Cultural Dimensions and Possible Futures

There is a distinction between uncertainty and ambiguity.  We live in ambiguous times, not uncertain times.  There is relevant information available for us to better understand the possible future ahead.  The key to robust foresight is the ability to effectively combine distinct analysis tools to clarify the details of social change.

Central to the toolkit I teach to students and use with clients is a method of applied semiotics called Culture Mapping.  Culture Mapping allows us to analyze language as patterns of social change.  It provides a matrix to measure the way language migrates in meaning as it is used to express our affirmation or dissent from established societal codes.  

Other tools are useful in providing additional context to establish hypotheses for analysis. For example, Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions allows us to establish benchmarks of distinct contextual meaning from county to country.  This is particularly useful when determining how social language might affirm or deviate from norms in a country.

The foundation of these cultural dimensions is very useful for discourse analysis.  The key is to see how the emerging language is deviating from certain norms. The signifiers of these deviations provide taxonomies that indicate the dynamics of change within that country.  Evaluation of the distinction between probable and possible futures is determined by that taxonomy more than any other factor.

In the examples, here, I propose how EV adoption might differ in China vs. the USA.  The language in the commercials provides examples of linguistic differences that confirm the hypothesis established by the cultural dimensions.  How EV adoption evolves in each country will reflect the expressed synergy of dissonance in each cultural power system.  How well each country trusts or mistrusts the social order they are in.

How South Korea emerged as the center of the beauty industry is another interesting case study of cultural dimensions related to the semiotics of everyday life.  Beauty in South Korea has become an expression of the tension of cultural dimensions.  The innovation in the category has a lot to do with the dynamics of rapid socio-economic growth, rigid competitiveness, perfection, and an emerging desire to break away from all that and be relaxed and comfortable in one’s own decisions.