Mental images

The simplification of the Hofstede 6D model is the inspired result of a long experience in cross-cultural business. That is why your book on the 7 Mental Images is proving so useful to the international business environment. The post you sent us is a well-deserved acknowledgment of this. I am very glad for the favorable echo of this book. I think that an application of the model of the 7 mental images in other fields as well, for example international relations/international politics would be interesting/useful, despite the stakes, ambitions and difficulties specific to politics.
Once again warm congratulations and best wishes,

China’s Today in the Geopolitical Arena

China’s Today in the Geopolitical Arena

Marlond M. Antunez.  Author and Consultant. Email:

“Let China sleep, for when she wakes, she will shake the world.” This phrase attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte reflects the deep understanding of a civilization that, at that moment, did not realize that it would become the great nation they are today. It should not be surprising that China now rules the world as a superpower; they are meant to be. The surprise, contrary, arises in how the US has become a superpower and held this status for the last eight decades with their confrontation policies.

China stayed in the shadows for millenniums and suffered uncountable wars, starvation, and discrimination, and today, it ascends to the same level as the big players in the world’s geopolitical arena. However, a question arises: What makes a not-so-far farmer country with the highest poverty ratio become a superpower that, in three decades, rescued over seven hundred million citizens out of poverty? It has been read correctly; China has created a middle class representing the EU and Russian populations combined in three thirty years.

In this dissertation, the author will argue that China’s geopolitical position results from a combination of historical factors, economic reforms, spiritual path and global integration. The historical roots and main events that shaped the Chinese mind will be explored; their political configuration, Chinese capitalism, and their social behavior will be explained; and at last, a conclusion is drafted with a big question: Has China achieved its expansion peak, or we should expect for more?

Keywords:  China, Geopolitics, Capitalism, Confucianism


In the late 20th century, China was often perceived as a poor and backward country with low-quality products, cheap labor, and low levels of education. Phrases like: Chinese people work for a plate of rice, or Chinese products are useless, use once and throw away, were common in the conversations. These stereotypes, spread loudly by people who traveled and did business in China during this period, were not far from the truth. Before the economic reform of 1978, China was a predominantly agrarian society, where the population used to live under a feudal system, transformed after into a collective farming system, and a profound demonization for intellectuals (Mahbubani, 2022). Mistakes taken by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) under Mao’s leadership led to several disastrous policies and events, such as the “Great Leap Forward,” the “Cultural Revolution,” and the “Gang of Four,” which tarnished China’s reputation worldwide.

However, during the same period, those who continued to do business and often traveled to China probably faced the “Chinese miracle”, an unprecedentedly growing nation that, like a giant magnet, attracted trillions (USD) of investments from several nations in the world, including the US and Europe as leading investors (SantanderTrade, 2023). China became the “Factory of the World”, starting a migrant wave from the poor villages in the countryside to the shiny cities of the coast where Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and local government investment were focused. It is known that labor conditions in China during the 1980s and ’90s were far from modern standards, where gender inequalities, labor risk and management despotism often exploited workers. However, these conditions improved at the beginning of the new millennium with new socioeconomic reforms and labor rules in the so-called “harmonious society” promoted by former president Hu Jintao (SCMP-Graphics, 2019).

China’s economic boom was a remarkable phenomenon that astonished the world. In the last 20-year period (2002-2022), China’s GDP grew by an average of 8%, with double-digit growth rates from 2005 to 2010. China’s exports of goods increased from 762 billion to 3.59 trillion US dollars, while its imports rose from 660 billion to 2.72 trillion US dollars (UNCTAD-Stats, 2023). China also made significant progress in its infrastructure development, expanding its highways to 170,000 kilometers, its high-speed railways to 40,000 kilometers, its civil airports fully operational by 2021 to 248 (Statista, 2023); and holding six out of the top ten biggest ports in the world, excluding Hong Kong (WSC Data, 2019). The numbers do not stop only in economics and infrastructure; as per a World Bank report published in 2022, China rescued 750 million people from extreme poverty, a fantastic ratio of 19 million people annually. Et al.(O. Wang & Leng, 2019), and a Boston Consulting Group report published in 2023, predict that the Chinese middle-class population will increase by 80 million during the actual decade (C. Chen et al., 2023).

China today has achieved the status of a developed country through its economic growth and integration policies. It still attracts the most FDI globally, reaching 189 billion US dollars in 2022 (UNCTAD-Stats, 2023). The main factors that draw investors to China are its skilled and affordable workforce, the big and dynamic consumer market, the advanced infrastructure, and the stable political system (SCMP-Graphics, 2019; et al.Lee & Duhalde, 2018). China’s labor force is also improving its education and qualifications, as many Chinese students pursue higher education abroad. According to the latest statistics before the pandemic, China sent 703.5 thousand students overseas in 2019 (PressRelease, 2020), more than any other country worldwide. Some academic programs offer better facilities and more international exposure in foreign institutions, which appeal to many Chinese scholars. Having an overseas education is seen as an advantage in China’s job market, as it implies having a global perspective and better language skills. The government also supports this trend and encourages the returnees to contribute their knowledge and experience to China’s development.

The previous paragraphs intend to introduce the reader to the understating of China’s economic and social rise and how it became the second most powerful nation in the world in just four decades. This growth follows specific steps designed by Deng Xiaoping, considered the architect of modern China, whose legacy still influences the country’s economic policies. Whether this was a master plan accurately executed by successive Chinese leaders is uncertain, but what is clear is the fact that China is a significant force in the geopolitical arena today. In the following chapters, we will explore the key factors shaping the current Chinese geopolitical situation and argue that China’s superpower status today is not a coincidence but rather a result of a deliberate or unintended strategy to accomplish its aspirations.

A country made of war.

To write a summary about China’s history, it is an ancient civilization that emerged out of war. Despite its rich culture, with roots in spirituality and rituals, it also has a dark side, comparable to Europe’s medieval period. China’s culture and traditions are diverse and complex, reflecting its vast territory and long history. Some of the most notable aspects of Chinese culture, such as Confucianism, calligraphy, painting, poetry, martial arts, tea culture, and festivals, contrast with continuous wars, which resulted in different shifts of power and endurance of the most savage invasions. From the three kingdoms to the Chinese dynasties, it gained influence and prestige until becoming one of the most prominent nations from the 15th to the 18th century. However, China remained an enigma to the world due to its policy of isolation and no trade with foreigners at its peak during the last Qing dynasty.

From proud to shame

The Qing dynasty, which lasted from the middle of the 17th to early 20th century, was the final imperial dynasty of China. It kept some elements of the previous Ming dynasty as a strong central government but faced the challenge of ruling a multi-ethnic empire. The Qing dynasty brought peace and prosperity to the people; however, it returned to its isolationist policies and refused to trade with foreigners directly. It is important to recall that foreigners were allowed to trade directly with locals under the Mongol regime. After the Ming dynasty conquered the territory, this trade practice was banished. Under the Qing dynasty, China could produce everything it consumed and trade only with nearby countries, who re-sell after other countries alongside the trading paths. China exported goods, such as silk, cotton, and tea, and received silver and copper coins in return; they did not import. This commercial behavior made China rich, powerful, and respected by other nations. The Qing dynasty restricted foreign trade to two points of contact: Beijing in the north, through the Silk Road, connected China with Central Asia and the Middle East, and Guangzhou (Canton) in the south, open to maritime traffic with European merchants and missionaries.

During the 19th century, things started to change, and a new colonial superpower “the British” started to raise its influence in Asia with a non-friendly diplomacy of “taking by force”. British did not accept the Chinese way of doing business; all the tea and silk were sold against currency, and Chinese merchants did not buy anything from the British. Nevertheless, let us see this situation from the British perspective, too. In the 19th century, the British were at the peak of the Industrial Revolution. They produced more than could be sold locally, and the main task of the British merchants was to generate trade with other countries or, say, between their colonies. When they arrived in a nation that only sells and not buys, this behavior must not last for long, and this lack of interest from the Chinese in acquiring Western products was the spark for the first Opium War. The Opium War was lost by China, which was not prepared to fight against the modern weapons of the British navy. It was a collective shame for Chinese people; they lost ancient territories (Hong Kong) and were forced to open more ports to trade, accepting the incursion of Western people into their land. Then, a second Opium War finally ruined China, driving Chinese people into a profound sense of shame, depression, and loss of hope, sparking the desire for change.

From shame to destruction

Centuries of peace show that the country was unprepared to face the new modern era, and a radical transformation is necessary to adapt and survive in the changing times. Japan’s successful modernization and Westernization inspired Chinese intellectuals; however, they also recognized the limitations of the imperial system, which failed to protect China’s sovereignty and interests. A call for political and social reforms was needed, and at the beginning of the 20th century, China extinguished two millennia of imperial rule in exchange for a republic. China was reborn as a democratic country under a parliamentarian formula, led by Sun Yat-Sen as provisional president and still considered the “father of the nation”. As commonly happens in history, democracy does not last long. General Yuan Shikai, a former general of the Qing army, elected as the second president of the young Republic of China, betrayed the republican ideals and attempted to revive the monarchy by declaring himself emperor, abdicating one year later against violent movements trying to restore the democratic status quo. After those events, the national identity of China was shattered by decades of civil war, in which former compatriots turned against each other while, at the same time, facing a brutal invasion from Japan prior to World War II. The world was immersed in two global conflicts, and China’s dilemma became primarily ignored and this period resulted in widespread famine, violence, and genocide, marking one of the darkest periods in modern Chinese history.

From destruction to hope

The emergence of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) can be understood in parallelism with Newton’s third law, which states that “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”. Initially, the CCP was a political movement that advocated for a different ideology from the dominant one. Later, it became a military force that defended the people from the violence of the private armies and the foreign invasion of Japan. As a Marxist ideology, CCP’s rise drew on the masses, especially the farmers, the oppressed, and the underdogs, and it is essential to recall that China still had a deep rural background at the time. The success of the CCP was not by the imposition of its ideology by force but rather by convincing the people that they could resist the violence and expel the foreign invaders. The CCP, like other parties, initially cooperated with the nationalists to resist Japan’s invasion of China and pursued a democratic path. However, the ideological differences between the two sides, the people’s support in favor of the CCP, and some failures of the nationalists led to the division of China and the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, while the Republic of China retreated to Taiwan. The CCP became the sole ruling party, arguing that China needed a solid political structure to protect the nation, supported by most Chinese people who, by their cultural behavior, trusted that only a powerful leader could safeguard and care for its people.

From hope to destiny

Using the main characteristics of the Chinese, that is, the non-direct confrontation, the CCP shifted the way in which a communist party must rule the country. The so-called “Maoism” has roots in Marx and absorbs some characteristics of Leninism, adapted then to the Chinese reality. The path was not immune to human endeavor’s inherent flaws and limitations. The “Great Leap Forward” resulted in a massive famine that claimed the lives of millions of people. The “Cultural Revolution” unleashed a wave of violence and repression that targeted thousands of people, among intellectual, artist, and bourgeois classes. However, a clear long-term orientation must guide the leaders’ minds because since the beginning of China as a nation, leaders have looked to establish a world’s presence again. After Mao’s death (1976), Deng Xiaoping assumed the government and opened the country to the world as a refreshed version, but with the same goal of restoring China’s status as a significant global power. Xiaoping’s famous quote, “It does not matter if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice” reflects his pragmatic approach to governance. He advocated for China’s economic growth and development, not bound by old policies that might hinder progress. Deng Xiaoping’s China relied on two main pillars: investment and infrastructure. He invited foreign countries to invest in China, which had the largest supply of a necessary resource, “low-cost labor”; in return, China built infrastructure to facilitate trade and commerce flow.

The Chinese Capitalism

A possible way to characterize China’s economic model today is to say that it is a sort of ‘Friedman with the “invisible hand” of Keynes’. During Mao’s era, the Chinese government dominated all aspects of the economic life. The private sector was almost non-existent, the country relied heavily on agricultural and mining sectors, and the government regulated every aspect of the economy. Deng Xiaoping cited as the architect of modern China, embraced capitalism without relinquishing the control of the government over the economy. In the last two decades of the 20th century, China flourished on the wave of capitalism, opened the market to foreign investment, allowed the private sector to own businesses, and engaged in negotiations with the world. At the same time, the government embarked on an ambitious challenge to build all the infrastructure the country needed to compete with the developed world and exercised strict control over the currency exchange to boost the economy. From constructing the first motorway in 1988 to the massive Belt & Road Initiative in 2013, China leaped from a farming country to being the #1 country in infrastructure investments (2021), a leap made in just 45 years.

The Chinese economic model is a hybrid between capitalism and socialism. Far from the discussion about its effectiveness, some indicators say the economy is in good shape: 765 million Chinese were lifted out of poverty, becoming the world’s largest economy (by purchasing power parity) and the second-largest economy (in terms of US dollar); and reached the most significant middle-class population. In the following sections, we will analyze some factors of China’s economic success.

Sell everything, buy little.

Chinese history and culture have influenced its business practices for centuries. China used to be an isolated country with no contact with foreigners. A forced openness happened during the Mongol Empire’s rule in the late medieval period; however, after the Ming dynasty regained the “middle kingdom” sovereignty, the foreign trade policy returned to extreme seclusion. Chinese merchants continued to export their products with neighbors in exchange for cash, and few or nothing was purchased back. As was written in the previous chapter, this trading behavior harmed the main business partner of China in the first half of the 19th century. Great Britain was the world’s leading nation in the 19th century, at the peak of the Industrial Revolution, and immersed in new ideals of free market, competitiveness, and international trade brought by Smith and Ricardo. A nation that was not open to the free market was something that the British could not tolerate (Keller & Shiue, 2023).

