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Lecture 2

Week 2 - Cultural Change.docx

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University of Waterloo
Igor Grossmann

Week 2: Cultural Change and Evolution IKEA - Though founded in Sweden, IKEA is not de factor Swedish o 332 stores in 38 countries - IKEA tries to keep costs down at the maximum o Holes in screws o Disregard labor rights  2010 Sweatshop Hall of Shame (Labour Rights Forum) o Disregarded boundaries during the Cold War  Production in Poland  Production in East German prisons - IKEA is an example of globalization and cultural change What Are the Sources of Cultural Knowledge? - Beliefs o Self-beliefs o Religious beliefs - Practices o Scientology E-meter o Dowry in India o House shoes in Canada vs. US - External media o Architecture –east Asian gardens vs. Western gardens o Legal institutions o Mass media - Institutions Language - What does shi gu mean? (hint: personality adjective) –artistic - One can study culture through study of personality adjectives that don’t have an economical equivalent in other cultures - Proverbs Life Experiences - Experiences in every society are organized into certain loose patterns o Kitayama et al. (1997)  US cultural experiences afford self-enhancement  Japanese experiences afford more opportunity to self-effacement o Morling et al. (2002)  Experiences of influencing others are more available in the US  Experiences of adjusting to the environment is more available in Japan So Far… - Culture is in your mind o Brain signatures o Beliefs and attitudes - Culture is also “out there” o Practices o External realities 1 Cultural Change –What, Why, and How Fast? How Fast –Culturanomics: Speed of Cultural Change - Moore’s Law –the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years 2 How Fast –Culturenomics: Speed and Magnitude of Cultural Change - Michel et al. (2011) examined the frequency of words in English language over time o 4% of all American books o How fast do cultural icons (e.g., celebrities) get noticed?  Age of initial celebrity  Doubling time o How soon are they forgotten?  Post-peak half-life 3 What and Why–Suggestions for Recent Cultural Changes - Cultures have been changing and evolving in recent decades in several ways: o Increasingly interconnected o Increasingly individualistic o People increasingly intelligent Increasingly Interconnected Cultures - Reduced costs of transportation and enhanced ease of long-distance communication are connecting cultures like never before - Such interconnectedness has created a global culture –many large companies span national borders - This globalization has been countered by increased tribalism –an urge to return to traditional cultures - Why? o Interconnected  Marxist answer –consequence of capitalism (e.g., IKEA)  Futurist answer –side-effect of technological advancement o Tribal  Evolutionary ingrained?  Reactionary? –some recent nationalist sentiments may have originated in the capitalist West itself Increasingly Individualistic Cultures - Cultures often studied on an individualism/collectivism (I/C) dimension o Individualism –individuals encouraged to consider themselves as distinct from others and prioritize own personal goals over collective goals o Collectivism –individuals encouraged to place more emphasis on goals of one’s collective group/ in-group - Have people in the US become less socially engaged and less civically active since the 1960s? - Putnam (2000) suggests that social capital has declined in the US o Social capital includes in-person social intercourse  Bowling alone vs. in leagues  Less civic engagement  Less social trust - Why? o Television o Increased mobility o Re-potting o Urbanization - What exactly is social capital? o Similar ideas prevailed since emergence of mass technologies (e.g., radio) o Is it decline or change?  Are there new forms of civic engagement and social ties? 4 - Generation Me o Twenge and colleagues suggest that there have been substantial increases in narcissism in recent decades - Narcissism Personality Inventory (NPI) o 40 items o I have a natural talent for influence people vs. I am not good at influencing people o I prefer to blend in with crowds vs. I like to be the center of attention - Egos Inflating Over Time o Twenge et al., compared birth cohorts –all samples of the same age but from different generations o Meta-analysis of the NPI scores from 1980 until late 2000s o Results:  US college students show progressively higher NPI scores  Men showed higher NPI than women, but this difference decreased over time  Generational shift over 25 years twice the size of the current gender difference - Why Is It a Problem? o NPI scores are linked with many short-term positive emotional outcomes:  Self-esteem, positivity, extraversion, life satisfaction  Likeability o In the long-run, NPI has a dark side:  Distorted judgements about oneself  Risky decision-making  Higher potential for addictive disorders (e.g., alcohol abuse, pathological gambling)  Social consequences  Poorer romantic relationships  Aggression and assault - Critique and Counterpoint o NPI lacks validity as a measure of individual ego-inflation  NPI measure may reflect internalized societal expectations  Perception of societal expectations (rather than actual personality) of the youth may have changed o Changing social norms o News media emphasizing (younger) celebrities o Rise of social networks that are perceived as encouraging egocentricity  NPI items do not reflect pathological traits  “I see myself as a good leader” o Evidence is based on WEIRD sub-samples o Different levels of analysis –Twenge et al. did not account for variability within each generation o Trseznieski et al., did not find evidence for substantial changes in ego- related factors in the last 30 years 5 - Are cultures becoming increasingly individualistic? –an open question o Frequent claim:  Such a shift are especially noticeable comparing younger Americans with older generations of Americans o Proposed reasons for this claim include:  More pressures of time and money  Increased suburbanization  More electronic entertainment  Living through a “transformational experience” like WWII o Counter-claims:  Such claims have been made throughout 20 century  Confusion about societal views of younger generations?  Misattribution of changes in yourself to changes in the environment - A Culturenomics Look on Cultural Change o A number of factors can be indicative of individualism  Practices –baby naming: packing a popular vs. unique name for your child  Since WWII, Americans prefer unique names at an increasing rate 6  Role models –cultural content distributed by social leaders (e.g., presidents in the US)  Text analysis of narratives o % individualistic acts –get, prefer, differ o % collectivist acts –give, belong, share  Difference score –individualism vs. collectivism 7  External culture –content of books  Google Books o Examine collectivist and individualist words in all books published in the US o Individualist acts increased until 2000 o Interesting reversal thereafter 8 - What Drives These Changes? o Recall –urbanization, post WWII generation, technological changes o Other factors:  Changesin means of production lead to change in thinking habits  Increasing education lead to a greater focus on the self o Generational and technological explanations unlikely because of the patterns in the new data o Preliminary results:  Urbanization predicted changes in individualism  Social class (education, income) independently explained variance in the data  The % of the US population with at least a bachelor’s degree has steadily increased over the past century, with particularly notable increases among women o Beyond the US  An increase in individualism in traditionally collectivistic cultures seem to have occurred as well:  Japan –it can be seen from increase in divorce rates, decrease in average family size, valuing more independence in children  HK –authoritarian parenting more practiced among older vs. younger parental generations  Mainland China and Taiwan –value of obeying parents and filial obligations has declines gradually over the last 30 years 9 Increasingly Intelligent Cultures - Longitudinal data suggests the current generation to be more intelligent, with higher IQ scores than earlier generations –known as “Flynn Effect” - Based on rate of IQ increase, someone scoring at cut-off for “mental retardation” now on standardized IQ test would have score at cut-off for “gifted” a century ago - Most gains see in Raven’s matrices (answer: 2) - Proposed reasons for increased intelligence include: o More people receiving education than before  Increased percentage of population has bachelor’s degree o Pop culture has been increasingly more complicated  Movies and TV shows have more complicated plots  Video games have become highly complex Rise of Education in North America US: 10 Canada: Question for Consideration: Which of These Trends Do You Think Will Continue? - Some changes are also influenced by distal factors o Case
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