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Relationships in Different Cultures

By chelseahowe Dec 04, 2012 971 Words
Relationships in different Cultures
A clear difference between Western and a non-western culture is that Western cultures have large urban centre and a high social and geographical mobility. This means that the voluntarily come into contact with a large number of strangers, who are potential partners on a daily basis. However Non Western cultures are the opposite, they do not have many urban centres and have a small geographical mobility, mean that they have less opportunity to meet new people. Meeting new people/ potential partners is usually due to family or economics. In some cultures when mobility is reduced arranged marriages make good sense. Studies of divorce rates found that the divorce rate of arranges marries were very low. Other studies of arranged marriages found that there was no difference in marriage satisfaction of women from china in arranged marriages and women in the US, from non-arranged marriages. This shows that although in some cultures arranged marriages are frowned upon, in some cultures that may be the best option. However some cultures, such as China have seen a dramatic drop in the amount of arranged marriages. The number of arranged marriages fell from 70% in 1949 to just 10% in the 1990’s, research also found that the marriage satisfaction of the women in china form non arranged marriages was much higher than the women from arranged marriages. This shows that although in some cultures arranged marriages are the best option, in other they are not. Another difference between the two is the fact that Western culture is individualist and collectivist culture is collectivist. Western culture believes that the concern of the individual’s happiness is most important. This means when a person is choosing a partner they should have freedom of choice and could someone that is going to make them the happiest. Whereas in a non-western culture, it is the concern of the groups' happiness that is seen as been the most important. This means that a person forms a relationship with someone based on the interest of the group, most often arranged marriages. Although it is expected that marriages that are based on love would create more compatible matches it is not always the case. As parents are wiser and have had more life experience they may be able to make a better judgement on compatibility, and relations that will work in the long run. This is due to the fact that they are not ‘blinded by love’ However a study on non-arranged marriages found that ‘freedom of choice mates produced stable not unstable relationships. Western culture is very discontinuity. This means that they see change as being important and inevitable, this means that they see opinions on relationships from the past as being very old fashioned and out of date. This view also means that they are much more likely to have temporary relationships. In contrast to this Non-western cultures placed a great importance on heritage and their ancestry. They also promote continuity and therefor are more likely to form long term stable relationships. Recent research has found that the most important factor influencing what type of relationship a person has is whether they are from an Urban or non-urban surrounding. 50 years ago divorce was very rare in the west, however since this time divorce rates have dramatically raised. This change also occurred at the same time that Western culture also saw grater urbanisation and mobility. This is an indication that whether a person is from an urban/non-urban culture may be a very influential factor when a person is forming a relationship.

The norms and rules between a western and non-western culture also differ greatly. A norm is behaviour that it considered the right way to behaviour. A fundamental part of a relationship is reciprocity, which is where both people in the relationship give and receive to and from their partner. In a western culture, as they are individualist, it is not compulsory that you must act in a certain way. Behaviours such as reciprocity are optional in voluntary. Whereas in a non-western culture, which is collectivist, these behaviours are seen as compulsory and if you fail to follow these behaviour it is seen as being a failure to preform your moral duty. In japan there are certain rules about gift giving. Although there are differences between the norms and rules of relationships in different cultures, they do some times appear to agree. Argyle conducted a study of four different countries; the UK, Italy, Hong Kong and Japan. He found that although they did disagree on many rules of relationships, the things that are acceptable and not acceptable in a relationship, they did agree on things such as the fact that respect should be shown in a relationship. Some researchers fail to consider cultural differences in their studies. Argyle did a cross culture comparison of the rules of relationships. One critism of this study is that the list of rules that he tested the cultures on was conducted in the UK meaning that he may have ignored the rules that only occur in the other countries, such as the rules about gift giving in china. This means that the results collected may be invalid and not be representable. The opinions on Romance also differ between non-western and western cultures. Western cultures see a much greater need for romance in their relations, whereas people from a non-western culture see it as a less important factor. A study of Australian and Chinese students found that there were twice as many Australian students in a romantic relationship, and the Chinese student also reposted much more loneliness than the Chinese students. This shows that the opinions on romance within a relationship, differs greatly amongst Western and Non-Western cultures.

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