“rely on membership in groups — social classes, communities, religions, or extended families — for identity and status. People are protected by the group and are expected to act in the group’s best interests. The Anglo countries of Britain,Australia,New Zealand, Ireland,Canada, and the U.S. are very individualistic cultures. East Asian countries such as Taiwan,Korea,Singapore, and Hong Kong are very collective cultures.” (Krugman & Wright, 2006)
R. D. Lewis’s work pertaining to the role of language, thought and culture is highly relevant to this discussion. Lewis’ asserts that there is a strong relationship between language and thought, and he classifies the world’s cultures into three broad categories, which has revolutionized the way businesses are conducted across cultures and continents. These categories are, namely, Linear-actives, Multi-actives and Reactives (LMR). Lewis’ work builds on existing research from other noted scholars such as Benedict Anderson, who have offered a historically informed analysis of culture and nationalism. According to their findings, nationalism was facilitated by the simultaneous decline of key cultural conceptions of great antiquity, which had erstwhile had a profound effect on humankind. The first of these changes had to do with the role of language in the evolution of human civilization. For much of history written language was interlinked with power and privilege. The religious elite especially had employed the medium of written language to control the thoughts and actions of the masses (Lewis, 2006). This was true across various religions. Second was the dismantling of the belief that the ruling elite earned their right by divine decree. The liberalization of language use had encouraged rational discourse among the common people and the movement toward democratic governance owes its advance to this. The third development which made it conducive for nationalism to flourish is the conceptual separation of humans and their physical world. For much of pre-modern history, the view held by scholars and intellectuals were essentially anthropocentric, meaning that they interpreted natural phenomenon from the stand point of its significance to human existence. But this approach to studying the world around them changed not only the course of scientific progress, but had also ushered in changes of political organization – one such advance being ‘nationalism’. For example, it cannot be mere coincidence that as literacy levels in Western Europe started rising; new, alternative political ideas were gaining recognition. The advances in literacy and print technology had had a profound effect on society. Not only did the vernacular language propagate and encourage exchange of ideas and views, but more importantly, they helped consolidate the common identity of a community of people. In other words, the conventions of language usage that helped spread literacy had also reinforced unique aspects of culture, religion, customs and sensibilities of a group of people, thereby setting the foundations for the emergence of nationalism and cultural identity (Lewis, 2006). An understanding of the historical background of the local city culture will benefit the two managers immensely.
The task of organizing the film festival would also be facilitated by understanding the current state of international affairs. In this context, Samuel Huntington’s book The Clash of Civilizations is quite important. Huntington asserts that the fall of Berlin Wall in 1989 had marked a new beginning in the history of international politics. While prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 major ideological, geo-political and economic conflicts were carried out on the European stage, the end of the Cold War has changed the dynamics and motivations of international conflicts. In the prevailing world order, the fight for supremacy in the realms of ideology, material wealth and territorial conquest have become secondary to the assertion of ‘civilizations’. Civilization as a term in historical discourse can be difficult to define, but Huntington narrows down the scope of this term. According to the author, of all the constituent elements that comprise a particular civilization, its identification with religion, ethnicity and culture form the core. A civilization’s affiliation with these elements is more enduring and resistant to change than its propensity for change, say, in the economic and ideological domains (Huntington, 1997, p.156). Huntington correctly points out that in the hundred years before the end of Cold War there have been radical transformations from monarchy to communism to democracy, from liberal capitalism to stringent economic protectionism, and vice versa across the globe. Not only have there been numerous instances of such changes but have also oscillated from one extreme to another. Amid all this churning, the only abstract conception with which peoples in different parts of the world could identify with is their ‘civilization’.