Personal Relationships across Cultures

Personal Relationships across Cultures

Personal Relationships across Cultures

Personal Relationships across Cultures

Synopsis

This multidisciplinary study is one of the first books to offer a comparison of relationship practices and beliefs in different societies, and to explore how broader values and economic realities may help explain the similarities or differences in personal relationships across cultures. Robin Goodwin discusses different types of relationships - friendship, romance, family, and the workplace - in a variety of cultural and ethnic contexts, and examines the way in which individual personalities, social norms, and larger economic, political, and demographic transitions have interacted to transform personal relationships around the world.

Excerpt

Turn to any television station, or tune into any radio talk show, and very soon you will appreciate that people are preoccupied with their relationships. Survey after survey has found that personal relationships stand at the fore-front of most people’s lives, with studies in the US (Klinger, 1977) and the UK (Argyle, 1987) showing that people’s relationships are their most highly valued asset. Listen a little harder to your chosen television or radio station and you will be introduced to an analysis of cultural diversity—or at least a portrayal of the prejudices and stereotypes that litter many people’s perceptions of relationships in ‘other cultures’. You will hear stories of forced marriages, oppressive child-rearing, nepotism and business corruption. You will also hear about passionate (often ‘irrational’) foreigners who speak quickly, wave their hands around as they speak, and possess fearsome tempers; and about other, tight-lipped peoples who never reveal what they think or feel.

The purpose of this book is not to explore how our everyday prejudices are formed, or the ways in which they are perpetuated. Instead, its purpose is to introduce some of the major themes in the study of personal relationships, and to demonstrate that cultures are both similar and varied in their relationship practices and beliefs. Rather than just noting these similarities and differences, I will try to explain how broader values and economic realities may help explain the relationship similarities/variations across cultures. To do this I will also need to consider some of the claims for universal biological principles primarily associated with evolutionary accounts of development (discussed in Chapter 2). In these discussions, I will try to demonstrate how many of our cherished views of other cultures are becoming less relevant and less accurate—if, indeed, they were ever accurate at all. With many of the world’s most populous nations currently engaged in rapid economic expansion, many long-established modes of living and interacting are also undergoing significant changes. These changing patterns of living mean that outdated stereotypes of cultural diversity constantly need to be modified to deal with the present and rather confusing reality—the apparently ‘strange’ synthesis of ‘traditionally’ and ‘modernity’ which now characterises so many of today’s cultures.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.