Have The Culture Values Gone South? (Changes in Culture)
A culture can be looked as an umbrella shadowing people; an umbrella that encompasses accumulated behavioral patterns, beliefs, morals, values, customs and traditions shared by a group of people. These values define this group and also differentiates them from other groups following different culture. Cultures are innate and they are passed down from generations to generations, the values followed by a particular family may be different from that of other families. Cultures can cover on a nuclear level and can cover on wider scale, i.e. cities and countries. Since the advent of globalization, westernization and modernization; cultures being passed down to new generations are either being amended or distorted. The variations on past customs and values may also be beneficial and needed with the changing environment but can lead loosing ones identity and individuality. Loosing cultural pariahs’ such as the use of Sati in the subcontinent is a positive change; but loosing family values and collectivism and shifting towards an individualistic society may not necessarily be a good approach for many regions. This essay is going to focus on how cultural variations have impacted Pakistan for the better and for the worse.
Geert Hofstede Cultural Dimensions
Geert Hofstede created a frame work for cross cultural analysis. He divided cultural values and features in dimensions and studied how these dimensions are perceived by individuals falling under the culture in question. Their actions and behavior can be related to where they stand within a dimension. The categories devised by Hofstede are as following:
- Power distance
- Individualism v/s Collectivism
- Uncertainty Avoidance
- Long term Orientation
Each dimension denotes value to certain attributes and what a country possesses and follows, Pakistan ranks in the following ways:
Power Distance: This dimension looks at equality and if it exists in the society. Power distance looks as how the less fortunate individuals in the society look at the distribution of power; weather they are treated fairly and what they expect and receive in terms of power and authority. Pakistan scored 55 in this dimension; which does not necessarily prove how power is distributed, it is right in the middle of the scale (Hofstede, n.d.).
Individualism v/s Collectivism: This dimension looks at the idea of interdependence of people on other members of the society. This overlooks collective or joint families v/s single families, A collectivist society is more inclined towards loyalty and trust within their group. Pakistan scored 14 in this category which means it falls under the collectivism bracket. There is closeness and commitment within the group weather its a family, extended family or family friends and friends. Each individual is looked out for by their group and it is sort of a safety net. There is trust, loyalty respect and traditional value among such societies. Elders are kept close and people prefer living in joint families as opposed to nuclear ones (Hofstede, n.d.).
Masculinity: A masculine society is more focused on results and achievements. There is immense competition and the best out of the many thrive. A feminine society is more reliant on care givers and how to improve quality of life. A low score means that people denote success with happiness and good quality lifestyle, and not achievements and competitions. It all depends if people want to be the best at what they do or be content with what they do. Pakistan scored right in the middle in this dimension and a 50 score can not signify where we stand when it comes to Masculinity v/s Feminine (Hofstede, n.d.).
Uncertainty Avoidance::The future is uncertain and accepting this fact and preparing for any uncertainties is what this dimension looks at. Individuals and societies are either aware and prepared for the worst that may come or they live their life for today and don’t want to consider the fact that something may go out of place in the future. The more a society highlights the impact of uncertainty the less would be the score and vice versa. Pakistan scored 70 in this area, which consequently means they try to avoid uncertainty. Societies that poses such a trait do not budge from their rules and regulations and their beliefs can not also be changed; be it they are good or bad (Hofstede, n.d.).
Long Term Orientation: This dimension looks at how people are inclined towards their roots and traditions. Things being passed down from their four fathers and how they continue to follow the same rituals and values. Normative societies have a low score on the index and they prefer to standby their roots. They try not to dislodge from their traditions and look at new societal changes as a threat. Places which have a higher rank amend their way to prepare for the future and concentrate on modern day education. Pakistan received a score of 50 which is right in the middle so no judgment can be passed of which side they are more reliant on (Hofstede, n.d.).
Indulgence: This category is more on the grounds of control and freedom of choice. A low score means that the country or society has high restraint and they refrain from chasing their desires and impulses. It all depends on ones brought up and how he or she was trained to deal with wants and desires. A high rank in indulgence means the society is very optimistic and people follow their calling where as a society which has high restraint has a very pessimistic approach in looking at things. Pakistan had a score of 0 which means that people there cannot tolerate change or cannot follow their wishes due to social pressures or it is just considered wrong in their book (Hofstede, n.d.).
