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Schwartz Culture Model


Explanations > Culture > Schwartz's Culture Model

Embeddedness vs. Autonomy | Mastery vs. Harmony | Hierarchy vs. Egalitarianism | So What


Shalom Schwartz, an Israeli sociologist, identifies seven cultural values in three pairs, usually arranged in a circle. Here is a brief discussion of these dimensions.

Embeddedness vs. Autonomy


This is a focus on sustaining the social order, of avoiding change and retaining tradition. It is significant where people are living or working closely with others and where conformance with group norms is important. Embeddedness cultures value tradition, security, obedience.


The price and opposite of embeddedness is autonomy, where individuals have control over their choices as opposed to having to consider others and shared rules. In practice, autonomy is about freedom as opposed to the policed control of embeddedness culture.

Autonomy is divided into two types: affective and intellectual.

Affective Autonomy is the independent pursuit of pleasure, seeking enjoyment by any means without censure. In many societies there are limits when affective autonomy leads to taking banned substances or acting in ways that distresses or harms others.

Intellectual Autonomy is the independent pursuit of ideas and thought, whether it is theoretical, political or whatever. In embeddedness cultures it is hard to police what people are thinking, though actions can be taken to monitor intellectual publishing and discussions.

Mastery vs. Harmony


In a mastery culture, individuals seek success through personal action. This may benefit the person and/or the groups to which they belong, sometimes at the expense of others. Mastery needs independence, courage, ambition, drive and competence.


In a harmony culture, rather than seek self-improvement, people are happy to accept their place in the world. People here put greater emphasis on the group than on the individual.

Hierarchy vs. Egalitarianism


In hierarchical cultures, there is a clear social order, with some people in superior positions while others are in inferior positions. People here accept their position in the hierarchy and are expected to be modest and have due self-control.


In the egalitarian culture, everyone is considered to be equal and everyone is expected to show concern for everyone else. So what?

Use this model as a lens to try to understand different national cultures.

See also

Schwartz's Value Inventory, Trompenaars' and Hampden-Turner's cultural factors


Schwartz, S.H. (1992). Universals in the content and structure of values : Theoretical advances and empirical tests in 20 countries. San Diego: Academic Press


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