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From Value to Lifeworld

From Value to Lifeworld

(p.60) Four From Value to Lifeworld
Universalism without Uniformity
Roy D’ Andrade
University of Chicago Press

The essay presents a synopsis of quantitative studies of human values across cultural groups and poses a puzzle to be solved. A quantitative study of values reveals very few “East versus West” differences in value judgments and great deal of similarity not only in value dimensions (for example, individualism versus collectivism) but also in the rating of particular value items. The results of the study are challenging on a number of levels. On the empirical level, the quantitative results contradict decades of ethnographic research on cultural differences. On a methodological level, these results from survey questionnaires are different than the results from participant observation, leaving uncertainty in the choice of methods. On the theoretical level, if every group’s values are almost identical to every other group, what causes or sustains cultural differences? The finding of value similarity across cultures may seem implausible. But that is what these data show. The essay then considers ways that cultural differences in moral evaluations of behavior and estimations of what is right and wrong in everyday life are compatible with the existence of universal human values.

Keywords:   Cultural Relativism, East versus West, Human Values, Moral Anthropology, Quantitative Analysis, Value Relativism, Value Surveys

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