Reasons for Cultural Changes
Globalization alongside westernization and modernization has effected Pakistan for better and for the worse. Keeping this in mind I feel there have been various altercations in the defined Hofsteded 6D model. I will first talk about a few of the deviations and their effect and what has been the general shift in the cultural dimensions as per my analytical opinion:
Globalization and Westernization: Compared to a decade before, life now has progressed significantly. It has been 7 decades since Partition and customs and cultures have been altered over time and globalization plays a major part in it. Many opportunities have been created for people to move abroad or learn from the West. Globalization has been helping in Urbanization of the country; electronic media and devices are now readily available and people are more prone to change and aim to achieve a better standard of living. Media and people are learning their rights and are understanding how much they can influence decisions. Not completely but certain extent of freedom of speech is now achievable. Pakistan has also seen a lot of Western food chains throughout the country, so fast food has saturated the market as compared to authentic Desi fine dining. The plus point about western food chains and western cuisines is the availability of a wider variety to choose from to serve our pallets. Globalization also has its flaws; some of the influenced are moving away from the teachings of Islam and adopting a modern way of life. I remember back in the day when I was a kid my play time consisted of a group of kids and us playing outside for hours and hours, whereas on the contrary kids today are seen hooked to their cell phones and social connections are more electronic and face to face has been taken over by face to phone (Sohail, 2015)
Human Rights And Women Equality: The education system in Pakistan is influenced from the West. Curriculum like GCSEs and American systems educate the people as well as increase awareness on the rights of every individual. Through education and the media people learn what really matters and how to make the world a better place. Apart from this many foreign and local NGOs are playing an excellent role in advocating human rights. Empathy towards the less fortunate has increased overtime. Women have also started getting an equal footing. They are getting better pays and also have high up positions in all big organizations. Women now are politically and socially active and their voice has magnitude; mean and women stand together and they booth are decision makers. Women in Pakistan are now given more authority and responsibility as compared to other Muslim countries. A positive change in culture (Sohail, 2015).
Media: There are changes in culture in the Media industry. Compared to a decade ago the Pakistani Media now has a lot of responsibility in its hand. The press now has freedom to give their opinions and grill the wrong doers. Previously free speech was a great threat to one’s life, but now media speaks out its mind without any jitters. Like the Western News channels Pakistani TV channels also seem biased at times and support a particular party through thick and thin, this is one of the flaws of freedom given to the press. The media works as an influencer and this can be used for the good of the people or can be used to manipulate the masses. The media industry in terms of cinema and television has also augmented with good content and increased viewership. People are now moving towards Pakistani Drama serials as opposed to Indian shows. There is one set back to it, i.e. visual profanities have increased and the stories in dramas can influence the audience by relating to a particular role. The content even though should be allowed as per the freedom of expression but it hinders the Islamic values. The scripts, roles and actors as per my take are influenced by western and Bollywood media.
Family Values: Compared to the past family values have diminished for many. Previously there was a focus on joint families where the elder households were the decision makers, now single families are more in the making. Parents are not treated with the same respect and similar to the west children move out in their own houses. This distance removes the guiding light and a helping hand from the new generations and this has consequently lead to an increase in divorces, crime, physiological disorders and suicides (Sohail, 2015).
Language: English is the standard language globally. To function in any country if a person is traveling, knowing English is always a plus point. The business language in Pakistan is also English and in schools Urdu is not prioritized. This indicates that our language is losing its value. Our language is a strong notion of our identity and the sad thing is that it is loosing its footing. Considering my Urdu skills I am also ashamed in saying that my writing and reading skills are average as in GCSEs I opted for the easy Urdu course. Learning English and being fluent is important but we should also focus on our own language, this was one of the reasons for independence. I have seen many parents and school nowadays who train their children only to speak in English to polish their skills. Schools also require teachers and students to only converse in English. I feel this practice needs to be harnessed and Urdu should be given priority. Look at the middle Eastern countries, they conduct their business in Arabic, their phones are also kept on Arabic language.
Changes to the Cultural Dimensions
Considering all the above factors now let’s revisit Hofstede’s cultural dimensions. I also strongly believe that the cultural variations exist more in the urbanized parts of the country as people have become more pragmatic. Rural areas are still backward as proper education and awareness has not spread in all areas.
- Power Distance: Being a citizen of Pakistan I feel that there is still a gap when it comes to power equality. The rich and the poor know their place and they are not on equal standing. Over the years we have seen politicians getting out of major conspiracies unhinged and VIP movements on roads taking the law in their own hand; someone from a poor background cannot enjoy the same treatment. Globalization has given the rich a strong ground to grow further and enhance their wealth but the poor cannot necessarily benefit from these positivity’s in the society. This is not necessarily a change as the rich and the poor always exist in any society, but the cultural change is such that the new generations flaunt their money and power with no regards to rules and regulations.
