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Across Culture: Hofstede

Hofstede believes that people with different cultures will have difficulty in understanding one another, because there are certain customs, beliefs, traditions, values and attributes that are different among them. One culture may view a certain practice differently from another. Hofstede present five basic dimensions of differences among cultures, views on inequality, individualism vs. collectivism, masculinity vs. femininity, certainty vs. uncertainty and long term vs. short term relationship.

In Malcolm X’s early years, Hofstede might view the situation as a difference between individualist and collectivist perspective. While he grew up in an individualist society where there is a ‘loose tie or connection between individuals’ this individualistic attitude seems to cause them chaos, death threat’s that eventually led to his father’s death, his mother being committed in an asylum and their family being separated. Thus, when he was presented with an outlook that seems to embrace a collectivist notion, he grabbed it with both hands.

His personality along with his tragic past helped him touch the hearts of those who experience the same oppression. During this time, the African-American’s seems to hold their collectivist group in the form of the ‘Nation of Islam’. However, as Malcolm X discover he deceit that surrounds his beliefs, he traveled to Saudi Arabia and found that setting aside the culture in America, different cultures can actually live under the same beliefs. This is another individualist approach, wherein one view is regarded to be of equal importance as the others.

In terms of Hofstede’s uncertainty versus avoiding dimension, the earlier years of Malcolm’s life is in uncertainty accepting group, there is no strict rule whether or not this side of religion is true or not, other religion and beliefs can coexist with what they have. Nonetheless, the culture where they belong seems not to agree with their uncertainty accepting principle, as a matter of fact, the people that surrounds them, namely the ‘Black Legion’ seems to be an ‘uncertainty avoiding’ group.

These two groups simply cannot coexist in the same culture. At time when Malcolm is the speaker of the ‘Nation of Islam’, he holds the relativistic approach but works under the tenets of the uncertainty avoiding dimension. As can be seen, the people who killed him are all members of the ‘Nation of Islam’, this is because these people believe so much on their religion and/or culture that they follow its leaders under a seemingly blind faith.

What are the dangers to the field of Psychology if we take a “culture neutral” or culture and race free approach to understanding people? If Psychology would take a ‘culture neutral’ approach, it is more likely that one will not be able to fully distinguish the difference between behavior and the psychological processes that the individual had experience. It would result to a culturally bias perspective and a more likely ethnocentric approach. Taking aside culture and race one may not be able to understand how cross cultural people perform.

The beliefs of the people which are the foundation of their actions would not be taken into consideration. How people from other culture act would be regarded by another culture as deviant and perversion from normal action. If Psychology would be ‘culture neutral’ then there will be a problem in identifying the causes of actions and the differences in beliefs and perspectives across cultures.

References:

Author. (2008). Lecture Notes. Hofstede, G. Culture. Retrieve on April, 29, 2008, from http://www. geert-hofstede. com/.

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