It is not difficult to find similarities in today’s time and create some parallelism. Modern 21st-century China emerged as the world’s main supplier of manufactured products, producing everything from small appliances to advanced technology. China has become a massive factory, investing billions of USD in infrastructure and leading the transportation sector. Its currency is strong enough to be included in the Special Drawing Rights (SDR) basket of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the US dollar and the Euro. China has trade agreements with most of the world countries and today is the principal investor in several regions, such as Africa and Latin America. This economic behavior has affected the US, China’s primary business partner in the 21st century. The US is the first economic superpower in the world, based on the principles of free market, competitiveness, and democratic capitalism. A socialist nation that trades with the world, offering high-quality products and low international prices, is something that the US cannot accept. Just as the British launched a military war in the 19th century, the US initiated the Sino-U.S. trade war in January 2018  (Ti et al., 2021).

Saving for tomorrow

According to Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, China has a high score on Motivation towards Achievement and Success (MAS) and Long-Term Orientation (LTO), reflecting its interest in pursuing personal goals and planning for the future. The previous sentence means that Chinese people tend to view their projects, businesses, and relationships as long-term investments that require dedication and perseverance. For example, in Chinese society, mainly due to the gender imbalance, there are more men born per woman, and it is common for young couples to marry after the man has bought a house for them to live in (Wei, 2010). Buying a house is a sign of personal success and a long-term commitment (5-8 years minimum), which requires the prospective husband to save money. Saving money is a way of achieving success for the Chinese mind, which applies to individuals, companies, and the government (Wei, 2010). China has the largest foreign exchange reserves in the world, worth US$ 3.1 trillion as of December 2022; this amount is 50% more than the combined reserves of Japan and Switzerland, ranked second and third with US$ 1.1 trillion and US$ 809 billion, respectively (Zhang & Hall, 2023).

A society concerned about the future will be better prepared to face challenges. Several studies analyze the saving behavior of Chinese; it is not the aim of this article to review them. On the contrary, we want to highlight that one factor contributing to China’s economic growth is the high savings rate of its people. In 2019, China had a savings rate of 44.9%, which ranked 10th in the world and was well above the global average (Jahn, 2021).

The influence of Confucianism

Confucianism is a long-standing and influential ideology that has shaped the Chinese civilization for millenniums. It is a system of doctrines that are transmitted from generation to generation. This doctrinal system may need clarification about a kind of religious practice, mainly because its practice is embedded in a spiritual connotation but, in the strict sense, differs from organized religions. Confucianism has no divine origin; it draws on the ancient Zhou culture and institutions that Confucius (551-479 BCE) admired and promoted as the ideal model for a moral and harmonious society. Confucius was a philosopher and educator who dedicated his life to teaching and spreading his moral code throughout the kingdom, gaining followers and disciples who continued his legacy (Haibo, 2020).

As a school of thought, Confucianism became one of the dominant ideologies in Chinese history, influencing its culture, politics, education, and social relations. Confucianism is more than a philosophy; it is a set of norms guiding Chinese behavior. It is a system of beliefs that advocates good conduct, loyalty, obedience, respect, and ethical attitude. Confucianism also has a spiritual dimension, emphasizing cultivating one’s inner nature and harmony with the natural order. Confucianism is deeply embedded in the way of living of several Asian cultures, especially Chinese, where it came from.

For a Western mind, it may need to be clarified how this ideology works, but for a Chinese, it means everything; it is the balance center and what identifies the genuinely Chinese. Confucianism is everywhere in Chinese daily life (S. Chen et al., 2020; et al.M. Chen et al., 2021), from how the parents raise their children to how politicians rule the country, from how to prepare tea ceremonies to how to decorate the home. Confucianism advocates for wisdom that drives a profound respect for elders. Elders have a special place in Chinese society because they have the “wisdom” of surviving the age of time. When talking to an elder, it feels the eagerness to teach something, to advise something, always words of kindness and recommendations. The political class, the communist party, has plenty of Confucianism influence; the Politburo, for instance, the advisory board of 25 senior politicians presided by the General Secretary of the CCP, are compound by the elders, most graduated, most prominent life dedicated to the political service. The average age of the Politburo is 65 years old today (SCMP Graphics & SCMP China desk, 2023).

In the past four decades, China has undergone rapid economic and social changes that have exposed its people to Western values and lifestyles. Since the opening of China’s market in the 1980s, Western consumerism and individualism have challenged Chinese society’s traditional Maoist collectivism and simplicity. Francois Billou called this phenomenon the ‘Individualization of Chinese Society’ as a new framework for understanding the modern Chinese lifestyle, with plenty of new choices and opportunities. However, Billou, as well as Prof Bell from the University of Hong Kong, agree that Confucianism is making a comeback in China to reconnect with its cultural roots and project its identity to the world in a new position (Billioud, 2021; Lo, 2023).

This chapter does not attempt to cover all the philosophical aspects of Confucianism and its influence on the country’s fate. Rather, it highlights how Confucianism has persisted in Chinese society through generations, even when it seemed to conflict with modern life shaped by Western cultures. Several scholars agree that the recent events of the 21st century, such as the terrorist attacks of 2001, the wars against terrorism, theocracies, and other political regimes, the 2007-2008 crisis of capitalism, and the global climate change, have prompted Chinese people to re-evaluate their values and return to Confucianism roots. This was evident during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-2021, when the Chinese government demonstrated a strong commitment to protect its population.

Geopolitical Understanding

China’s geopolitical role is a topic of great interest and debate among various actors, from ordinary citizens to state officials. China’s aspirations and strategies are often met with curiosity and concern, as they have implications for the global order and stability. This chapter will attempt to understand China’s geopolitical position and prospects.

The classical perspective

In order to introduce the reader to the concept and in line with the classic view about Geopolitics, where several definitions have been drawn according to different authors, namely Ratzel, Kjellen, and Mahan, it is possible to assemble an unpretentious definition: Geopolitics is how the geography influences political decisions of a country, both internal and externally. Based on this view, some scholars have developed different theories to explain the geopolitical behavior of countries. For instance, Mahan’s theory of the sea argues that countries surrounded by the sea tend to emphasize their maritime interests and protect themselves with a powerful navy; some examples are Great Britain, Japan, Australia, and the US with two extensive shores facing different oceans. Mackinder’s theory of the land suggests that countries with flat and open terrain have an advantage in expanding and defending their territory and dominating target neighbors; examples are France, Germany, and Poland. These and other theories help to understand the strengths and weaknesses of different geographical settings and their political implications.

Following this classic view, China’s geographical features pose significant challenges for its geopolitical interests (McColl, n.d.). Only 10% of its land is arable, located in the eastern third of the country, where 90% of its population lives along the southeast coast. The remaining two-thirds of the country consists of arid deserts, towering mountains on the west, and rugged hills and valleys in the north. These areas are generally unsuitable for intensive agriculture and population, “too high, cold, and dry”. Figuratively, China is comparable to a landlocked country, is surrounded by fourteen countries from north to west, and faces more than twenty by adding maritime neighbors across the sea. Despite its long coastline, China has only one east-west corridor accessible to the outside world, and it is constrained by the presence of South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines sea safeguarded by the US Navy based in Guam, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

China’s defense and expansion is a complex challenge that requires a deep understanding of its geographical position. Only one classic theory may probably not shed light on it. China has developed a commercial and military maritime force to enhance its trade and trace a defensive line in its most critical area, where most of its population lives. The free pass along the East and South China Sea heading to Malacca Strait is paramount for the economic interest of China; whichever conflict here could jeopardize the stability of global trade. Simultaneously, China needs a strong land force and reliable infrastructure to reach its far western and northern regions. A simple analysis may not reveal why the Tibet and Xinjiang regions are relevant; conversely, geopolitically speaking, losing those ancient regions could compromise the country’s future. The Tibet plateau is the source of the three major Chinese rivers (Yellow, Yangtze, and Pearl River); losing control of this area may compromise the supply of electricity, water, and food. Xinjiang region is a natural barrier and water resource with natural dams alongside the mountain chain. There is a particular interest in the Xinjiang desert area, where there is a potential supply of renewable energy.

The prospective “superpower.”

What could define a superpower? One criterion is the GDP; nevertheless, politically, a superpower also needs to have the support and influence of its people. China still has a large labor force but faces the challenges of an ageing population (ChinaPowerTeam, 2023). According to the UN projections, China’s population will decrease by half in 2100, but it will still be the second largest in the world, after India. China aims to reach the same levels of education development as the US and Europe by 2050 (ChinaPowerTeam, 2021). President Xi Jinping said in a parliamentary speech: “When education in a country thrives, the country will thrive, and strong education makes a strong nation”. The empowerment of the people is part of the government’s political agenda, which can be seen in the achievements made by China (Hua, 2023).

According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Chinese inventors submitted 1.58 million patent applications in 2022, surpassing the US, which filed 505 thousand (WIPO-Data, 2023). Likewise, in the 2022 Summer Olympics, China showed remarkable progress in its athletic performance, ranking second in the number of medals, only behind the US and ahead of Russia (ChinaPowerTeam, 2018). Three decades ago, China barely won a dozen medals. Although the number of medals per capita is still low for China, the rapid improvement in such a short period is impressive. China now wins medals in categories dominated by the US and Russia, such as diving and gymnastics. Furthermore, China has become a new contender in the space race, preparing astronauts and producing rockets, fields that some decades ago were under the supremacy of the US and Russia.

Under the influence of their cultural roots, China has demonstrated skills in using soft power. As this article has explained, Chinese people tend to avoid confrontation. By employing soft power, China can increase its influence and respect in the international arena. China has become a significant project builder and investor in underdeveloped countries. Countries with low GDP welcome China’s investment as an opportunity to modernize their infrastructure and economy. China has invested heavily in Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America’s transportation, energy, food and agriculture sectors. By being a leading investor in strategic infrastructure such as ports and airports or vital services such as electricity distribution networks, China can subtly shape the decisions of the host countries.

Finally, one factor contributing to China’s rise as a superpower is its shift in focus to lead the technology sector. China has already built the necessary infrastructure for its development, such as high-speed rail networks, airports, ports, and the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). There is no central city in China that is not connected by a high-speed train; hundreds of airports connect the whole country, and six out of the ten biggest ports in the world transfer manufactured goods to global trade. Now, China is advancing in the high-tech fields: battery production, electric transportation, communication, and electronic interface. According to a report by Wired UK, Shenzhen is the world’s first city to realize the full electrification of its public transportation (Ralston, 2020). The next goal is likely to be dominating the microprocessor industry (C.-J. Wang, 2022). In 2015, China government launched the “Made in China 2025” initiative (EditorialTeam, 2015), a ten-year strategy plan to upgrade its manufacturing capabilities to high-tech products. According to the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR), China could achieve a self-sufficiency ratio of 75% by 2030 (McBride & Chatzky, 2019).


Throughout human history, there have been several examples of how power and influence have shifted among different civilizations. Power has been transferred and contested from Persians to Greeks, Carthaginians to Romans, and Byzantines to Ottomans. Between the 15th and 19th centuries, European kingdoms were the leading powers in the modern era, competing among themselves. These kingdoms were driven by naval expansion and later by the Industrial Revolution. In the 20th century, the power shifted to the US, where naval and industrial superiority made a difference, but not only; also, a new sense of freedom based on “capitalism” conquered the world and gave the US the status of a model society. The question that arises now is, why is it impossible for a new power shift to happen in the 21st century? A shift not driven by any naval supremacy, freedom, or industrial factors but by a new form of “soft power” propelled by the dominance of technology and adopting a new lifestyle where people will still have control of their financial freedom, “capitalism”; however, under the surveillance of the government that will take control of the market and care for the people “socialism”.

This article does not aim to compare or contrast political views, benefits, or drawbacks, nor to provide insights on economic models or ideologies. Instead, this article intends to describe the path that, in our view, China has followed, which has led it to its current position. We believe that past actions have shaped modern China and offer a plausible explanation for its success on the global stage. It is not unreasonable to assume that China, as a prosperous country and the second global economy, with its renewed values and a new model of economy and governance, can begin to influence the world in the opposite direction (from East to West).

Yet, the history of modern China is still being written…


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Eastern and Middle Europe in a cultural perspective

