First of all, I want to make sure that the
reader of this paper, understands what culture means. The term ‘culture’ comes
from the Latin ‘cultura’ and means, first of all ‘processing’, ‘care’,
The concept of culture is thus a
counter-concept to found, unprocessed, not specially cultivated ‘nature’. So, culture
is, in the broadest sense, everything made by humans in their near surrounding (Of
course you can find, 1000 other definitions, but this one is the most popular
So people like for example Angela Merkel, which
said that there is no traditional German culture, are saying in other words,
that there is no German art, music, literature, food, architecture or even no
German mentality. Maybe such statements are the reason, that many children or
even adults today have the opinion, that there is not such a thing as the
If I thought about it just a minute, great
musicians like Bach and Beethoven, or poet and thinker like Karl Marx or Goethe
came to my mind. Even the greatest mathematician Gauß or the most important
physician of all time Albert Einstein are part of the German culture.
Another huge aspect imprinting the German
culture is Religion. 23,7 million Germans are member of the Roman Catholic
church. 51 % of the German people beliefs in a God. (cf. Statista, 2017). The
head of state, for 12 years now, Angela Merkel is member of the Christian
democratic party which also has an impact on the German mentality.
When I ask a fellow French student for their
opinion of German values, she directly answered punctuality, which I think is
true. Germans like to be on time, and in Germany you split your work life from
your private life.
Germany is, a so called, low context culture.
When it comes to communication, low context countries are more explicit, and it
is very important that the communicator is fully understood. Most of the German
people are open-minded and very tolerant. Germany is a nowadays a multicultural
country, without homophobia, racism or hate against any religion. According to
the German newspaper “Die Zeit”, there are about 2750 mosques in Germany.
Based on Hofstedes model of culture dimension, Germany
is a very individualist, masculine culture. The society is driven by
competition and the goal to be the best in what you do. At the job or just at a
hobby. A value system starts in German schools and continues through the
organisational life. The German society is highly long term oriented. Which
means that Germany is a pragmatic country. And it is easy for Germans to adjust
traditions to new circumstances. Also, Germany is a restrained society, which
means, that the people have a tendency to cynicism and pessimism, also people
in those societies have a feeling that their actions are restrained by social
norms, what I can totally agree with as an German (cf Hofstedes Cultural
The Turkish culture
The culture of turkey influenced by several
things. Turkey is located in the centrum of diverse cultures. The country is
characterized by influence of the middle east and the mediterraneansee culture.
Anatolia is also one of the oldest settlement areas in the world. The culture
and mentality of Turkish people is also imprinted by Religion. 99 % of the
people are muslims. Many traditions and customs are set by law. Many Turks pray 5
times a day and near all muslims in Turkey fast during Ramadan.
Based on Hofstede’s dimension model, Turkey is
a high-power distance country. It means that the society is dependent and
hierarchical. Employees expect strict instructions and their attitude and
communication towards their manager is formal. Turkey is a collectivistic
society. People belong into groups. Their family, clans or kind of
organisation. Another important fact is that feedback is given indirect. Even
in the business world.
Things like sympathy, consensus and leisure
time are valued and encouraged in Turkey. It is very important to spend free
time with the whole family in form of, for example, a breakfast on the weekend
just to enjoy life together.
Turks use a lot of rituals in their daily life,
for different reasons. It may seem like their all very religious in the view of
foreigners, but often, there are just traditional patterns of behaviour.
Turkey is a very patriotic country. The
national movement battles around 1920 have created a new sense of nationality
and pride. The worship of Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkey is an
important part in connection with national consciousness. “From this past it results,
that national feeling is characterized trough sensitivity. The Turks are really
proud patriots and can be easily offended” (diploma businessman, Turan inanc
2006). I can totally agree with that. I once ask a friend of mine why he wants
the Turkish citizenship so much, even though he was born and raised in Germany.
He answered in a way as if I had offended him and hurt his pride.
I read an interview in the German “Focus” in
which a Turkish guy said “The Turks in Germany are different to them in Turkey.
They are more traditional. In Turkey it feels like the people keep moving with
the time, while the Turks in Germany do the opposite.” I experienced such a
situation too. I have many Turkish friends which I asked about their opinion
about the Turkish culture and if there are different things between the Turks
in Germany and them in Turkey. Three of them told me that their parents went
more religious and traditional since they left Turkey in the early 90’s. Some
of them told me their parents isolate themselves from the German society
because they don’t feel good in Germany. Maybe that’s the point where Turks
begin to put more value on the Turkish traditions.
