This paper argues that the dimensional perspective on culture, arguably the most important development in cross-cultural understanding in 50 years, needs to be supplemented by in-depth treatments of national cultures. Such a treatment is the goal of a cultural metaphor, which is any activity, phenomenon, or institution with which members of a given culture emotionally and/or cognitively identify. As such, cultural metaphors reflect the underlying values of a culture. Examples of national cultural metaphors include the Japanese garden, the Chinese family altar, and American Football. The paper also argues that the focus on specific national cultures can lead to the insight provided by cross-cultural paradoxes.
Important remark: Examples of specific applications and exercises that various instructors have developed for cultural metaphors and cross-cultural paradoxes are provided in unit 11.