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Dominant cultural patterns

Charity in Cultural Contexts

(United States of America and Russian Federation)

Chelyabinsk, 2013


Introduction. 3

Part one. Theoretical approach to charity. 5

1.1. Dominant cultural patterns. 5

1.1.1. Worldview as the general dominant cultural pattern. 8

1.1.2. The notion of charity and its types. 10

Conclusion on part one. 16

Part two. Charity in cultural contexts. 18

2.1. Charity in USA.. 18

2.2. Charity in Russia. 29

Conclusion. 37

Bibliography. 39

Appendix. 42




As defined in Macmillan dictionary, charity is money or food that is given to people who are poor or ill so that they can live; or, kindness that you show towards other people by not judging them or criticizing them too severely [18]. It is regarded both as a material and moral help towards those in need. However, in the modern developed world the attitude towards philanthropy is varied depending on culture.

Since the problem of moral issues concerning helping the poor and devoid has always been a burning issue, we decided to carry out our own research concerning the attitude of different cultures towards charity.

The topicality of our research concerns the fact that nowadays there are thousands of people who are ready to help the others opposing those who are totally against it for certain reasons.

The aim of our research is the study of attitude to philanthropy in different cultural contexts.

In order to achieve our aim of research we have set up a list of leading tasks that are necessary to be fulfilled:

1. To define the major cultural patterns of the two countries – USA and Russian Federation;

2. To find out which cultural pattern can be defined as the leading;

3. To support our ideas by researching the minor values and beliefs of the two cultures;

4. To state the place of charity for people of the two cultures.

The subject-matterof the research is the image of charity and the means by which it exists in different cultural contexts.

The theoretical basisof our research is created relying on the works of outstanding scientists and researchers such as Fred E. Jandt, Geert Hofstede, Harry Triandis, Leo Apostel, Richard L. Wiseman, E.P. Griffin, H.W. Ellingsworth, etc.

The practical basis of our research consists of the results of the questionnaires concerning charity that were given to people from Russian Federation and USA.

Our research consists of the introduction, two main parts and conclusion.

In the first part we describe the dominant cultural patterns of the two cultures and the place of charity among them.

In the second part we analyze the results received from questionnaires and state the differences of attitudes of different people to philanthropy.

In conclusion we recapitulate all the results we managed to get in accordance to our research and draw a summary.


Part one. Theoretical approach to charity

Dominant cultural patterns

  • Geert Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions

Geert Hofstede is an influential Dutch researcher in the fields of organizational studies and more concretely organizational culture, also cultural economics and management [7].

National cultures can be described according to the analysis of Geert Hofstede. These ideas were first based on a large research project into national culture differences across subsidiaries of a multinational corporation (IBM) in 64 countries. Subsequent studies by others covered students in 23 countries, elites in 19 countries, commercial airline pilots in 23 countries, up-market consumers in 15 countries, and civil service managers in 14 countries. Together these studies identified and validated four independent dimensions of national culture differences, with a fifth dimension added later [8, p. 201].

All in all, five cultural patterns have been figured out:

a) Power Distance measures the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions (like the family) accept and expect that power is distributed unequally. This represents inequality (more versus less), but defined from below, not from above. It suggests that a society’s level of inequality is endorsed by the followers as much as by the leaders.

b) Individualism is the one side versus its opposite, collectivism, that is the degree to which individuals are integrated into groups. On the individualist side we find societies in which the ties between individuals are loose: everyone is expected to look after him/herself and his/her immediate family. On the collectivist side, we find societies in which people from birth onwards are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups, often extended families (with uncles, aunts and grandparents) which continue protecting them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty.

c) Masculinity versus its opposite, femininity refers to the distribution of roles between the genders which is another fundamental issue for any society to which a range of solutions are found. The IBM studies revealed that (a) women’s values differ less among societies than men’s values; (b) men’s values from one country to another contain a dimension from very assertive and competitive and maximally different from women’s values on the one side, to modest and caring and similar to women’s values on the other. The assertive pole has been called ‘masculine’ and the modest, caring pole ‘feminine’.

d) Uncertainty Avoidance deals with a society’s tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity; it ultimately refers to man’s search for Truth. It indicates to what extent a culture programs its members to feel either uncomfortable or comfortable in unstructured situations. Unstructured situations are novel, unknown, surprising, and different from usual. Uncertainty avoiding cultures try to minimize the possibility of such situations by strict laws and rules, safety and security measures, and on the philosophical and religious level by a belief in absolute Truth.

e) Long-Term Orientation is the fifth dimension of Hofstede which was added after the original four to try to distinguish the difference in thinking between the East and West. From the original IBM studies, this difference was something that could not be deduced. Therefore, Hofstede created a Chinese value survey which was distributed across 23 countries. From these results, and with an understanding of the influence of the teaching of Confucius on the East, long term vs. short term orientation became the fifth cultural dimension.

Below are some characteristics of the two opposing sides of this dimension:

Long term orientation
-ordering relationships by status and observing this order
-having a sense of shame

Short term orientation
-personal steadiness and stability
-protecting your ‘face’
-respect or tradition
-reciprocation of greetings, favors, and gifts

There are other cultural dimensions proposed by different authors and researchers in intercultural communication.

· Worldview

1.The overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world.

2.A collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or a group [5; p.78-80]

· attitude to timing - reflects a preference toward past, present, or future thinking. It effects how a culture values time and believes they can control it [20];

· activity orientation asks the question: is the human activity in the culture focused on he doing, being or being-in-becoming mode? [14; p.64];

· human-nature orientation considers how humans dominate, live with or are subjugated to nature [10 ;p.192];

· attitudes of mankind – whether humans are primarily evil, good or a mixture of both [10; p.193]

· self-perception – mechanism for controlling an individual’s perception and behavior, based on his/her interpretations of events and experience [12; p. 322];

· social organization - a sociological concept, defined as a pattern of relationships between and among individuals and groups [9; p. 21];

· regional differences.

Date: 2015-12-24; view: 1021

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