Give your own definition of the Uncertainty Avoidance (we will be calling this “Structure” in class) dimension.
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Hypothetically, the future carries plenty of uncertainties. In order to avoid and prevent them, people create conditions that provide them with greater security and stability. For example, technology helps to develop various tools to protect one’s sensitive information from unauthorized access, while rules and laws determine the behavior of a person in society. Uncertainty avoidance dimension is the degree of discomfort, anxiety, or fear experienced by people belonging to a given society or a culture in terms of ambiguous or uncertain circumstances. In those cultures, where the score of uncertainty avoidance is high, a person facing uncertainty is exposed to stress and fear. Representatives of those cultures, in which the score of uncertainty avoidance is low, are much more likely to take risks in unfamiliar situations.
In cultures with a high index of uncertainty avoidance, people are characterized by emotionality, an active lifestyle, and some extent of aggressiveness: an example is a rapid pace of life in Germany where people are always in a hurry doing something. People in such societies are always sure that they have their inherent rights and all the necessary to solve various problems and tasks with an infinite number of rules and formalities. It is clearly known what is good and what is bad, what is dangerous, and what is safe. Securing rules and procedures help in reducing ambiguity and unpredictability. Everything that is different from the established norms is dangerous as it creates uncertainty. They are also distinguished by the fact that, if necessary, they can work hard to achieve greater results.
Representatives of a culture with a low score of uncertainty avoidance are characterized by tolerance, tranquility, carelessness, as well as slowness. One may, for example, note Jamaica, where time flows slowly, and one may not hurry. In such cultures, there are also norms of behavior and an understanding of what is good and what is bad. Nevertheless, they tolerate new and unknown situations, people, or ideas. There are rules that must be followed but, depending on the situation, one can behave differently and not obey the established norms.
Self-discovery…describe where you think your personal culture (NOT your country culture) lies on this continuum and explain why and where you would place yourself either low or high on Uncertainty Avoidance/Structure.
In my opinion, I consider that my personal culture refers to low score uncertainty avoidance. For example, in societies where the score of uncertainty avoidance is high, companies and organizations create sets of detailed laws or informal rules that establish the duties and rights of employers and employees. If I were to get a job in the United States, I would notice that the contract drawn up there is considerably shorter than the contract that would have been presented to me if I were to be employed in Japan, because a Japanese contract would take into account an incredible number of nuances, which Americans do not accentuate. Personally, I believe it is much more effective to omit some details for further consideration directly at the workplace. It goes without saying that an employer and an employee should sign a contract that is to include information regarding working conditions, remuneration, employee bonuses, etc. However, it seems that such issues as working processes and approaches may be discussed later and adjusted, if necessary. In this regard, my personal uncertainty avoidance index is close to those of the United States and China. I believe that people whose behavior and way of thinking can be different are much better perceived by others. Thus, I have a positive attitude towards cultures with a low level of uncertainty avoidance.
Describe how the history of your country led to its high or low score, and give any examples you have noticed of differences between cultures or subcultures with high or low scores (in the USA, Latino and African-Americans have a tendency to be slightly higher than Caucasian-Americans).
China is a country with a low score of uncertainty avoidance. Here, the adherence to rules may be flexible, while laws remain rigid. Chinese are usually comfortable with some ambiguous situations, and their attitudes towards them may change. Primarily, such a tendency is associated with Chinese history, namely, culture, language, and politics. For example, the Chinese language is full of interpretations, where one character may mean up to four words depending on a tone. The fact that there are three major religions that exist in one country without struggling for dominance also indicates a high level of tolerance and ambiguity acceptance. As for politics, there were various rulers, each of which set his or her own laws and prescriptions. It is exciting to mention the empress of China Wu Zetian, who was the only female ruler and contributed a lot to the country’s well-being, yet she was also known for her brutality.
There is a variety of differences between cultures with a low and a high level of uncertainty avoidance. For instance, it is possible to note that the desire to avoid uncertainty also affects intercultural relationships. Nationalities with a low score of avoidance of uncertainty such as Caucasian Americans tend to trust foreigners and are more friendly and ready to cooperate. In their turn, cultures with a higher level of uncertainty avoidance such as Latino and African-Americans are more prone not to trust foreigners since the local population is subconsciously afraid of everything that is unfamiliar. This contributes to the development of aggressive behavior towards other nationalities. I would like to emphasize that the above is a tendency in terms of cultures, while some representatives of one or another culture may have their own attitudes regarding foreigners and other issues associated with uncertainty avoidance.