Discuss the extent to which relationships have been shown to differ in cultures (24 marks)

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The majority of research focuses on western, individualistic culture and can therefore be seen as culturally bias. Despite this some studies have examined the differences between cultures.

Moghaddam et al identified several differences between Western and Eastern cultures. The west emphasise individualistic values and see relationships as voluntary between 2 people. There is greater social and geographical mobility and the opportunity to meet people is greater. In the east there is a more collectivist culture and relationships are seen as permanent and bring 2 families together. There is less mobility so fewer people are met and therefore the relationships are arranged and involuntary. Epstein found that in cultures with reduced social mobility, non-voluntary relationships appeared to work very well, with lower divorce rates than Western marriages.

These differences are supported by Takano, who studies how change is perceive in different cultures. Americans value change which explains the high divorce rates. Similar, Simmel also found that individualistic cultures are associated with high divorce rates because they are encourage to find the perfect partner. Takano explained that Japanese divorce rates were much lower as they favour stability and continuity.

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However, Takano’s study only focusses on 2 cultures so generalising to others is difficult and lacks ecological validity. Another explanation for low divorce rates is due to perception of separation. In japan it is seen as shameful for the whole families compared to the west, where it’s between the individuals and there’s less negativity. This shows cultural differences in divorce.

A further difference that exists in a relationship is the emphasis on love and romance. Ho argues that the West place more emphasis on love and romance whilst collectivist focus on the importance of responsibility and family needs, suggesting ...

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