You Can’t Always Get What You Want…

Filed under:☽2004,Culture — posted by JAWjaw on 8/19/2004 @ 10:28 pm

Having lived in more than one culture for approximately the same amount of time (America 21 years, Guam 2, and Japan 25) I have had the opportunity to really observe the differences in those cultures, as well as the similarities in people. Many people believe the differences in the two cultures stem from the basic social structure, America being more individual oriented as opposed to Japan’s group orientation. I see the main difference more a question of how one obtains what one wants, while remaining in the “good graces” of fellow humans. On one hand, Americans tend to use the “black and white” strategy – what is right and what is wrong. This approach usually includes the intention behind an action, and therefore the consideration of others, in determining what behavior is socially acceptable. Locals, on the other hand, have a more “grey” outlook as to acceptable behavior – what can one get away with. (This standard may account for the child-like facet of their behavior.) For example, what many people see in the Asian culture as “being polite” is nothing more than “formal” cliché comments that are, usually, full of excuses. Normally the behavior is reserved for situations that can lead to personal or monetary gain. (If you don’t agree, spend a week just observing the locals in everyday situations and see how inconsiderate of others they can be.) In both countries, one can observe individuals who, for personal gain, try to use the cultural standards to manipulate the behaviors of others, despite the differences in approach.

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