Friday, April 13, 2012
Attributional and Locational Collectivism
The attached video shows a Mr. Mikami demonstrate how to change the netting in a Amido (網戸） or net window. Note that when Mr. Mikami introduces himself in answer to my question at 5;15, he starts with his affiliation as polite Japanese gentlemen do (Nakane, 1970, p2-3, in, Hasegawa & Hirose, 2005, p222).
Here is the quote from Nakane (1970) describing Mr. Mikami's self introduction perfectly.
"This ready tendency of the Japanese to stress situational position in a particular frame, rather than universal attribute can be seen in the following example; when a Japanese ' faces the outside' (confronts another person) and affixes some position to himself socially he is inclined to give precedence to institution over kind of occupation. Rather than saying, "I am a type-setter' or 'I am a filing clerk,' he is likely to say, 'I am from B Publishing Group' or 'I belong to S Company'. p2-3
The great part about this quote is that (although she does backtrack somewhat in rest of the same paragraph) both the "attribute" and the "institution" (which Nakane has earlier defined as a "frame" or "ba") are both described as being "social" "positions". Nakane is spot on. Westerners can loose track of the fact that they are defining themselves socially when they use "universal attributes" because it can seem as if they are not expressing membership of a group but rather something specific to themselves.
Other than Nakane's opinion that both are social positions, how should one decide? One way would be to examine the commonality of these self definitions. If one picked 100 Japanese and 100 Americans and asked them for self-definitions, who would give the more overlapping self-definitions, the "frame" mentioning Japanese or the "attribute" mentioning Americans? This is exactly what I examined in one of my few social psychology papers (Takemoto ne Leuers & Sonoda, 1999). The results showed that the self descriptions of Americans overlap more than those of Japanese, and are therefore, though attributional, more social.
Bibliography created using Zotero
Hasegawa, Y., & Hirose, Y. (2005). What the Japanese Language Tells Us about the Alleged Japanese Relational Self. Australian Journal of Linguistics, 25(2), 219–251. doi:10.1080/07268600500233019 Retrieved 2012/4/12 from http://hasegawa.berkeley.edu/Papers/Self.pdf
Leuers, T. R. S., & Sonoda, N. (1999). Independent self bias. Progress in asian social psychology, 3, 87–104. Retrieved 2012/4/13 from http://www.nihonbunka.com/docs/independent_self.rtf
Nakane, C. (1972). Japanese Society (1st pb ed.). University of California Press.
This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.