We like to put things into categories. It is no different when understanding cultures. To help categorize the variety of world cultures, experts in the field have defined 10 clusters that put together similar cultures. Each is a different cultural cluster.
These clusters can help you check what the gap is between your own culture and the culture of the country you live in or are thinking of going to. If in the same cluster, differences are likely to be less. Of course, there is still a lot of variety even within clusters. See it as a way of organizing the cultures, and not of stereotyping, or implying no differences when in the same cluster.
In this first article of my culture-fit series, I will list the 10 clusters. Then there will be one post for each cluster explaining its key characteristics.
So, what are these 10 clusters? They are, in alphabetical order:
Cultural Cluster: ANGLO
This cluster includes places such as Australia, English-speaking Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States. The English language and a shared history coming from the British empire unite them. It is the geographically most widespread cluster.
Cultural Cluster: ARAB
In this cluster, you will find places such as Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates. This cluster is significantly linked to the Muslim religion and, in part, the Mediterranean Sea. This cluster is definitely more a cultural identity than sharing an ethnic heritage.
Cultural Cluster: CONFUCIAN ASIA
We find this cultural cluster in places such as China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan. Similar to the previous cluster, the places in this cluster are linked by a view of the world derived from ancient texts by Confucius and others, such as Taoism, which has since then been deeply incorporated into the culture.
Cultural Cluster: EASTERN EUROPE
Europe is divided into four clusters, which correspond to the geographical areas of Europe. This cluster here is prominent in countries such as Albania, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Mongolia (I know, not part of Europe), Poland, Slovenia, Russia. This is actually a big and diverse cluster, representing many languages, religions and customs. It is also characterized by many changes in the geopolitical situations of these places, including in recent times.
Cultural Cluster: GERMANIC EUROPE
This is a small cluster, formed by Austria, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
The countries in this cluster are linked by the German language, even if it is not the primary language in all regions of the cluster. They are also linked by a long history. This is probably the most homogeneous cluster in terms of culture.
Cultural Cluster: LATIN AMERICA
Found in places such as the countries of Central and South America, for instance: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Venezuela. This is a big cluster that is culturally linked by the history of colonization. The countries here still show many cultural aspects of the European countries that invaded them and brought their culture with them. It is why this cluster will share some aspects with the next cluster.
Cultural Cluster: LATIN EUROPE
This cluster includes mostly France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and French-speaking Canada. The places in this cluster are linked by the Roman culture and the Catholic religion.
Cultural Cluster: NORDIC EUROPE
This cluster is centered around the Scandinavian countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden. It is also linked to the Viking people and the culture they developed.
Cultural Cluster: SOUTHERN ASIA
Found in places such as Fiji, India, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, Thailand. This cluster is big and diverse. It is characterized by the coexistence of many influences, which have cohabited mostly peacefully.
Cultural Cluster: SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
Found in countries in this geographical region, for instance, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritania, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and many others. The place where, from the evidence that has been gathered so far, human civilization began. This cluster is also very diverse, with many languages and customs.
In my next posts in this series, I’ll review each cluster in turn and explain their main cultural characteristics. Take these as a guide, not as a predictive tool of what you will find when you go to a country to adapt to any culture. To find the other articles in this series, go to Expat Essentials and search under Author “Nadege Minois”.
by: Nadège Minois
Expat Essentials: The Anglo Cultural Cluster
Expat Essentials: The Arab Cultural Cluster