Cultural Intelligence

Cultural Intelligence

Michele Gelfand [3.12.19]

Getting back to culture being invisible and omnipresent, we think about intelligence or emotional intelligence, but we rarely think about cultivating cultural intelligence. In this ever-increasing global world, we need to understand culture. All of this research has been trying to elucidate not just how we understand other people who are different from us, but how we understand ourselves.

MICHELE GELFAND is a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is the author of Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire the WorldMichele Gelfand's Edge Bio Page


For about thirty years, I’ve been interested in questions regarding the evolution of culture and its consequences for human groups. Culture is a strange puzzle, omnipresent but invisible. We rarely recognize how powerful a force it is. It’s astonishing that we take for granted something that affects us so much. It’s kind of like the old story about two fish: Two fish are swimming along and another fish comes by and says, “Hey boys, how’s the water?” and they swim on. Then one of the fish says to the other, “What the hell is water?”

The story has a profound point, which is that sometimes the most important realities are the things that are hardest to see. For fish, that’s water, and for humans, that’s culture. There’s just a remarkable cultural diversity around the world in terms of the last thousands of years. We’ve now evolved into 195 countries, 7,000 languages, and many religions. That kind of diversity is pretty remarkable, given that we share about 96 percent of the human genome with chimpanzees that have very similar behaviors across communities.

I first stumbled into culture as a subject while I was an undergraduate. I happened to take a class with Caroline Keating, who was teaching a course on cross-cultural human development. I had never heard of this field of cross-cultural psychology, but I was fascinated. She did a lot of research with Marshall Segall in Africa, looking at visual illusions. Even basic illusions like the Müller-Lyer Illusion, which Americans are very susceptible to, don’t replicate in Africa. I found this to be incredibly interesting, that even basic visual perception is subject to cultural variation.

While I was studying psychology and reading the textbooks, I was amazed that there was no attention to culture in these books. This was in the late ‘80s. I thought, "Wow, this is an American science." This was far before the WEIRD movement happened in the social sciences. I had some pretty fundamental questions about culture; for example, how does it affect our basic psychological processes or social dynamics in everything from parenting to politics? It just struck me as something that was missing in psychology. So, I left Colgate and I worked for a cross-cultural trainer. I was looking for graduate programs where I could study culture and psychology, but I couldn’t find a whole lot. I had a serendipitous call with a cross-cultural trainer who told me I needed to work with Harry Triandis, who happened to be in Champaign-Urbana. Luckily, I got into the University of Illinois, went to Champaign-Urbana, and worked with Harry. The rest is history.

Harry was an incredible scholar because he was a generalist. A lot of people feel the need to specialize in psychology more and more, but Harry was interested in everything. I found that to be inspiring. He had also not just taught me and schooled me in the theoretical debates and methodological complexities of cross-cultural research, but he had a lot of interesting wisdom about life. He had three things he instilled upon me: One was to be passionate about what you do, which is not too difficult; another was to not be afraid of controversy; and the third, probably most difficult thing, was don’t take yourself too seriously. I found that to be something I try to remember a lot.

I left Champaign and taught briefly at NYU before I went to Maryland, and there I set up shop to run a big interdisciplinary research lab on culture. Because I was already a generalist, I remember the students asking me, “Are you a social psychologist? Are you a cross-cultural psychologist? Are you an I-O-psychologist? What are you?” And I said, "All of the above, why choose?"

I went on to work with people from neuroscience, computational modeling, anthropology, and linguistics because you need different perspectives to understand a complex phenomenon like culture. One of the things I started to do research on, and to this day am fascinated with, is social norms. Social norms are this invisible aspect of culture. We’re constantly following social norms and we don’t even realize it. We’re an ultra-normative species. If I came to this discussion wearing a bathing suit, for example, you’d probably think that was weird. We’re constantly obeying rules when it comes to where we drive, not stealing people’s food in restaurants, and having sex in private settings. We just don’t see people having sex on busses and in movie theaters, and that’s because humans develop social norms to avoid those kinds of scenarios. They’re a critical invention of humans because they help us to predict each other’s behavior and to coordinate on an unprecedented scale.

All groups have norms, but it seemed to me that some groups have stricter norms—they’re tighter—and others are more permissive, looser. This was a construct that wasn't really explored in psychology. A lot of psychology focuses on individual differences like personality, which comes from the United States, and not situations and norms. Nowadays, we’re starting to develop an interesting interdisciplinary field of social norms. Back in the ‘90s when I was starting my career in cross-cultural psychology, values were the focus, while norms were largely left off the map.