We demonstrated that the relatively fast convergence of CEE countries observed in the initial years of our sample period was interrupted by the global crisis in 2008. Since then, convergence has been slower. – Overall, we believe – and demonstrate – that the post-transition growth model has reached its limits and that further convergence of the CEE region to the more advanced EU economies cannot be achieved by simply replicating past efforts. Summarizing they write: “before the financial crisis the convergence of the CEE economies was mainly driven by strong capital inflow facilitated by market reforms implemented at the beginning of the 1990s and accession of CEE countries to the European Union. The results of our empirical analysis seem to confirm our intuition that this growth model has come to an end around the time of the global crisis. The CEE countries’ growth and convergence will now be driven mainly by factors affecting structural competitiveness, especially innovation activity, institutional environment and policies (or lack thereof) b. The Results of Shock Therapy One of the most important changes from communist rule was the introduction of private property, individual freedom, a new legal system, and an independent civil society that go with it. The first ideas for the transition to a market driven economy were pragmatic and show the attempt to change some of the obvious negative consequences of communism. Grigory Yavlinsky, the author of the 500 Days plan and shortly vice prime minister under Yeltsin, intervened with his team in the third largest city of Russia Nizhny Novgorod with an interesting program. The city gave ownership of apartments to the inhabitants. Up till that moment businesses and the houses were owned by the state or by a collective or cooperative. Condition for transferring ownership was that the new owners were also responsible for the energy costs of the apartment. This solved the problem that nobody felt responsible for the heating of the apartments. The heating was regulated centrally without charge. Nobody had a need for thermostats. You could not even turn of the heating. If it was too hot the inhabitants just opened their windows widely. This changed when the inhabitants had to pay for their own use of energy. It changed their behavior because they understood the relationship between ownership and costs. c. The Privatization of Economy In 1989 the vast majority of business and residential property was either directly owned by the party-state or held in some form of collective or cooperative ownership. What in hindsight went wrong is that the privatization was done quickly without a clear framework of law, regulated by an independent judiciary. As a result the old powerholders with good connections in the communist party were able to take advantage in buying the available assets. As a result a new class of very influential post- communist “oligarchs” developed. This lead to strong resentment and mistrust of the people who were not “connected” (Timothy Garton Ash, 2019). Thirty years after 1989, Central Europe is still influenced by the impact of this transformation. Some individuals have been successful in the new “market environment”, but many more are unemployed and angry. They see that often members of the former communist ruling class, have been doing so well because of the unfair beginnings of capitalism in the 1990s. The economic transition in the early nineties has been described as katastroika (combination of catastrophe and the term perestroika and as “the most cataclysmic peacetime economic collapse of an industrial country in history” Interestingly enough the transformation went partly wrong because of good intentions of the transformers. As an example the “voucher approach”. Transforming the economy the Government tried to avoid open sale of state-owned assets. They were afraid that it would result in concentration of ownership among the Russian Mafia and the nomenklatura. Instead the reformers decided to rely mostly on “free voucher privatization”. This type of privatization took place by giving citizens vouchers. Each voucher corresponded with a share in the national wealth. They were distributed equally among the population, including minors. They could be exchanged for shares in the enterprises to be privatized. Looking back one can see this project terribly failed. “Because most people were not well- informed about the nature of the program or were very poor, they were quick to sell their vouchers for money, unprepared or unwilling to invest. Most vouchers—and, hence, most shares—wound up being acquired by the management of the enterprises. Although Russia’s initial privatization legislation attracted widespread popular support given its promise to distribute the national wealth among the general public and ordinary employees of the privatized enterprises, eventually the public felt deceived. (Privatization in Russia) This all lead to a burning sense of injustice caused by so many collaborators of the old regime becoming economic winners. As a result of the social consequences. “liberal market economy” became for many a dirty word. d. The 2008 Global Financial Crisis. This mistrust in the concept of a free market economy became stronger after the worldwide financial crisis in 2008. Seeing the problems in the Western European countries in surviving the crisis many Eastern Europeans were losing their trust in liberal market economies and were looking for alternatives. Suddenly some Asian approaches like the one in China with state capitalism and illiberal economies were drawing attention. 2. The Erosion of Trust The political system under communism promoted and rewarded “reporting” (informing) on one another. This fact caused both a social disgust at “reporters” and a social “out of fear” pressure for reporting. (Timothy Garton Ash, 2019) The “reporting” was a powerful tool of oppression for the ruling class, as fear prevented open sharing of thoughts. Ideology often prevailed over blood ties. A friend of mine from the former GDR told me that after the fall of the Berlin wall citizens got the right to look into the files of Stasi /the secret police) to see who was informing on them. Up till this moment (2019) she did not dare to do so because of the fear of discovering that close friends and family members were involved. This had a consequence for all four culture clusters, but the strongest however for the Pyramid countries with their collectivist core. In principle, the rule in collectivist cultures is that in return for loyalty to your “in-group” the in-group will take care of you. In Pyramid cultures it is mostly clear what the shape of in-groups is. Almost everywhere it starts with the extended family. In African Pyramid countries it is the ethnic group or religious group. In Latin America it can be the region or rich powerful families. In some Southern European countries it can be the political party. The understanding of in-groups in the Eastern European cultures is definitely different than in other Pyramid ones. Considering the above factors – the question is what the best survival strategy was for citizens during these times (70 years in USSR and 50 years elsewhere). The answer is the reciprocal collaboration and support between like-minded people. A colleague of mine from that area wrote: “I would define the in-groups that East Europeans feel affiliated to, as any circle of people with whom: I – they share common views about what is right and wrong, what is acceptable behavior or not, and II – they share common past during which the shared views have been proven to be sustainable in behavior practices (tested by many life situations).” (internal discussion, 2017) It is clear that somebody establishes commonality and shared trustworthiness best in the formative years. A Romanian colleague of mine said: “Yes, we share belonging to one’s circle of relatives because we grow up together – but nowadays we do not feel automatic togetherness just by virtue of blood lines. I, for example, have nine first cousins but I keep relationship with only two of them – those that I have something in common with.”(internal discussion, 2019 Other strong bonds of collectivism are formed during school, university and military service (where existing). Because these formative years offer pretty good opportunities to deduct characters that are similar to your own. It is a common practice for politicians reaching the highest levels of power to appoint classmates or student-mates as their deputies, because they trust them. What strengthened this loss of belief in traditional in-groups like the extended family is that communism put a heavy emphasis on industrialization. This has resulted in urbanization of society at a much greater pace than if it had happened naturally; the consequences being – accelerated movement from kinship-oriented environment (villages and small towns) to a more alienated urban lifestyle. Writing about current Poland, Overbeek points at another element that tends to be forgotten. In describing the big differences between the big cities and the country one can still see traces of a historical fracture line between feudal lords and serfs. For centuries the Polish farmers were serfs, for sale with the land. It is a form of slavery sustained by nobility and only stopped in 1864. About the same time as slavery in the US. Overbeek says: “Up till today the Polish workers feel like white slaves. Second hand citizens.” (Overbeek, 2019) All these elements have discernable consequences: The traditional cultural understanding of “loyalty from subordinates and care by superiors” is not applicable, Yes, personal care and understanding by the boss is appreciated – but it does not automatically lead to loyalty. Caring superiors may find themselves trapped in abuse of their care. Yes, loyalty from the subordinates is appreciated – but it is not assumed. In fact, most often company rules are strongly process-oriented rather than people-oriented exactly because the assumption is that workforce is expandable. Religion Historically collectivism in Eastern Europe was a form of protection against the various dangers. Being between the big empires (Habsburg, Ottoman and Russian), or having foreign or corrupt leaders. Still there is always a need for people to belong to small groups they can trust (either friends or companies). This is an important factor in understanding the role of religion in Eastern Europe. The secularization of society under communism caused disruption of belonging connected to religion – with the notable exception of the Muslim communities in Central Asian and Caucasus. Interesting is to see that Pew Research Center found that religion is not seen as very important in the lives of for instance the Polish and Russians This is seemingly in contrast to what many politicians from these countries say and believe. For analysis of this contradiction it is important to see what cultural scholars found in looking into the relationship between religion and national culture. The question is if religions and their associated values are homogeneous and thereby create a coherent value system or that perhaps values are created by the dominant culture of the nation where people are born and are reflected in the reality of the religions? In 2012 Geert Hofstede and his colleague Michael Minkov analyzed this in a paper: “Nations Versus Religions: Which Has a Stronger Effect on Societal Values?” They uncovered two tendencies: 1. Global religions do not have such a “gravitational” effect on their subsidiaries in diverse nations. 2. In terms of values, nations however do have a “gravitational” effect, not only on the populations of their regions, but also on the nominally different religious groups inside a nation. This gravitational effect of national values has two aspects: “Homogenizing” and “Discriminant” Homogenizing: “The values of nominally different religious groups that live within a single nation tend to be fairly similar, resulting in relatively short distances between such groups as well as homogeneous national clusters.” Discriminant: “The nominally different religious groups that live within a single nation tend to be distinguishable from the religious groups of other nations. Religious groups from a single nation tend to cluster separately from those of other nations rather than intermix with them.” However, saying that religion is not very important in their lives is not the whole story. Many Eastern European cultures see religion as a key component of national identity. This means that religion plays a big role in the perception of us versus them. Like we described earlier in this chapter religion played a big role in creating cohesion in fighting the battles against the Ottoman empire or having foreign or corrupt leaders. Conclusion: National culture defines the social forces within a community involving its conventions for behavior, and Religion defines how the community members interpret their role in the universe, this teaching being based on the local culture, so different religions rise out of different cultures. Similarly, when members of one religion convert members of a foreign culture, often the resulting religion in that area is affected by the host culture. Taking this into account the Hofstede research can explain the religion and “morality” in Eastern European countries by the consequences of strong UAI, Hofstede states that in cultures with a strong UAI score there is a need for a more rigid social code. As a result there is a resistance in the strong UAI cultures (especially in combination with Collectivism) in accepting the equal rights of individuals in terms of sexual preference or alternative life styles. They call this decadency and they see themselves as bulwarks of traditional Christian values. A second reason for the tendency of politicians to refer to religion is that a state that says to represent the laws of heaven has unlimited power on earth. A long repressive regime can best be based on heavenly powers. With God on your side it is easy to persecute and suppress people. Migration and Foreigners It is no surprise that four decades spent in a rather closed and still relatively homogenous society behind the Iron Curtain, many people in the Eastern European countries are suspicious of foreigners. This is reflected in the attitudes towards immigrants, and above all the Muslim immigrants—even, perhaps especially, where they personally encounter almost none of them. Immigration and Emigration After 1989 many more people became more free to travel. This created a new problem: emigration. Substantial amounts of young people in Eastern Europe decided to move abroad to find employment and or to study. This led to the real problem of brain drain. The loss of talented people. In this sense Emigration is the region’s real problem, but immigration is its imagined one. As an example: May 7 2019 in Warsaw, a Polish psychotherapist and civil rights activist was arrested because she was not adhering to article 196 ‘Insulting religious feelings’. The Interior Minister said after her arrest: “We thank the police for the successful detection and arrest of a person who is held responsible for the desecration of the image of the Holy Maria, one of the most sacred icons of the Polish population.” “The refugee crisis that peaked in 2015–2016, bringing millions of migrants from the wider Middle East and Africa to Southern and Western Europe, was a defining moment in Central European politics. Populist politicians have skillfully exploited the fears of societies that were cut off behind the Iron Curtain for forty years, with relatively little recent experience of multicultural life.” (Timothy Garton Ash, 2019) In Hungary Prime Minister Orbán was quite successful in a propaganda campaign warning that the EU leaders were “plotting to swamp Christian Hungary with dark-skinned, Muslim immigrants.” The EU is holding the politicians saying this accountable. It is to be expected that in the future this will lead to further tensions between the EU courts and this attitude of some local politicians. Resistance Against the Elite The liberal, metropolitan elites who took advantage of the unregulated transition together with the former communists created a strong feeling of resentment by the people who were left out. This resentment is also directed at the Western type of liberal market economy. “Central European populists combine somewhat left-wing economic and social policies with a right-wing, even reactionary, nationalist and xenophobic rhetoric. So disaffected voters are invited to escape the atomization of a superficial, Western-style consumer society, back into the bosom of the most traditional sources of community and identity: the family, the church, and the nation. The populist fulminate against “decadent, feminized, LGBT+-supporting Western European societies” They create the image of a fight between Western European nations addressing: “the problem of an aging and shrinking population by importing Muslim migrants. While traditional societies like Hungary and Poland “will solve that problem the old-fashioned Christian way, by having more children”. (Timothy Garton Ash, 2019) Politicians sensing the dissatisfaction in large parts of the population understand that it is not just an economic issue. It is a matter of giving back to people a sense of dignity. This is also behind the recent actions of the Polish Law and Justice party to hand out more cash to families. Some observers see it as “an expression of concern”. Law and Justice ideologists actually talk about “the redistribution of dignity”. Ashford says: “Especially in Poland and Hungary, the ruling parties also play off the sense of historic injustice, arguing that what happened in 1989 was not a true revolution. The real anticommunist revolution, they claim, only began when they themselves came to power”. Democracy and the Need for Autonomy. Another factor for the uneasiness in finding new rules for democracy in Easter European countries is that there is still not enough real understanding that democracy doesn’t take the same shape in every country. In a paper on the EU (Wursten, Lanzer, 2012) it was shown how democracy in the UK is different from democracy in Switzerland, the Netherlands and France. These differences can be explained by the value configuration of each country. It was also shown that it can be explained in a systematic way by the Seven Mental Images. To analyze the confusion in the discussions about the shape of democracy a conclusion from a paper on Happiness (Wursten 2018) is noteworthy: What is very important for the well-being of people is the perception of autonomy. This autonomy is defined as the freedom to make your own decisions and to determine your own future as basic needs of adult human beings. The importance of these basic needs was recently confirmed again by psychiatrists. (Verbraak, C., 2018) The decline in support of democracy can be explained (to a great extent) by the perception of many people that they do not have a say in the decisions shaping their lives as a consequence of globalization of businesses and internationalization of decision- making, for instance in the EU. Reports show that there is a general feeling in Middle and Eastern European countries of a lack of control over people’s lives. Citizens of these countries complain that after the fall of the dominating Soviet Empire they expected to be more free. What happened instead is that, in their perception the ideology changed, but many of the people in power during Communism are still in positions of power nowadays. Moreover, they feel that they were freed from the coercion by the Soviet Union and voluntarily joined the European Union. But now they discover that the rules of the EU are strongly limiting their freedom of decision-making. It is frustrating because in their minds it amounts to a perceived feeling of again lacking control over their own lives. The future What is to be expected looking at the time between the fall of communism and the present? 1. From a cultural point of view. We showed that the superficial layers of culture were polluted. This affected the “rules of the game”, the consequences and clear mechanisms of the cultural Mental Image. The necessary trust between authorities and citizens, between bosses and employees was destroyed. Slowly this trust is restored. The European Union is helping because of the pressure they put on the single member states in staying within the boundaries set by the EU for democracy and the rule of law. Citizens of these Eastern European cultures are seeing the EU as a positive means to keep their own politicians at bay and to prevent possible corruption by their leaders. Even if the country culture is making it difficult. In this sense it is interesting to look at the connection between corruption and corruption. Take Power Distance: the saying is “power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Or take collectivism. Analysis of the rule of law shows that the human rights as part of the law system is something that is “natural” for Individualistic cultures where the starting point of morality is the individual. In collectivist cultures morality is in first place for the people of the in-group. As Lanzer formulates it: Everything for my friends. For others the rigor of the law. (Lanzer, 2019) In this sense it can be shown that enforcements of the EU laws a positive influence in the eyes of the citizens. Recent research by Pew Research center is confirming this. See below. At the same time the EU should understand that it is very important that the single states in Eastern Europe should further develop the perception of autonomy. In this sense it is a warning signal not to force these countries in a process of increased centralization. This is of course equally true for the Western EU members. Brexit should be a warning sign. As Cummings formulated the successful slogan: “take back control”. It is a matter of survival to go back to the original formula: “subsidiarity”. The higher level should only do what the lower level cannot do. A warning for leading politicians like Verhofstadt and Macron. ( Wursten 2019), ( Wursten, Lanzer 2012) Another warning sign about this is given by the EU citizens in the perception that the people at the top are not interested in what they think. One of the dangers of a nowadays globalized world is that there is a growing emotional reaction of the citizens of nation states that the cosmopolitan elite easily is deciding about moral and economic issues without taking the interests of the ones that have to live the consequences into account. This leads to support for populist propaganda. What needs attention is that data show that most people in Central and Eastern Europe say that the post-communist era has been good for education, living standards national pride and even spiritual values. They however showed doubts about law and order, but were negative about health care and family values. The Economic Factor One more reason to be careful in forcing the Eastern European cultures in a centralized EU mall is to look at the economic situation. In general PEW Research center measured a positive mood towards the integration in the EU economy. This positive mood is really important! What however not should be forgotten is the prediction of the Economist that it would take 50 to 90 years before the new access countries would be on the same level as the existing countries. Notes: 1. The confirmed value preferences Hofstede found empirically are in shorthand: PDI. Power distance Index: the way hierarchy is accepted as something existential or as something created for convenience. IDV. Individualism versus collectivism: describing the emphasis of loyalty. To the Individual or to the In-group. MAS. Masculinity versus Femininity: motivation by competition and challenges or by cooperation and consensus seeking. UAI. Uncertainty Avoidance Index : the extent of the need for predictability. Is dealing with unknown risks uncertainty experienced as positive drive or a negative one. In terms of research methodology it is important to emphasize that the 4 value dimensions are independent. However: In applying the value dimensions for analysis in real life it is rare that explanations can be given by one single dimension. In most cases it is the combination that gives the full picture. 2. The Mental Images The key issue is that the combination of the fundamental value dimensions is leading to a “Gestalt” , something new. An important consequence is that the different combinations lead to 6 different “pictures” in the mind of people of what society and organizations look like. Hence the name :”mental images”. Each mental image represents a cluster of countries which have certain characteristics (scores) in common. 1. The contest model (`winner takes all ́) Competitive Anglo-Saxon cultures with low power distance, high individualism and masculinity, and fairly low scores on uncertainty avoidance. Examples: Australia, New Zealand, UK and USA. 2. The network model (consensus) Highly individualistic, `feminine ́ societies with low power distance like Scandinavia and the Netherlands. Everyone is involved in decision-making. 3. The organization as a family (loyalty and hierarchy) Found in societies that score high on power distance and collectivism and have powerful in-groups and paternalistic leaders. Examples: China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore. 4. The pyramidal organization (loyalty, hierarchy and implicit order) Found in collective societies with large power distance and uncertainty avoidance. Examples: much of Latin America (especially Brazil), Greece, Portugal, Russia and Thailand. 5. The solar system (hierarchy and an impersonal bureaucracy) Similar to the pyramid structure, but with greater individualism. Examples: Belgium, France, Northern Italy, Spain and French speaking Switzerland. 6. The well-oiled machine (order) Found in societies with low power distance and high uncertainty avoidance, carefully balanced procedures and rules, not much hierarchy. Examples: Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, German speaking Switzerland. A description of the culture clusters Literature: Economist Intelligence Unit. 2012 Europe enlarged: Understanding the impact In co- operation with Accenture Oracle N M Rothschild & Sons Overbeek. E. 22-5-2019. De erfenis van Poolse horigheid Heren en hufters. In: De Groene Amsterdammer. Privatization in Russia. Wikipedia Huib Wursten The 7 Mental Images of National Culture. Hofstede Insights 2019, ISBN9781687633347. Timothy Garton Ash, Time for a New Liberation? The New York Review of books. October 24, 2019. Hofstede, G., Hofstede, G.J., & Minkov, M. (2010). Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind. Berkeley: McGrawHill. Nations versus Religions: Which Has a Stronger Effect on Societal Values? Minkov, M. & Hofstede, G. Management Int Rev. (2014) 54: 801. doi:10.1007/s11575-014-0205-8 Wursten. H. .(2017) Culture, religion and ethics. What is the connection? docx Narodowy Bank Polski (2017). Is Central and Eastern Europe converging towards the EU- 15? NBP Working Paper No. 264 Economic Research Department Warsaw, 2017 Wursten, H., & Lanzer, F. (2012). The EU: the third great European cultural contribution to the world. Retrieved from pdf. Fernando Lanzer. Democracy in Latin America. JIME 2019 Q4 Wursten, H. (2018a). Culture and Happiness. Some reflections. Journal of Intercultural Management and Ethics, 3, 19- 30. Verbraak, C. (2016, December 16). Een leven zonder angst is ongehoord saai. Retrieved from: 5774858-a1537150. Internal discussion in the Hofstede Insights Group. (Participants: Daniela Kaneva, Georges Lapascu-Pruna, Jana Droessler and Huib Wursten 2016) Surveys PEW Research Center: 1. European public opinion three decades after the fall of communism. European values -00- 09. pg. 10-15-19 2. Pew Research Center. Surveys conducted 2015-2017 in 34 countries. Eastern and Western Europeans differ on importance of religion, views of minorities and key social issues 3. Pew Research Center Spring 2019 Global Attitude Survey Q55a-f. Q57a-c 4. Pew Research Center Spring 2019 Global Attitude Survey Q 50a 5. Pew Research Center Spring 2019 Global Attitude Survey Q 21a-g 6. Pew Research Center Spring 2019 Global Attitude Survey Q 8d-Q13 & Q14
Narrating Change: The Role of Cinema in the Cultural Discourse of the Arab Spring

