Bringing American culture closer to new immigrants
Your blog is what you say when there is nobody standing over your shoulder telling you what to do. Lorelle V Fossen
In June 2010, Sysomos released a report that provides interesting data about the demographics of bloggers around the world. Check this out:
Clearly, Americans dominate the blogosphere. Possible reasons? Just to name a few:
1. Technological development, various devices that make sharing information online beyond simple.
2. Fashion or increased popularity of social media.
3. Social expectations: a successful professional is associated with an expert blog, twitter account and active presence in online community.
Those reasons, however, are, to some extent, applicable to any country in the world. The question is what makes Americans so eager to blog their lives away.
Let’s consider the example of travel blogs. Americans travel a lot, maybe more than any other country, but what makes people regularly post their experiences, photos and thoughts about it? I don’t think the reason lies in techno proficiency or pure fashion. And again, it’s not about why people blog but rather about why Americans blog more than any other nation.
If they happen to be immigrants in a foreign country – here comes a blog. I have come across numerous expat blogs their general concept being “an American in X country”. (I do realize what my own blog is about)
I’ve mentioned Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory a few times in my previous posts. As a believer in the explanation of social phenomena through cultural values I’m going to refer to it once again. So, how does blogging correspond with American culture?
1. Low Power Distance (40)
Power distance refers to the extent to which less powerful members of institutions accept and expect that power will be distributed unequally. The level of acknowledging authority is a major criterion. The USA is ranked in the middle (40) which means that power distance is present but not high.
Americans are not afraid to voice their opinion even if they realize that they aren’t quite competent or that their might undermine somebody else’s authority.
I, personally, don’t see anything wrong about it. When Americans start a blog they mostly don’t give a lot of thought to who has accomplished what in the given sphere or knows more about the subject. This approach might lead to some pitfalls but, generally speaking, it’s a good one. Nothing is going to change if you just sit and think about people who have more expertise. I believe that one doesn’t have to be a cultural anthropologist to blog about a visit to China (as long as you don’t claim to be one).
2. High Individualism (as opposed to collectivism) (91)
Is a pretty much self-explanatory dimension. It puts stress on personal achievements and individual rights.
People who think of themselves as individuals first and members of community second are more subjected to blogging about their thoughts and even smallest life events.
3. Masculinity (62)
Is probably the most ambiguous dimension that has to do with traditional distribution of social roles, achievement or nurture values, etc. For more information I would recommend this link.
The United States scored a 62 on Hofstede’s scale, so its culture does have such traits as assertiveness, materialism, goal-orientation, etc.
On the other hand, gender roles are not clearly defined, blogging statistics being really illustrative.
Long term/ short term orientation. 29
4. Short-term/ long-term orientation (29)
Blogging can be both short-term and long-term oriented.
It’s by far the fastest way to publish your writing. Blogs, however, need to be regularly updated or else they lose the audience. Plus, posts get most hits within 1-3 days period after publishing.
It can be a great advantage in the long run too as it helps to build an online community, establish you as a specialist, make connections, etc. But, generally, blogging should be happening right here and right now (on a regular basis) in order to get you anywhere.
5. Uncertainty Avoidance (46)
Uncertainty avoidance index deals with a society’s tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity.
“What if people think it’s stupid?” “I never did that before”. “How do I use all those widgets?”
Such questions might bother Americans but they don’t seem to overwhelm them and stop from blogging. Let’s call it “I-will-give-it-a-try-and-see-how-it-goes” approach.
And, by the way, Sysomos also provides data on state/province distribution of blogging:
Does anyone have any suppositions concerning California and its most active blog activity?
So, as it turns out that blogging quite fits American culture. The above described cultural dimensions are by no means the only explanation. Blogging is a part of complex socio-cultural phenomenon and might be influenced by various factors. If cultural characteristics, on their part, shed some light on the problem and bring us at least one small step closer to the understanding of it, then they deserve attention.
America For Beginners Blog by Anna Kudryashova is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia License.