What are the Cultural Differences between Arabs and Americans
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Most people interpret culture differently; one of the definitions is that it refers to patterns of behavior and interactions shared among groups. Representing daily ways of living is meant to guide the interactions of people in society. There are a lot of races around the world and each race has a different cultural practice. In most cases, violation cultural practices may lead to stiff penalty or punishments imposed on the wrongdoers. In this paper, we focus on the cultural differences between the Arabs and the Americans (Qutub, 2008). Our main interest is to show examples of specific Arab countries and states in America and their cultural dimensions with relation to such aspects as power distance, time orientation, gender equality, collectivism versus individualism, display of respect, assertiveness, humane orientation and performance orientation.
To start with, we shall examine the cultural difference between the Arabs and the Americans in relation to the practice of power distance. Power distance refers to the manner, in which people are working within an organization; for example, the view and the way of interaction with their bosses. The degree of respect that both the juniors and seniors give each other in their service to the company employees depicts how free they are relating to each other. Many of the Arab countries tend to show a high power distance unlike their fellow men and women in America. For example, in countries such as Guatemala and Libya the managers, or the seniors, are the final decision-making organs as long as working in firms is concerned. The juniors are being referred to as the subordinate staff that has to follow the instruction of bosses without questioning their deeds, as opposed to countries like America. In states like America, bosses involve the junior staff in decision-making process. This results in creating a low-degree power distance since the top management ensures that the support staff opinions are considered when decisions are to be made. In fact, this creates a sense of belonging among all the staff of the organization. Therefore, in countries, where there is a high degree of support staff there lacks strong work ethics as compared to countries like America, where the sityation is entirely opposite.
Another exceptionally vivid difference between the American way of life and that of the Arabs is the difference in time orientation. Time orientation refers to the manner, in which time influences the way of living of different cultural groupings. In this case, there are, for example, two time orientations that set the Arabs and the Americans apart from each other. This includes past, present and future time orientations. In countries like Iran and most of the Far East, states are more past-oriented than the Americans, who are more concerned about the present and the future. In addition, states in Latin America tend to focus most on the future and when carrying out their meetings, they start at exactly fixed schedules and they can take breaks between the meetings if needed. Whilst in the United States, their meetings involve dealing with one thing at its own time and the rest of the agendas have to wait for their scheduled time.
The third difference is the cultural differences in relation to gender equality between the Arabs and the Americans. Society’s cultural practices are concerned with the gender equality showing the relationship of boys and girls plus men and women in the community activities. I point out that the Arabs are more conservative in matters relating to the inclusion of the females in the operation of society activities. This may be in political, social and economic way of life of people in any society. In contrast to this is a more participating female role in states like in America, where the woman and the girl child enjoy equal opportunities to that of the opposite sex. In Arab countries like Libya, the participation of women in the society is more feminist and even these are men, who make decisions for the women in decision-making process. In religious practices, most of the Arabs, unlike the Americans who are more liberal, believe that women are supposed to totally cover their bodies. In most cases, in Arab states the role of a woman is shown as that of child bearing and home chores. While in America, there is equal participation of women in every activity of the society. Women are given the same employment opportunities as men with equal pay. Women in America are involved in politics, which is not practised in Arabian states. However, in this age, when every society is fighting for equal opportunities among both genders, it remains unheard of in Arabian states that men and women have equal opportunities.
Another cultural difference between the Arabs and the Americans is in relation to the aspect of collectivism and individualism among different cultural groups. Individualism refers to the manner, in which people in a society are more likely to be concerned about themselves and their family relations. On the other hand, collectivism refers to the habits of society to care about the well-being of the others, which is a not necessarily related group. Another term for this concerning economic activities refers to the idea of socialism in terms collectivism and capitalism referring individualism. In most states in America and even beyond America in countries, which have developed, economies are more individualistic. For example, in Saudi Arabia the society tends to live more as a group and not as individuals. In these cases, they participate more in communal activities like entertainment, where they have common interests as one group. Collectivism is far more shown in their daily way of life as more families live together as extended families. The contrast happens in developed countries and states of America, where most families are nuclear (that is a family of father mother and child). In this example, they are mostly not even concerned about their relatives.
Display of respect is yet another difference that sets boundaries between the cultural practices of the Arabs and the Americans. Most of the countries of the Far East are more respectful relating the other people of the society. In fact, this is more attributed to religious practices that are keenly followed by the Arabs unlike in America, where less respect is given to the elders in society (Kayyali, 2006). The Arabs treat their elderly people, especially their grandparents, with the utmost respect. The issue of honor is not as much emphasized in states of America, as their morals are more degraded by the individualism.
High and low context as a way of life are more evident in the communicative way of life among people. High context is seen as a strong sense of communication among people and in America firm handshake is a sign of confidence. This is an example of high context scene. A low context shows that one is not efficient in the communication field, which is a sign of weakness. In addition, the two contexts can be used to depict the level of assertiveness during the process of interaction. A weak handshake depicts that an individual is not assertive of him- or herself. The last is the difference in reference to humane orientation and performance orientation among the Americans and the Arabs. Humane orientation analyses in a firm or social setting encourage and appreciate the acts of the other people. This can take the form of the high humane and low humane, high humane is more concerned about highly appreciating the interests of the other person and there is no child labor (Coons, 2008). This is the case in America, where as an example the public is well-educated of the children rights. On the contrary, in Arabian countries, where the economy is not developed, child labor is experienced. In America, the issue of the racial discrimination is extremely sensitive, which is an example of high human nature, as opposed to Arabs, who are more discriminative against other races. For instance, other nationals are seen as unwelcome in the Arabian countries and when they seek employment the foreigners are treated as slaves. The performance orientation of the Americans is different to that of the Arabs. The Americans depict more of the high performance orientation, as opposed to the Arabs, who are low-performance oriented. High-performance orientation involves efficient training and self-development workers and it values more what people do not withhold of their position. On the other hand, low-performance orientation includes more of interest in family and community. This is an example in the most Arabian countries like Saudi Arabia, where people are more concerned about their environment unlike in America (Bennett, 2003).
In conclusion, it has become clear that the Arabs and the Americans differ in almost everything that entails everyday life. Both communities have utterly the opposite cultural practices of each other. I would conclude in as much as the Arabs are shown conservative since they have at least their unique cultures. In contrast to the Americans, who are more liberal and have in a way lost their cultural identity.
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