Re: Jobs and Not Getting Them

ray scupin (scupin@LC.LINDENWOOD.EDU)
Thu, 3 Jun 1993 11:46:34 -0500

Hi John:

Your note regarding how your Japanese colleagues work more
effectively in committees than we do reminds me of the ongoing debate
regarding "group harmony" or "wa" in Japanese society. Harumi Befu
believes that the concept of "wa" is highly over-rated by both Westerners
and the Japanese. He mentions something that has been dealt with in an
elegant way by James Carrier in his essay comparing Orientalism with
Occidentalism----that is, the Japanese have accepted the concept of "wa"
as a type of ethno-Orientalist perspective on their own societal
mechanics. Having accepted this essentialist notion of "wa," or group
harmony, and acting upon it, has probably influenced some group dynamics
in Japan. However, as Befu insists, this concept of "wa" is mostly a
cultural construction that hides much of the self-interested
individualistic behavior that is found in both the East and West.

Any thoughts on this John?

Ray Scupin
Sociology/Anthropology Dept.
Lindenwood College
209 S. Kingshighway
St. Charles, MO 63301
314-949-4730 (Office)
314-949-9244 (Home)
314-949-4910 (Fax)

Not chaos-like, together crushed and bruised,
But, as the world harmoniously confused:
Where order in variety we see,
And where, though all things differ, all agree

Alexander Pope