Unit 3 Cultural DiversityReading I Different Lands, Different FriendshipsComprehension questions 1. Why is it comparatively easy to make friends in the United States? Because few Americans stay put for a lifetime. With each move, forming new friendship becomes a necessity and part of their new life. 2. Do people from different countries usually have different expectations about what constitutes friendship and how it comes into being? Yes. The difficulty when strangers from two countries meet is their different expectations about what constitutes friendship and how it comes into being. 3. How is friendship in America different from friendship in West Europe? In West Europe, friendship is quite sharply distinguished from other, more casual relationships, is usually more particularized and carries a heavier burden of commitment, while in America the word “friend” can be applied to a wide range of relationship and a friendship may be superficial, casual, situational or deep and enduring. 4. In what country does friendship have much to do with one’s family? And in what country does it not? In Germany, friendship has much to do with one„s family as friends are usually brought into the family, while in France it doesn‟t as, for instance, two men may have been friends for a long time without knowing each other„s personal life. 5. What is friendship like when it is compartmentalized? For instance, a man may play chess with a friend for thirty years without knowing his political opinions, or he may talk politics with him for as long a time without knowing about his personal life. Different friends fill different niches in each person‟s life. 6. What are friendships usually based on in England? English friendships are based on shared activity. Activities at different stages of life may be of very different kinds. In the midst of the activity, whatever it may be, people fall into steps and find that they participate in the activity with the same easy anticipation of what each will do day by day or in some critical situation. 7. Do you think friendship shares some common elements in different cultures? If you do, what are they? Yes. There is the recognition that friendship, in contrast with kinship, invokes freedom of choice. A friend is someone who chooses and is chosen. Related to this is the sense each friend gives the other of being a special individual, on whatever grounds this recognition is based. And between friends there is inevitably a kind of equality of give-and-take. 8. What do you think is the typical Chinese concept of friendship? Is it similar to or different from any of the Western friendships?
It seems that the typical Chinese concept of friendship lays great emphasis on personal loyalty and also has much to do with family. It may be similar to Germany friendship to some extent and quite different from other Western friendships.Reading II Comparing and Contrasting CulturesComprehension questions 1. How is the mainstream American culture different from the Japanese culture? Americans believe that human nature is basically good and man is the master of nature. They are future-oriented and “being”-oriented. Their social orientation is toward the importance of the individual and the equality of all people. However, the Japanese believe that human nature is a mixture of good and evil. Man is in harmony with nature. They are both past-oriented and future-oriented. And they are both “growing-”and “doing-”oriented. They give emphasis to authorities and the group. 2. Can you find examples to support the author’s view of traditional cultures in different value orientations? For example, the traditional Indian culture believes that man is subjugated by nature and it is being-oriented (which can be exemplified by its caste system). Also, traditional Chinese culture is past-oriented, for emphasis has long been given to learning from the old and past. 3. Why do Americans tend to equate “change” with “improvement” and regard rapid change as normal? Concerning orientation toward time, Americans are dominated by a belief in progress. They are future-oriented. They believe that “time is money” and have an optimistic faith in the future and what the future will bring. So they tend to equate “change” with “improvement” and consider a rapid rate of change as normal. 4. What does “Electric Englishman” mean when it is used to describe the American? As for activity, Americans are so action-oriented that they tend to be hyperactive. That‟s why that they have been described as “Electric Englishmen”, who always keep themselves busy. 5. How would you explain the fact that contradictory values may exist in the same culture? As time changes faster and faster and there is more contact between cultures, it is more likely to find contradictory values existing in the same culture. This is especially the case in a society that is being transformed from a traditional one into a modern one. For example, in the Japanese culture, some people may still be very past-oriented and some are rather future-oriented, and even the same people may be sometimes past-oriented in certain situations and sometime future-oriented in other situations. 6. What can we get from models of this kind about cultural differences? Models of this kind are quite useful in giving rough pictures of striking contrasts and differences of different cultures. However, such a model only compares cultures on some basic orientations. It does not tell us everything about every conceivable culture. We have to recognize that models of this kind are over-simplifications and can only give approximations of reality.
