The contrasting cultural preferences between East and West have given rise to the study of East-West dichotomy as an important branch of sociology. There is no definite line diving the East from the West. Often it is the major differences between the cultures and traditions followed by people that form the boundaries. Countries like Australia and New Zealand which regionally lie on the Eastern part are considered to be western nations for this reason. Significant difference can be seen in the areas of social structures, family values, philosophies and life style between the people of East and West. The list below identifies 7 major differences between the Eastern and Western cultures.
When it comes to group versus self, the Eastern culture calls attention to the responsibilities a person shares with his group and community. The attitude has been responsible for the great industrial success seen in the East. In West people are more self oriented and work towards personal success, which has seen more successful billionaires rising from their nations. The Western culture promotes more competition between individuals where as Eastern culture promotes harmony among people.
The Easterners follow more Holistic approach which emphasizes on the existence of an ultimate truth and life after death. They strive to follow the guiding light, towards the goal of reaching a final stage of liberation from the mortal world. On the other hand, the Westerners are quite rational and analytical in their beliefs. Though they do believe in the judgment day, they do not dedicate much of their time in the pursuance of the enlightenment.
Some sociologists believe that the Easterners are cognitively more right brain oriented, whereas the westerners are left brained which makes them more inclined towards science and take an analytical view of the world. When the Eastern people give much importance to the unknowns of the world, the Westerners consider the unknown as a challenge to science which will eventually be analyzed and put out in a theory. The East depend on the Supreme power to solve the mysteries of world, where as the West trusts science to finally answer the questions.
The West sees success in professional achievements and accumulation of wealth. The higher is the GDP and more advanced is the technology and science; the more successful is the nation. Struggle by any person is seen as failure. It strives to make life more satisfactory and comfortable. In East success is seen to be the harmony one achieves with the environment and the nearer to enlightenment a person is. Struggle is seen as an opportunity to learn and gain more experience.
In West people often tend to jump into the water, whereas the Easterners can be said to be slowly wading into it. It has been often observed that many people in the West start off at full speed before slowing down and settling with a comfortable pace. Contrary to this, the Easterners often start with all precaution, slowly, and keep increasing the pace steadily until they settle in their comfort zone.
The sense of self among the people in the West is stronger than among the people of East, though the sense of independence is stronger among the Easterners. The belief system of West has been much influenced by the teachings of Aristotle and other Greek Philosophers and Christianity, whereas the East follows the philosophy of Confucius, Buddha and Hinduism. The Easterners often believe in fate and have strong sense that some things are destined to happen, which allows them freedom from being in control all the time. Contrasting this belief the westerners believe in the world that operates smoothly through rules being followed, which can be analyzed and controlled by people.
The Westerners often do many things before contemplating or thinking over it, whereas in the East people often give a lot thought before embarking on a task. Westerners tend to be more diligent, industrious and assertive with their expressions, and strive to be leaders. The Easterners don’t strive to be leaders and often avoid heavy responsibilities. Though the trait is not so obvious anymore, when they are tested they come to the surface. In the East the phrase ‘I love you’ is not as popular as it is in West. Easterners believe that love should be expressed through actions and felt by another person. Whereas the people in the West marry for romance and love, people in the East consider many other things like social status, educational level and other authentic things before choosing a life partner. The Westerners are more assertive with their emotions and expressions whereas the Easterners tend to hold back their expressions and emotions.