Metaphors of culture: Kazakhstan

How can we describe the culture of a country?
The traditional approach is to use dimensions, and in particular Hofstede dimensions.

Yet there are several problems with this approach. For instance, how can we describe the culture of Kazakhstan,  a country with 17 million inhabitants and a territory of 2,727,300 square kilometres (larger than Western Europe)? Hofstede’s study doesn’t offer data for this country. And even if we know that it has a medium level of collectiving, high poer distance and high masculinity, what would we really know about the country?

Some researchers have proposed to use metaphors to describe cultures, including Gannon which proposes American Football for the American culture, the Symphnoy for German culture, and the Chinese family altat to describe Chinese culture. I thus always propose this exercise to my students, and results can be very surprising and insightful. As a result, this semester I even had a ‘visual’ metaphor of Kazakhstan, ideaded and drawn by Daniyar Davletbayev: the Wolf Pack.


Families and close friends act like a walf pack, always alert, scanning the territory, and defending the in-group.

From the metaphor you can get a feeling of the unsafety, suspicion and mistrust climate which are dominant in the country.

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