I got an NSF grant and assembled about forty scientists around the world to study the strength of social norms. We asked basic questions such as can we measure how strict or permissive our society is? And, more importantly, why do these differences evolve in the first place? I came from the Triandis tradition, which was the idea that culture arises because it’s adaptive or at least had been adapted to some ecological, historical conditions in the past; it’s not just random. Also, what are the consequences of the strength of norms for human groups? Is it different than other constructs, like collectivism or power distance? Is it old wine in new bottles? We spent many years, and a lot of grey hair, working on this, and eventually we published this paper in Science showing that we can, across thirty-three nations, quantify how strict or permissive, tight or loose, societies are.

One of the things that we discovered was that there is a pretty important predictor of why cultures evolve to be tight or loose, and that involves how much threat the groups face. Some countries experience a lot of drought, famine, hurricanes, and some countries have constant invasions. Their logic is pretty simple: In those contexts, you need strong rules and punishments to help people coordinate to survive. That's what I was testing, and that’s what we found. I gathered data on how many times nations were potentially threatened by invasions in the last 100 years, or experienced natural disasters, famine, starvation, pathogens, or high levels of population density (even as far back as 1500), and it was pretty clear that there was a close connection between the countries that were tighter and their level of threat.

It’s not the only predictor, and there are certainly some super interesting exceptions, Israel being included in that. In our data, Israel is a pretty loose place where people try to negotiate the rules a lot, but it has a lot of threat. In our data and discussions, we could see that while it’s pretty threatened, it’s loose in large part because of religion. There’s a lot of debate in Judaism and there's a lot of diversity in Israel, which pushes groups to be loose.

We then went on to study whether or not this pattern could be found within nations also. The US is a pretty diverse place, so the next step was to think about ranking the fifty states on how strict or permissive the groups are and whether it had the same antecedents. It turns out it does. The South and parts of the West tend to be tighter in our data. They also have the most threat. Similar to the national level, we see in states that there’s a lot more order in tight states and a lot more openness and tolerance in loose states.

We then zoomed in to look at this at the level of social class. We measured how tight the norms in the working class are compared to the upper class. The simple issue is that the working class has a lot more potential threat—falling into poverty, living in dangerous neighborhoods, working in dangerous occupations—where rules matter. When we asked people what they thought of following the rules, we got very different responses. The upper class thinks of them as a nuisance, as something made to be broken. But they’re important and serve a function to the working class. So, we started looking at this distinction across different levels of analysis. I like to think of this as a fractal pattern, coming from physics, where there's this repeated, recurring pattern across different levels that we can see the logic of the strength of norms applies in various different places, including organizations and even our own households.

One of the issues with this original data collection was that it was all correlational, and we know that there are issues when you have causal inferences and only correlational data. More recently, we’ve been trying to develop more methods to look at causality. We can, for example, prime threat in the lab. We can bring people in the lab and I can prime them to think about terrorism threats, or natural disasters, or population density, which is a big predictor at the national level of tightness. What’s interesting is that within a couple of minutes we can tighten people’s minds, just like we see in the national level. But priming also has its problems. It’s an individual level, not population level.

I started to work with some evolutionary game theorists, and that was a great marriage. We’re interested in the same phenomena of what causes certain values or norms to evolve from very different perspectives. We have been doing some modeling to look at whether you can see that threat causes the evolution, at the population level, of strong punishments and norms. Of course, these are agents in a model, not humans.

The most recent study that we did tried to get at this question from a different angle, using hyper-scanning in neuroscience. We wanted to see if people coordinate more quickly when they feel threatened. That’s a basic assumption of tight-loose theory. So, we primed people to think about threats. We had people wearing EEG caps, and we were measuring how well they were coordinating on other tasks if they were threatened. What was interesting was to see how the role of brain synchrony helps to facilitate coordination after people feel threat. We found that when people were under threat, they had a lot of synchrony in their brains on gamma waves, which is one of the waves that signals threat. This facilitated coordination. We try to get at the causal nature of the evolution of tightness from different perspectives, whether it’s priming or evolutionary game theory models, or neuroscience. You want to see that your principles generalize beyond a particular method.