Do not get this wrong, there are still
thousands of well-integrated Turks in Germany. Let me get back to Turkish
values and traditions. I interviewed a Turkish friend of mine who used to live
in Germany, but now studies in Istanbul.
What he like the most about the Turkish society
and culture is the social connection. You can go to a “Café” to every time and
you will meet Turkish people who are willing to have a nice conversation with
you while drinking a Turkish tea, or
smoking a hookah. The time after work is used for family and friends, not for
hanging around at the tv alone. He also underlined what I have already written
in this paper. That the weekends are used for big family/friend meetings just
to enjoy life together and having some nice conversations.
Finally, I want to add that, Turks don’t give
that much about punctuality. If it leads you to the goal, it is okay.
4 Decisive differences/similarities between those two cultures
this chapter I want to point out the main similarities and differences between
the German and the Turkish culture and I will also talk about the impacts on
the communication and cooperation.
On of the main similarities is the question of
religion. While in Germany, most of the people belong to the catholic church,
but also, many of them don’t count themselves as “very religious”. It is the
same in my family. We are all catholic member of the church but only go to
church once a year. Many Christians in Germany have their own definition of
being religious. It is often, not about going to church every Sunday, or
reading the bible. Sometimes it is just about uphold values.
In turkey the most people are strictly
religious, in contrary to German people. They pray 5 times, women wear
headscarf’s and they go the mosques on Friday. Do not get this wrong. There are
also strictly religious Germans/non-religious Turks.
German people are very work oriented, and the
daily life seems more structured and organized in contrary to the Turkish daily
life. For example: In Germany people expect you are on time when you have a
meeting. In business life, but even though in your private time. Turkish people
My Turkish friend who is studying in Istanbul
told me “In Turkey it´s often not about being on time. If it leads you to your
goal. Its fine”(Baris Korkmaz 21, Student). He gave me an example and told me,
if you expect your family or your friends for lunch on Sunday, you don’t give
them an exact time to show up. You will at best, tell them be here between
13-14 o´clock. And the will show up at 13:45h and no one would be upset about
it. In Germany, if you are invited for dinner at 19:00 o´clock, you should be
there at least at 18:55.
Another difference, which could may cause a
culture shock is the daily traffic.
In the big cities of Turkey, there is a huge
chaos on the streets. Near no one cares about street signs. It is more like the
one who hunk loudest, is right.
The German cities are also full of drivers. But
it is normal to follow the rules and signs.
Hospitality is important in Turkey. The social
distance between people is smaller than it is in Germany. If you are invited to
a Turkish house, you should be prepared for getting much food. And Turkish
people will offer you food so long, till you clearly signalize them, that you
can not eat anymore. Just a “no thanks” is not enough.
If Turks know each other just a little better,
they will greet each other with a double cheek kiss. Also, Turkish women
sometimes just go downstairs on the street to talk to their neighbours about
their daughters and stuff. In Germany you only do such things with your close
Coming to a similarity, I want to leave some
words about sports. Germans and Turks are crazy about football. Most people
could talk and discuss about football all day, and in many case´s it’s a strict
planned activity to watch football together weekly, with your friends.
Coming to a conclusion, I would say that the
thing that it is clear, is that Germany is more characterized by the
Western/European lifestyle and the Turkish society more by the oriental
cultures. Even though Turkey is one of the modern, more “western oriented”
There are still more differences than
similarities and if it comes to the daily life there are many things which
could cause awkward situations. Also, the question of values and rights
diverge. That could be the reason for the bad policy relationship between
Germany and Turkey.
Turkey things like freedom to speech and the freedom of the Internet are
slightly restricted. There are even cases where women get insulted when they
wear shorts or are generally light dressed in public. Even though they are
legally equated to men. In Germany women are fully equated. They can wear, work
and say what ever they want to.
The last and the following fact can cause
controversy discussions and even quarrels between Turks and German. While it’s
a normal, legally equated thing in Germany, Homosexuality is taboo in many
parts of turkey and controversy in all parts of the country.
All in all you can say that there are some
requirements to guarantee a peaceful, efficient cooperation. Integration,
openness and the will to communicate so no silent misunderstandings can happen.