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National Culture and Africa Revisited: Ethnolinguistic Group Data From 35 African Countries

This study seeks to partially fill the knowledge gap about national culture in Africa, basing its research on data on ethnolinguistic groups (instead of administrative regions).

Bert van Pinxteren
15 March 2019
SAGE Journals


Africa is a continent of considerable cultural diversity. This diversity does not necessarily run in parallel to the national boundaries that were created in Africa in the colonial period. However, decades of nation building in Africa must have made their mark. Is it possible nowadays to distinguish national cultures in Africa, or are the traditional ethnolinguistic distinctions more important? This article uses an approach developed in cross-cultural psychology to examine these questions. In 2012, Minkov and Hofstede published an article in this journal analyzing World Values Survey data from seven countries in Sub-Saharan Africa at the level of subnational administrative regions. They argued that national culture is also a meaningful concept in this region. This study reexamines the matter. It uses an innovative approach, looking at ethnolinguistic groups instead of at administrative regions and using the much more extensive Afrobarometer survey data set. It finds that although the Minkov/Hofstede study still has merit, the picture is more nuanced in several important ways. There is not one pattern that adequately describes the situation in the whole of Africa.

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