Рефераты. Cultural Values

past than with the present and future, less with the decorative than with

the functional. He may be bored by medieval art but fascinated by modern

engineering. Foreigners will find him always ready to compare cultures,

though he may conclude that American methods are more efficient and

therefore better. In expressing his views, he may be blunt to the point of

rudeness. He admires efficiency and financial success. Eager to get as much

as possible for his time and money, he is sometimes impatient, tense, and

demanding. Often, he is in a hurry and unable to relax. His intensely

competitive outlook is probably his greatest fault. But one must give him

credit for his virtues: he is friendly, spontaneous, adaptable, efficient,

energetic, and kindhearted. All things considered, he is a likable guy.

Whose American Dream?

"All men are created equal," says the Declaration of Independence.

This statement does not mean that all human beings are equal

in ability or ambition. It means, instead, that all people should be

treated equally before the law and given equal privileges and

opportunities, insofar as government can control these. In practice, this

ideal often does not work perfectly. There have always been those who would

deny the rights of others for their own self-interest. There are times when

the American people need to be reminded that any denial of basic rights is

a weakening of the total system. However, equal treatment and equal

opportunity for all are ideals toward which American society is moving ever


The American belief in equality of opportunity is illustrated by the

Horatio Alger myth. Horatio Alger was a nineteenth-century American

novelist who wrote stories about poor boys who became successful. His books

told about the little newsboy or bootblack who, because he was hardworking,

honest, and lucky, grew up to become rich and respected. These popular

"rags-to-riches" stories exemplified the American Dream-the belief that any

individual, no matter how poor, can achieve wealth and fame through

diligence and virtue.

The "American Dream"

In the United States there is a belief that people are rewarded for

working, producing, and achieving. Many people believe that there is

equality of opportunity that allows anyone to become successful. This

belief is illustrated by stories written by a nineteenth-century American

novelist, Horatio Alger, who wrote about the" American Dream." In his

stories he described poor people who became rich because of their hard

work, honesty, and luck. The stories reinforced the idea that all

individuals, no matter how poor, were capable of becoming wealthy as long

as they were diligent and virtuous. For many Americans, however, Horatio

Alger's "rags-to-riches" stories do not represent the reality of

opportunity. Many poor immigrants who came to the United States in the

nineteenth and twentieth centuries were able to rise on the social and

economic scales. Today, however, the poor generally do not rise to the

middle and upper classes. The" American Dream" is now described as a myth;

it is still difficult for several million Americans to "get ahead."

Which Kind of University?

These excerpts provide two versions of life on North American

University campuses. Which version would be most helpful to foreign

students in general? Should a choice be made?

A college community is an interesting and lively place. Students

become involved in many different activities-extracurricular, religious,

social and athletic. Among the extracurricular activities are college

newspapers' musical organizations, dramatic clubs, and political groups.

Some of these have faculty advisers. Many religious groups have their own

meeting places where services and social activities can be held. Student

groups run parties of all types-from formal dances to picnics. Most

colleges have a student union where students can get together for lunch,

study sessions, club meetings, and socializing.

At many schools, campus life revolves around fraternities (social and,

in some cases, residential clubs for men) and sororities (similar clubs for

women). These organizations exist on more than 500 campuses. The best known

are national groups with many chapters at schools throughout the country.

Their names are Greek letters such as Alpha Delta Phi. These groups have

been much criticized for being cruel and prejudiced because membership is

limited and selective. A student must be invited to join. There is often

great competition among freshmen and sophomores who want to join. Those who

seek membership must go through rush (a period when prospective members

visit different houses to meet and be evaluated by current members). The

whole experience can be very painful if a student goes through rush and

then is not asked to pledge (become a trial member of) any of the houses he

or she has visited. Sororities and fraternities also tend to limit

membership to one particular racial and religious group, thereby depriving

its members of the wonderful opportunity that college offers for broadening

social contacts. However, these groups do help students find friends of

similar backgrounds; thus, they help combat loneliness for those away from


Student life at American universities is chaotic during the first week

of each quarter or semester. Registering for classes, becoming familiar

with the buildings on campus, buying books, adding and dropping classes,

and paying fees are confusing for everyone. During this busy period there

is little time for students to anticipate what they will later encounter in

the classroom.

