Italy through the culture lens

17 Mar 2020


Let’s look at Italy through the culture lens

In continuation of the series on COVID-19 and cross culture(links at the end of this post), here’s a look at how Italy is facing the #coronavirus crisis.
Italy is currently the country with the second highest number of Coronavirus cases after China.*

Advice from Italy

Just a day or two ago a film made by Italians did the rounds. It was done by a group of Italians who were addressing themselves just 10 days ago. And also sharing with the rest of the world where the tide is about to come in. Yet another example of blurred boundaries.

Italy through the Culture Lens

Why? Why were they ‘the 10-days-ago Italians?” Because they responded to their cultural DNA. Let’s take only two dimensions of culture to discuss here.

One: Individualism
Two: Uncertainty Avoidance

Italy through the culture lens: Individualism

The Individualism score in Italy is 76. This means that Italy places greater priority on the individual rather than the extended collective. It is I before the others. An individual (and probably the immediate family) is more important than the rest of the society. At a time when the entire collective was more important, individualism took over. The rest is being witnessed today

Italy through the culture lens: Uncertainty Avoidance

Dealing with ambiguity is difficult for cultures that have a high Uncertainty Avoidance score. Italy’s uncertainty avoidance score is as high as 75. When something like the Novel Coronavirus strikes, it not only brings out the VUCA in the VUCA world, but it also forebodes the fact that there is no clear path ahead. Unable to deal with this kind of wretched ambiguity, the response is to ignore it altogether and do what you are used to do when given time off – go to the beach. All in good spirits. And yet…

A collective sound

So there we go again. A cultural response to a medical emergency. Natural and yet… dangerous. And finally still understandable. And now under lockdown, a collective sound entertains: a phenomenon that is now going viral! See it here! There’s hope, after all. In a unified sound against COVID-19.

What’s your take?

What’s your take on how countries are reacting to the real and deadly threat of the #coronavirus? Or how do you think they are reacting? Does it help to look at an entire populace through a common lens? Do comment below (comments are moderated so please be patient if your comment does not appear immediately). Else share with anyone who may want to part of this dialogue. Meanwhile check out earlier posts and await newer ones.

See earlier posts

Cultural Dimensions & China

Blurred Boundaries


  1. I am behind in reading but will be reading your post on China next.
    It is interesting to see how Italy is reacting to the lock down and singing with each other as they deal with something that goes pretty much against how they live their lives in not being able to just go do whatever.
    It is helping me gain a different perspective at the very least of how other peoples and countries are dealing with the Corona Virus.

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