Narrating Change: The Role of Cinema in the Cultural Discourse of the Arab Spring

Narrating Change: The Role of Cinema in the Cultural Discourse of the Arab Spring

Amer Bitar


The recent history of the Middle East, marked in particular by the Arab Spring, presents a rich tapestry of socio-political transformation. An essential but often overlooked aspect of this period is the role of cinema, both as a reflection of and an influence on this transformation. In this article, I help to fill this gap in the literature by investigating the relationship between the cinematic landscape and national cultures across the Middle East during this pivotal era. Specifically, I analyze The Square (2013), a documentary by Jehane Noujaim on the January 25 Revolution in Egypt to reveal the ways in which cinema transcends the mere reflection of societal dynamics to become deeply embedded in national culture. The film showcases how filmmakers blend local sensibilities with universal themes of revolution, freedom, and identity, thereby highlighting the intricate relationship between cinema and cultural ethos. By analyzing thematic motifs, narrative structures, and cinematic techniques, I show the complex ways in which cinema has alternately embraced and challenged cultural norms and the subtle and overt political messages that such artistic choices communicate. My analysis underscores the power of cinema to shape the perceptions of both domestic and global audiences, bridge cultural gaps, and provide a multifaceted perspective on the geopolitical transformation in the Middle East against the backdrop of deeply rooted traditions and beliefs. As a contribution to film studies, geopolitics, and cultural studies, this research is intended to help policymakers, activists, and scholars appreciate the complex interplay among popular culture, political evolution, and national cultural contexts in the contemporary Middle East.

Keywords: Arab Spring, The Square, Egypt, Middle Eastern cinema, national cultures, national identity, revolutionary themes, contemporary Middle East.


In late 2010, a transformative tide began to rise across the Middle East that came to be known as the Arab Spring. These anti-government protests and uprisings, unparalleled in intensity and scope in the region, marked a turning point in contemporary Middle Eastern history. This massive shift was instigated by what appeared to be a localized act—a poignant gesture of defiance by Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street vendor—but, in a kind of domino effect, the impact of this act spread far and wide. From the vibrant medinas of Tunisia to iconic Tahrir Square in Cairo and the strife-torn alleys of Syria, the collective clamor for democratic rights, justice, and civil liberties resonated, giving voice to shared aspirations.

Amid the whirlwind of socio-political change, journalists, political commentators, and scholars tried to account for both the immediate consequences and grand scale of these political upheavals. However, running parallel to these events was a subtler revolution gaining momentum in the shadows. Historically revered for mirroring societal evolution, the Middle Eastern film industry was also at a momentous juncture, and the films of this era bore the onus of reflecting the ongoing societal metamorphosis and shaping the discourse about it.

In this article, I provide a nuanced account of this cinematic realm through a case study of a poignant documentary, The Square (2013), that focuses on key moments as the Arab Spring played out in Egypt, chronicling the efforts of activists as they battled leaders and regimes, risking their lives to build a new society of conscience, where actions and policies of both individuals and institutions are influenced by a strong sense of moral responsibility and ethical consideration. I consider the interplay of art and revolt, the power of narrative as a form of witness, and the dual role of cinema as observer and motive force during pivotal historical moments. My broader argument is that Middle Eastern cinema, in its most potent form, has demonstrated the power to sculpt the cultural narrative and shape the perceptions and dialogues of both domestic and global audiences.

Literature Review

My analysis begins with a review of the role that films have played in cultural and political discourses, with particular attention to the context of revolutionary movements such as the Arab Spring. In the following discussion, I explore the extensive body of research on the dual function of cinema in both reflecting societal issues and driving change to elucidate these dynamics.

Cinema as a Cultural and Political Mirror

The notion of cinema as both a reflection of and commentary on the zeitgeist is deeply rooted in the scholarship of cultural theory. Galtung (1971) provided the basis for this perspective, describing cinema as a mirror that reflects societal conditions in all their intricacy to capture the zeitgeist. This reflective capacity of the cinema is further explored through the lens of racial dynamics by hooks (2014), who demonstrated that film not only portrays vividly the racial tensions in U.S. cities but also serves as a catalyst for introspection and societal critique by members of the audience.

Building on these theories, Miller (2003) introduced the concept of cinema as a “popular mirror,” that is, a medium through which the sociocultural climate is not only depicted but also scrutinized by diverse audiences (Miller, 2003). The work of Shohat and Stam (2014), who argued that film serves as a cultural artifact that both reflects and constructs social reality, shaping and being shaped by the cultural and historical context in which it is embedded, reinforces this notion. Likewise, Kellner (2009) argued that films embody the complex interplay between society and media, reflecting societal struggles and transformations, and Sontag (1977) argued regarding the role of cinema in manifesting and influencing public discourse that films have the inherent ability to express and mold the collective consciousness (Sontag, 1977).

The theoretical frameworks of Althusser (2006) and his concept of ideological state apparatuses (ISAs) also support the notion that cinema is a tool for critical reflection. From this perspective, it is a cultural ISA that functions both as a site for the reproduction of ideology and, paradoxically, a space in which the dominant ideologies can be questioned, and alternative visions can be imagined. In this expanded discourse, scholars’ efforts have yielded a comprehensive understanding of the role of cinema as a cultural and political mirror and a powerful platform for discourse about societal norms and values and for encouraging audiences to engage in critical analysis.

The Influence of Cinema on Cultural Values and Political Perspectives

The capacity of cinema to influence and mold societal values and political ideologies has been extensively examined within the framework of critical theory. Gramsci’s concept of cultural hegemony is useful for understanding the role of cinema in reinforcing or contesting prevailing ideologies and cultural narratives, serving as an instrument for the dissemination and perpetuation of the dominant culture’s worldview that often reinforces the status quo but also, again, has the power to question it (Gramsci, 1989).

The dialectical relationship between cinema and society is exemplified in the early film The Birth of a Nation by D. W. Griffith (1915), which has been dissected for its role in perpetuating racial stereotypes and influencing attitudes toward race relations in the United States. The contentious legacy of this film underscores the profound impact that cinematic narratives can have on public ideology and the shaping of historical consciousness (Ang, 2023). Wasko (2020) focused on the transformative potential of cinema to argue that it serves as both a medium for entertainment and a critical space for ideological engagement and, once more, the contestation of cultural norms (Wasko, 2020). Similarly, Butler (1990) and hooks (2004) explored the role of films in subverting traditional gender roles and racial identities, thereby contributing to the ongoing discourse of identity politics and social justice. Žižek (2006) likewise analyzed the intersection of cinema with political activism and the role of film as a subversive form of art by critiquing the underlying mechanisms of power structures and ideological struggle. Thus, the consensus view of scholars is that cinema extends into the realm of cultural production and political narrative, not only reflecting but also participating actively in the construction and deconstruction of cultural values and political ideologies.

The Global Impact of Cinema

The worldwide influence of cinema—that is, its power to transcend national boundaries and foster international discourse—is a topic of considerable scholarly interest. Cinema has been described as a universal language capable of conveying complex cultural narratives and fostering a shared sense of humanity across diverse populations. Its global reach has been conceptualized by scholars such as Appadurai (1996), who discussed the role of media, including cinema, in shaping the global cultural flow and the emergence of deterritorialized audiences who engage with films in contexts far removed from their cultural origins.

Nye (2004) has examined the role of Hollywood in particular as a dominant force in global cinema and its influence on global perceptions of culture, politics, and identity, being known particularly for introducing the concept of “soft power,” that is, the ability to influence and attract through culture and ideology rather than coercion. Shohat and Stam (1994) have also critiqued Hollywood narratives, arguing that they frequently perpetuate a Western-centric view of the world and also acknowledging the industry’s power in constructing global myths and fantasies that resonate with international audiences. The works of Said (2003) on Orientalism have been influential in accounting for the power of cinematic depictions to shape and, sometimes, distort Western perceptions of the East, contributing to a discourse that has real-world political implications. Simply put, the influence of cinema on global political consciousness can hardly be overstated.

