We live in a global society and it seems the proverb 'when in Rome' applies less and less. International organisations (be it a software company or automobile manufacturers) put in a great effort to shape rules and norms acceptable for all the participants, from different backgrounds. Be a person secular or religious and regardless of his place of origin, the same rules apply.

People travel a lot. A person may work at a company which can send him to different locations (Singapore, Kenya then Azerbaijan to assist clients.)

Therefore, I think if the question doesn't ask specifically about local customs in say, Afghanistan or North Dakota, maybe we shouldn't pressure the OP to narrow down the question to a specific group. After all, if one is curious about a specific group, the asker will probably include that specific detail in the question.

I, for example added 'in western culture' to my question, though I travel a lot and I was curious about global norms. I did it, because an user was particularly insistent that I narrow it down:

" Where are you? Can you limit this to a certain group of people?


Right now your question seems like you're asking what each individual on the site thinks and I don't think there's one "correct" answer."

I realize that 'global' questions may have more than one 'correct' answer, but as I think there is no such thing as a "single correct answer" to the type of questions asked on this stack anyway, it's no big problem.

Even questions which aren't about international NGO's, but simple ones like "how should i handle the cleaning lady stealing small items?" probably can have good tips from people all around the world. So why insist to narrow it down to a particular country?

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    I noticed my answer may be a little bit unclear, so I'm just going to respond to your last paragraph. People here are searching for answers that are most appropriate for their specific situation at hand; not for what to do in general situations because they are merely curious. I'd recommend reading my answer below, as well as the two links that I posted above. They're a bit of a read, but they will do well to help provide you with background to answer your question.
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 2:11
  • @Zizouz212 i read them but i cannot figure out how to ask a question about, for exampme what do i do if i am attending an international conference in which i have ppl from all over the world and i want to address them all? How do i say 'Hi' then? And would be such question on topic here?
    – user1617
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 2:18
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    Yes! That would totally be on-topic! Because it's describing a specific situation that you're facing! By including the fact that you're at a multinational conference with people from all over, and that you want to address them all, it makes a good question!
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 2:20
  • So if i have a habit and i am not sure it's polite and i plan to visit five different countries, should i ask five different questions or maybe more, as in each county there are different minorities, lgbt community, religion a, religion b. and so on?
    – user1617
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 2:23
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    That's a good question which I don't quite have an answer to. My initial inclination would be to say yes, but I would say ask another meta question to see what the rest of the community thinks as well.
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 2:25
  • Ok, thank you :)
    – user1617
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 2:26

1 Answer 1


Yes, Globalization has brought the world's cultures, societies, and peoples closer and closer together to points previous unimaginable. Values are shifting, laws are evolving, and with that comes all the good and bad.

But even with this, cultures continue to remain distinct. The way you would act in Nicaragua is very different from how you would act in Turkey. While cultures are changing, they don't become homogenous.

So can a "global norm" effectively exist? Maybe.

But the problem is that to answer with a "global norm" would in many cases be inappropriate. Answering with a "global norm" also assumes a very broad and generic situation - hypotheticals that wouldn't help anybody appropriately.

Imagine the following question: How do I say hello?. Any of these answers could be put forward:

  • Say "hi"
  • Put your hands together and say "Namaste"
  • Shake hands. My buds have our little handshake!
  • Give each other a friendly hug!
  • Keep your distance. Members of our cultures like to keep distance, so since you are a foreigner, only shake hands if they approach you first.

All of those answers "answer" the question, but are they appropriate and useful for any passerby who stumbles on the question? No.

That's because each situation is different and unique.

Furthermore, the idea of "global norms" almost goes against many efforts to set a culturally relativist tone to the site. The idea of "global norms" actually implies that one set of values is superior to another, and is quite reminiscent of cultural or ethical imperialism (which is detrimental).

Returning back to that "example" question above, we need to make it more specific. Specific questions allow us to provide the most appropriate information to the specific situation at hand. You are more than welcome to ask questions about the same situation, if the aspects of them (e.g. culture, faith, gender, region... etc) are different.

  • But wouldn't it take too far cultural relativism to insist on knowing the race and religion of the participants? My question about second dates got a perfectly good answers without such inquiries you propose. Luckily only one user insisted on it (the same user, actually). And really, wouldn't it be strange to ask what nationality the guy in question is? Just imagine: "Ah, from country X! Then you should treat him this way. If he's from country Y, do something different."
    – user1617
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 2:40
  • @Nahiri What I mean is that questions need to include the information that is essential and relevant to the question. The onus to include to make sure that questions include that information falls on the asker, and the answerer. Different cultures have different norms, so we need to, at least in the beginning, have a basic understanding, so we can provide a suitable answer - the answer in Canada can be different from India. Note that this is of the situation, and not always the participants. Questions can always be improved and clarified in the comments, so don't take it too literally.
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 2:45

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