Academic journal article Atlantis, revista de la Asociación Española de Estudios Anglo-Norteamericanos

Los Valores Culturales Y Su Correlacion Con Las Estrategias del Metadiscurso Interaccional En Las Paginas Web De Negocios Espanolas Y Estadounidenses

Academic journal article Atlantis, revista de la Asociación Española de Estudios Anglo-Norteamericanos

Los Valores Culturales Y Su Correlacion Con Las Estrategias del Metadiscurso Interaccional En Las Paginas Web De Negocios Espanolas Y Estadounidenses

Article excerpt

Cultural Values and their Correlation with Interactional Metadiscourse Strategies in SPANISH and US Business Websites

I. INTRODUCTION

From an anthropological perspective the concept of culture has attracted the attention of many scholars for over a century. The first definition of this term correlated with "that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by a man as a member of society" (Tylor 1975, 21). Culture has also been defined as "a shared system of attitudes, beliefs, values and behaviour" (Gibson 2000, 7) or "the software of the mind or collective mental programming" (Hofstede 1991, 4). Although various definitions have been provided throughout the decades, it is commonly accepted that the theme of shared values is central to any definition of culture (Hofstede 1991; Singh and Pereira 2005; Guillen 2009). In other words, culture refers to the way in which, in a particular group, people are trained from a very early age to internalise the behaviour and attitudes of the group.

Researchers interested in the field of intercultural communication have proposed different theoretical paradigms to identify the basic social problems that affect all societies--cultural dimensions--but for which members of different societies may have different answers--cultural values. One of the most noteworthy models developed within the framework of cultural dimensions theory is the Dutch anthropologist and social psychologist Geert Hofstede's (1991) five value dimension paradigm (individualism, power distance, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance and long-term orientation).

In this study, I intend to focus on the cultural dimension of individualism, i.e., concern for yourself as an individual as opposed to concern for the group to which you belong (Hofstede 1991; Hampden-Turner and Trompenaars 1993; Walker, Walker and Schmitz 2003; Loukianenko 2008). Within a society, cultural groups can be seen to favour a preferred strategic orientation along a continuum between the two extremes, which are often referred to as individualistic and collectivist cultural orientations.

In his ground-breaking work Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind (1991), Hofstede states that individualism pertains to societies in which "ties between individuals are loose: everyone is expected to look after himself or herself and his or her immediate family." At the other extreme, meanwhile, collectivism is characterised by societies in which "people from birth onwards are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups, which throughout people's lifetime continue to protect them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty" (1991, 51).

Hofstede analysed a large database of information collected from IBM between 1967 and 1973, covering more than 70 countries, related to the values of their employees. He used the data to measure the degree of individualism or collectivism of people from different countries using a 0 to 100 scale (0 corresponding to the most collectivist society and 100 to the most individualistic society). The empirically verified results gave Spain a score of 51 points, while the US scored 91 points, confirming a strong cultural difference between the two countries.

Even though Hofstede's research has latterly attracted a lot of criticism for being old-fashioned and liable to promote cultural overgeneralisation as well as lead to stereotyping (Loukianenko 2008), other scholars (Clark 1990; Simon 1999, Guillen 2009) are of the opinion that Hofstede has provided the most comprehensive and influential study to date of how values in the workplace are influenced by culture at a collective level.

Advances in social anthropology and social psychology in the final decades of the twentieth century paralleled the reaction against the alleged universalism of certain linguistic theories formulated by Anglo-Saxon academics (e. …

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