Geert Hofstede, a Dutch social psychologist who had studied cultural differences for many years, passed away a year ago.
He divided all cultures into two types – individualistic and collectivist, based on what is of greatest value to society – the interests of the individual or the interests of the group.
Let’s take a look at where, according to this rating system, Ukraine ends up.
This type of culture values the individual rather than group success and career growth of an individual person most of all. The responsibility that it must take upon itself is, first of all, responsibility for the life. The right to dispose of the life and receive remuneration for the work belongs to the individual. Individual experience, knowledge and skills are valued, not clan or group membership. Perhaps the reference individualistic culture is the American culture.
The ideal portrait of a representative of such a society is a successful and prosperous individual, whose life priority is personal goals. He is emancipated from the group, therefore, in the event of life difficulties, he turns for help not to his family and relatives, but to representatives of state institutions, the media, and self-government bodies. Neighborhood groups often play a greater role in such a culture than tribal ones.
Here the individual demonstrates cultural consciousness not “in himself”, but as a member of the community on which he is dependent and to which he is subordinated. He must first of all care not only and not so much about personal well-being, but about group success and prosperity. Collectivist cultures are Asian and African cultures. A person here is closely bound by mutual obligations with relatives, clan or ethnic group. It is extremely difficult to conceive of the existence of a personality outside the group, since even the concept of “I” is very different from the European one.
Life success and personal goals are identified with group interests. Any questions and problems are resolved through personal contacts and connections, not through public procedures, as in the case of individualistic cultures. Any forms of “dissimilarity” and deviations from behavioral forms sanctified by group authority are severely suppressed.
Good group relationships are much more important than personal outcome. Therefore, European travelers are so surprised when, amid the terrible poverty, African men spend a lot of time communicating with each other, without making individual efforts to dramatically improve their situation.
In Asian, Arab countries, in Caucasian cultures, people are convinced that the family name says more about a person than any individual trait. For example, the question of the names of his parents can confuse an Asian student a lot. In the same Vietnam, names are used extremely rarely, referring to others: master, teacher, guardian, youngest daughter … The social role and place in the hierarchy turn out to be more important than individuality.
Of course, there are no absolute cultural types in their pure form, so a special scale was developed by which one can assess the level of collectivism or individualism in society. Measurements are made according to a number of parameters, as a result of which the country is located on a scale from 1 to 120. It is assumed that at its edges, under the number 1, there is an extremely collectivist society, and under the number 120, an extremely individualistic one.
The lower the number, the more collectivism in the group, and the higher, the higher priority are individualistic values. The USA, as expected, settled at around 91. Australia follows them in terms of cultural individualism – 90, Great Britain – 89, the Netherlands – 80, Germany – 67, Poland – 60.
Ukraine – between Russia and Venezuela
The post-Soviet countries with a level of individualism in culture turned out not to be as good as the above states. Ukraine is located on the cultural scale opposite to the number 25, exactly the same assessment for Belarus. Russia took 39th place. Its culture is much more individualistic than Ukrainian.
However, it is slightly lower, for example, than the Vietnamese one – 40. From this point of view, Russians are, of course, culturally closer to Asians than to Europeans or Americans. But the most collectivist are Latin American countries: Guatemala – 6, Ecuador – 8, Panama – 11, Venezuela – 12.
In a collectivist culture, to which Ukraine belongs, one can encounter all sorts of paradoxes. For example, if you have a choice between going to work or meeting a relative at the train station, the letter one will be much more important. That is, “personal” affairs and personal relationships will always be more important than “workers”.
However, all of the above does not mean that individualistic culture is good, and collectivist culture is bad. In fact, the experience of modernization in Singapore, China, Chile, and the United Arab Emirates shows that significant socio-economic success can be achieved on the basis of various cultural traditions. It’s all about managerial efficiency and the ability to use your cultural background as a resource.