National character, or as we now say national culture, is vastly important, recognized in practice by almost everyone, but always elusive to ascertain.
Geert Hofstede developed one method, which began decades ago as a study of the national differences among IBM subsidiaries. Hofstede posited four (later five) independent dimensions of difference among national cultures. They are:
Then there is also the thorny question of whether there are differences of character or culture between civilizations. Does it make sense to speak of a “civilizational culture” or a “civilzational character”?
When we look at Hofstede’s measures of individualism, we soon see a Western cluster (I have put in bold the countries of Europe, plus its offshoots). The outliers are Greece and Portugal – much less individualist than the other Western countries. So, I conclude from this that individualism is one distinctive feature of Western culture. (I have commented on the west here, here, here, and here.)
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