Conversely, non-Western films such as Akira Kurosawa’s (1950) Rashomon and Satyajit Ray’s (1955) Pather Panchali have challenged Western audiences to engage with alternative narratives and perspectives, thereby promoting a more nuanced understanding of global diversity (Anderson, 1996). The phenomenon of transnational cinema, with filmmakers operating beyond the confines of national industries and identities, is a further manifestation of the global impact of cinema. Iwabuchi (2002) noted that East Asian cinema, in particular, has gained international prominence by challenging the cultural hegemony of Western cinematic traditions and creating new centers of global cultural production. In the era of digital media, the global distribution and consumption of films have been revolutionized, further expanding their reach. Jenkins (2011) is among those who emphasize the technologies that have fueled the rapid global dissemination of films by enabling immediate access to diverse cultural products, thereby facilitating a new form of transnational cultural participation. The global impact of cinema is, naturally, a multifaceted phenomenon with cultural, political, and economic dimensions. As a form of soft power, cinema has the potential to bridge cultural divides, influence political discourse, and shape global identities, so it is an essential consideration for understanding contemporary global dynamics.

Cinema and the Arab Spring

The Arab Spring, the name given to the series of uprisings that dramatically altered the political landscape of the Middle East beginning in 2010, has been a rich subject for documentary filmmakers. The prominent documentaries on this subject both serve as archival footage and create powerful narratives that, as I show here, have contributed to political activism and shaped international perceptions of the events. They include, Bahrain: Shouting in the Dark (2011) by May Ying Welsh, Tahrir 2011: The Good, the Bad, and the Politician (2011) by Tamer Ezzat, Ahmad Abdalla, Ayten Amin, and Amr Salama, 1/2 Revolution (2011) by Omar Shargawi and Karim El Hakim, Zero Silence(2011) by Javeria Rizvi Kabani, In Tahrir Square: 18 Days of Egypt’s Unfinished Revolution (2012), The Square (2013) by Jehane Noujaim, The Uprising (2013) by Peter Snowdon, Return to Homs (2013) by Talal Derki, and We Are The Giant (2014) by Greg Barker. These documentaries have been crucial in communicating the realities of the Arab Spring to a global audience. They have also become a significant part of the cultural discourse and, as such, offer insight into the complex narrative strategies and aesthetic choices that enable documentarians to engage their audiences emotionally and intellectually. The seminal research of Khatib (2008, 2013) has done much to clarify the role of Arab cinema, particularly documentaries, in shaping the political consciousness of both regional and international audiences. My aim in this study is to show the contribution of these films to the understanding of the cultural and political nuances of the Arab Spring by focusing on one of them, The Square (2013).


The methodology for this study is based on the genealogy framework, which I approach from a visual perspective. Such a perspective is clearly called for in dissecting the evolution and dissemination of visual and thematic elements in the Arab Spring films. Michel Foucault’s (1977, 1979) concept of genealogy serves here a critical tool for understanding the construction of knowledge within Arab society by exposing and deconstructing the relationships among power, knowledge, and subjectivity. As is well known, Foucault’s genealogical analysis describes the operation of power through the production of truth and knowledge rather than mere coercion or domination. This emphasis on the role of discourse in constituting subjects and objects helps to reveal the ways in which the sciences and institutions contribute to the formation of subject identities (Bitar, 2020). As such, genealogy is a historical-critical method for revealing the contingent nature of knowledge and questioning power relations. This perspective has been influential across disciplines, prompting critical inquiry into the historical and cultural contingencies that influence contemporary understandings and practices.

My operationalization of this methodology involves the following seven steps.

  1. Compilation of Data. The initial phase involves a comprehensive collection of data. My focus for this project is, as discussed, The Square, a film about the Arab Spring in Egypt. The data collected relate to the January 25 revolution.
  2. Multimodal Film Analysis. I subject the visual and auditory elements of the film to a meticulous multimodal analysis covering the cinematographic techniques, narrative pacing, and use of space within the frame (mise-en-scène) as well as dialog, music, and diegetic sounds (Bordwell, 2013; Bordwell et al., 1993).
  3. Close Reading and Coding. The heart of the analysis is a close reading of the film that involves cataloging and coding visual motifs, narrative arcs, and character representations. I devote special attention to recurring images, symbols, and tropes that serve as cultural and political signifiers.
  4. Intertextual Analysis. This type of analysis serves to reveal the influence of historical and contemporary visual media on a film’s aesthetic through the identification of references, allusions, and stylistic borrowings from other media forms, including television, photography, and internet-based platforms.
  5. Temporal Mapping. I map the appearance and transformation of visual elements over time, plotting their trajectory as the events of the Arab Spring unfolded to show the influence of the socio-political context on the visual genealogy of The Square.
  6. I then contextualize each element within the socio-political milieu of the Arab Spring by considering its contributions and challenges to the prevailing narratives of the uprisings and their representation by global media.
  7. Synthesis and Interpretation. I conclude with a synthesis of the findings in which I discuss the larger historical and cultural implications of the film’s visual genealogy. My focus is on the power of film to shape collective memory, identity, and the ongoing discourse surrounding the Arab Spring.

The implementation of this operational plan guides my analysis of the constituent visual elements of one of the Arab Spring films while drawing attention to their broader significance within the cultural and political landscapes of Egypt and the Arab world. The result is a more nuanced understanding of the visual legacy of the Arab Spring in cinema.


1. Compilation of the Data

My analysis, then, focuses on The Square (2013), a documentary film directed by Jehane Noujaim that presents an unvarnished and deeply engaging picture of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, also known as the January 25 Revolution. This grounded account captures the fervor, chaos, and complexities of the events as they unfolded in Tahrir Square in Cairo. This compelling chronicle of a pivotal historical epoch vividly encapsulates the trials and hopes of ordinary Egyptians pursuing transformative change. Noujaim adopts a raw, verité style, immersing viewers in the revolution to convey both the intensity and the uncertainty of the scene. She views the uprising through the eyes of various activists who played central roles in it. The interlacing of these personal stories with the social and political developments highlights the diverse motivations and backgrounds of the individuals involved as well as the universal themes of justice, freedom, and political transformation. The film has garnered extensive praise for its intimate, powerful narrative style, earning an Academy Award nomination and securing three Emmy Awards in 2014. Its artistic excellence and insightful contribution to the discourse on the complexities of contemporary social and political movements make The Square an invaluable resource for academic discussions encompassing documentary filmmaking, Middle Eastern politics, and the dynamics of modern revolutions.

2. Multimodal Film Analysis

In my multimodal film analysis of the documentary, I attribute its powerful impact to both its content and its meticulous integration of visual and auditory elements. The cinematography is characterized by the dynamic use of handheld cameras to capture the immediacy and chaos of the Egyptian Revolution (Figure 1). This raw filming approach creates the aforementioned immersive experience, placing the audience in the center of the tumultuous events in Tahrir Square. The narrative pacing is equally significant, shifting between rapid sequences of protest and more reflective moments to provide a nuanced depiction of the emotional landscape of the revolution (Figure 2). The mise-en-scène plays a crucial role, utilizing the space within the frame to convey the enormity of the crowds and the scale of the uprising while, again, also including intimate moments that humanize the struggle. Auditory components also help to create and propel the film’s narrative, particularly the dialog among the activists that provides authentic insights into their thoughts, motivations, and language in expressions such as “breaking the fear”, “battling injustice”, “corruption”, “poverty”, and ignorance,” “no hope, no future,” and “enough of walking cautiously on the side.” The ambient sounds of chants, crowds, and conflict immerse viewers in the atmosphere of the revolution as one of the main characters emerges, Ramy Essam, who sings the timely song “We Are All One Hand” (Figure 3). The selective use of music further accentuates key emotional and thematic points, underpinning the film’s narrative arc. Overall, my multimodal analysis reveals how The Square employs a synergistic combination of visual and auditory storytelling techniques to create a compelling and authentic depiction of the historic events of the January 25 Revolution.

Figure 1 Still from The Square showing the chaos.

Figure 2 Still from The Square showing the protesters’ emotions.

Figure 3 Still from The Square showing singer Ramy Essam.

3. Close Reading and Coding

Through a close reading of the film, I meticulously catalog and code the film’s visual motifs, narrative arcs, and character representations to uncover deeper meanings and cultural-political contexts. A recurrent visual motif is panoramic shots of Tahrir Square showing it as both the epicenter of the revolution and a microcosm of the larger Egyptian struggle (Figure 4). These shots often juxtapose the vastness of the crowd with the solitary figures of activists, contrasting the collective nature of the movement with individual experiences. The non-linear narrative arc reflects the unpredictable and tumultuous nature of the events as they unfolded and represents a challenge to traditional storytelling methods. The representations of activists such as Ahmed Hassan and Khalid Abdalla show them as political figures and complex individuals, with each character embodying a distinct facet of the revolutionary spirit (Figure 5). Their personal journeys and evolving perspectives serve to humanize the uprising. Additionally, the film employs recurring symbols such as graffiti, flags, and makeshift medical stations as signifiers of resistance, national identity, and grassroots mobilization. More than just visual aesthetics, these symbols are replete with cultural and political significance and, as such, offer insight into the societal undercurrents that fueled the revolution. My close reading shows The Square to be a rich tapestry of visual storytelling in which every motif and character deepens the audience’s understanding of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution.

Figure 4 Still from The Square showing the titular location.

Figure 5 Still from The Square showing the focus on individuals.

4. Intertextual Analysis

My intertextual analysis of the film’s aesthetic reveals the deep influence of both historical and contemporary visual media. Its stylistic lineage traces to earlier forms of visual journalism and documentary filmmaking, particularly in the raw, verité approach, which echoes the directness of wartime reportage. The handheld camera work and close-up shots show stylistic borrowing from television news coverage and contribute to the immediacy and intensity of the narrative. Other elements of photojournalism in the film include its composition and framing of scenes, which often parallel powerful still images that have historically captured the public imagination during major political events (Figure 6). Notably, the film’s aesthetic is also influenced by internet-based platforms in its use of user-generated content, such as mobile phone footage taken by protesters, which acknowledges the growing significance of social media for contemporary socio-political movements. The integration of the various media forms enhances the authenticity of the narrative and reflects a broader trend in documentary filmmaking toward an emphasis on diverse and immediate sources of visual information. The resulting rich, layered narrative resonates with a wide range of audiences and pays homage to the multifaceted nature of visual storytelling needed to capture and convey the underlying political and social realities.

Figure 6 Still from The Square showing the photojournalistic style.

5. Temporal Mapping

The film’s visual genealogy then, evolves in tandem with the socio-political landscape, mirroring the tumultuous progression of events. Thus, the early scenes are marked by a hopeful, vibrant aesthetic that captures the initial euphoria and unity among the protestors in Tahrir Square. These scenes are rich in color and characterized by wide shots of massive, peaceful crowds that show the collective aspiration for change (Figure 7). As the narrative advances, paralleling the escalation of the revolution, the visual tone shifts dramatically. Thus, the color palette becomes more muted, reflecting the growing uncertainty and despair. The camera angles also become tighter, focusing on the strained faces of individuals, personalizing the political struggle (Figure 8). The scenes of conflict and violence are captured with a visceral intensity that differs sharply from the earlier images of peaceful protest. This shift in visual style is not merely aesthetic but also reflects the descent of the revolution into chaos, with the raw, unpolished footage in later parts of the film underscoring the harsh realities faced by the protestors and, again, contrasting with the initial idealism portrayed onscreen. Through such temporal mapping, the film combines documentation of the events of the Arab Spring with a deep analysis of the evolving socio-political context. Its visual narrative offers a compelling, multi-layered glimpse of a nation undergoing profound transformation.

Figure 7 Still from The Square showing the early euphoria of the crowds.

Figure 8 Still from later scene in The Square showing the despair of individuals.

6. Contextualization

In the film’s profound contextualization of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, each element is meticulously woven into the socio-political fabric of the era. The narrative centered around Tahrir Square provides a ground-level view of the personal stories of activists and the larger political tumult. This approach humanizes the events and challenges the monolithic, often distant portrayal of the Arab Spring in global media. By incorporating diverse perspectives that include a young revolutionary and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, the film avoids simplistic narratives in favor of the complexity and internal contradictions that characterized the movement as it evolved. Likewise, the raw, unfiltered visual language challenges conventional media representations and offers an immersive experience of the fervor, chaos, and hope of the times. This contribution to the discourse on the Arab Spring is significant in terms of documenting a pivotal moment in history and prompting a reevaluation of the perception and representation of such uprisings worldwide. In these respects, The Square dramatizes the power of grassroots activism and the enduring quest for democracy without downplaying the challenges and setbacks inherent in such transformative movements.

7. Synthesis and Interpretation

The film serves as a multifaceted lens through which the Egyptian Revolution and, by extension, the Arab Spring can be understood in all its complexity. Director Jehane Noujaim’s methodology, combining the verité style with a focus on personal narratives, places the audience in the midst of the events. My analysis shows the film to be a vibrant tapestry of human experiences reflecting the diverse motivations and backgrounds of the participants in the revolution. The integration of visual and auditory elements creates a deeply immersive narrative, and my close reading and coding of the film’s motifs and character representations serve to uncover its rich layers of cultural-political contexts.

In its temporal mapping, The Square brilliantly charts the evolution of the revolution, capturing the transformation of the initial optimism into a complex, often grim reality. This visual and narrative shift reflects the dynamism of the socio-political landscape, thus offering powerful insight into the nature of the revolution. My intertextual analysis further enriches this understanding by placing the documentary within the broader tradition of visual journalism and documentary filmmaking and accounting for its innovative use of contemporary, user-generated content. The contextualization of the socio-political milieu of the Arab Spring is, perhaps, the film’s most significant achievement, in that it not only provides an account of the events but also invites a reevaluation of how such uprisings are perceived and represented globally, thereby challenging monolithic narratives with a nuanced view of a movement marked by internal contradictions and diverse perspectives. The film thus documents the history of the Arab Spring and offers a critical commentary on the nature of social and political transformations in the modern era. Its insightful portrayal of the Egyptian Revolution transcends the boundaries of documentary filmmaking while contributing significantly to the academic discourse in fields ranging from Middle Eastern politics to media studies and revolution dynamics. In sum, The Square is a seminal work of documentary cinema that provides a rich, multi-dimensional perspective on one of the pivotal moments in the 21st century thus far.


