Strange behaviour in its cultural context
Cover Vreemd Volk
Why do people from non-western countries frame their diplomas
and hang them on the wall? How come they do not like DYI but do
like business cards? How can that doctor from the Netherlands be
reliable if he is not even wearing a white coat? Why is it that
this Western tourist does not want to come and meet my whole family?
It is often difficult to understand other cultures. Author Jacob
Vossestein believes this is caused by a lack of knowledge. His
book Vreemd Volk (Strange People) lends insight into
the behaviour of people in other cultures.
Jacob Vossestein is an inter-cultural trainer at the Royal Tropics
Institute in Amsterdam. He has had contact with an extremely wide
variety of peoples, both through his work and during his extensive
travels. These range from American students and Vietnamese doctors
to Zambian development experts and Russian businessmen. His years
of experience are bundled in Vreemd Volk.
In the apparent chaos of behaviour and habits, Vossestein unravels
patterns. He puts ideas within the context of their culture: Western
individualism versus behaviour on collectivistic societies, where
people have more rights and obligations within the group. This
distinction forms the basis for other differences: pride in your
work versus pride in your family, 'be yourself' versus status sensitivity,
and impersonal government assistance versus help from neighbours.
The author strives to avoid rough generalisations. He writes about 'many
Dutch' or 'most people' who 'often' or 'usually' do this or that.
He balances this vague wording with numerous concrete examples.
The book concludes with a series of recommendations for dealing
with other cultures.
Vreemd Volk is part of the Leven en werken in andere
culturen (Living and working in other cultures) series
of practical manuals in Dutch and English published by KIT Publishers. Dealing
with the Dutch/ Zo werkt dat in Nederland by Jacob Vossestein
was published earlier in the series.
Jacob Vossestein, Vreemd
volk. Over gedrag in andere culturen. KIT Publishers, € 15.00
Available from bookstores or by
order via the KIT website .
Marieke van der Velden