Japan is not a collectivist society

2 de marzo, 2015

 

Tokyo Tower

Tokyo Tower. Flickr commons

 

Noah Smith tiene un curioso post revelando nuevas características de la sociedad japonesa. Ya no son colectivistas, de acuerdo a la clasificación de Hofstede en Culture Consequences y otros estudios.

Apoya su aseveración en el libro de David Matsumoto’s 2007  The New Japan.

No he leído el libro, pero he recogido estos comentarios sobre el mismo en el sitio de Amazon:

Every social, business, and travel guide you read regarding Japan, and most of the fiction written in this country with a Japanese setting, perpetuates certain stereotypes about the Japanese people and their culture: They’re collectivist in their basic psychology, not individualistic, preferring consensus to majority rule and trying not to stand out in the crowd; they think of themselves as interdependent rather than independent, which has most of the same historical roots and social effects; they’re highly interpersonal, considering others before themselves in decision-making, again for the same reasons and with the same effects; they’re “inscrutable,” meaning they suppress their emotions in the company of others, smiling and maintaining an appearance of dignity even in the most uncomfortable circumstances; the Japanese “salaryman” expects lifetime employment by his company, giving absolute and enthusiastic loyalty in return, even to the point of almost never seeing his family because his social relationships even after working hours are all with his colleagues (this has an enormous effect on the educational system, too); and the man is the master in his marriage, expecting obedience and support from wife and children, while the wife runs the house and manages the finances (and divorce is to avoided at all costs). And not only have these long been the key Japanese attributes as seen by outsiders, this is also how Japanese have seen themselves, and how they still prefer to.

Drawing on decades of social-psychology studies and scientific surveys, Matsumoto convincingly shows that, while these stereotypes were true in the past, even up into the economic boom days of the 1970s and even the 1980s, they are all absolutely inaccurate in describing Japan at the beginning of the 21st century. This is true to some extent all across society, but overwhelmingly so in the younger generations. Younger Japanese, especially, are more individualist and less collectivist than Americans. Employees are more in more in favor of pay and advancement based on ability, not merely seniority, and lifetime employment is very much a thing of the past. Young people no longer suppress their emotions and have rejected arranged marriages in favor of marriage-for-love. Because they are far more individualistic than previous generations, younger Japanese are also far more likely to commit violent crimes; the “shame culture” is also rapidly becoming a thing of the past. In other words, any outsider who lived in Japan even in 1990 would find a greatly changed country and culture if he returned there today. This book ought to be required reading for any novelist setting a story in Japan, for all writers of travel books, and for thoughtful Japanese themselves.

Los rasgos culturales analizados por Hofstede tienen una cierta inmanencia… no cambian en siglos, al menos esa es su idea. Sobre cómo Japón ya no es lo mismo de lo que era… llevo ya más de 30 años leyéndolo; al final -siendo críticos- son la narración de como ningún país ha cambiado tanto siguiendo siendo igual. O lo de correr en el threadmill para continuar en el mismo sitio. Pero volviendo al tema, hay que decir en todo esto que la dimensión individualismo-colectivismo, después de un montón de estudios (creo que es con mucho la dimensión cultural más estudiada) ha terminado siendo confusa, al formularse demasiadas modalidades de la misma. Yo ya no se muy bien lo que significa. Así que su visualización en el caso japones no es de extrañar sea nebulosa. Aunque el comportamiento de la sociedad japonesa ante del desastre nuclear si da pistas de que las ideas que sosteníamos sobre Japón permanecen.

Si tienen tiempo lean el link que proporciona Noah sobre el desarrollo de negocio de Airbnb en Japón.


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