International students, accustomed to their countries' educational

expectations, must adapt to new classroom norms in a foreign college or

university. Whereas in one country prayer may be acceptable in a classroom,

in another it may be forbidden. In some classrooms around the world

students must humbly obey their teacher's commands and remain absolutely

silent during a class period. In others, students may talk, eat, and smoke

during lectures as well as criticize a teacher's methods or contradict his

or her statements. It is not always easy to understand a new educational


Diversity in Education

There is considerable variety in university classrooms in the United

States. Because of diverse teaching methods and non-standardized curricula,

no two courses are identical. Undergraduate courses are considerably

different from graduate courses. The classroom atmosphere in expensive,

private universities may differ from that in community colleges which are

free and open to everyone. State-funded universities have different

requirements and expectations than do parochial colleges. Nevertheless,

there are shared features in American college and university classrooms

despite the diversity of educational institutions of higher learning.

The differences between cultures are leaded to misunderstandings in

many points.



Anyone who has traveled abroad or dealt at all extensively with non-

Americans learns that punctuality is variously interpreted. It is one thing

to recognize this with the mind; to adjust to a different kind of

appointment time is quite another.

In Latin America, you should expect to spend hours waiting in outer

offices. If you bring your American interpretation of what constitutes

punctuality to a Latin-American office, you will fray your temper and

elevate your blood pressure. For a forty-five-minute wait is not unusual

-no more unusual than a five minute wait would be in the United States. No

insult is intended, no arbitrary pecking order is being established. If, in

the United States, you would not be outraged by a five-minute wait, you

should not be outraged by the Latin-American's forty-five-minute delay in

seeing you. The time pie is differently cut, that's all.

Further, the Latin American doesn't usually schedule individual

appointments to the exclusion of other appointments. The informal Clock of

his upbringing ticks more slowly and he rather enjoys seeing several people

on different matters at the same time. The three-ring circus atmosphere

which results, if interpreted in the American's scale of time and

propriety, seems to signal him to go away, to tell him that h~ is not being

properly treated, to indicate that his dignity is under attack. Not so. The

clock on the wall may look the same but it tells a different sort of time.

The cultural error may be compounded by' a further miscalculation. In

the United States, a consistently tardy man is likely to be considered

undependable, and by our cultural clock this is a reasonable conclusion.

For you to judge a Latin American by your scale of time values is to risk a

major error.

Suppose you have waited forty-five minutes and there is a man in his

office, by some miracle alone in the room with you. Do you now get down to

business and stop "wasting time"?

If you are not forewarned by experience or a friendly advisor, you may

try to do this. And it would usually be a mistake. For, in the American

culture, discussion is a means to an end: the deal. You try to make your

point quickly, efficiently, neatly. If your purpose is to arrange some

major affairs, your instinct is probably to settle the major issues first,

leave the details for later, possibly for the technical people to work out.

For the Latin American, the discussion is a part of the spice of life.

Just as he tends not to be overly concerned about reserving you your

specific segment of time, he tends not as rigidly to separate business from

non-business. He runs it all together and wants to make something of a

social event out of what you, in your .culture, regard as strictly


The Latin American is not alone in this. The Greek businessman, partly

for the same and partly for different reasons, does not lean toward the

"hit-and-run" school of business behavior, either. The Greek businessman

adds to the social element, however, a feeling about what length of

discussion time constitutes go09 faith. In America, we show good faith by

ignoring the details. "Let's agree on the main points. The details will

take care of themselves."

Not so the Greek. He signifies good will and good faith by what may

seem to you an interminable discussion which includes every conceivable

detail. Otherwise, you see, he cannot help but feel that the other man

might be trying to pull the wool over his eyes. Our habit, in what we feel

to be our relaxed and friendly way, of postponing details until later

smacks the Greek between the eyes as a maneuver to flank him. Even if you

can somehow convince him that this is not the case, the meeting must still

go on a certain indefinite-but, by our standards, long-time or he will feel


The American desire to get down to business and on with other things

works to our disadvantage in other parts of the world, too; and not only in

business. The head of a large, successful Japanese firm commented: "You

Americans have a terrible weakness. We Japanese know about it and exploit

it every chance we get. You are impatient. We have learned that if we just

make you wait long enough, you'll agree to anything."

