Hofstede defines culture as a mental program, and he breaks the programs into three levels: universal, collective and individual (PSU, 2020). The biggest level is universal, and consists of things that all humans share, like a need for shelter, wanting to belong to a group, wanting to grow as a person. The next layer up is collective, which is had by some people, consisting of shared experiences that help guide a person, and culture falls in this realm.
The British monarchy was established in 1215 with the singing of the Magna Carta, requiring the king to rule only under law (Synan, 2013). Since then there have been many kings and queens that have helped to develop a culture in Great Britain, but the modern-day Royal Family has helped to solidify that culture through the use of the media. The middle level of Hofstede’s culture levels is collective, shared experiences that help guide a person, and the bottom level is wanting to belong to a group.
Historically, England was a very homogeneous country and developed coherent traditions, but, especially as the British Empire expanded and the country absorbed peoples from throughout the globe, English culture has been accented with diverse contributions from Afro-Caribbeans, Asians, Muslims, and other immigrant groups (Kellner, Thomas, 2019). But the British Royal Family, mainly the queen, is there to strengthen national unity and stability. By the end of WWII the media had started to take off in coverage of the Royal Family, propelled into action by Winston Churchill after turning the marriage of (future queen) Elizabeth and Prince Phillip of Greece and Denmark, as she was young, hopeful and the mother of small children (Williams, 2015). Prior to this public display, the Royal Family had been very private, with weddings and ceremonies reserved for upper class families. As the media grew, as did the eyes on the Royal Family.
In a 2016 study by the British Council, it was found that in a study of 5,000 people over five countries, 39% said that people in the UK are most proud of the Royal Family. But what are some of the characteristics of the Royal Family that make them so desirable to be a part of and make them the image that people want to portray in their everyday lives? Everyone knows they have a laundry list of strange things they can’t do, like not eating shellfish or rare meat, no wearing dresses without stockings or play monopoly (Lakritz, 2018), but the Family traits are much more reserved in their mannerisms.
Manners are everything, they cannot cross their legs at the knee and show their interest in politics, they must eat at the pace of the queen they are to be the most upright citizens of Britain. When looking again at the 2016 study done by the British Council on the perceptions of the best and worst characteristics of people in the UK, some of the top traits were polite/good manners, keep to themselves, and patriotism, all traits that the Royal Family is expected to portray at all times.
Perceptions of the best and worst characteristics of the people in the UK. Taken from Council, B. (2016, December 12) “Culture, attraction and soft power”.
Our need to belong is what drives us to seek out stable, long-lasting relationships with other people. It also motivates us to participate in social activities such as clubs, sports teams, religious groups, and community organizations. By belonging to a group, we feel as if we are a part of something bigger and more important than ourselves (Cherry, 2020). In a similar pyramid format, Maslow describes his hierarchy of needs, where belongingness and love needs are middle of the of the pyramid in the psychological section. The desire to belong is a universal human need that is found in all cultures. It’s a powerful motivator that dates back to our caveman days, when belonging to a clan or tribe meant the difference in whether or not you would survive. Maslow, in his hierarchy of human needs, places belonging on the third tier. He said that an individual must satisfy his or her physiological and safety needs, before being able to love and belong (Wilson, 2018). These needs are security and safety needs, the need to belong to a group.
When we look at the traits of Great Britain, they can strongly be compared to the traits of the British Royal Family. Privacy, honesty, consideration, diligence (Evason, 2016), all things that are portrayed as culture traits by the British people, and these are all things that are described as characteristics of the Royal Family. When looking back at the definition of culture by Hofstede, it is relatable to Maslow’s need to belong in the universal level, wanting to belong to a group, and further up, collective, shared experiences that help guide a person. The British Royal Family is widely understood as just a figurehead, and the Royal website describes the Monarch’s role as the “Head of Nation”. The Sovereign acts as a focus for national identity, unity and pride; gives a sense of stability and continuity; officially recognizes success and excellence; and supports the ideal of voluntary service (Oram, 2016). The creation of this national identity, unity and pride, is what helps to create and continue the British culture.
Cherry, K. (2020, April 11). How the Need to Belong Influences Human Behavior and Motivation. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-the-need-to-belong-2795393
Council, B. (2016, December 12) “Culture, attraction and soft power”.
Evason, N. (2016). British Culture – Core Concepts. Retrieved from https://culturalatlas.sbs.com.au/british-culture/british-culture-core-concepts#british-culture-core-concepts
Kellner, P., & Thomas, W. H. (2019, December 6). Cultural life. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/place/England/Cultural-life
Lakritz, T. (2018, May 23). 10 surprising things royals aren’t allowed to do. Retrieved from https://www.insider.com/things-royals-cant-do-rules-2018-5
Oram, K. (2016, December 9). The role of the Monarchy. Retrieved from https://www.royal.uk/role-monarchy
Pennsylvania State University. (2020). Lesson 2: Leadership in Global Context. Retrieved from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/2041071/modules/items/27977820
Synan, M. (2013, June 19). What is the Magna Carta? Retrieved from https://www.history.com/news/what-is-the-magna-carta
Williams, K. (2015, July 9). Elizabeth II: the queen who saved the royals. Retrieved from https://www.historyextra.com/period/20th-century/elizabeth-ii-the-queen-who-saved-the-royals/
Wilson, R. (2018, July 16). Longing for Belonging. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-main-ingredient/201807/longing-belonging