Qualitative Sociology

, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 223–241

A modest test of cross-cultural differences in sexual modesty, embarrassment and self-disclosure

  • H. W. Smith

DOI: 10.1007/BF00987137

Cite this article as:
Smith, H.W. Qual Sociol (1980) 3: 223. doi:10.1007/BF00987137


Borrowing Hall's (1976) analytic distinction between Low and High Context Cultures, seven hypotheses distinguishing German nudists (low context) from French nudists (high context) are deduced. Data collected at public nudism beaches in France and Germany supports these differences; namely, that Germans have more overt time-space segmentation of activities, less differentiation of sexuality and sensuality, less body display, more male-dominated cross-sex body contact, more segregation of parts of the body, more staring behavior and more concern with accentuation of the body. These differences lead to conclusions that formulations by Weinberg (1964) of embarrassment and modesty are specific to high context cultures like the United States and West Germany and are inappropriate in low context cultures like France. Future trends in nudism are discussed along with the implications for modesty, embarrassment and self-disclosure.

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. W. Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of MissouriSt. Louis