Dominant Cultural Patterns in the United States as Compared and Contrasted to Dominant Cultural Patterns in Switzerland
Switzerland is one of the most mountainous countries in Europe. The Alps cover more than half of the country. It is a small country of 15,942 square miles. The country can be geographically divided into 3 areas: the Alps, the Mittleland (plateau), and the Jura mountains.
The population of Switzerland is about 7.3 million, with the majority of the population living in the Mittleland area. Switzerland is a melting pot of different ethnic groups-Germans, French, Italians, and Romansch. About 6% of the people who live in Switzerland have come from the Middle East, the former Yugoslavia, Greece, Italy, and other countries. Most of them are guest workers and do not have Swiss citizenship (Culturgram 277). Due to the diversity of cultures, Switzerland has four official languages-German, French, Italian. and Romansch. Romansch is spoken by 1% of the population.
Switzerland is one of the world’s oldest democracies. The founding of the Swiss Confederation took place on August 1, 1291. Switzerland became a neutral country in 1815, making it illegal for the Swiss federal government to enter into political alliances or to make war except for in self-defense.
The country is divided into 26 states. These states are known as cantons. Political powers are divided between the federal government and the cantons (state) government. The citizens enjoy close control over the laws of the cantons, as well as the federal government. Referendums allow people to demand popular vote. Initiatives give the citizens the right to bring specific issues before the people to vote upon.
Now that you have a brief overview of Switzerland, we can successfully compare and contrast this country to the United States. Not just socially, or economically, for the reason behind this paper is to compare and contrast the dominant cultural patterns of the United States (individualism, equality, materialism, science and technology -progress and change, activity and work) to the dominant cultural patterns of Switzerland.
When comparing and contrasting the dominant cultural pattern of individualism I find that Switzerland obtains this cultural pattern. We as American’s are strong in our opinions, and are, at times, thought to be arrogant. The Swiss are more thoughtful and create a community of trust and loyalty.
Like each state in the United States, the Swiss cantons have their own constitution, legislative, executive, and judiciary branch. Patriotism and loyalty are established by military service. According to the reference book, Culturgram, “every physically fit male serves in the Swiss Army. They train on occasion and keep their gun and uniform at home-always ready to form a militia to defend the country”(278).
When comparing and contrasting equality between the two countries, the citizens of both the United States and Switzerland consider themselves equal. Both countries provide constitutions that guarantee freedoms and liberties for their citizens. Freedom of religion is guaranteed in the first amendant of the constitution in the United States. “In 1973, a referendum repealed articles of the constitution of Switzerland that were responsible for banning the Jesuit order and the founding of new religions houses, guaranteeing freedom of worship” (Bram 65).
When comparing and contrasting the dominant cultural pattern of materialism, I can only infer that the Swiss citizens enjoy creature comforts just as much as the citizens of the United States. The Swiss are known to be conservative and value thrift. The United States is credit orientated. We seem to be evolving around the idea of power, wealth, and greed. We surround ourselves with lavish, extravagant things, and worry about property and status.
When comparing and contrasting science and technology, the results are also similar.
The United States is currently in the age of computers. We take pride in our education, and colleges, and put much faith into the stock market, space, and industry. We as American’s are inventors, clever, and we plan for the future.
According to Philip W. Goetz, ” The chemical-pharmaceutical industry of Switzerland is a prime competitor in world trade. The chemical industry alone spends great sums on research, and many other industries also collaborate with the country’s universities and with the Federal Institute of Technology at Zurich and Lausanne” (359).
The dominant cultural pattern of activities and work in the United States and Switzerland are also similar. The mountains in Switzerland create a playground for activities such as skiing, bobsledding, camping, hiking, climbing, boating and swimming. We as American’s enjoy many different forms of “play”. There is a great demand for amusement parks, sporting events, art, music, hobbies, and food. We enjoy spending time with family and friends, indoors as well as outdoors.
Switzerland is considered to be an industrial nation, as is the United States. The Swiss are known for their craftsmanship and take pride in their work. Manufacturing includes the production of various precision instruments, watches, machine tools, textiles, and chemicals.
In conclusion, I have decided that the United States and Switzerland are similar in many ways. Our social and political systems are similar. Both of these countries are innovative, industrious, prosperous, and value freedom and independence.
“Switzerland.” Culturgram 2000, Ed. Grant P. Skabelund. 2 vols. Brigham Young University
and eMSTAR, Inc. USA, 1999
“Switzerland.” Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia, Ed. Leon. L Bram. 29 vols. United Statesof America: Rand McNally & Company, 1986
“Switzerland.” New Enc