I’m also interested in revenge, vicarious revenge. Under what conditions do people seek revenge on other people’s behalf? My hunch was that this has a lot to do with empathy; it’s the dark side of empathy. I went to see Shihui Han, one of the leading neuroscientists in China I had met at a conference, and I asked him if he would like to go to the dark side and study empathy in neuroscience. So, he and I went to work mapping out the theory of vicarious revenge and the role of entitativity, which just means how substitutable people are in your in-group and out-group. How does revenge spread from two individuals who are having a conflict to people who have nothing to do with the conflict? This applies also to trans-generational events, involving people who were not even in the same generation. That spawned a collaboration and one of the first studies of group-level revenge in neuroscience.

I just published a paper with Joshua Jackson and Virginia Choi in the Annual Review of Psychology on revenge, not just on the individual and situational factors that predict revenge, but why revenge might be necessary in some ways, and why honor cultures, which involve a lot of revenge, have a lot of rationality to them. I worked with Andrzej Nowak, who’s a head of the Center for Complex Systems in Warsaw, another serendipitous collaboration, where we were trying to model under what conditions it makes sense when people seek revenge. It happens to be the case that it is rational in contexts where there are weak institutions, where there’s scarcity of research, where your reputation matters more.

People say that honor is worth more than money. I’ve been doing a lot of work on the psychology of honor in the Middle East. We try to present a more balanced perspective on revenge. Under what conditions has it evolved to the point where it makes sense for groups, and how do we present a more global evolutionary story around revenge?

I credit the Department of Defense, who has funded a lot of basic research on culture, with their push toward interdisciplinary research. I got a big MURI Grant, Multi University Research Initiative Grant, through the DOD to study conflict and negotiation in the Middle East. I took very seriously that this has to be a grant where people synergize—computer scientists, political scientists, and psychologists. People can’t just take their money and run with it. You learn a lot about how to manage these interdisciplinary collaborations.

Sarit Kraus, who is a computer scientist who studies negotiations, develops agents to negotiate, which happen to be better than humans when they negotiate. She came to Maryland and we had a meeting to talk about how we’re going to collaborate. She said, "Let me tell you something, Michele: I don't care at all about human behavior." And I said, "While we're being honest, I don't care about your agent." We got it out on the table, and we were able to figure out a way in which we could use each other in a mutually beneficial way in the interest of science. For example, I told her I thought her agent would be better if it had cultural intelligence and understood cultural differences. I needed her agent to study how people are negotiating in Lebanon, the US, and in other places with a standardized opponent. What was exciting was that we both benefitted from each other even though we didn’t have the same exact interest. We published work in computer science journals and in organizational psychology journals on American impatience in negotiation. We had a phenomenal collaboration. Each collaboration in an interdisciplinary land is worth the work when you have a commitment to solving some interesting problem. Karl Popper, who was a big inspiration to me, said, “We’re not students of some subject matter, we’re students of problems. And problems cut across different areas.”

I try to emulate this spirit in my research. I work with computational linguists, and we just did a study that was published in Nature Human Behaviour last week looking at how tightness and looseness has changed over time, using a dictionary we developed of tightness and looseness. I work with anthropologist Carol Ember coding ethnographies, to try to test some basic ideas around the strength of norms. I work with political scientists to look at mediation across states and what tactics work at the national level. It’s exciting to be in that space where you can bring together people to do things you could never do on your own.

Getting back to culture being invisible and omnipresent, we think about intelligence or emotional intelligence, but we rarely think about cultivating cultural intelligence. In this ever-increasing global world, we need to understand culture. All of this research has been trying to elucidate not just how we understand other people who are different from us, but how we understand ourselves.

Why does CQ matter? You can see it in many contexts, like negotiation. Sarit and I published a paper on American impatience in negotiation. De Tocqueville actually noticed how impatient Americans were years ago. I’m a New Yorker, so I’m quasi-impatient. We wanted to quantify the price tag for this kind of impatience in negotiation, and it turns out that Americans concede much more in negotiations because of impatience, because of the way they perceive time. They lose out at the negotiation table. These are important things to know about.

In the US, we have a culture of mobility and a culture where swift trust makes sense, but it makes no sense in the Middle East, for example. A lot of our work in the Middle East has been trying to come up with new models on how people negotiate so that we can train Americans to be more patient and to understand that we’re not always negotiating the economics of the deal, but rather we might be negotiating over honor or trust.

