cultural essay

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  • Created by: Carly
  • Created on: 28-05-12 17:22

Describe and evaluate research (explanations and/or studies) into the differences between relationships in western and non-western cultures.

Gross (1999) suggests there are two main aspects to any culture; the objective aspects, including music, art, food, etc and the subjective aspects such as beliefs and values. It is the subjective aspects that hold the differences in relationships and marriage. In collectivist cultures, relationships are categorise as obligatory, permanent and as an alliance between two families. However Batabyal (2001) researched the process of arranged marriages and found that often in more modern relationships the “agent” (the one who wishes to be married) has the choice to refuse any potential partners. Arranged marriages are based on the idea that young people are unlikely to make the correct decision in choosing their life partner. It is though they are more likely to be swept away by lust, which is unlikely to produce a lasting, stable relationship.


Batabyal found there are stages parents, or “well wishers” go through in order to choose a suitable partner for their “agent”. The first stage is identification of a range of possible candidates, based on their family and economic status. These are then presented to the agent, who is given the right (usually) to reject or accept the proposal. If the offer is rejected, well wishes will seek someone of higher quality to present to the candidate.  Arranged marriages are a very common form of marriage across the world in collectivist cultures, Iwao (1993) found one in four marriages in Japan were arranged.


Arranged marriages are obviously most common in collectivist countries. However in India, both love marriages and arranged marriages are seen as acceptable. Umadevi, Wenkataramaiah and Srinivasulu (1992) compared preferences in female Indian students for arranged or love marriages.  They split them into two groups, those from professional backgrounds and those from non-professional backgrounds. They found that both groups of women were happy with the idea of arranged marriages as long as both people consented, they were also comfortable with love marriages as long as the parents approved of the choice. This signifies the importance in non-western cultures, of the families approval.



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