Thursday, February 11, 2016
Sassure via Maruyama Explains Yuki's Group Types
Possibly my favourite cultural psychological theory is that of Yuki (2003) who contends that westerners merge with their groups which they see in contradistinction to others, whereas Japanese form groups as networks conceived independently of any other group. This is a radical theory since if amplified it can be used to suggest that it is Westerners who are dependent upon their groups, whereas Japanese from groups in which individuality is nurtured. To a large extent I agree with this amplified formulation and have demonstrated that Americans though they may seem "individual" are all infact individualists, that is to say possessant of the same basket of culturally approved characteristics. None the less, I do believe that Japanese merge to a degree and that emphasis should be given to the way in which the selves in Japanese interpenetrate. Yuki (2003) in his diagram above shows the relationships penetrating the circles of the Japanese group members. I suggested a modification where the group members should overlap and explained the reason why they overlap - the imaginaire emphasises interdependence as explained here. Turning to Western groups however, it may appear puzzling that we find it so easy to merge with our groups, and require an outgroup to compare and disparage. One of the reasons for this is because, I believe, we cognise ourselves and our groups as narratives. Maruyama Masao illustrates the way Sassures theory of language implies that words can only be understood in their relation to other words. He contrasts categories of words with a box of coloured marbles (much like Masaki's asian group top right) which can be cognised even out of the box, and illustrates the way in which words can only be understood in contrast to other words with a box containing water with bubbles formed upon it. If a bubble in box is burst, if a language has no seperate word for wolf then that would be like bursting one of the bubbles (centre black and white diagram). Unless the word covers a meaning space in contrast to other words it has no meaning at all, whereas concrete (visible) things are what they are all on their lonesome. Japanese cognise themselves and their groups visually so they do not need to compare their groups with others. To love Japan they have no need of hating upon Koreans. Americans however tend to cognise themselves in linguistic terms, and therefore need a bogeyman-country with which to compare and enhance themselves. It is better in the light, but how to get there? http://flic.kr/p/DszxU2
This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.