A critical analysis of cultural metaphors and static cultural frameworks with insight from cultural neuroscience and evolutionary biology

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Abstract

Purpose
The purpose of this paper is to conduct a critical analysis to address cultural metaphors – a much overlooked aspect of cross-cultural studies. Mainstream cultural metaphors (e.g. the iceberg, the software of the mind, the onion, and the distance) are not only limited in number, but are also overwhelmingly based on the static paradigm – as opposed to the dynamic paradigm that is often sidelined in academic discourse.

Design/methodology/approach
The paper introduces the Diagram of Diversity Pathways – an interdisciplinary framework that sheds some light on how the inherent meaning and heuristic orientation of static cultural metaphors may stand at odds with evidence from the newly emerged field of neurobiology.

Findings
The implications of these metaphors are called into question, namely, culture is all about differences; values are stable; values guide behaviors; and values are seen as binaries.

Research limitations/implications
The paper suggests that theorists and practitioners should pay more attention to the contribution and scholarly work of the dynamic paradigm since there appears to be substantial compatibility between them.

Originality/value
The matching of neurobiology and dynamic paradigm brings into focus alternative metaphors which not only offer insightful perspectives but also may open doors to perceive culture in a new way. Furthermore, cultural metaphors deserve more academic scrutiny because metaphors and theory development can have a symbiotic existence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)530-553
JournalCross Cultural & Strategic Management
Volume24
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2017

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