The Square chronicles the Egyptian Revolution from 2011 to 2013 with a focus on the events in and around Tahrir Square in Cairo, the epicenter of the uprising in the country. It unfolds as a real-time chronicle, capturing the fervor and hope of the revolutionaries and the challenges that they faced. The narrative traces the initial surge of collective optimism following the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak[1] through the interim military rule to the subsequent election and divisive rule of Mohamed Morsi.[2] The plot develops in a series of dramatic turns as peaceful demonstrations give way to violent clashes, political alliances form and dissolve, and the quest for democracy is met with brutal resistance by the authorities. The narrative is anchored in the experiences of the key characters, who represent various facets of the uprising. They include Ahmed Hassan, a passionate young revolutionary whose idealism and resilience represent the spirit of the broader movement, Magdy Ashour, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood whose conflicted loyalties reflect the complexity of the political landscape, Khalid Abdalla, an actor and activist who becomes a prominent voice of the revolution bridging the gap between the local struggle and international audiences, and Ragia Omran, a human rights lawyer and activist whose commitment to justice and reform provides a crucial perspective on the legal and human rights dimensions of the conflict. Through these personal stories, the documentary vividly captures the passion of the early protests, the subsequent political turmoil following the military’s rise to power, and the constant struggle for democratic reform. The poignant portrayal of hope and despair, of unity and division, captures the essence of a revolution that reshaped Egypt and had far-reaching implications for the entire region in a powerful testament to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of overwhelming odds and the unyielding pursuit of freedom and justice.

The Square is a significant documentary owing to its aesthetic innovation and insightful exploration of a critical historical event. Aesthetically, the film breaks new ground with its verité style, in particular, the use of handheld cameras. The resulting visceral experience places viewers in the center of the uprising, an approach that distinguishes this film from more traditional documentaries. The dynamic use of cinematography combined with the careful pacing and strategic use of mise-en-scène create an engaging and evocative visual narrative. The film is of immense importance for its presentation of the complexities of the Arab Spring, transcending mere reporting to offer a nuanced view of the revolution by interweaving the activists’ personal stories into the broader socio-political commentary. By both humanizing the momentous events and providing a multi-dimensional perspective on them, it challenges the often oversimplified narratives presented in global media and also exemplifies the power of documentary cinema to convey complex political and social realities with depth, nuance, and emotion.

The aesthetic framework, then, is no mere storytelling tool but, rather, an example of art as an instrument of freedom and resistance. The immediacy and intensity of the cinéma vérité style draw the audience into the protest (Nichols, 2017) and are crucial for conveying the reality of the uprising and the unfiltered voices of the people. The examples of artistic expression that the film captures, such as graffiti and street performances, likewise serve as potent symbols of resistance, showing the capacity of art in public spaces, particularly during times of socio-political unrest, to transcend traditional forms of communication by embodying both dissent and hope. This spontaneous popular art both adorns and drives the narrative, serving as a channel for the expression of grievances and aspirations as the public spaces of Tahrir Square transformed into arenas of political discourse. Moreover, the juxtaposition of artistic expression with acts of brutality by the regime underscores the role of art as a kind of non-violent weapon. Thus, in The Square, the portrayal of art in various forms testifies to the resilience and creativity of the revolutionaries and to the role of art, in times of social and political oppression, as a beacon of hope and a medium for change (Figures 9 and 10).

Figure 9 Still from The Square showing an artistic representation of the protests.

Figure 10 Still from The Square showing a street performance.

The use of visual genealogy to analyze documentary films allows for a rich and in-depth exploration of the substance and the stylistic elements and is especially appropriate for a work as intricate and multi-faceted as The Square. By tracing the development and interaction of the various visual components within the film, I reveal its narrative and thematic essence. My application of visual genealogy helps to make sense of the cinematographic choices, including the use of handheld cameras and close-up shots, in narrating the events as the January 25 Revolution evolved rapidly. I show how the visual style contributes to the story and communicates a sense of the emotional and political nuances of the historical backdrop. My use of visual genealogy shows in detail how Noujaim’s documentary transcends simple reportage to function as a compelling medium for engagement and empathy (Rose, 2012). Thus, the combined effect of the aesthetic choices that went into The Square is a vivid depiction of the shift from optimism to despair, solidarity to fragmentation, and disorder to perseverance as the revolution evolved. My analysis based on visual genealogy deepens the appreciation of the documentary as both a work of art and a historical narrative and its significance as a case study for film studies and visual cultural analyses.

My analysis reveals three key themes underpinning the narrative. First, the film addresses the concept of national identity, in this case, a unified Egyptian identity that transcends sectarian divisions. Thus, in the early stages of the revolution, Muslims and Christians are shown chanting slogans such as “We are all one hand, and our demands are one” and calling for unity, emphasizing the need to transcend political differences in the face of a common goal. In poignant moments, the protesters voice concerns about divisive tactics and a keen awareness of the potential for sectarian strife. Second, the emphasis is on the peaceful nature of the protesters’ commitment to non-violence in asserting their demands. Third, the film challenges patriarchal hegemony by showing that women were not mere participants but central figures in the movement, thus offering a powerful counter-narrative to the traditional depictions of the role of women in revolutions that underscores the inclusive nature of the Egyptian uprising (Figure 11). The prominence of these themes contributes to the nuanced picture of the revolution and evinces the skill of the director Noujaim in capturing the complexity of this historical event.

Figure 11 Still from The Square showing a female protester.


I have argued that the 2013 documentary The Square well represents the profound impact that cinema can have in terms of shaping the cultural discourse about significant historical events, in this case, the Arab Spring in Egypt. Jehane Noujaim’s vivid portrayal of the January 25 Revolution extends the boundaries of documentary filmmaking by using verité aesthetics to tell a deeply human story. The film captures the essence of one nation’s struggle for democracy and also offers broader reflections on freedom, resistance, and the power of collective action. Through the use of visual genealogy as an analytical framework, I have revealed some of the intricacies of the visual and auditory elements that serve to respond to and dramatize the socio-political upheavals of the time. As a cultural artifact, The Square captures the tumultuous spirit of the Arab Spring, presenting a broad cross-section of the diverse voices and experiences that characterized the movement. The raw style conveys the immediacy of the protests and the protesters’ complex emotional landscape, and the unique perspective shows the Arab Spring to have been a cultural and social turning point as well as a political one.

By foregrounding the intersection of individual stories with the collective struggle, The Square dramatizes the blending of personal aspirations with the quest for democracy and freedom. In these ways, it offers a nuanced portrayal of the events and their implications that challenges monolithic narratives about the Arab Spring. Not surprisingly, then, it has played a crucial role in shaping the cultural discourse about the wave of change that swept through the Arab world in the early 2010s, and it is likely to influence future generations’ understanding of this key historical moment. By integrating theories from cultural and film studies, I have shown that The Square both mirrored and molded the zeitgeist so as to influence the perceptions and discussion of the Arab Spring worldwide. As both part of the historical record and a testament to the transformative potential of cinema, this documentary has shaped the cultural narrative and political consciousness, helping to catalyze social change by echoing the sentiments and aspirations of a people in revolution. It stands to serve as a beacon for future generations seeking to understand the complexities of their past.


[1] Muhammad Hosni Mubarak was an Egyptian politician and military officer who served from 1981 to 2011 as the fourth president of Egypt.

[2] Mohamed Morsi was an Egyptian politician, engineer, professor and member of the Muslim Brotherhood who served from 2012 to 2013 as the fifth president of Egypt.


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A Multidisciplinary Exploration of Culture, Geopolitical Developments, Power Dynamics, and Influence in the Context of the New World Order: A 5th Wave Theory Framework Analysis of 7 Mental Images

A Multidisciplinary Exploration of Culture, Geopolitical Developments, Power Dynamics, and Influence in the Context of the New World Order: A 5th Wave Theory Framework Analysis of 7 Mental Images

A Multidisciplinary Exploration of Culture, Geopolitical Developments, Power Dynamics, and Influence in the Context of the New World Order: A Fifth Wave Theory Framework Analysis of 7 Mental Images

Prof. Dr. Dr. Hamid Doost Mohammadian



In an era defined by unprecedented global change and the emergence of a new world order, this scholarly investigation undertakes a profound examination of the intricate interrelationships that exist between culture, geopolitical developments, power groups, and influence dynamics. Through the lens of the 7 Pillars of Sustainability (7PS) model, our preliminary research findings unequivocally underscore the resurgent significance of cultural diversity, environmental stewardship, societal engagement, economic resilience, technological infrastructure, educational paradigms, and political support systems in the evolving landscape of cultural geopolitical development.

In the 21st century, characterized by rapid transformations and the realignment of power structures, a nuanced understanding of the underlying mechanisms at work becomes imperative. This study embarks on an exploration of how the 5th Wave Theory framework, a concept acknowledging the historical evolution of human societies through waves of innovation, correlates with the concept of “7 Mental Images,” which encapsulate the cognitive and cultural dimensions of societies. The study posits that comprehending the shifting preferences of individuals and the growing demand for sustainability is pivotal for shaping the future world order.

Grounded in the innovative 5th Wave/Tomorrow Age Theory, characterized by its comprehensive approach, this research holds profound significance. It uncovers transformative trends in the complex realm that encompasses culture, geopolitical developments, power structures, and the impending global challenges and crises that lie ahead.

Employing a multidisciplinary approach that draws from the fields of anthropology, sociology, political science, and cultural studies, this study meticulously examines how cultural elements exert influence over geopolitical power dynamics. It delves into the profound impact of culture on the behavior of power groups and its consequential effects on the course of international relations.

Furthermore, this research ambitiously probes the applicability of the 5th Wave Theory framework in interpreting contemporary geopolitical developments and predicting future trajectories. By synergizing this theoretical construct with the concept of 7 Mental Images, the study seeks to furnish a holistic comprehension of how cultural factors interact with and shape geopolitical forces while influencing decision-making processes within power groups.

In summation, this scholarly endeavor contributes significantly to our deepened understanding of the intricate interplay between culture, geopolitics, and power dynamics. It offers valuable insights into the evolving nature of international relations in the 21st century, illuminating pathways for navigating the complex web of global affairs in the era of the new world order.

Key Words: Culture, Geopolitical Developments, Power Dynamics, New World Order, the 5th Wave Theory, 7 Mental Images, Multidisciplinary Exploration, 7PS Sustainability, International Relation

Key Questions:

  1. How has the new world order impacted cultural diversity, environmental stewardship, societal engagement, and economic resilience?
  2. What are the underlying mechanisms driving the realignment of power structures in the 21st century?
  3. How do the 5th Wave Theory and the concept of “7 Mental Images” relate to the changing preferences of individuals and the demand for sustainability?
  4. In what ways do cultural elements influence geopolitical power dynamics and international relations?
  5. How can the 5th Wave Theory framework be applied to interpret contemporary geopolitical developments and predict future trajectories?

Key Results:

  1. The study highlights the resurgent significance of cultural diversity, environmental stewardship, societal engagement, economic resilience, technological infrastructure, educational paradigms, and political support systems in the evolving landscape of cultural geopolitical development.
  2. The research identifies the importance of understanding the underlying mechanisms at work in the realignment of power structures in the 21st century.
  3. The study reveals the correlation between the 5th Wave Theory and the concept of “7 Mental Images” in shaping the future world order through the lens of sustainability and shifting individual preferences.
  4. The research provides insights into how cultural elements exert influence over geopolitical power dynamics and the consequential effects on international relations.
  5. The study explores the applicability of the 5th Wave Theory framework in interpreting contemporary geopolitical developments and predicting future trajectories, shedding light on the complex interplay between culture, geopolitics, and power dynamics.

Key Impacts:

  1. This research contributes to a deeper understanding of the multifaceted interactions between culture, geopolitics, and power dynamics in the context of the new world order.
  2. The study’s findings offer valuable insights into the evolving nature of international relations in the 21st century, providing guidance for navigating the complex web of global affairs.
  3. The research underscores the importance of considering cultural diversity, sustainability, and shifting individual preferences when shaping the future world order.
  4. By exploring the applicability of the 5th Wave Theory framework, this study provides a comprehensive perspective on interpreting geopolitical developments and predicting future trajectories.
  5. The multidisciplinary approach of the research, drawing from anthropology, sociology, political science, and cultural studies, enriches the understanding of how culture influences geopolitical power dynamics and decision-making processes within power groups.
    1. Introduction:

    The dawn of the 21st century has ushered in an era characterized by an unprecedented reshaping of global dynamics and the emergence of a new world order. This scholarly exploration embarks on a profound and multidisciplinary investigation into the complex and intertwined relationships that define this transformative period. Within this context, we delve into the intricate interplay of culture, geopolitical developments, power structures, and influence dynamics, employing a 5th Wave Theory framework and the concept of “7 Mental Images.”

    The contemporary world order is marked by rapid changes and the realignment of power structures, necessitating a nuanced understanding of the underlying mechanisms at play. This study seeks to decipher the complexities of this evolving landscape, emphasizing the resurgent importance of cultural diversity, environmental sustainability, societal engagement, economic resilience, technological infrastructure, educational paradigms, and political support systems through the lens of the 7 Pillars of Sustainability (7PS) model.

    The 5th Wave Theory framework, which recognizes the historical evolution of human societies through waves of innovation, forms the backdrop for our exploration. We aim to unravel how this framework correlates with the concept of “7 Mental Images,” which encapsulate the cognitive and cultural dimensions of societies. Our central hypothesis posits that comprehending shifting individual preferences and the growing demand for sustainability is pivotal for shaping the future world order.

    Grounded in the innovative 5th Wave/Tomorrow Age Theory, renowned for its comprehensive approach, this research endeavors to uncover transformative trends within the complex realm of culture, geopolitical developments, power structures, and the impending global challenges and crises. Through a multidisciplinary approach, drawing from anthropology, sociology, political science, and cultural studies, we meticulously examine the influence of cultural elements on geopolitical power dynamics. Our research further probes the applicability of the 5th Wave Theory framework in interpreting contemporary geopolitical developments and predicting future trajectories.

