Morespecifically, these values can be uttered in different ways such as signs, symbols, body language, but alsoin imagery and music (De Mooij, 2014). For instance, thumbs up is considered a positivegesture in Western countries, while countries in Australia regard this sign ashighly offensive (Tipton, 2008). Also, each culture has its own graphicperception, which influences the style and angle presented in an image. Furthermore,even though, music is known to be rather universal, cultures have their own pace.That is, as addressed by De Mooij (2014), people who know how to speak anotherlanguage than their native language, are also familiar with “the music andrhythm of that language” as it is important to understand the rhythm in which thelanguage is spoken. These are all different ways through which a culture can beexpressed in advertisements.Furthermore, thereare various ways in which cultures can be measured.
This paper will analyse theadvertisements published by IKEA according to Geert Hofstede’s view on culture.That is, it will use four out of the five cultural dimensions established by Hofstede(1984) established five dimensions of culture: power distance, individualism versus collectivism, masculinity versusfemininity and uncertainty avoidance.Firstly, the power distance dimensionmay refer to the power distance between parent and child, employer and employeeor man and woman. Most of the time, the culture’s society is often set to thisdegree of power distance. A large degree of power distance can be found in,among others, Asian, Arab and Latin American countries. A small degree of powerdistance can be found in the Netherlands, Germany and Scandinavia, among others(Hofstede, 1984). Secondly, individualismversus collectivism refers to the extent to which individuals areintegrated into groups and how they move and behave within these groups. Forexample, the United Kingdom is known to be more individualistic as they focusmore on independence, while South Korea is highly collectivistic as they focusmore on solidarity (Hofstede 1984).
The third dimension, masculinity versus femininity, concerns the distribution of rolesbetween men and women in society. Feminine and masculine tasks are intertwinedin feminine cultures. The people are caring, modest and pay a lot of attentionto the emotions of others. In masculine cultures, it is the other way around.An example of a masculine country is, for example, the United States and SaudiArabia (Hofstede, 1984). Lastly, the degree of uncertainty avoidance demonstrates the level of fear of the futurewithin a culture. If there is a high level of uncertainty avoidance in acountry, the population will suffer from many rules, they want assurance intheir work, save a lot and are often religious.
Low uncertainty avoidance hasthe next features: fewer rules, differences in beliefs are accepted and divergentor unique behaviour is (to a certain extent) respected by society (Hofstede,1984). Additionally, theconcepts of high-context and low-context cultures introduced by Hall (1994)will be incorporated in the analysis of the advertisements. Namely, in a highcontext culture is indirectly and covertly communicated. In a low culturecontext, on the other hand, direct and unambiguous communication takes place(Hall, 1994). High context cultures can be found in, for example, Asia,Southern Europe and the Middle East as, in these cultures, it is assumed thatmisinterpretation is practically impossible.
Low context cultures can be foundin Northwest Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. In other words,low context cultures prefer to communicate very clearly and thoroughly as thepeople need more clarification to comprehend the text, while high context culturesprefer to be more direct and efficient as the people need fewer words tocomprehend a text (Hall, 1994). Still, it must be acknowledged that the factthat this paper categorizes and generalizes cultures indicates that it makesuse of stereotypes.