Cultural Exchange

Kevin Lewis

December 10, 2009

Cultural discount of cinematic achievement: The Academy Awards and U.S. movies' East Asian box office

Francis Lee
Journal of Cultural Economics, November 2009, Pages 239-263

This study uses the Academy Awards as a window to look into how cultural differences influence the reception of U.S. movies in East Asia. Following the recent research on the concept of cultural discount and the argument that the Academy Awards are indicators of cinematic qualities and achievement, the research questions focus on whether different types of cinematic qualities and achievement would be discounted by cultural differences to different extents. More specifically, a distinction between drama and non-drama awards is made, and it is argued that the cinematic qualities and achievement indicated by the drama awards are likely to be relatively more culturally specific and hence more likely to be discounted by cultural differences. The empirical analysis examines the box office performance of 585 U.S. movies from 2002 to 2007 in nine East Asian markets. It shows that non-drama awards relate positively to box office receipts, but drama awards relate negatively to box office receipts. Moreover, the negative relationship between drama awards and box office receipts is stronger in countries more culturally distant from the U.S. The findings are therefore highly supportive to the conceptual arguments. Other implications of the findings are also discussed.


The Diaspora of West Africa: The Influence of West African Cultures on "Jody Calls" in the United States Military

David LoConto, Timothy Clark & Patrice Ware
Sociological Spectrum, January 2010, Pages 90-109

This research addresses the influences of West African cultures on a rarely studied area: marching cadences of the United States military. This article details the evolution of these military marching cadences tracing their form back to slave songs and to the music of precolonial West Africa. Six elements are identified that link these forms of music. These are: call and response, focus on the voice, percussion backbeat to create energy, functionality in nature, focus on the experiences of daily living, and oral history. These suggest a great influence of West African music on the United States military marching cadences.


Sundown Town to "Little Mexico": Old-timers and Newcomers in an American Small Town

Eileen Diaz McConnell & Faranak Miraftab
Rural Sociology, December 2009, Pages 605-629

For more than a century, communities across the United States legally employed strategies to create and maintain racial divides. One particularly widespread and effective practice was that of "sundown towns," which signaled to African Americans and others that they were not welcome within the city limits after dark. Though nearly 1,000 small towns, larger communities, and suburbs across the country may have engaged in these practices, until recently there has been little scholarship on the topic. Drawing from qualitative and quantitative sources, this article presents a case study of a midwestern rural community with a sundown history. Since 1990 large numbers of Mexican migrants have arrived there to work at the local meat-processing plant, earning the town the nickname "Little Mexico." The study identifies a substantial decline in Hispanic-white residential segregation in the community between 1990 and 2000. We consider possible explanations for the increased spatial integration of Latino and white residents, including local housing characteristics and the weak enforcement of preexisting housing policies. We also describe the racialized history of this former sundown town and whether, paradoxically, its history of excluding nonwhites may have played a role in the spatial configurations of Latinos and non-Hispanic whites in 2000. Scholars investigating the contemporary processes of Latino population growth in "new" destinations, both in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas, may want to explore the importance of sociohistorical considerations, particularly localities' racialized historical contexts before the arrival of Mexican and other Latino immigrants.


Categorization of Ambiguous Human/Ape Faces: Protection of Ingroup but Not Outgroup Humanity

Dora Capozza, Giulio Boccato, Luca Andrighetto & Rossella Falvo
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, November 2009, Pages 777-787

In two studies, we tested the hypothesis that categorization of ambiguous human/ape faces depends on group membership: people are inclined to protect ingroup humanity, but not that of the outgroup. We used as stimuli: human, ape, ambiguous human/ape faces. Ambiguous human/ape faces were generated using a computerized morphing procedure. Participants categorized stimuli as human or ape. Two conditions were introduced: in the ingroup condition, participants were informed that human exemplars were ingroup members, in the outgroup condition that they were outgroup members. We expected participants, in an effort to protect ingroup humanity, to categorize ambiguous stimuli as ape more often in the ingroup than outgroup condition. Predictions were confirmed. Results are discussed in the context of infrahumanization theory.


