Relationships In Different Cultures

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  • Created by: Rashida
  • Created on: 15-03-11 11:02

Western and non-western relationships

Voluntary or non-voluntary relationships

In Western cultures people live in predominately urban settings, with easy geographical and social mobility this means they interact with a large number of people therefore allowing a high degree of choice in personal relationships and giving access to a greater 'pool' of potential relationships.

However non-Western cultures have fewer large urban centres therefore less geographical and social mobility meaning that people have less choice about whom they interact with on a daily basis. In non-Western cultures interactions with strangers are rare and relationships are often based on other factors such as economic resources and family.

Epstein, 2002 found that in these types of societies arranged marriages make sense and seem to work well, divorce rates are low for such marriages and spouses report to have fallen in love with each other. Myers et al. (2005) studied individuals in India living in arranged marriages; no differences in marital satisfaction were found when compared to individuals in non-arranged marriages in the US. However Xiahoe and Whyte’s 1990 study of women in Chengdu (China) found that women who had married for love felt better about their marriages (regardless of duration) than women who experienced arranged marriages.


Individual or group-based relationships

Individualist cultures tend to focus on the individual rather than the group; Western cultures place importance on the rights and freedom of the individual and individual happiness are seen as fundamentally important. In this culture the formation of relationships is based on freedom of choice. However in non-Western cultures members are interdependent because of the collectivist culture where the group tends to be the primary unit of concern. This may lead to relationships being based on concerns of family or group (Moghaddam et al.)

Relationships based on love may not always produce the most compatible partners, this may not


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