When reading about and contemplating Hofstede’s four value dimensions to describe culture and to compare cultures to one another, I began defining my own cultural environment in his values, finding it easy. This is easy because I feel as if these dimensions attribute certain values automatically with the United States and are almost created with out country specifically in mind.
I think that of all the dimensions, individualism, masculinity, power distance, and uncertainty avoidance, a culture’s values and practices all stem from whether or not they are individualistic or collectivist. Obviously, the United States as a whole is an individualistic culture, focusing more on the individual gain and the individual success. Your definition as a person comes from what you do with your life and what occupation you hold and how successful you are in doing so. This is why there is so much emphasis on going to college and making something of oneself, and as fast as possible. As members of an individualistic society, we find peace and content when we find our “place” in the society, and are lost until doing so. We also utilize direct communication, our goals of doing so fulfilling our desires and wants.
While I feel as if we are individualistic as a whole, when reading about collectivism, I could apply the value to certain environments I experienced through out my life, for example my high school. My high school was very family oriented and focused on names and legacies, as well as being tightly integrated. Your family name, if you were a legacy somewhat defined you. However, we were still very focused on individual gain, therefore, while we had collectivist aspects, we were still basically individualistic.
Not only is our culture rooted in high power distance, but it could not survive with out it, at least in a familial setting. In a familial setting, it is necessary for children to be obedient to a certain extent. However, in the work force, I do not necessarily see an increase of high power distance as a beneficial thing. What scared me was Hofstede’s mention that the United States was becoming more and more high power distanced, meaning there were larger wage gaps between positions and ranks. This goes back to the fact that we are an individualistic culture, focusing on individual gain, and the more power distance one has within a work place or a family, the more the individual gain.
Our high uncertainty avoidance also is rooted in our individualism, creating a need to know as much knowledge as possible and have organization so that individual success is accessible. One is expected to work hard and follow rules and be punctual, all with the promise of individual success.
What was frightening while learning about these dimensions is what if we did not have and utilize them as a culture? Could we survive? Our entire society is rooted in these principles that have seemed to exist forever, and been on the minds of Jefferson and Washington and Madison while drafting the Constitution.