We did hundreds of interviews in the Middle East, where there's very little research on psychology. So, we thought we’ve got to get out there and do structured interviews modeled after Harry Triandis’s analysis of subjective culture and other anthropological approaches to understanding, in people’s own voices, culture-specific constructs like honor, or "wasta," which is about connections, or revenge, or modesty. At some point, I said to my Arabic-speaking RA we hired to work on this project in translating all these interviews, “Why don’t we create a new honor dictionary based on this data? We could see already that there are a lot of themes of honor—how people gain honor in the eyes of others and prevent it from being lost, the consequences of honor loss, etc.—so we created our new dictionary. We have thousands of words, and you can use this dictionary to see its role in negotiation. We can see, after the Quran burning, a big spike in honor talk. So, these projects take on a life of their own. You have to be open to seeing opportunities to do research that would be helpful for increasing cultural intelligence.

One other example I want to give on CQ is in the organizational domain. Organizations also vary on the strength of norms. Some organizations such as airlines, the military, and construction sites need stronger rules to help people coordinate, while others such as startups and design can afford to be more permissive. What’s interesting, again, from a cultural intelligence point of view, is that when these organizations merge, they rarely recognize the cultural iceberg that’s lying beneath. In a recent HBR paper, I talk about the exact price tag of what happens when there is a big cultural distance between organizations on tight/loose, and the exact amount of money that you could see that you’ll lose unless you negotiate this ahead of time.

It's important to get out to the community, including the State Department and other high-level officials, the importance of culture in diplomacy. This is true everywhere, beyond communication—basic ways of viewing the world that run deep and evolve for good reason.

Truth be told, I had a pretty low CQ growing up. I was that typical New Yorker who had the New Yorker cartoon view of the world: There’s New York, there’s New Jersey, and then there’s a bunch of rocks, and then the rest of the world. I went abroad for a semester, and I was the first person in my family to leave the US.

My parents are from Brooklyn. I remember calling my father and saying to him, “Dad, it’s so strange that, among other things, people are just getting up from London and going to Paris or to the Netherlands for the weekend.” My dad, in his Brooklyn accent, said, “It’s like going from New Yawk to Pennsylvania.” And I’m like, “Pop, that is an awesome metaphor.” The next day, and this is a true story, I booked a trip to Egypt. I took that trip by myself across the Nile. I started realizing how little I knew about culture, and that’s what motivated me to switch gears from being pre-med to studying culture.

In terms of future research, there's a lot on the agenda. I’m doing a big project now on the psychology of refugees in Europe, funded, again, by the DOD, with a cultural angle of looking at the process by which people are adapting in tighter cultures to looser cultures. How do you help people to create a more mutual understanding both to help adaptation and prevent radicalization and other things?

It's funny how you could be studying something for so long and still be kind of a shmuck in not realizing how culture affects your research methods and your style. As an example, I did a study where we sent research assistants to twenty countries wearing stigmatized types of identities. I bought them warts to put on their face; in another condition, they were tattoos; and in another condition, they just wore their normal face. We trained them in Bremen, in Northern Germany, where they were all going to school from their respective countries at Jacobs University. And then after they were all trained up and standardized, we sent them back to their countries over the summer to do this experiment. They were asking for help on city streets and in shops, and we were interested in whether there was a difference in how much help people get around the world when they’re wearing stigmatized identities.

What’s fascinating is that as the RAs went back to their countries, one by one the tightest of the countries dropped out of this part of the study. They just couldn’t bring themselves to wear these ridiculous warts and tattoos and ask for help. It was legal and ethical, but the schmuck in me thought how could I not have predicted that this is going to happen when this is a study of tightness and deviance. We had enough variation to do the study, but it was remarkable how you forget about culture meeting your own method.

In my own private life, I’ve started to use my research to develop a healthy family environment. I call this the Goldilocks principle of tight-loose. We know that you might need to veer tight or loose for good reasons, like threat, but the more extreme families or organizations or nations get in either direction, the more dysfunctional they are. Durkheim talked about this and had some data on it. I started to study that systematically. I could see in my data that the most extreme loose societies that are bordering on anomie and unpredictability and the tightest had higher suicide, they had much more dysfunction and instability. This applies not just to nations, but to organizations.