Immigration, Wages, and Compositional Amenities

David Card, Christian Dustmann & Ian Preston
NBER Working Paper, November 2009

Economists are often puzzled by the stronger public opposition to immigration than trade, since the two policies have similar effects on wages. Unlike trade, however, immigration can alter the composition of the local population, imposing potential externalities on natives. While previous studies have addressed fiscal spillover effects, a broader class of externalities arise because people value the 'compositional amenities' associated with the characteristics of their neighbors and co-workers. In this paper we present a new method for quantifying the relative importance of these amenities in shaping attitudes toward immigration. We use data for 21 countries in the 2002 European Social Survey, which included a series of questions on the economic and social impacts of immigration, as well as on the desirability of increasing or reducing immigrant inflows. We find that individual attitudes toward immigration policy reflect a combination of concerns over conventional economic impacts (i.e., wages and taxes) and compositional amenities, with substantially more weight on the latter. Most of the difference in attitudes toward immigration between more and less educated natives is attributable to heightened concerns over compositional amenities among the less-educated.


Immigration, Diversity, and Welfare Chauvinism

Gary Freeman
The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics, July 2009

Immigration is the driving force behind the rapidly growing ethnic, racial, and religious diversity of Western welfare states. This essay reviews research on the effects of immigration and diversity on the political support for redistributive social programs. A growing body of scholarship finds negative relationships between indicators of ethnic heterogeneity and measures of immigration, on the one hand, and attitudes towards welfare measures and state expenditures on welfare, on the other. Responding to these results, scholars have searched for mediating factors that slow or reverse these effects. As empirical studies multiply it is important to develop theories to make sense of the data. I discuss in-group and out-group theory, reciprocal altruism, and the neoDarwinian theory of ethnic nepotism. I argue that while no theory has been shown to be clearly superior to the others, neoDarwinism is the most comprehensive and should not be dismissed because of its pessimistic implications for immigration, diversity, and welfare states.


Are Gains in Decision-Making Autonomy During Early Adolescence Beneficial for Emotional Functioning? The Case of the United States and China

Lili Qin, Eva Pomerantz & Qian Wang
Child Development, November/December 2009, Pages 1705-1721

This research examined the role of children's decision-making autonomy in their emotional functioning during early adolescence in the United States and China. Four times over the 7th and 8th grades, 825 American and Chinese children (M = 12.73 years) reported on the extent to which they versus their parents make decisions about issues children often deem as under their authority. Children also reported on their emotional functioning. American children made greater gains over time in decision-making autonomy than did Chinese children. Initial decision-making autonomy predicted enhanced emotional functioning similarly among American and Chinese children. However, gains over time in decision-making autonomy predicted enhanced emotional functioning more in the United States (vs. China) where such gains were normative.


Young children's analogical reasoning across cultures: Similarities and differences

Lindsey Engle Richland, Tsz-Kit Chan, Robert Morrison & Terry Kit-Fong Au Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, January-February 2010, Pages 146-153

A cross-cultural comparison between U.S. and Hong Kong preschoolers examined factors responsible for young children's analogical reasoning errors. On a scene analogy task, both groups had adequate prerequisite knowledge of the key relations, were the same age, and showed similar baseline performance, yet Chinese children outperformed U.S. children on more relationally complex problems. Children from both groups were highly susceptible to choosing a perceptual or semantic distractor during reasoning when one was present. Taken together, these similarities and differences suggest that (a) cultural differences can facilitate better knowledge representations by allowing more efficient processing of relationally complex problems and (b) inhibitory control is an important factor in explaining the development of children's analogical reasoning.


Express Your Social Self: Cultural Differences in Choice of Brand-Name Versus Generic Products

Heejung Kim & Aimee Drolet
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, December 2009, Pages 1555-1566

This research examined cultural differences in the patterns of choices that reflect more social characteristics of a chooser (e.g., social status). Four studies examined the cultural difference in individuals' tendency to choose brand-name products (i.e., high-status options) over generic products (i.e., low-status options) and the underlying reasons for these differences. Compared to European Americans, Asian Americans consistently chose brand-name products. This difference was driven by Asian Americans' greater social status concerns. Self-consciousness was more strongly associated with the brand-name choices of Asian Americans (vs. European Americans), and experimentally induced social status led Asian Americans (vs. European Americans) to make more choices concordant with self-perception. These findings highlight the importance of considering external and social motivations underlying the choicemaking process.


The Punitiveness Paradox: When is External Pressure Exculpatory - and When a Signal Just to Spread Blame?

