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Kluckholn and Strodtbeck's Dimensions of Culture


Explanations > Culture > Kluckholn and Strodtbeck's Dimensions of Culture

The nature of people | The relationship with nature | Duty towards others | Mode of activity | Privacy of space | Temporal orientation |


Kluckholn and Strodtbeck (1961) identified six dimensions of culture.

The nature of people

What do people assume about the basic nature and beliefs about other people? In particular, others may be considered to be good, bad or have some combination.

'Good' here is in the traditional sense of being socially oriented. A bad person is thus considered selfish.

How you think about other people in this way will have significant effect on how you respond to them. It also affects how you think about yourself.

The relationship with nature

What do people think about nature and their responsibilities and rights around it?

Some people believe that we should live in harmony with nature, preserving and supporting it. Others (and perhaps a majority now) see nature as our servant and supplier. This view allows us to plunder it without concern.

In other parts of life this translates into the use of all kinds or resource and whether it is used up or sustained.

Duty towards others

What duty do we have towards others? Should we be act first to support others or can we just focus only on ourselves?

Considering the group first supports society, but it also is limiting on the freedom of the individual. It also raises the question about who chooses what is right for the group.

Mode of activity

What is the primary mode of activity in an organization or society?

In some societies, there is a focus on 'being', where who you are is more important than what you do. Other societies are very action oriented and status comes from what has been achieved rather than an ascribed status.

Privacy of space

How is space treated in a society? Who owns it? What rights do people have to occupy it?

One approach is that space is owned by individuals and privacy is important. Meetings are held behind closed doors and are by invitation only. The alternative is open ownership, where people can go where they please and meetings are open to all who want to attend.

Temporal orientation

Which is more important: past, present or future?

Some societies focus on the past, ancestors and traditionalism. Others are focused on the hedonism of today, whilst still others plan carefully for the future.

So what?

As with other cultural models, understand where people are coming from and then respond in alignment with their view of the world.

The theme of self vs. others runs through several of these dimensions. If a person is concerned first with themselves, they may avoid duty to others and hoard resource.

See also

Beliefs about people, Hofstede's cultural factors, Five Common Human Concerns

See also

Kluckholn, C. and Strodtbeck, F. (1961). Variations in value orientations. Evanston, IL: Row, Peterson.

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