United, the airline, a few years ago, was arguably getting too tight. Even though it needs to veer tight, they needed to inject some discretion into that system. I call it flexible tightness. On the flip side, Uber or Tesla can veer loose for good reasons, but sometimes these places get too loose. They need to have more structured looseness, inject a little structure into that system.

The same can be said about family systems. You might need to veer tight or loose more in a family to help your kids deal with threats, but the more extreme you get, the more problematic. Helicopter-like parents and super laissez-faire parents can both produce maladaptive kids. So, I’ve been taking this to task. I’m negotiating with my kids over the domains that we need to be tight in and the domains that we could be loose in.

For example, the domains that are strict are things like how hard you study and how you treat your sister. But we also think about what domains could be a little lax. On the latter, my philosophy is that they can be a little messy. I’m not going to look at their rooms and legislate that they need to be super neat. There has got to be some places where we can give some discretion and some permissiveness. Social media use is something that we try to regulate more.

I talk about this in the organizational context. You can negotiate these kinds of things if you know about them ahead of time. For example, the Amazon and Whole Foods merger was a classic example of a tight-loose conflict. They have a lot of compatibility, but Amazon veers tight and Whole Foods veers loose. They were miserable, particularly Whole Foods was miserable after this merger because a lot of the discretion that made that company what it was was taken away. So, I wrote about coming up with something like a prenup before we do these mergers. What domains could we have given Whole Foods employees the same discretion they had before, but what domains could we tighten up? They liked to have a lot of interaction with customers; that was part of the culture. And it became much more standardized. That was something that was lost in that merger.             

Vacations are another example of a tight-loose conflict. People who love spontaneity and want to just do anything and let things roll as they go, versus people who like a lot of structure—these can cause a lot of conflicts on vacations. It’s negotiable to sit down and say what domains do we have to be strict in and which domains can we have more permissiveness in? You can create win/wins. My husband, who is a lawyer, definitely veers tighter than me. By definition, he is spending a lot of time in an accountable type of position. Lawyers, public officials, bankers—they have accountability. They have to answer to people, so they get to have more of a tight mindset.

On my website I have a tight-loose mindset that people can take to see where they veer on the construct and how they can start to negotiate it with the people around them. It’s an exciting thing to join my interest in negotiation with interest in tight-loose.

At the national level, I talk about the Goldilocks principle, which just means that we need to have balance or moderation in the strength of norms. If we can diagnose groups that are veering in either direction, whether it’s nations or organizations, then we know that we can anticipate some problems. For example, many people didn’t realize that people in Mosul and other areas were welcoming ISIS when they first came in. Part of that is because our data shows that there was just total anomie, total looseness in these areas. There was no security. ISIS came in and was providing a lot of order at first, and even developing justice systems.

The Arab Spring went from a very tight, repressive regime, and after they removed that dictator, went to the opposite extreme, to total looseness. In our research, we can see people on the ground in Egypt were feeling like this is unsustainable, and they were voting for another autocratic government. We call this autocratic recidivism. So, we can try to predict when these pendulum shifts are based on the loosening or tightening of norms.                                

One thing that is exciting is to think about agency and norms, that we can use the power of social norms to better our planet based on this principle. We can identify when we should be tightening norms that have gotten too loose, or loosening norms that are getting too tight. Think about the Internet. It has so many important and incredible qualities of connectivity and information. It’s arguably a really loose place that a lot of the people who created these mediums didn’t anticipate. Psychologists know that when you're not monitored, it produces all sorts of bad behavior. We don’t want to be like China, where it’s super monitored, but arguably we need to tighten up these spaces. I’m starting to do some research with some economists to try to think about how we nudge some civil behavior without restricting voice on the Internet, but behaving in a space like we do face to face.

We lived in this world for centuries, for millennia, working in small groups. We evolved to interact with people on a large scale. Now we live on the Internet where things are very anonymous. In this case we can, from the bottom up, start developing ways where we behave more civilly and tighten up. You could see this evolving already in some places, like reddit, where you have people who are given badges for good behavior, or people are kicked out if they’re obnoxious—top down. We need more accountability on the Web.

There are some people who say there should be something like a driver’s license to be able to go on the Web, like you need to have certain skills to be able to operate. Not control content, but control the anti-normative behavior that happens. You can also think about the flip side, about norms that have served a purpose and have been strict, but now are counterproductive.