7. Do cultural values change as time changes? Yes, the values may be in the process of marked change due to rapid modernization and globalization. However, they have a way of persisting in spite of change. The evolution of values is a slow process, since they are rooted in survival needs and passed on from generation to generation. 8. How is communication influenced by differing cultural values? Putting people from one culture into another culture with radically different value orientations could cause stress, disorientation, and breakdowns in communication.Case Study Case 9 Hierarchy is significant in the Japanese culture. This structure is reflected everywhere in Japanese life, at home, school, community, organizations, and traditional institutions such as martial arts or flower arrangements. In this case, the young chairman must have had his own ideas about how to manage the company; however, when encountered with his grandfather‟s dissenting opinions, he dared not to take a stand against him. This may manifest the rigid hierarchical structure in the Japanese society. In the Japanese society, how hierarchy is formed depends mainly on seniority, social roles, and gender. As a respectable senior member of the family and the former leader of the company, the grandfather obviously overpowered the inexperienced young chairman. In other words, the grandfather seemed to be an absolute authority for the young chairman. In Japanese culture, challenging or disagreeing with elders‟ opinions would be deemed as being disrespectful and is often condemned. People in lower positions are expected to be loyal and obedient to authority. That„s why the young chairman didn‟t say anything but just nodded and agreed with his grandfather. But Phil seemed to know little about the Japanese culture in this aspect. In many Western cultures, particularly American culture, seniority seldom matters very much in such situations, and young people are usually encouraged to challenge authority and voice their own opinions. Unfortunately, his outspoken protest could easily offend the grandfather and he might be regarded as a rude and ill-bred person by other Japanese. Case 10 In Japan, a company is often very much like a big family, in
which the manger(s) will take good care of the employees and the employees are expected to devote themselves to the development of the company and, if it is necessary, to sacrifice their own individual interests for the interests of the company, from which, in the long run, the employees will benefit greatly. But for the French, a company is just a loosely- knit social organization wherein individuals are supposed to take care of themselves and their families. Moreover, the way the French make decisions in the family might also be different from the typical Japanese one, which may not often involve females and the power to decide usually lies with the dominating male. As there are such cultural differences between the Japanese and the French, Mr. Legrand‟s decision made Mr. Tanaka feel dumbfounded. Case 11 Incidents such as these can point to possible cultural differences in so-called “polite” behavior, and at the same time highlight the tendency for people to react emotionally to unexpected behavior. People in most cultures would probably agree that an apology is needed when an offence or violation of social norms has taken place. However, there may be differing opinions as to when we should apologize (what situations call for an apology) and how we should apologize. To many Westerners, Japanese apologize more frequently and an apology in Japanese does not necessarily mean that the person is acknowledging a fault. To many Japanese, Westerners may seem to be rude just because they do not apologize as often as the Japanese would do. In this case, for instance, the attitude of the Australian student‟s parents is shocking to the Japanese but will be acceptable in an English-speaking society, for the student is already an adult and can be responsible for her own deeds. Case 12 In this case, it seems that the Chinese expectations were not fulfilled. First, having two people sharing host responsibilities could be somewhat confusing to the hierarchically minded Chinese. Second, because age is often viewed as an indication of seniority, the Chinese might have considered the youth of their Canadian
hosts as slight to their own status. Third, in China, it is traditional for the host to offer a welcome toast at the beginning of the meal, which is the reciprocated by the guests; by not doing so, the Canadian might be thought rude. The abrupt departure of the Chinese following the banquet was probably an indication that they were not pleased with the way they were treated. The Canadians‟ lack of understanding of the Chinese culture and the Chinese ways of communication clearly cost them in their business dealings with the visiting delegation.