Analysis Of The Uncertainty Avoidance In Belgium

Hofstede’s cultural dimensions are developed by Geert Hofstede. He created these 6 dimensions to get a deeper insight in the cross-cultural communications. For this assignment I’ve chosen Belgium. I was born and raised in Belgium so know about the culture. Belgium itself has been through some difficulties and that affected a lot of people including me. I’ve chosen to get more insights about the uncertainty avoidance in Belgium. If you think of Belgium, the first things that will come up on you are probable chocolate, beer, but there is a lot more. These are just a few typical stereotypes. Belgium has a lot of history and way more culture than some people think.

The future can never be known. And this can cause a lot of anxiety to the society of nowadays. Belgium has a very strong uncertainty avoidance. We feel more stressed, have more anxiety or are more emotional when if it comes to having a lack of rules or security to follow. This comes because of our history, as we were mostly ruled by others. But also because of some events that happened that no one expected or could predict. To give an example of history, what might be a cause why we have such a high uncertainty avoidance, is World War I and II. During both of these World Wars, Belgium was occupied by Germany, and only holding a small part in the North of Ypres. The few years that came after the war were also very difficult, as the international economic crisis affected the whole country.

My grandfather was born, just at the beginning of World War II. And his das was in the army at that time. Only when I heard these stories my grandfather told, I could believe how cruel it was to live during those years and also then I understood where the uncertainty avoidance came from in Belgium. In Belgium we could also say that we like to stick with what we know. We wouldn’t go try something new or something that we have never done so easily. We would also think first what the possible “dangers” could be of doing something different. We like to have clarity and structure in our lives, just to avoid uncertainty and to know what the future might hold if you stick to certain plans.

Belgium is also known for their education, as they say, teachers are supposed to have all the answers on any question someone has. As in other countries where the uncertainty avoidance is very weak, teachers may answer “I don’t know” to questions. Another example more recently that caused even more uncertainty was the Financial Crisis. The Financial Crisis of 2008 was a major crisis that hit Belgium. It started around mid 2008 and lasted about 1 year. While I was only 8 years old and didn’t really know what was going on at that time, my parents were very affected of it. Two of the largest banks in Belgium started to face big issues. Ten years after the start of the financial crisis, the Belgian economy is doing much better.

In 2012, 22nd of March terrorist attacks happened in Brussels. One in the Airport of Zaventem and another one in a metro station in Brussels. The first attack was in the Airport. Around 8 in the morning a first bomb exploded by a suicide bomber, who was holding explosives in his suitcase. It all happened in the departure hall. Then another bomb exploded very quickly after the first one, also by another suicide bomber. A third bomb was apparently found after but luckily didn’t explode as it was destroyed by the airport security.

The second attack was in the Maalbeek metro station in Brussels. Over an hour later another bomb exploded in a train in the Maalbeek station. As no one knew what was happening during the first explosions in the airport, no one expected it to happen in another place as well. I was in the metro station just before the attack in the station happened and just can’t believe how lucky I was. If I had taken one metro later, I would’ve been there. It was on a day like another, I was going to Brussels with some friends, to do some shopping and just have fun. But all of a sudden everything changed. I had no idea about the attacks of the airport, as it was all so unexpected, no one could believe and understand what happened. The second attack in the metro went also so fast, that no one could do anything. I was in Brussels, just out of the metro station when I heard all these people screaming, running. It’s really hard to understand what you have to do in this situation, as you don’t know what’s happening. But at that time, all I knew is that I wanted to go home straight away, which was impossible. Everything was closed. I also tried to call family but also that didn’t work, as too many people were calling at the same time.

In Belgium, the uncertainty inherent in life is felt as a continuous threat that must be fought. A lot of people live in fear now because of this, they don’t like to go to busy or crowded places anymore, they don’t like to go to big cities anymore because they are scared of the unexpected and are scared that things like that might happen again. But we also do a lot more to prevent these things to happen again. For example, on events there is a lot more security, big blocks to prevent cars to drive into the event, way more bag checks. It is not easy to live in fear, and although a lot of people say that we shouldn’t be afraid of anything, I know that everyone does have some fears for something. But I do agree that living in fear does not change anything. These kinds of things should not be a reason not to live your life and enjoy.


14 May 2021
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