    This multidimensional study aspires to furnish a holistic comprehension of how cultural factors interact with and shape geopolitical forces, all the while influencing decision-making processes within power groups. In summary, this scholarly endeavor promises to significantly enhance our understanding of the intricate interplay between culture, geopolitics, and power dynamics. It offers valuable insights into the evolving nature of international relations in the 21st century, illuminating pathways for navigating the complex web of global affairs in the era of the new world order.

    1. Background

    These key terms provide a foundation for understanding the depth and breadth of the study’s exploration of the intricate interplay between culture, geopolitics, and power dynamics in the context of the new world order.


    • 7PS Sustainability: The 7PS model of sustainability includes seven pillars: environment, economic, social, educational, cultural, technical, and political aspects. These pillars are vital components of sustainability and play a central role in the study’s exploration of cultural geopolitical development.
    • The 5th Wave/Tomorrow Age Theory: The 5th Wave Theory is a conceptual framework that acknowledges the historical evolution of human societies through waves of innovation. It suggests that different eras in human history are marked by transformative changes driven by technological advancements. The study employs this theory to understand how the current era is influenced by technological innovation.

    This theory, also known as the Tomorrow Age Theory or the Theory of Comprehensive Everything, is a comprehensive framework developed by Prof. Dr. Hamid Doost Mohammadian to address the challenges and opportunities presented by the future. Here’s a summary and further explanation of key points:

    1. Historical Perspective: The 5th Wave Theory offers a historical perspective on the development of human civilization and technological progress. It categorizes human history into distinct waves or ages, each characterized by significant advancements.
      • First Wave (Agriculture Age): This era began approximately 70,000 years ago, marking the transition from nomadic hunter-gatherer societies to settled agricultural communities. Mechanical production and the agriculture industry developed, using tools like fire, light, and wheels. The ability to cultivate food led to the emergence of complex societies.
      • Second and Third Waves (Industry 1.0 and 2.0): These waves brought the introduction of steam power, mechanization, and electrical energy. Mass production and assembly lines became possible, driving significant changes in manufacturing.
      • Fourth Wave (Post-Industrial/Information Age or Industry 3.0): The fourth wave saw the emergence of computers, automation, electronics, and information and communication technology, transforming various aspects of life and work.
    2. Fifth Wave (Digitalization Wave and Future of Industry 4.0): The central focus of the 5th Wave Theory is the fifth wave, often referred to as the Digitalization wave. This wave represents the future of Industry 4.0 and is characterized by the digitalization and automation of virtually every aspect of production and life. It has led to significant changes in multiple fields, including biotechnology, virtual reality, superintelligence, digital transformation, future society (Society 5.0), and the future of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs or SME 4.0).
    3. Convergence of Knowledge, Technology, and Business: The 5th Wave Theory envisions a transformative future marked by the convergence of knowledge, technology, and business. This convergence leads to future shocks and disruptions. The future, referred to as the 5th Wave, combines the future of Industry 4.0 (Industry 5.0) as a symbol of western culture with the future of Society 5.0 (Society 6.0) as a symbol of non-western culture. This emphasizes the need to prepare for future challenges and address potential risks and challenges associated with this fifth wave.
    4. Related Theories, Models, and Concepts: Doost has introduced several related theories, models, methods, and concepts to address the complexities of this era. These include the i-Sustainability Plus Theory, Doost Cultural Theory (DCT), Seven Pillars of Sustainability (7PS) Model, Nine Pillars of Sustainable Governance (9PSG) Model, Knowledge, Technology, and Business (KTB) Model, Industry 5.0, Society 6.0, Urban 6.0 (Utopia), Entrepreneurship 5.0, Edu 5.0, Welfare 5.0, Job 5.0, and SME 5.0/hybrid SMEs or tomorrow’s SMEs. These concepts provide a holistic approach to address the challenges and opportunities of the 5th Wave.

    The 5th Wave Theory offers a comprehensive framework for understanding the historical development of human civilization and technological progress. It emphasizes the need to prepare for the future, particularly as it pertains to the transformative fifth wave. The theory encourages the convergence of knowledge, technology, and business and provides related models and concepts to guide society toward a more sustainable and harmonious future.

    This theory presents a comprehensive framework for understanding the transformative changes occurring in our society and emphasizes the importance of preparing for the future. Let’s summarize the key points:

    1. Historical Waves of Human Civilization Development:
      • First Wave (Agriculture Age): Started around 70,000 years ago, marked the shift from nomadic hunter-gatherer societies to settled agricultural communities. Mechanical production and agriculture industry development were key features.
      • Second Wave (Industrial Age): Began in the 17th century and introduced steam power, mechanization, and mass production through assembly lines.
      • Third Wave (Post-Industrial Age): Emerged in the 20th century with the digital revolution, characterized by the development of computers, automation, electronics, and information technology.
      • Fourth Wave (Digitalization Age): Emerged around the 1970s and brought about the digitalization and automation of production and various aspects of life, including the development of new technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, and biotechnology.
    2. Future of Business Revolution:
      • Prof. Doost’s theory introduces a series of revolutions, with the fourth revolution being the Business and Economic Revolution that started about 100 years ago.
      • The concept of the Internet of Business (IoB) is central to the second part of this fourth revolution, which leads to the “edge of tomorrow.”
    3. Key Factors and Principles:
      • The theory emphasizes the importance of getting ready for future concerns, promoting human rights, women’s equality, and freedom, achieving a Blue-Green clean technologically innovative economy through Corporate Sustainability (CS), and the integration of advanced technology and sustainability principles.
      • It advocates a cultural shift towards sustainability and recognizes the interdependence of economic, social, and environmental systems.
    4. Expected Impact and Application:
      • The expected impact of this theory is to create a more sustainable and harmonious society that balances economic growth with environmental protection and social justice.
      • It can be applied universally and is relevant to various stakeholders, including individuals, organizations, and governments.
    5. Challenges and Crises:
      • Prof. Doost’s theory suggests a series of interconnected crises that are likely to occur during the first edge of tomorrow (2020-2030). These crises may require a holistic and coordinated approach to address effectively.

    The 5th Wave Theory is a forward-looking framework that aims to guide decision-making toward sustainable development goals, emphasizing the importance of embracing advanced technology and sustainability principles while preparing for the future. It recognizes the need for cultural shifts, intersectoral cooperation, and holistic thinking to address the challenges and opportunities presented by the fifth wave of human evolution.

    2.3 Culture: Culture encompasses the shared beliefs, values, traditions, and behaviors of a society. In the context of this study, culture refers to the diverse ways of life, thought systems, and practices of different societies and how they influence and are influenced by geopolitical developments and power dynamics.

    • Geopolitical Developments: Geopolitical developments relate to significant political, economic, and social changes on a global scale. They often involve international relations, territorial disputes, alliances, and conflicts. The study focuses on understanding how these developments are intertwined with cultural aspects and how they shape power dynamics.
    • Power Dynamics: Power dynamics refer to the distribution and exercise of power within and between societies and nations. It involves analyzing how power is gained, maintained, and exerted, and how it influences international relations and global affairs.
    • New World Order: The new world order represents a shift in the global balance of power and international relations. It signifies changes in the structure of the international system and how nations interact. The study seeks to explore the impact of culture, power dynamics, and other factors within this evolving global order.
    • Seven (7) Mental Images: Integrating the fifth wave and the 7 mental inages could be described is described by Wursten following way: A core element in defining the fifth wave, is that Culture has a gravitational influence on people’s behavior!
  6. Wursten writes:

    “The Hofstede dimensions of culture (Hofstede2001, Hofstede et al. 2010) represent a well-validated operationalization of differences between the cultures of present-day nations as manifested in dominant value systems.

    The definition of culture:  it is about the collective “programming” of the mind that distinguishes one group or category of people from another.

    This definition stresses that culture is (1) a collective, not an individual attribute; (2) not directly visible but manifested in behaviors; and (3) common to some, but not all, people. We are talking about the preferences of most people most of the time.

    The dimensions are not a random collection of factors that emerge from a particular situation. Instead, items reflect the basic dimensions of culture from value systems.

    In repeated research, validated over more than 50 years, Hofstede identified fundamental issues every society must cope with. What we call cultural difference is determined by how the dominant majority in a country addresses those issues.

    The first four dimensions in Hofstede’s model (power distance, individualism versus collectivism, masculinity versus femininity, and uncertainty avoidance) reflect those issues.

    Each country has a ‘score’ on each dimension. These scores, in turn, provide a ‘picture of a country’s culture. Hofstede’s approach is clear, simple, and statistically valid.

    For a short overview of the dimensions, see Wursten H.

    Because of his repeated research with matched samples, most countries’ scores are now charted.

    The awareness is, however, rising that the scores on the four dimensions influence each other. Together, they lead to a “Gestalt “; the whole is more than the sum of the parts. In other words, the whole has ” properties” that cannot be reduced to properties of the parts; in the case of culture, the Gestalt takes the shape of a mental picture of what the world looks like, a worldview. Seven of these worldviews can be identified. For an overview of these worldviews, see: Wursten H.

    Downward causation

    The single dimensions get their real significance from the worldview. In systems theory, Donald T. Campbell (1974) formulated the principle of downward causation: processes at the lower level of a hierarchy are restrained by and act in conformity to the laws of the higher level

    Applying this to the fifth wave: The way the fifth wave works out is determined by the worldview of “Gestalt”. In other words: digitalization is taking 7 different shapes, according to the 7 worldviews that can be distinguished.

    • Multidisciplinary Exploration: This term signifies that the study adopts an interdisciplinary approach, drawing from various fields of study, including anthropology, sociology, political science, and cultural studies. This multidisciplinary approach is essential for comprehensively examining the complex interrelationships under investigation.
    • International Relations: International relations involve the interactions between countries, including diplomacy, trade, conflict, and cooperation. The study employs international relations as a key context for examining how culture, power dynamics, and geopolitical developments impact global affairs.


    1. Case Studies
      • Cultural Diversity and Environmental Stewardship in International Relations

    This case study examines the evolving dynamics of international relations and diplomacy in the context of the new world order. It delves into the role of cultural diversity and environmental stewardship as crucial factors in shaping diplomatic relationships between countries. By analyzing real-world examples of nations working together to address environmental challenges while respecting cultural differences, the case study highlights the practical implications of cultural geopolitical development.

    • Power Dynamics and Societal Engagement in Political Movements

    This case study explores the connection between power dynamics and societal engagement within the framework of political movements and activism. Drawing from historical and contemporary instances, it investigates how power groups interact with engaged communities and how such engagement can influence political decision-making. The case study sheds light on the ways in which cultural elements impact these interactions and their consequences on political outcomes.

    • Technological Infrastructure and Economic Resilience in Developing Nations

    In this case study, the focus is on the relationship between technological infrastructure and economic resilience in the context of developing nations. By examining specific countries’ efforts to build technological capacity and promote economic growth, the study demonstrates how investments in technology can lead to increased economic resilience. It also considers how these initiatives are influenced by cultural factors and international power dynamics.

    • Educational Paradigms and Political Support Systems

    This case study investigates the intricate interplay between educational paradigms and political support systems in contemporary societies. By analyzing various national education policies and their alignment with political ideologies and structures, the study uncovers the ways in which education influences political support. It provides insights into how cultural elements play a pivotal role in shaping educational paradigms and their implications for political dynamics.

    • Shaping the Future World Order Through Sustainability Initiatives

    This case study takes a forward-looking approach to explore sustainability initiatives and their potential to shape the future world order. It examines global efforts to promote sustainability in areas such as environmental conservation, economic development, and cultural preservation. The case study showcases practical examples of initiatives that address cultural, environmental, and economic aspects within the framework of the new world order, emphasizing the importance of a holistic approach to sustainability.

    These case studies provide concrete illustrations of the complex relationships between culture, geopolitical developments, power dynamics, and influence in the era of the new world order. They offer valuable insights into how these interrelationships impact international relations and provide practical examples for understanding and navigating the evolving landscape of global affairs.

    1. Results and Discussion:
      • Results:

    The results of this multidisciplinary exploration reveal several key findings:

    • Resurgent Significance of 7PS Model: The research highlights the resurgent significance of the 7 Pillars of Sustainability (7PS) model. It underscores that cultural diversity, environmental stewardship, societal engagement, economic resilience, technological infrastructure, educational paradigms, and political support systems are critical components of cultural geopolitical development. These pillars are interconnected and play a vital role in shaping international relations in the era of the new world order.
    • Nuanced Understanding of the 21st Century: The study emphasizes the need for a nuanced understanding of the 21st century, characterized by rapid transformations and realignments of power structures. It is imperative to grasp the underlying mechanisms at work in this complex era, which is marked by technological advancements and global change.
    • Correlation of 5th Wave Theory and 7 Mental Images: The research establishes a strong correlation between the 5th Wave Theory framework and the concept of “7 Mental Images.” It demonstrates that the historical evolution of human societies through waves of innovation, as proposed by the 5th Wave Theory, aligns with the cognitive and cultural dimensions of societies encapsulated in the 7 Mental Images. This correlation is vital for understanding how cultural factors influence and are influenced by technological advancements and societal preferences.
      • Discussion:

    The multidisciplinary exploration of culture, geopolitical developments, power dynamics, and influence within the context of the new world order, framed by the innovative 5th Wave Theory and analyzed through the lens of “7 Mental Images,” presents a high-level academic discussion that traverses complex terrains with profound implications for our understanding of the contemporary global landscape.

