CCHRC’s Peter Peverelli discusses culture at the School of Law of Central South University

Dr. Peverelli, on invitation by Prof. Mao Junxiang, held a guest lecture at the Law School of Central South University in Changsha, Hunan Province, China on January 7. He talked about his ongoing project to make Fons Trompenaars’ 7-D(imensions) Model, that has been developed for cross-cultural business, applicable to cross-cultural human rights issues. Peverelli has lectured about this work at seminars in China and Europe. This time in Changsha, Prof. Mao had organised a more informal session with a group of his PhD candidates and colleagues during which he could discuss the model on the basis of recent events in non-Western countries that have been criticised by Western governments and NGOs as non-complient with the UDHR. Peverelli’s central proposition was that most discussions about culture and human rights held so far share one major weakness: they lack an academic model of culture. As a result, the discussions seem to repeat themselves, without making much progress. With the 7-D model, we can calculate the cultural profile, i.e. the set of basic assumption people use to make sense of the world. We can then compare any two or more cultures and pinpoint on which dimensions they are more different or similar. This can explain the different interpretations between cultures about concepts like rights, obligations, freedom and other key concepts related to human rights. The insight thus gained can be the key to breaking open the above-mentioned stand-off in the academic and political discussions about human rights.

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