Cultural Values — страница 5

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secu­rity, borrow money, and expect a little help from their friends. Culture bearers are usually more aware of their cultural norms than their systems of values and assumptions. As Stewart explains, "being fundamental to the individual's out­look, they [the assumptions and values] are likely to be considered as a part of the real world and therefore remain unquestioned". Table 1, illustrates some of the general value orientations identified with North Americans. The left-hand column indicates what the polar point of the orientational axis might represent. The Contrast American column does not describe any particular culture, but rather represents an opposite orientation. Of course, the American profile is drawn in broad strokes and describes the mainstream culture;

ethnic diversity is of necessity blurred in this sweeping treatment. Thus, with the reservations noted above, it can be said that in the relationship of human beings and nature, Americans assume and thus value and believe in doing something about environmental problems. Nature can and should be changed. In addition, change is right and good and to be encouraged. That toe pace of change has increased to a bewildering point in the United States at the present time presents problems, but, as yet, change has not been seen as particularly detrimental. Equality of opportunity is linked to individualism, lack of rigid hierarchies informality, and other cultural givens. It is manifested in American laws regarding social conduct, privacy, and opportunity. This contrasts with an ascriptive

social order in which class and birth provide the bases for social control and interaction. The achievement orientation calls for assessment of personal achievement, a latter-day Horatio Alger (Lee Iacocca) orientation. A future orientation is joined to the positive value accorded change and action. Directness and openness are con­trasted to a more consensus-seeking approach in which group harmony is placed above solving problems. Cause-and-effect logic joined to a problem-solving orientation and a prag­matic approach to problems defines the much-vaunted scientific method. Intuition and other approaches to evidence, fact, and "truth" are associated with being orientations and philosophical approaches to knowledge and knowing. Competition and a do-it-yourself approach

to life are well served by a future orientation, individualism, and the desire for change. The statements above simply point out some very general orientations that have driven and, to some degree, still guide North American society. Change is always in the air. Many have pointed out, as Stewart himself does, that these orientations represent white middle class American values. They do. They serve the purpose, however, of providing a frame of reference for cross-cultural comparison. Table 2 offers a contrastive look at some American and Japanese values. Such culture-specific contrast alerts us to the need to examine our cultural values and assumptions from the perspective of others. As one studies the dimensions of contrast, one cannot help but marvel at the communication that

does take place despite such diversity. Okabe, in drawing upon Japanese observations about some well-known American values, reveals a new perspective to us. For example, the bamboo whisk and octopus pot metaphors refer to a reaching out tendency in the United States as opposed to the drawing inward of the Japanese. Omote means outside and omote / ura combines both the inside and outside world. In the heterogeneous, egalitarian, sasara-type, doing, pushing culture of the United States, there is no distinction between the omote and the ura aspects of culture. In the hierarchical takotsubo-type, being, pulling culture of Japan, a clear-cut distinction should always be made between the omote and the ura dimensions of culture, the former being public, formal, and conventional, and the

latter private, informal, and unconventional. The Japanese tend to conceive of the ura world as being more real, more meaningful. Interpersonal relationships contrast on the basis of the role of the individual and group interaction. Japanese patterns are characterized by formality and com­plementary relationships that stress the value of dependence or amae. Amae is the key to understanding Japanese society. The concept of amae underlies the Japanese emphasis on the group over the individual, the acceptance of constituted authority, and the stress on par­ticularistic rather than universalistic relationships. In the homogenous, vertical society of Japan the dominant value is conformity to or identity with the group. The Japanese insist upon the insignificance of the individual.