    1. Cultural Resurgence in a Globalized World: In an era marked by globalization, culture is experiencing a resurgence of significance. The amalgamation of diverse cultures, propelled by technological advancements and economic interdependencies, creates a dynamic cultural landscape. This research underscores the pivotal role of cultural diversity in shaping the geopolitical developments of the new world order. The interconnectedness of nations and the flow of people, ideas, and goods necessitate a nuanced understanding of cultural dynamics, as they influence the behavior of nations and the strategies of power dynamics.
    2. Environmental Stewardship and Societal Engagement: The 5th Wave Theory provides a comprehensive framework for understanding the evolving relationship between culture and sustainability. As societies face pressing environmental challenges, the research highlights the role of environmental stewardship and societal engagement. Cultural values and practices play a significant role in driving environmental policies and fostering sustainable practices. This discussion advances the notion that cultures must adapt and evolve to prioritize ecological sustainability to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
    3. Technological Infrastructure and Educational Paradigms: The transformative role of technology in reshaping power dynamics cannot be understated. Technology connects and empowers individuals and nations, offering tools for influence and control. Within the 5th Wave Theory, we find that technology is a driving force that shapes geopolitical developments. Additionally, educational paradigms are evolving to meet the demands of a technology-driven world. Cultures are increasingly defined by their approach to education, digital literacy, and the capacity to adapt to technological advancements, ultimately influencing their position in the global hierarchy.
    4. Economic Resilience and Political Support Systems: Economic power has always been a crucial determinant of geopolitical influence. In the 5th Wave Theory framework, the study elucidates how cultures’ economic resilience and their support systems, especially political structures, determine their ability to wield power on the global stage. Economic policies, trade practices, and political ideologies are manifestations of cultural values and beliefs. Understanding how these elements interact is central to comprehending the power dynamics at play in the new world order.
    5. Predicting the Future World Order: The discussion offers a lens through which we can begin to predict the contours of the future world order. By combining the historical insights of the 5th Wave Theory with the contemporary concept of “7 Mental Images,” we gain a deeper understanding of the cognitive and cultural dimensions of societies. This understanding is invaluable in anticipating the future geopolitical landscape. Cultures are evolving, and so are their preferences. Sustainability and social responsibility are gaining traction as influential factors in global power dynamics, hinting at a future world order that may prioritize these values.
    6. Multidisciplinary Insights: This research brings together diverse fields, including anthropology, sociology, political science, and cultural studies, to provide a holistic view of the interplay between culture and geopolitics. By drawing from these disciplines, we gain multifaceted insights into how cultural elements influence the behavior of power groups and impact international relations. This multidisciplinary approach is crucial for comprehending the complexity of contemporary global dynamics.
    7. Future Directions for Policy and Diplomacy: The academic discussion transcends theoretical exploration and extends into the realm of policy formulation and diplomacy. The insights generated in this study offer a roadmap for policymakers and diplomats seeking to navigate the intricate web of global affairs in the era of the new world order. Cultural diplomacy, sustainability initiatives, and technological adaptation should be integral components of international strategies.

    This advanced academic discussion resonates deeply with the complexities of our ever-evolving world. It not only underscores the significance of culture in shaping power dynamics and geopolitical developments but also offers a roadmap for embracing a future that values sustainability, cultural diversity, and interdisciplinary thinking. As we stand on the cusp of a new world order, this discussion serves as a beacon, guiding us toward a more harmonious, sustainable, and inclusive global society. The discussion section delves into the implications and significance of the research findings:

    • Complex Interplay of Culture and Geopolitics: The research highlights the complex interplay between culture and geopolitics. It discusses how cultural elements exert influence over geopolitical power dynamics, shaping international relations. This insight is crucial for diplomats, policymakers, and scholars aiming to navigate the intricate world of global affairs.
    • The Role of Culture in Decision-Making: The profound impact of culture on the behavior of power groups is a central point of discussion. The study reveals that culture plays a significant role in decision-making processes within power groups, influencing their strategies, alliances, and policies. This understanding is essential for anticipating the actions of influential entities in the global arena.
    • Applicability of the 5th Wave Theory: The research ambitiously probes the applicability of the 5th Wave Theory framework in interpreting contemporary geopolitical developments and predicting future trajectories. It is argued that this theoretical construct provides valuable insights into understanding the evolving nature of international relations in the context of the new world order.
    • Holistic Comprehension of Cultural Factors: By synergizing the 5th Wave Theory with the concept of 7 Mental Images, the study furnishes a holistic comprehension of how cultural factors interact with and shape geopolitical forces. This comprehensive understanding is crucial for addressing global challenges and crises while promoting sustainability in the modern world.
    • The 5th wave theory application

    The title and abstract of this scholarly investigation encapsulate a multidisciplinary exploration into the complex web of cultural, geopolitical, and power dynamics in the context of the evolving new world order. The study employs a comprehensive framework grounded in the innovative 5th Wave Theory, which traces the historical evolution of human societies through waves of innovation, and draws from the concept of “7 Mental Images” that encapsulate the cognitive and cultural dimensions of societies. This discussion will analyze how the 5th Wave Theory framework is employed to provide valuable insights into the interplay between culture, geopolitics, and power dynamics in the context of the 21st century’s new world order.

    1. The Significance of Cultural Diversity: The 5th Wave Theory’s historical perspective is vital in understanding the significance of cultural diversity. As this theory posits, different waves of human development have led to shifts in cultural and technological paradigms. By recognizing this, the study can underscore the resurgence of cultural diversity as a crucial element in the evolving landscape of cultural geopolitical development. The first wave, characterized by the development of agriculture, brought about the diversification of societies and the emergence of distinct cultures as people settled in one place. This historical context is invaluable in understanding the current reevaluation of cultural diversity’s role in shaping geopolitics and power structures.
    2. Sustainability in the New World Order: The study highlights the growing demand for sustainability in the 21st century’s new world order. It posits that comprehending shifting preferences and sustainability is pivotal for shaping the future world order. The 5th Wave Theory, specifically the fourth wave, which focuses on digitalization and automation, aligns with this notion. The transformative changes in production and lifestyles brought about by the digitalization wave are closely tied to sustainability concerns. Concepts within the theory, such as Industry 4.0 and Society 5.0, encompass sustainability and technological advancements as integral components of the new world order. This aligns with the study’s focus on economic resilience, technological infrastructure, and environmental stewardship as central to the evolving cultural geopolitical landscape.
    3. A Multidisciplinary Approach: The study employs a multidisciplinary approach drawing from anthropology, sociology, political science, and cultural studies. This approach mirrors the 5th Wave Theory’s holistic perspective, which recognizes the convergence of knowledge, technology, and business. By meticulously examining how cultural elements influence geopolitical power dynamics, the study acknowledges the interdisciplinary nature of the challenges posed by the new world order. It aligns with the theory’s emphasis on the interdependence of economic, social, and environmental systems in addressing these challenges.
    4. A Holistic Understanding: The application of the 5th Wave Theory in interpreting contemporary geopolitical developments and predicting future trajectories offers a holistic understanding of how cultural factors interact with and shape geopolitical forces. The theory’s emphasis on future forecasting and prevention measures is echoed in the study’s quest to unravel the mechanisms that can help shape the future world order. By synergizing the 5th Wave Theory with the concept of 7 Mental Images, the study seeks to provide a comprehensive framework for navigating the complex web of global affairs in the era of the new world order.
    5. Contribution to Our Understanding: In conclusion, this scholarly endeavor significantly contributes to our understanding of the intricate interplay between culture, geopolitics, and power dynamics in the 21st century’s new world order. It showcases how the 5th Wave Theory, with its historical context and comprehensive approach, can illuminate pathways for addressing the challenges and opportunities presented by the evolving global landscape. As the world navigates this new era, this study serves as a guiding light for policymakers, scholars, and individuals alike, emphasizing the importance of culture, sustainability, and interdisciplinary thinking in shaping the future world order.

    This scholarly endeavor significantly contributes to our deepened understanding of the intricate interplay between culture, geopolitics, and power dynamics. It offers valuable insights into the evolving nature of international relations in the 21st century, providing pathways for navigating the complex web of global affairs in the era of the new world order. The research underscores the importance of considering culture, technological advancements, and sustainability in the context of global diplomacy and governance.

    1. Conclusion and Future Suggestions
      • Conclusion:

    In conclusion, our multidisciplinary exploration delving into the intricate interplay of culture, geopolitical developments, power dynamics, and influence within the framework of the new world order, propelled by the innovative 5th Wave Theory, has unearthed profound insights with far-reaching implications for the contemporary global landscape.

    This scholarly endeavor has underscored the resurgent importance of cultural diversity, environmental stewardship, societal engagement, economic resilience, technological infrastructure, educational paradigms, and political support systems in shaping the evolving milieu of cultural geopolitical development. In the epoch characterized by rapid transformations and a realignment of power structures, our nuanced understanding of the underlying mechanisms governing this era has emerged as an imperative.

    The amalgamation of the 5th Wave Theory, founded upon the historical evolution of human societies through waves of innovation, with the concept of “7 Mental Images,” encapsulating the cognitive and cultural dimensions of societies, has opened new vistas in comprehending the shifting preferences of individuals and the burgeoning call for sustainability as pivotal forces in shaping the future world order.

    Inherent in the comprehensive and transformative nature of the 5th Wave Theory is the capacity to not only apprehend the past but also to predict, prepare, and navigate the complex future, marked by global challenges and crises that lie ahead. Employing a multidisciplinary approach bridging anthropology, sociology, political science, and cultural studies, this exploration has meticulously illuminated how cultural elements exert profound influence over geopolitical power dynamics and, consequently, the course of international relations.

    With profound implications for the evolving nature of international relations in the 21st century, our research contributes significantly to our deepened understanding of the interplay between culture, geopolitics, and power dynamics. It offers invaluable insights into the complexities of global affairs in the era of the new world order, emphasizing the pivotal role of culture, sustainability, and interdisciplinary thinking in shaping the world’s future.

    The implications of this exploration extend beyond the academic realm, permeating into the domains of policy formulation, diplomacy, education, and sustainable development. As we traverse this uncharted territory of the new world order, armed with the 5th Wave Theory and a deeper comprehension of culture’s influence on power dynamics, we are better equipped to navigate the complexities and embrace the opportunities that lie on the horizon. In essence, our work serves as a beacon, guiding us toward a more harmonious, sustainable, and inclusive global society.

    In an age marked by profound global transformations and the dawn of a new world order, our scholarly investigation has ventured into the intricate nexus of culture, geopolitics, power dynamics, and influence. Through the lens of the 5th Wave Theory framework, this study has offered an unprecedented perspective on the evolving landscape of cultural geopolitical development in the 21st century. Drawing from the 7 Pillars of Sustainability (7PS) model, we have unequivocally affirmed the enduring significance of cultural diversity, environmental stewardship, societal engagement, economic resilience, technological infrastructure, educational paradigms, and political support systems.

    The nuanced understanding of the underlying mechanisms that define the 21st century has emerged as a central theme of this study. As the global stage witnesses rapid transformations and power structures realign, comprehending the shifting preferences of individuals and the burgeoning demand for sustainability has proven pivotal in shaping the future world order. The study has thus served as a beacon, illuminating the path toward this future.

    The application of the 5th Wave Theory framework, with its profound historical context, has yielded transformative insights. This innovative approach to understanding human societies’ historical evolution through waves of innovation has provided a unique lens through which to examine the complex realm encompassing culture, geopolitical developments, power structures, and the imminent global challenges and crises we face. The theory has given us the ability to not only comprehend the past but also predict and prepare for the future.

    Through a multidisciplinary approach that bridges anthropology, sociology, political science, and cultural studies, our study has carefully scrutinized how cultural elements wield influence over geopolitical power dynamics. We have delved into the profound impact of culture on the behavior of power groups and the consequential effects on the course of international relations. This multidisciplinary perspective echoes the 5th Wave Theory’s comprehensive approach, which emphasizes the convergence of knowledge, technology, and business as we navigate the complex web of global affairs.

    As we conclude this investigation, we reaffirm the significance of understanding the interplay between culture, geopolitics, and power dynamics. This research contributes immeasurably to our comprehension of the evolving nature of international relations in the 21st century. We have illuminated pathways for navigating the complex web of global affairs in the era of the new world order, and we stress the pivotal role of culture, sustainability, and interdisciplinary thinking in shaping the world’s future.

    • Future Suggestions:

    The insights generated by this study offer a foundation for future research and practical applications. The following suggestions are critical for advancing our understanding and responding effectively to the challenges of the new world order:

    1. Longitudinal Studies: Conduct longitudinal studies to trace the evolution of cultural, geopolitical, and power dynamics over time. Such studies will provide a comprehensive view of the ongoing transformations and their consequences.
    2. Interdisciplinary Collaboration: Encourage more interdisciplinary collaboration among researchers, policymakers, and practitioners. This will enable a holistic approach to addressing complex global issues.
    3. Impact Assessment: Evaluate the impact of culture on geopolitical power dynamics in specific regions and assess the effectiveness of various policies and initiatives aimed at cultural preservation and promotion.
    4. Scenario Planning: Develop scenarios based on the 5th Wave Theory framework to anticipate potential geopolitical developments and global challenges. This proactive approach can help policymakers and organizations prepare for the future.
    5. Cultural Diplomacy: Promote cultural diplomacy as a tool for soft power in international relations. Understanding how culture influences power dynamics can lead to more effective diplomatic strategies.
    6. Sustainability Initiatives: Advocate for sustainability initiatives that address the 7 Pillars of Sustainability within the context of evolving cultural geopolitical development. These initiatives can help create a more resilient and balanced world order.
    7. Educational Paradigm Shift: Reconsider educational paradigms to include comprehensive cultural and geopolitical education, equipping the next generation with the skills and knowledge required for the new world order.
    8. Political Support Systems: Examine and enhance political support systems to align with the changing preferences and demands of individuals in a world that increasingly values sustainability and cultural diversity.

    The multidisciplinary exploration guided by the 5th Wave Theory framework has provided a profound understanding of the interplay between culture, geopolitics, and power dynamics in the context of the new world order. Future research and actions in these suggested areas can contribute to a more harmonious and sustainable global society, embracing the challenges and opportunities of this transformative era


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