With Great Equality… Comes High Power Distance?

In the discussion about socialist/collectivist societies there is often an idea that socialism brings and fosters equality. Opponents of collectivism usually reference Animal Farm, but the parable is often chided as not being academic enough.

And to be clear in this post on not railing on or championing any side of that discussion. I think the discussion warrants improvement. To me the question isn’t an absolute of socialism/collectivism or individualism. It’s a discussion about where to draw the line in a way that respects others and their obligation to a wider society.

So, I think I’ve found an academically palatable source and a perspective that might be worth adding to the discussion.

The source, Gert Hofstede who in 1980 published his cultural research and changed the way we see cultures throughout the world. His current formula involves seeing the world across 6 dimensions including a spectrums of Collectivism/Individualism and Power Distance (Low/High).

He and his staff have articulated these in the maps below.

One thing I didn’t notice while I was studying this in college is that the areas of the world that are collectivist seem to have a high power distance culture.

Hofstede’s research doesn’t give us precise answers on why this correlation may exist, but the evidence that such a correlation exists should be a part of the discussion on socialism/collectivism. Russia, Venezuela, and China are all pretty telling in comparison to most of Europe, the US, and Australia.

One thing is still true. Those who would prefer another culture other than the one they are living in have plenty of options and should be welcome to move to wherever they want to.

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