Three Main Cultural Components, Split into Six Elements, Polarization

Extensive travelling and working internationally have led to the observation and insight that (cultural) communication consists of three main factors split into six components. These are individual independence (model of the rich) or interdependence (model of the poor) as a rational factor, social belonging (close relationship group) or engagement (wider community) as an emotional factor, and finally governance (leadership) of a society and regard for (submission to) the corresponding societal values as a spiritual factor.

Diagram 1: Non-polarized cultural communication view

Yet, the above six cultural components are in practice polarized and can either be fear- or trust-based. Fear causes an outward orientation in order to protect one’s position; leading to divergence. Trust results in an inward orientation; leading to convergence. My experience is that divergent practices become a source of conflict, whereas convergent ones do not and bring people together.

Diagram 2: Divergent or fear based cultural communication view

Diagram 3: Convergent or trust based cultural communication view

Six types of fear, six types of trust, an outward versus an inward orientation 

As can be seen in the diagrams, the end result is the determination of twelve cultural elements. These cultural elements will be briefly elaborated now. Further explanation can be found in some other publications.

Independence becomes polarized either in individuality (living by comparison = outward orientation = divergence) or in personal integrity (self-reliance = inward orientation = convergence). Outward orientation means to consider everything as an (to be protected/defended) exclusive private possession and to build one’s individuality or personality on comparison with the outside world. Inward orientation means to be self-reliant and to take the interests of others into account as part of one’s personal responsibility or integrity. This weighing can, as a result, lead to non-violent resistance; individually opposing the existing order out of virtue. 

Interdependence becomes split in resilience (outward orientation = divergence) and reciprocity (inward orientation = convergent). Resilience in this context is struggle or fear driven and is represented by a “survival of the fittest” attitude in which “the winner takes it all”. Reciprocity, at the other pole, is representing a trust-based “live and let live” approach, in which people peacefully interact with or experience each other. 

Belonging becomes polarized in either a focus-on-“them”-based rivalry (outward orientation = divergence) or on building an “us” type of empathy with others (inward orientation = convergence). Outward orientation means comparing one’s group with other groups. It means building a group identity based on the differences between groups. Such a comparison can easily lead to envy and conflict. Inward orientation means to concentrate instead on commonality between the members of a group and to build one’s community-identity on similarity and empathy with each other, not on disparity. 

Engagement becomes split in patriotism (outward orientation = divergent) and solidarity (inward orientation = convergent). Patriotism implies the (fear driven) separation of cultural identities, thus limiting unrestricted socialization. General (unlimited) solidarity, at the other pole, takes away all forms of such partition and allows free collaboration beyond a society, bolstering trust. 

Governance becomes polarized in superiority (outward orientation = divergence) and excellence (inward orientation = convergence). Fear driven governance establishes order and “security” via hierarchy and the span of control of its “superior”/power based leaders. Trust-driven governance means to use mentorship as a leadership model; this is excellence- rather than authority-founded. 

Finally, regard becomes split in an involuntary discipline (outward orientation = divergence) or a voluntary respect (inward orientation = convergent) element. Outward orientation means that one is forced to accept the span of control of an autocratic leader and (involuntarily) behaves/becomes disciplined. Inward orientation means that one considers oneself to be part of a greater societal or spiritual unity and therefore respects the mentorship role of this entirety. This type of respect is consensus-based and thus voluntary.

Link to manifesto.