Power Distance Index
According to the power distance index cultural dimension, there is an acceptable degree of inequality between members of the society that differs from one culture to the other. In a society with a high score in power distance index, members accept and respect inequalities in power distribution. Such a society has centralized organizations, complex power distribution hierarchies, and wide gaps in authority, respect, and compensation. As a result, in such cultures, leaders are highly acknowledged and respected. All authority is vested in leaders who give direction to the people. Cultures with high power distance index are prone to dictatorship. Leaders will give the final say without necessarily involving the people in decision making. Individuals contribution to the society is less likely to be acknowledged in cultures with a high power distance index. Socially, people are defined by their family names.
On the contrary, in a society with a low power distance index, power is relatively equally distributed. Leaders do not dictate over their people but engage them in making decisions since they will be affected by those decisions. In such cultures, leaders are viewed as servants of the people rather than authoritarians. Individuals contributions are the basis of identity.
Individualism vs. Collectivism
This dimension focuses on the strength of relationship ties between individuals within a community. A culture will, therefore, be either an individualistic culture or a collectivist culture. In an individualistic culture, individuals in power control the interests of the community. The will of the people is overlooked as the interests of the individuals in power prevail. Relationships of people in individualist cultures are loose as people only care about themselves and their immediate families. In individualistic societies, people are recognized and valued according to their success. Peoples time, freedom and privacy are highly valued in individualist cultures. When making decisions, one would only consider the immediate family with minimum consideration of other groups in the society. On the contrary, in collectivist cultures, groups in the society are considered more than individuals. Countries with a high IDV score usually exhibit weak relationship ties with outsiders who are not part of their families. Members of the society are less responsible for actions and behaviors of other people. In a collectivist culture, members of the society show their loyalty to the groups they belong. In exchange for their loyalty, the group has a responsibility of protecting the interests of its members. Members of that group will be responsible for one anothers welfare.
In individualistic cultures, when two strangers meet, they will be interested in knowing about each others profession or job, what they have achieved in life, the kind of lifestyle they live and where they live. In a collectivist culture, when two people meet, they will not be interested with each others details such as their success, accomplishments, and lifestyles but to what family they come from and the people they relate. Collectivism is about interdependence while individualism is about independence.
The UAE Culture Study Report
The Emiratis Culture
The UAEs national identity is centered on its culture and heritage. There is deep awareness among nationals on the need to preserve their indigenous culture on which the Emirati is based. The architecture, cuisine, attire, music have been greatly influenced by the Arabian, Islamic, and Persian cultures. However, the country is experiencing the evolution of art, and creativity that concentrates the most on the spoken word as compared to other artistic expressions. The population of the UAE is estimated to be at 9 million with only about 20% of this population are citizens. The population growth rate is at 4% per annum. Islam is the dominant religion with Muslims constituting to approximately 96% of the population. Muslims are called to prayer from the dispersed minarets of mosques for about five times each day. Hinduism and Christianity form the minority religions. Arabic is the official and major spoken language. Other spoken languages include Hindi, English, Urdu, and Persia.
The United Arabs Emirates emerged in 1971from some part of the British Empire. The population of the newly formed country was a small tribal society which was later altered by the arrival of other nationals including Pakistanis, Iranians, Indians, and later by other Arab and East African nationals. The mixture of different nationals that arrived in the UAE diversified its society. The country depended on sea trade in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf and pearl diving which allowed even more diverse ethnic groups of people along the trade routes to settle. The sea trade with East Africa introduced African laborers to the country. Currently, the Iranian and African ethnic groups have been completely integrated as UAE citizens.
Although several cultures have influenced Emirati culture, the Arabian culture forms its basis. However, the Persian culture has heavily influenced Emirati culture than any other culture. Emirati architecture which forms part of the expression of the UAE local identity is inspired by both Persian and Arabian cultures. Folk arts and traditional Emirati architecture are the evidence of Persian influence on Emirati culture. Barjeel is an example of one of Emiratis traditional architecture which has become a popular identifying landmark attributed to the influence of the Persian culture. Other Persian influences are evident in folk dances such as the al-habban. Growth in trade has attracted over 200 nationalities to the UAE who migrate in search of better-paying jobs.
Media censorship is common in the UAE. However, Emiratis are open and tolerant providing expatriates with an atmosphere and opportunity to enjoy in leisure activities, familiar entertainments. Nevertheless, the huge population of expatriates has caused security concerns and a possible threat to social and cultural values. For a long time, the UAE natives and expatriates have not experienced tensions. In fact, there is a very low crime and violence level. Visitors maintain high standards of public conduct to avoid being expelled from the country for minor violations of the law.
Men and women relationships and interactions remain one of the biggest concern areas in the UAE. Emirati women are supposed to be housewives. Recently, Emiratis younger women have been given access to education which has changed their gender roles. Due to increased migration and interactions between men and women, Emiratis men are intermarrying with foreigners. The government considers intermarriages between Emiratis and foreigners as a threat to Emiratis culture. The government is, therefore, promoting marriages among its natives and discouraging intermarriages. Family members are responsible for arranging marriages and restricting the conduct of young women to the cultural requirement. Marriages between cousins or people from the same class are the most prevalent and preferred forms.
Due to the great cultural adherence by the Emiratis, expatriates are usually limited to opportunities to interact and relate with Emiratis especially when it is between opposite gender. Since, the UAE depends on foreigners for labor, usually there some cultural aspects that are overlooked to accommodate the expatriates. For instance, women are allowed to go shopping alone and not to cover their faces or wear hijab as long they wear decently and avoid male joints such as male restaurants. The culture of the UAE identifies people by their family names or group. Togetherness and harmony between groups are very important to Emiratis. Personal relationships and interactions happen under strict adherence to social norms and values. Social classes and hierarchies are observed. Rules governing the social conduct are well known and are not to be broken.
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