CONFORMITY IN DIVERSITY

 We have two views: one view assumes the convergence of the global, political, and economic systems, and consequently of values; the other view predicts continued differences. One view suggests ‘societal convergence’, while the other view sees ‘clash of civilizations’. One suggests psychological uniformity, while the other suggests continued divergence in habits of thoughts. According to one study, there is a shift in the expectations of eastern mothers from their children: they expect them to fit-in harmoniously with others to get ahead in the world. Another study suggests that Easterners held certain ‘Western’ values more strongly than Westerners did. Can we  expect total convergence in a varied world. Some believe, conflicts will be more cultural than economic or political, as in the past.

There are some Eastern countries that have followed Western model of economy, and at the same time tried to maintain their time-tested traditions and customs. Their capitalism has been altered to cohere with their social values, like loyalty and team spirit, consultative management, and cooperativeness. Many think that there is always a possibility of becoming ‘modern’ without becoming ‘western’. In other words, one can retain its cognitive sense despite drinking Coke. “But a third view should be considered, which is that the world may be in for convergence rather than continued divergence, but a convergence based not purely on Westernization but also on Easternization and on new cognitive forms based on the blending of social systems and values,” writes Richard Nisbett.

Nisbett says that the eastern and the western mindsets are quite different from each other. Eastern mindset is circular. A westerner’s world is linear. The easterner believes that the world is constantly changing the way one moves along a circle and is thus not so easily controllable. By this, Nisbett means that a westerner thinks sequentially and logically, and thus the changes are predictable and controllable, as in a line. A westerner straight away comes to the point, because his objective is to forge a deal. An easterner, on the other hand, comes to the point through a long and circuitous route, as his objective is to forge a long-term relationship. An easterner believes that there is no absolute truth but strives to reach it. For an easterner, collective is more important than the individual, and, therefore, an easterner is ‘relationship focused’. A westerner believes in absolute truth, in the power of individual and his capacity to influence the environment, and is ‘object focused’. For an easterner ‘life is a mystery to be unravelled’. For a westerner ‘life is a problem to be solved’. The easterner believes in discussions to arrive at a harmonious solution. Westerner’s approach is debate. It is for you to arrive at a harmonious solution without having a debate. In some situations harmonious solutions are not possible. In some debates there are no ultimate winners.

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