National culture - a layer of culture that is a certain collective programming of the mind of society, which is created as a result of upbringing and growing up in a specific country. It is an undeniable element of national consciousness. National culture together with collective memory is the carrier of national cultural traditions. The most important parts of national culture are: language, religion, food and customs.
Factors that strongly affect the programming of the mind common to all citizens are, among others state language, political system, state system of education, mass media, etc. An essential element of national culture is its relative stability. Nevertheless, this culture is also subject to gradual changes most often associated with the impact of other cultures. At present, it may seem that the culture of the West and the United States dominates on a global scale.
Elements of national culture
Each national culture has a fixed set of specific elements. Most often they include:
- a set of beliefs, religions - an extremely important element especially from the perspective of a religiously homogeneous country,
- places and events important from the point of view of the history of the nation
- artistic works - art and literature - created in different eras with characteristic features for a given nationality
- set of customs, values - traditions
- national heroes - both historic and fictional
It is worth mentioning that the progress of national culture is an important element of state policy. It directly affects the attitudes of citizens, which in any way can shape the future of the nation.
Nation and state
The nation should not be equated with the state. The concept of culture is more connected with the nation than with the state, because over the years it was the nations that were shaped as forms of social organization. The states as political units shaped their world structure only in the mid-twentieth century. A large part of the world's state system is a remnant of the colonial system, which is why the borders of many countries do not reflect the real cultural differences that often divide the local population. It is impossible for everyone who has the citizenship of a given state to have the typical features of a given nationality, that is, the national culture that characterizes this country.
Of course, the vast majority of countries create a coherent whole of their communities, which combines primarily historical achievements. However, we can call this nation a cultural community. The members of the nation are characterized not only by their own language and historical past, but they are also distinguished by a number of personality traits that make up the so-called national character and solidarity.
The dimension of national cultures
The dimension of national culture is an aspect of culture that can be measured and allows to determine the position of a given culture in relation to other cultures.
Based on the conclusions of A. Inkels and D. Levinson from the review of English-language literature on national cultures and on the basis of research conducted in the 1970s among IBM employees in over 50 countries, G. Hofstede distinguished four dimensions of national culture. These dimensions cover the scope of basic universal problems for all countries. These are:
- The distance of power (from small to large) - the extent to which less influential members of society, institutions and organizations recognize the unequal distribution of power.
- Collectivism and individualism - differences in the degree of consolidation of mutual dependencies between people. In the case of individualism, the ties between people are loose, everyone cares about the own good and the immediate family. Collectivism expresses a society in which people belong to strong internal groups from birth. In exchange for loyalty, these groups provide care and security.
- Avoidance of uncertainty - the degree to which people feel threatened by unspecified, unpredictable situations, lack of rules and institutions that would defend against uncertainty.
- Femininity and masculinity - Male culture is characterized above all by such values as success, money, objects. On the other hand, female culture is distinguished by such social values as concern for others and the quality of life.
- Long- and short-term orientation - Societies with a long-term orientation of achieving goals strive for such traits as perseverance and saving. On the other hand, societies aiming at achieving goals in the short term value mainly values such as respect for tradition or fulfilling social obligations.
These terms are also called the five-dimensional model of cultural differences.
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- Hofstede, G. (1996). Riding the waves of commerce: A test of trompenaars'“model” of national culture differences. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 20(2), 189-198.
- Newman, K. L., & Nollen, S. D. (1996). Culture and congruence: The fit between management practices and national culture. Journal of international business studies, 27(4), 753-779.