Country culture. Are majority groups and minority groups very different

by | Mar 23, 2023 | 0 comments

Country culture. Are majority groups and minority groups very different?

Huib Wursten. Author and consultant

Sometimes it is taken for granted that minority cultures have different value preferences. It is certainly true at the level of the outside layers of culture:  Symbols, Heroes, and rituals. See below


Working in international organizations, three questions are almost always raised:

  • I recognize what you are saying about my country. But the people in the North of my country are different from those in the South. The people in the West are different from the people in the East.
  • This is a static description of what is going on in the world. In reality, we see rapid change everywhere.
  • This is putting people in boxes. All people are different. This is stereotyping.


How to cope with these important questions? Below are some answers.

  • Country culture and regional differences


Comparisons are always dangerous. But the best way is to compare the dominant culture with the grammar of a language system. In every language, there is a shared grammar system. The proper use of the grammar system is taught in schools, and tests and exams ensure that the grammar system survives the next generation. But in all countries, one can find differences in style and dialects. Nobody will deny that the basic grammar systems of English, Chinese, Russian and Sanskrit are different. Still, people sharing one basic grammar system can be different in style and dialect. Take the Scottish and the English. They share the same basic grammar system. Still, the Scottish are so different in style and dialect that even the English have a problem understanding what they say.

This is the way to understand most of the regional differences in culture. In almost all countries, people share a homogeneous (majority) culture. But styles and other elements of the superficial layers of culture can be different.

Cultural descriptions reflect the basic grammar of the dominant culture. In every country, one can find minorities with different outlooks. These minorities, however, tend to behave according to the majority’s preferences. This is because of a practical reason. The dominant culture sets the criteria for assessing success or failure. If minorities want to succeed, they learn quickly to take the requirements of the dominant culture into account.

People born and living in a certain culture see their culture as self-evident and normal. Deviation from the standard attracts attention and can be experienced as an emotional breach in expected behavior. For the people concerned, it can be seen as an argument that “culture is changing”. However, defining their behavior as the norm would be a mistake. They stand out just because they do not behave according to the norm.


Some empirical evidence

The limited empirical evidence available shows that on the basic value level, this is

questionable. The same is sometimes expected comparing generations.

Below are two graphics from the research done by Marieke de Mooij & Jake Beniflah (2016):

They used the Hofstede dimensions as starting point to see if the assumptions about minorities

and generations in the USA are correct.


As a reminder, the confirmed scores for the whole of the USA:

PDI:  40, IDV: 91 Mas:  62, UAI:  46


Below are the scores of minority groups:


The tentative conclusion is that small differences are certainly detected but that most minority groups score on the same sides of the Hofstede scale as the majority culture.


Do different generations have different values?

Again Marieke de Mooij & Jake Beniflah (2016) researched this assumption.


See below:


This means that the dominant rules of the game are shared by most of the groups. All this brings us to the next level of understanding culture: the rules of the game for policy making as defined by the combination of the four basic value dimensions. Leading us to the “Mental Images.”


But first, a few words on personality characteristics.



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