions – Geert Hofstede


Next week, let’s explore Masculinity versus Femininity (MAS).


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