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Groups and Culture Essay

Cultural and social expectations dictate that individuals as members of one culture or society interact with other members, it is in the interpersonal relationships and interactions that the individual has with others that socialization occurs (Hofstede, 2000). The first interpersonal relation that an individual in any culture would have is confined in the family. Growth and maturation however dictates that the individual relate and interact with other people outside of his or her family, this could be teachers, caregivers, classmates and friends.

Interacting with other people widens the perspective of the individual, in play children learn how to communicate and compromise, in the classroom, they learn to compete and cooperate and in the workplace, they learn to conform and collaborate (Hofstede, 2000). Everyone is part of a group, be it the family, a neighborhood, a class, a department, or a community. A fully functioning and healthy individual would be a member of two or more groups, and for each group, a different set of rules and expectations apply.

A universal characteristic of groups is that it consists of two or more individuals who are interacting and behaving towards a common goal. Within this setting, group members constantly communicate, cooperate, and conform to the rules and objectives of the group (Guss, 2002). For example, a gang of adolescent boys had been formed based on friendship, and each member subscribes to the rules of the gang, thus behaviors like rites of initiation are meant to strengthen the member’s commitment to the group.

The goal of the gang may simply be to cultivate their friendship and protect each other, thus the members would cooperate in order to achieve that goal (Brew, Hesketh & Taylor, 2001). In contrast, a group of teenagers in a bus is not really a group because they do not have shared rules and expectations, although they may have the same goal, and that is to reach their destination. Groups also tend to form and break up over the course of life events and human development. The behavior of groups and its members are also heavily influenced by the dominant culture in which it is situated.

A group of workers in a collectivist culture like that of South Korea would strongly conform to the rules and regulations of the organization they work for (Hofstede, 2000). Complaints against company practices or policies are expected to be minimal such that collectivist cultures places value on group cohesion, unity, and cooperation. Workers in South Korea would believe that they are working not for themselves but for their families, their organization and their country.

Thinking of one’s self above others in this culture is frowned upon, thus, not many individuals take leadership roles because it calls attention to oneself (Hofstede, 2000). Thus, workers conform without question, they cooperate with the given policies and they build relationships among the workers. On the other hand, a group of workers in an individualist culture like the US is not as easily conforming and cooperative as the workers in South Korea. Individualist cultures places importance on individual achievement, individual differences, self-expression and nonconformity (Hofstede, 2000).

Workers in the US would join organizations that provide them with the opportunities for individual achievement and professional growth. To a certain degree, US workers do conform to the expected behavior of workers, but only if they perceive it as a necessary requirement of their individual performance. For example, workers generally attend company activities because they get something out of it, or because it is required of them to come and attendance would have positive implications in one’s performance rating (Hofstede, 2000).

In this culture, workers are vocal about their ideas and opinions about the organization’s policies, they are confrontational such that demanding increase in one’s salary is the norm, not the exception. References Brew, F. P. , Hesketh, B. , & Taylor, A. (2001). Individualistic-collectivist differences in adolescent decision making and decision styles with Chinese and Anglos. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 25, 1-19. Guss, C. D. (2002).

Decision making in individualistic and collectivistic cultures. In W. J. Lonner, D. L. Dinnel, S. A. Hayes, & D. N. Sattler (Eds. ), Online Readings in Psychology and Culture (Unit 4, Chapter 3), (http://www. wwu. edu/~culture), Center for Cross-Cultural Research, Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington USA. Hofstede, G. (2000). Culture’s consequences: Comparing values, behaviors, institutions, and organizations across nations (2nd ed. ). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.


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