- Individualism v/s Collectivism: Our country is devoted to be a collectivist society. Family values and joint families are prioritized and the elderly of the household are the main decision makers. Traditions and values are brought down from past generations and they are carried forward further to the next. I feel that this is not the case anymore. In Urban Pakistan people are now opting for single families, once married or even before. Children; move out of the house and start living their own life. Many children move abroad and never consider coming back. Joint families are seen as a burden and people prefer their privacy over rules, regulations and family politics. Privacy may be a bliss for some but nuclear families damage their safety nets, in times of crisis they might not have a family for a shoulder or helping hand.
- Masculinity: a 50 score seems to be right at point,
- Uncertainty Avoidance: As per the result it seems as Pakistanis live in the moment and have no consideration about what may happen in the future. If something goes out of the way people are not prepared for it and they stick by their morals, values and rules and are not prepared to face it. This is not the right path and we should always have what if scenarios and be prepared for what may happen the very next minute. Considering today’s Pakistan and how aware people have become, individuals are playing their part in preparing for uncertain scenarios. With the help of social media people now have contingency plans when it comes to uncertainty. For instance considering the past natural disasters of floods and quakes, the new constructions are carried out in a way to minimize the damage if something as such happens again. People warn the public of what uncertainties they expect may take place through social media and how to keep others safe is something goes out of place,
- Long Term Orientation: This dimension considered the connection that people have with their traditions, morals and values. Hofstede states that Pakistan is neutral on this dimension but I feel that it leaning more towards a long term orientation. The urban side of the country is breaking their traditional routes as new traditions, celebrations and values are added to their culture. The rural population is still gripping their values, respect and traditions. If someone goes against their traditions such as marrying outside their tribe, village or cast; they have to face severe consequences. The punishment is so fierce that this may bring honor killing in to the picture. I consider you should stand by your roots but be open new ideas if they do not pose a threat to your religious beliefs.
- Indulgence: This field in my opinion does not seem right. The society has transformed over time. People are now more aware of what is needed to be done even if its a dynamic change. Awareness through education and Media has helped people understand that change is needed for further improvement. People now jump the gun when it comes to following their heart, they possess opinions and if something seems good for them they would go for it. The most recent and best example is the verdict from Panama Case, people came out on the roads to support what was right and the PM was put out of commission. The country needs people who follow what seems right and not those who sit back as they consider what others may think if they carried out the particular move.
— Govt of Pakistan (@pid_gov) September 17, 2017
So Has The Culture Really Gone South?
Change in any field is a necessity to amend and flourish with new trends and capabilities. Yes people may have resonance and there may be flaws but that is secondary. Pakistan has partially escalated to a modernized approach. The rural areas and places where feudalism exists have not had many significant changes. Some of the positivity’s have not shined on the backward areas as there is a lack of awareness The education systems are not up to standards and people have to decide between the opportunity cost of basic needs as compared to better education. People here and also in many parts of urban cities are dedicated to their status and respect, which is why honor killing still exists. The positive changes are such that basic human rights are now preached. Acts such as murder by VIPS or the affluent are not pardoned; they also have to face prosecution regardless of their status. Women rights and rights of children are also advocated extensively, in the past cases such as murder of Qandeel Baloch and the torture of young house maids may have been forgotten or the culprits may have been pardoned. People know what their rights are and they do not stand by injustice towards them or others, the best example is how the derailment of a corrupt Prime Minister was celebrated throughout the country. Social Media has also played a major part and issues like bribery, injustice, thievery, corruption, murders, road mishaps (accidents), protests and getting people on board for a humanitarian cause are highlighted. Groups on Facebook like Haalat Updates, Scam Updates and Questions Update play a vital role in exposing the guilty parties and spreading awareness.
I agree that losing touch with your roots, heritage may damage ones cultural identity, but this is necessary for a progressive society. People need to have a realistic approach, learn from the mistakes of their forefathers and keep the good things passed down onto them. Individualism is also not a good move, yet it teaches a person to survive on their own accords with less dependability. To conclude I believe that the culture has not gone south rather it has become more dynamic and polished. Food and language have also changed for the better, now there is a wider range to choose from for food. I believe and I feel everyone should consider that nothing in the new environment clashes with our religious values and to treat everyone with the same respect weather he or she is a CEO or a janitor that should not matter. The conclusion is such that sure cultural values have changed but the positive points trump the flaws.
Hofstede, G. (n.d.). PAkistan. Retrieved from Geert Hofstede: https://geert-hofstede.com/pakistan.html
Sohail, H. (2015, February 9). Effects of Westernization on the Culture of Pakistan. Retrieved from Owlcation: https://owlcation.com/social-sciences/Effects-of-Westernization-on-the-culture-of-Pakistan