Comparative Analysis of Dominant Russian and American Values

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Comparative analysis of dominant Russian and American Values The question of values becomes important when we cannot understand and explain the behavior of foreigners. Probably you know this from your own experience of communication with people from other countries: sometimes we think that foreigners behave strangely or rudely or just differently from what we expect. In most cases this is what is usually called "cultural misunderstanding". OK, now let’s dwell on the concept “value”. There is a considerable confusion surrounding the definition of values. In spite of the fact that there are many definitions and innumerable studies, no definition has attracted widespread consensus. Kurt Baier notes that to define values sociologists employ a bewildering profusion of terms, raging from what a person wants, desires, needs, enjoys, prefers to what the community enjoys, sanctions or enforces. The concept of value refers to two contrasting ideas. At one extreme we speak of economic values based on products, wealth, prices – on highly material things. In another context, however, the word “value” acquires an abstract, intangible and non-measurable meaning. Among such spiritual values are freedom, peace, justice, equity. In many societies we find a growing antagonism between some of the new values propagated by the mass-media, and the traditional values inherited from the past. For example, we can single out such pairs as: traditional sex roles/blurring of sex roles or traditional family life/alternative families. But let’s analyse all this stuff by looking at two countries, America and Russia. First of all, we’ll give some descriptive information, then we’ll compare them. America. Before we can fully understand the dominant American worldview we need to analyze the historical and cultural roots of mainstream American society. The earliest settlers who came to the North American continent were motivated by the desire to escape the control and the social order of monarchy, aristocracy, and established churches. They were seeking relief from oppression and poverty and were ready to make a fresh start. Freedom is at the center of all that Americans value and hold dear. The U.S. Bill of Rights, ratified in 1791, assures individual rights such as freedom of speech, press and religion. The concept of individual freedom began to be associated with the United States. By "freedom" Americans understand the desire and the ability of an individual to control his own life without interference from any organized authority. As we can see, Americans' notion of freedom focused on the individual and individualism. The early settlers were mostly farmers whose success depended on their ability to survive and confront hardships on their own. This idealized self-reliant individual is easily recognizable in the industrial age as a small businessman who became a financial success on his own. This strong belief in self-reliance and self-sufficiency is the basic aspect of the American character. Though people are not equal in their abilities, equality of opportunity is understood by Americans as an equal chance for success, an equal start to enter the race for success. However, this myth proclaiming equal opportunities has become one of the most battered ideals of today. Only a relatively small number of people under corporate capitalism can reach pinnacle of success, no matter how many people are talented or motivated to succeed. Only a few can reach the top because they could discipline themselves and work hardest. There is also support from Protestant theology, which tends to associate hard work and personal achievement with being in favor with God. In any context working hard is highly honored by Americans. The self-esteem of many Americans is closely connected with performing productive and rewarding work. Students and children are encouraged to work part-time to gain valuable experience and become contributing...
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