Philip Tetlock, William Self & Ramadhar Singh
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

This experiment explored the joint effects of the severity of the unintended consequences of norm violations and the strength of external pressure to violate norms on attributions of responsibility in two cultures. Americans and Singaporeans both responded to more severe consequences with escalating internal attributions and individual punishment and both made more external attributions in response to growing peer pressure to violate norms. However, the two cultures had diverging reactions to mounting peer pressure as an excuse. Americans assigned less blame to individuals, whereas Singaporeans held firm on individual culpability while extending more blame to the peer group. The results clarify how blame-attenuating attributions in one society can be blame-expanding in another.


Cultural Differences in Complex Addition: Efficient Chinese Versus Adaptive Belgians and Canadians

Ineke Imbo & Jo-Anne LeFevre
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, November 2009, Pages 1465-1476

In the present study, the authors tested the effects of working-memory load on math problem solving in 3 different cultures: Flemish-speaking Belgians, English-speaking Canadians, and Chinese-speaking Chinese currently living in Canada. Participants solved complex addition problems (e.g., 58 + 76) in no-load and working-memory load conditions, in which either the central executive or the phonological loop was loaded. The authors used the choice/no-choice method to obtain unbiased measures of strategy selection and strategy efficiency. The Chinese participants were faster than the Belgians, who were faster and more accurate than the Canadians. The Chinese also required fewer working-memory resources than did the Belgians and Canadians. However, the Chinese chose less adaptively from the available strategies than did the Belgians and Canadians. These cultural differences in math problem solving are likely the result of different instructional approaches during elementary school (practice and training in Asian countries vs. exploration and flexibility in non-Asian countries), differences in the number language, and informal cultural norms and standards. The relevance of being adaptive is discussed as well as the implications of the results in regards to the strategy choice and discovery simulation model of strategy selection (J. Shrager & R. S. Siegler, 1998).


Differences in Individualistic and Collectivistic Tendencies among College Students in Japan and the United States

Emiko Kobayashi, Harold Kerbo & Susan Sharp
International Journal of Comparative Sociology, February/April 2010, Pages 59-84

It is a worldwide stereotype that Japanese, compared to Americans, are oriented more toward collectivism. But this stereotypical notion of more collectivism among Japanese, which typically stems from a view that individualism and collectivism stand at opposite ends of a continuum, has been filled with dashed empirical findings, especially in a sample of college students. In the current study, following the view that individualism and collectivism are two separate concepts rather than one with two extremes, we test and compare both individualistic and collectivistic tendencies among college students in Japan and the United States. A review of theories and research on this dimension of cultural variability across the two diverse cultures and the literature on societal pressure of collectivity and on parents as primary socialization agents of culturally expected values lead to two hypotheses: 1) Japanese college students tend less toward individualism than do Americans, and 2) Japanese college students tend less toward collectivism than do Americans. Analysis of identical survey data from college students in Japan and in the United States provides strong support for both hypotheses.


Hell on Earth: Threats, Citizens and the State from Buffy to Beck

Stephanie Buus
Cooperation and Conflict, December 2009, Pages 400-419

A number of security scholars and policy-makers now approach the fictional narratives of popular culture as both a source of and a tool for imagining current and future threats and risks following the 'failure of imagination' that was 9/11. Building on this line of thought, this article assumes that contemporary popular fiction may be important to explorations of national and global security not only because elements of the security community have begun to turn to popular fiction in security scenario thinking and planning, but because people themselves have long turned to the popular cultural works that surround them as a particularly accessible source of security scenarios, thinking and even security practices. With the help of critical literary and cultural theories around the supernatural and crime narratology, as well as existing critical security studies scholarship, this article examines two contemporary popular cultural narratives, 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' from the United States and the Martin Beck series from Sweden, and asks how each narrative can be said to depict the new global security environment and the notion of borderless threats. How does a popular cultural fantasy narrative about energetic teens and demons in America's low-welfare 'Ownership Society' represent the internal-external security boundary as compared with a long-standing popular realist narrative about tired cops and crime in Sweden's high-welfare 'People's Home'? Although such a comparison may at first seem far-fetched, in this article I argue that comparing apples and oranges in this instance proves valuable, since the differing fictional modes at work in 'Buffy' and 'Beck' not only have much to say about the kinds of internal-external security images and actors that are presented in each, but also the kind of 'security imagination' that each narrative makes possible.


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