This is a determinant basic to all societies that Hofstede has named. It is describing the distribution of "power" among individuals and groups in the society, and how inequalities in power are dealt with in these societies. Inequality of power is a basic fact of life. It cannot be 100% eliminated. Iit is impossible to have _no_ power distance, because this means everyone is exactly equal (skills, actions, genetics, etc) unless of course you are on about a bunch of identical lumps of rock... Inequality can take many forms -the differences of physical and mental characteristics (genetics, fitness, education, IQ, etc), social status, and prestige, wealth, political power, laws, "rights", "priviledges" etc. All of these are somewhat independent of each other, and in fact the link between them is culturally dependent .
For example, the Samurai of Feudal Japan enjoyed status, prestige, wealth, and many "rights and priviledges" - all because of their physical prowess and family connections. Another example is modern "Supermodels" who enjoy pretige, wealth, but no real "rights" or political power - all because of the fact that a few people think them "beautiful". Odd, isn't it... The idea of power distance can help explain a great deal of cultural differences. Often when looking at other societies governmental structure, you may wonder "How do they let those people in power get away with all that?!" or the opposite "How do they stand all that chaotic quibbling and argument?". What Power Distance explains is that a particular society is willing to accept a certain "inwequality" in power - this allows for the fact that there will be some who lead, others who follow. So you can go from an "absolute democracy" (low power distance - and I don't think this actually exists anywhere) to an "absolute dictatorship" with the all power of life/death over the subjects concentrated in a few people (think phaoronic eqypt, etc) But besides "centralisation of powe", what other things go along with the acceptance/rejection of power inequalities? And what caused these feelings? The Social Norms of Power Distance
This should be a table, comparing equivalent high-low power distance attitudes. I will number the equivalent attitudes... Low Power Distance:
1. Inequality should be minimised
2. All people should be interdependent
3. Hierarchy is an inequality of roles - for convenience only! 4. Superiors/Subordinates are people just like me.
5. All use of power should be legitimised, and is subject to moral judgement, (what is good or bad or even evil use of power)
6. All have equal rights.
7. Powerful people should try not to look too powerful.
8. Reward, Legitimate and Expert power are accepted
9. If something goes wrong - System is to blame.
10. To change the social system, redistribute the power. (evolution) 11. People are more prepared to trust one another.
12. There is a latent "harmony" in the society
13. Co-operation in "lower class" is based on solidarity.
High Power Distance
1. Inequality is a fact of life - Everyone has their rightful place. 2. Some are independent
, others are dependent
3. Hierarchy is something that exists and is accepted.
4. Superiors/Subordinates are different to me
5. Power is a basic fact of society which is independent
of morality. It is
there to be used - legitimacy is irrelevant
6. Power gives priviledges.
7. Powerfule people try to look as powerful as possible. (pomp + ceremony) 8. Coersion and referant power are accepted
9. If something goes wrong - it's the underdog's fault.
10. To change the social system, dethrone those in power (revolution) 11. everyone wants your power - don't trust them.
12. latent conflict between powerful-powerless.
13. co-operation is hards due to lack of trust.
Some real world examples from "Culture's Consequences" (about 0-100; scale can go outside these bounds, but no real societies did) Denmark: 18