American norms vs. Japan norms

Essay by pr781127College, UndergraduateB, June 2013

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American Norms vs. Japan Norms

In sociology, when we discuss culture (which is the totality of learned socially transmitted customs, knowledge, material objects, and behavior (Schaefer 2010:50)), we discuss how culture includes such things as; language, beliefs, values and norms. When sociologists studied culture they mainly looked upon the norms of society. Norms are "the agreed-upon expectations and rules by which a culture guides the members in any given situation"(Cultural Norms). There are four types of norms; folkways, mores, taboo, and laws. Although it is important to know that norms vary across the world and two examples of how norms differ around the world would be in America and Japan.

The first type of norm that will be discussed is folkways. Folkways are "the standards of behavior that are socially approved but not morally significant" (Cultural Norms). "Folkways are sometimes known as "conventions" or "customs" (Cultural Norms). A example of a folkway that varies in America and Japan are business cards.

In Japan business cards (called meishi) are a common practice upon meeting someone, but there is a particular set of norms that dictates this kind of exchange. When meeting someone it is common to "exchange meishi at the beginning of the meeting while standing up"(2). This may be completely weird for most people in America, but in Japan people exchanging meishi upon meeting someone forms a foundation of trust and hopefully builds a respectful partnership that will affect the meeting. When a person receives a meishi "the receiver should look over the details of the card and perhaps even remark or ask questions about some of the information, so as to show interest"(2). The receiver should never placed the card in their wallets for it shows disrespect and would be considered very offensive because the meishi shows the...