For example, I ran a workshop in Israel last year on this topic. Alon Tal, who’s an activist there, came to meet with me at Maryland. He published a book called The Land is Full, which is all about Israeli population dynamics. It’s about how Israel has, and is projected to have, a population density that’s far beyond the Netherlands, or Singapore, and how it’s affecting the environment. More specifically, how city streets are going to be unsustainable, classrooms, and the environment. Israel is a pretty loose place, but like many countries, it has its own pockets of tightness, and one of the domains that’s tight in Israel is having large families. There’s such a strong stigma against not having kids and having large families. It’s one of the highest birth rates in Western countries in Israel, not just among religious folks, but among secular.  We got together population experts from all over the place to talk about how you change this norm. It was important for good reasons years ago, but now it’s butting heads with sustainability.

Thinking about how to go about changing norms in different cultures is fascinating. The nudge movement that tends to be focused on the United States is something that I’m predicting will explode and be global. But the same nudges that work here might not work in tight or loose cultures.

I’ve been partnering with people who are working with the World Bank and UNICEF, and they're trying to also change maladaptive norms in Africa. A lot of the places originally would go into these contexts, which are pretty tight, where they’d try to change personal attitudes and values and it’s had very little effect. Even if you change your attitudes about genital cutting, or breastfeeding, or about sending your kids to school, you’re in a coordination game. You have to deal with social norms and punishments and being ostracized in these contexts. So, it’s fascinating that social norms now are a big deal at the World Bank and UNICEF and many places that are trying to enact change in different contexts. They’re arguably trying to loosen up tight norms that have served some purpose, but they’ve been trying to nudge that through something that works more in the United States, which is on personal attitude.

That’s an exciting direction, to look at how you tighten norms that need to be tightened and loosen them and know the difference. They’re dynamic. With more and more research on this topic we’ll be able to do it more successfully.

There’s a field that focuses on horizontal evolution and how the new way that cultures evolve is through these bottom-up processes of individuals coming together and organizing and then stuff emerges. That’s compared with vertical transmission, which is something that has been very popular in evolutionary theory, which is how we change cultures from a top down perspective. With horizontal evolution, the authors are coming from a loose culture where this is very predominant. In tighter cultures, where people learn that rules matter, they’re looking more to authorities to help organize social action. And it’s more anxiety provoking to have bottom up, horizontal transmission.

Culture though, changes slowly in many cases. I’ve been studying as young as three year olds in terms of how they react to rules. We brought in three-year-old kids from the working class and three-year-old kids from the middle and upper class, and we borrowed Michael Tomasello’s paradigm where they interacted with a puppet (because we can’t ask them about how much they like rules, but we can have them interacting with a puppet. Max the Puppet). So, Max is playing these new games with them where the rules are invented, and then all of a sudden Max does something weird. He starts violating the rules of the game, and he announces he’s playing the game correctly.

We can videotape these kids and simply look at how they react. It turns out that they react differently. The working-class kids by age three are protesting against this puppet for breaking the rules. They’re learning by age three that rules matter. We do other work that is looking at how culture is engrained when it comes to social norm violations. We compare Chinese and Americans to how they react when people violate norms. It’s very clear that brain activity among Chinese subjects is much stronger in the frontal area, for example, which is an area evolving to think about punishment and theory of mind.     

These things are hard to change. They can be changed, but we should remember that they are the product of an evolutionary process where some groups want stronger rules and stronger leaders. It might help us to promote some empathy with people who, in the United States—people like Trump—or Le Pen in Europe, or people who are against Brexit, they are yearning for a traditional order. We could try to understand that. There are serious disruptions among the working class. Very serious.

Thomas Friedman, a friend of mine, talks about this all the time. The world is changing dramatically. Then you have leaders who appeal to these groups, maybe even exaggerate threats, targeting these groups. It should be no surprise that people are hoping that these leaders will return them to a traditional order because the world feels like it’s falling apart.

I’ve been looking at how other countries are navigating issues of class, for example. In Germany it’s very different; it's a tighter culture, generally speaking. There’s a lot more standardization around education, in terms of working-class getting certificates that can be used to go from different organizations. There’s some help in terms of helping people navigate non-college education context.

You look at the US, really pretty loose context, obviously some states tighter than others, but there’s very little support for vocational, manufacturing types of jobs, and the kind of support systems that you see in other countries. It should not be surprising that people among certain demographics and classes are feeling that sense of disruption and we have to deal with that. That will help us to move beyond what feels to be just an incredibly puzzling period our Democratic history.