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Cultural, Social and Political Factors of the COVID-19 Pandemic in the U.S. and South Korea: Why We Have Failed

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The COVID-19 pandemic has had an international impact since the novel coronavirus first surfaced in late 2019. Since then, different countries have taken different approaches to try and limit transmissions

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an international impact since the novel coronavirus first surfaced in late 2019. Since then, different countries have taken different approaches to try and limit transmissions and deaths. While this is seemingly unprecedented in modern day times, many pandemics, or plagues, have happened relatively frequently in history. This paper examines three historical plagues through the lens of social psychologist Geert Hofstede’s six cultural dimensions to distinguish between cultures: power distance, individualism versus collectivism, masculinity versus femininity, uncertainty avoidance, long term orientation and indulgence versus restraint. This paper then applies these dimensions to the modern day U.S. and South Korea, two countries who have had different success in handling the COVID-19 pandemic. Through these dimensions, this paper aims to explain a factor in why South Korea has had better results than the U.S. It also recognizes that Hofstede’s cultural dimensions are not the only factor to affect the pandemic, and explores political influences in America through the lens of Henry David Thoreau and John Dewey. Overall, this paper argues that the U.S. has been unsuccessful in taming the pandemic because of certain cultural dimensions, such as more an individualist and indulgent culture, and its unstable and divisive political climate. Given this, the United States has a hopeful, yet arduous path moving forward with COVID-19 and future pandemics.

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  • 2021-05