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9 Examples of Cultural Issues

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Cultural issues are problems that occur when culture conflicts with systems, goals or other cultures. Culture emerges with the shared experiences of groups and isn't centrally controlled or designed. All groups develop a culture with time including nations, cities, ethnic groups, communities, schools, organizations and interest groups such as a music scene. These cultures provide rich variety to life and great complexity. The following are illustrative examples of cultural issues.

Culture vs Individualism

Culture provides shared understanding such as roles and norms that help groups to get along. This may very well conflict with what a person would like to do as an individual. For example, a company that is oriented towards morning people such there is a perception that starting in late morning is lazy. This may feel unfair if you're an unusually productive night owl.

Culture vs Logic

Culture represents the depth of human experience that includes complexities such as emotion, imagination, social dynamics, creativity and epic meaning. This may conflict with cold logic that fails to consider these factors. For example, a festival, sport or activity that embraces risks that appear illogical if you assume humans are risk minimizing machines.

Culture vs Systems

Systems are means for controlling and directing resources and processes. Where these mismatch with cultures, problems may occur. For example, a set of rules for managing the public space in a city that provides no space for a prevalent youth culture such as skateboarding.

Culture vs Culture

Cultures overlap and interact in countless ways such that the expectations and norms of one culture frequently conflict with that of another culture. For example, if you're from a culture that values saving face whereby it is considered rude to directly criticize others it may be difficult to adapt to a place where candor, directness and creative tension are the norm.

Culture vs Change

Traditional culture is a stabilizing force that provides shared experience across generations. Despite its stabilizing role, culture is often pushed to adapt by pressures such as technological change. For example, mobile devices that have changed the way that people consume media and communicate. This challenges culture such as the tradition of consuming media such as television together as a shared experience.

Culture vs Goals

Culture emerges within groups such that it can be viewed as the current result of countless social interactions. This doesn't necessarily align to the goals of a group. This can be easily seen in the culture of organizations. For example, a telecom company with a goal of improving customer satisfaction but a service culture that adopts an antagonistic approach to customers.

Culture vs Reality

Membership in culture can give people an excessively positive or negative self-image that may not match realities. This causes a variety of issues. For example, a nation that maintains a high level of patriotism that interferes with recognition of problems, decline and competitive challenges. This also occurs within high status organizations such as a large firm where a culture of corporate narcissism develops that can lead to issues such as poor treatment of customers, partners and government regulators. This can have repercussions over time.

Culture vs Globalization

Globalization is the process by which the world becomes increasingly interconnected. This is a long running process that has been underway for all of history. However, globalization has accelerated in recent centuries due to technical advancements in areas such as transportation and communication. Globalization can put pressure on culture. For example, global restaurant chains that compete with traditional restaurants. However, culture is resilient and this can also cause improvements such as traditional restaurants that improve their menu due to increased competitive pressure.

Culture vs Communication

Culture such as language and norms are a tool of communication. Where people from different cultures communicate they need a shared set of skills known as cross-cultural communication. Even where languages are different people can find a way to communicate with patience, humility and effort.


Cultures can conflict with the goals of societies, organizations, communities and individuals creating issues that pressure the culture to change.
Overview: Cultural Issues
Problems that occur when culture conflicts with systems, goals or other cultures.
Related Concepts

Culture Characteristics

This is the complete list of articles we have written about culture characteristics.
Cultural Context
Cultural Issues
Epic Meaning
High Context
Low Context
Social Status
Super Culture
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