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Western Community…Asian Community…? Really?

03 May

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In today’s reading, two concepts which were brought up: Western community which emphasize individualism, and Asian/traditional community which emphasize interdependency. Given the context that we were talking about the psychological foundation of the social networks, many in-depth discussions were conducting on the class. However, I do need time to figure out whether the differences between these named communities result from the psychological foundation.

In my opinion, the psychological foundations for the social networks (communities), no matter western or Asian, are the same: the desire of connecting and the need to keep oneself safety. The most convenient way to realize it is to interdepend. The value of “independence” and “individualism” emphasized by the western community were not embedded in the western society when its social networks came into being. I do not think that any social networks or community can survive without interdependency.

It is true that there are differences between the western community and Asian communities, however, it will be a rush judgement if we say that the differences between them result from the different psychological foundation. I think it would be more rational to me that the differences result from the different approaches or characteristics of the historical development when the social networks were formed.

Asian communities come from a typical agricultural culture. During its development, people settle down wherever there is fertile land. Few people will travel around because they have nothing to live on when they lost their land. Land, as we all know, is fixed asset, which cannot be moved. Therefore, people live in the same place generation after generation as long as their land can meet their basic needs. Around the fertile land, people get together and begin forming the social networks. These social networks will be comparatively fixed, too.  Under this circumstance, people will tend to collaborate with each other and depend on each other. They collaborate because one’s help for the others will be rewarded, in some way, in the future; they depend on each other because they realize the fact that if they are going to live together in the same social network for a long time, people have to be dependable. If one person is not reliable, he will not be accepted as a member of the network, which conflicts one’s nature of pursue safety sense.

On the contrast, western social networks came into being on the basis of changing and travelling. Sometimes the western culture is called “sea culture” because of its origin: Greek culture, which is a typical culture values adventure and reason. If one traces the early Greek literature, he will find that most of them, if not all of them, are about adventures. No one who depends on the others during the adventure will be praised, and sometimes, the fact is that the travellers do not have anyone to depend on. The value of reason results to thinking independently, and draw one’s conclusion regardless of the other’s bias. As Dante says, “Follow your own course, and let people talk.”

I know that my interpretation on this topic is very limited, but I do believe that the psychological foundations for today’s social media networks are the same, otherwise, it will not be a social network across the internet.

 

4 responses to “Western Community…Asian Community…? Really?

  1. carolynfreed

    May 4, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    enjoyed your post- and I agree that’s it’s not so much as pointing to the gaps as creating a common understanding, and that there are so many common narratives

     
    • yangamandazhang

      May 6, 2012 at 10:17 am

      I agree with you. I believe you have much first-hand experience due to your working position.

       
  2. judithdyck

    May 5, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    This is an interesting post. My familial culture is also rooted in the land, in two continents – Russia and Canada – and my extended family has very thick connections through four generations. I had thought about this as being part of my Mennonite heritage (faith and culture based), but I can see how being affixed to the land would also contribute to the nature of that network.

     
    • yangamandazhang

      May 6, 2012 at 10:43 am

      Thank you very much, Judith. I think you interprete it perfectly by relating to your own experience. The most dangerous thing is to neglect the nature of their own social network and force oneself to join another. Any re-association process will be full of selections and judgment, and it can be a very slow one.

       

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