Whether this is literally true or not, the Japanese executive

singled out a trait of American culture which most of us share and which,

one may assume from the newspapers, the Russians have not overlooked,


By acquaintance time we mean how long you must know a man be fore

you are willing to do business with him.

In the United States, if we know that a salesman represents a well

known, reputable company, and if we need his product, he may walk away from

the first meeting with an order in his pocket. A few minutes conversation

to decide matters of price, delivery, payment, model of product-nothing

more is involved. In Central America, local custom does not permit a

salesman to land in town, call on the customer and walk away with an order,

no matter how badly your prospect wants and needs your product. It is

traditional there that you must see your man at least three times before

you can discuss the nature of your business.

Does this mean that the South American businessman does not recognize

the merits of one product over another? Of course it doesn't. It is just

that the weight of tradition presses him to do business within a circle of

friends. If a product he needs is not available within his circle, he does

not go outside it so much as he enlarges the circle itself to include a new

friend who can supply the want. Apart from his cultural need to "feel

right" about a new relationship, there is the logic of his business system.

One of the realities of his life is that it is dangerous to enter into

business with someone over whom you have no more than formal, legal

"control." In the past decades, his legal system has not always been as

firm as ours and he has learned through experience that he needs the

sanctions implicit in the informal system of friendship.

Visiting time involves the question of who sets the time for a visit.

George Coelho, a social psychologist from India, gives an illustrative

case. A U.S. businessman received this invitation from an Indian

businessman: "Won't you and your family come and see us? Come any time."

Several weeks later, the Indian repeated the invitation in the same words.

Each time the American replied that he would certainly like to drop in-but

he never did. The reason is obvious in terms of our culture. Here "come any

time" is just an expression of friendliness. You are not really expected to

show up unless your host proposes a specific time. In India, on the

contrary, the words are meant literally-that the host is putting himself at

the disposal of his guest and really expects him to come. It is the essence

of politeness to leave it to the guest to set a time at his convenience. If

the guest never comes, the Indian naturally assumes that he does not want

to come. Such a misunderstanding can lead to a serious rift between men who

are trying to do business with each other.

Time schedules present Americans with another problem in many parts of

the world. Without schedules, deadlines, priorities, and timetables, we

tend to feel that our country could not run at all. Not only are they

essential to getting work done, but they also play an important role in the

informal communication process. Deadlines indicate priorities and

priorities signal the relative importance of people and the processes they

control. These are all so much a part of our lives that a day hardly passes

without some reference to them. "I have to be there by 6: 30." "If I don't

have these plans out by 5:00 they'll be useless." "I told J. B. I'd be

finished by noon tomorrow and now he tells me to drop everything and get

hot on the McDermott account. What do I do now?"

In our system, there are severe penalties for not completing work on

time and important rewards for holding to schedules. One's integrity and

reputation are at stake.

You can imagine the fundamental conflicts that arise when we attempt

to do business with people who are just as strongly oriented away from time

schedules as we are toward them.

The Middle Eastern peoples are a case in point. Not only is our idea

of time schedules no part of Arab life but the mere mention of a dead line

to an' Arab is like waving a red flag in front of a bull. In his culture,

your emphasis on a deadline has the emotional effect on him that his

backing you into a corner and threatening you with a club would have on


One effect of this conflict of unconscious habit patterns is that

hundreds of American-owned radio sets are lying on the shelves of Arab

radio repair shops, untouched. The Americans made the serious cross-

cultural error of asking to have the repair completed by a certain time.

How do you cope with this? How does the Arab get another Arab to do

anything? Every culture has its own ways of bringing pressure to get

results. The usual Arab way is one which Americans avoid as "bad manners."

It is needling.

An Arab businessman whose car broke down explained it this way:

First, I go to the garage and tell the mechanic what is wrong with my

car. I wouldn't want to give him the idea that I didn't know. After that, I

leave the car and walk around the block. When I come back to the garage, I

ask him if he has started to work yet. On my way home from lunch I stop in

and ask him how things are going. When I go back to the office I stop by

again. In the evening, I return and peer over his shoulder for a while. If

I didn't keep this up, he'd be off working on someone else's car.

If you haven't been needled by an Arab, you just haven't been needled.


We say that there is a time and place for everything, but compared to

other countries and cultures we give very little emphasis to place

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