For this article's equivalent regarding the East, see Eastern world. For the Henry Cow album of the same name, see Western Culture (album).
See also: Western world and Culture of Europe
Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization, Occidental culture, the Western world, Western society, European civilization, or Christian civilization, is a term used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, belief systems, political systems and specific artifacts and technologies that have some origin or association with Europe. The term also applies beyond Europe to countries and cultures whose histories are strongly connected to Europe by immigration, colonization, or influence. For example, Western culture includes countries in the Americas and Australasia, whose language and demographic ethnicity majorities are European.
Western culture is characterized by a host of artistic, philosophic, literary and legal themes and traditions; the heritage of Greek, Roman, Germanic, Celtic, Slavic and other ethnic and linguistic groups. Christianity including the Roman Catholic Church,Protestantism and the Orthodox Church, has played a prominent role in the shaping of Western civilization since at least the 4th century as did Judaism (particularly Hellenistic Judaism and Jewish Christianity). Before the Cold War era, the traditional Western viewpoint identified Western civilization with the Western Christian (Catholic-Protestant) countries and culture.
A cornerstone of Western thought, beginning in ancient Greece and continuing through the Middle Ages and Renaissance, is the idea of rationalism in various spheres of life, especially religion, developed by Hellenistic philosophy, scholasticism and humanism. The Catholic Church was for centuries at the center of the development of the values, ideas, science, laws and institutions which constitute Western civilization.Empiricism later gave rise to the scientific method during the scientific revolution and the Enlightenment. Values of Western culture have throughout history been derived from political thought, widespread employment of rational argument favouring freethought, assimilation of human rights, the need for equality and democracy.
Ancient Greece is considered the birthplace of many elements of Western culture, with the world's first democratic system of government and major advances in philosophy, science and mathematics. Greece was followed by Rome, which made key contributions in law, government, engineering and political organization. Western culture continued to develop with the Christianisation of Europe during the Middle Ages and the reform and modernization triggered by the Renaissance. The Church preserved the intellectual developments of classical antiquity and is the reason many of them are still known today. The Church also destroyed many elements of history that they disagreed with and wished to censor. Medieval Christianity created the modern university, the hospital system, scientific economics,natural law (which would later influence the creation of international law) and numerous other innovations across all intellectual fields. Christianity played a role in ending practices common among pagan societies, such as human sacrifice, slavery, infanticide and polygamy. The globalization by successive European colonial empires spread European ways of life and European educational methods around the world between the 16th and 20th centuries. European culture developed with a complex range of philosophy, medieval scholasticism and mysticism and Christian and secular humanism.[page needed] Rational thinking developed through a long age of change and formation, with the experiments of the Enlightenment and breakthroughs in the sciences. Tendencies that have come to define modern Western societies include the concept of political pluralism, prominent subcultures or countercultures (such as New Age movements) and increasing cultural syncretism resulting from globalization and human migration.
Further information: Western world
The West as a geographical area is unclear and undefined. More often a country's ideology is what will be used to categorize it as a Western society. There is some disagreement about what nations should or should not be included in the category and at what times. Many parts of the Eastern Roman Empire are considered Western today but were Eastern in the past. Geographically, the "West" of today would include Europe (especially the European Union countries) together with extra-European territories belonging to the English-speaking world as well as the Hispanidad, the Lusosphere or the Francophonie in the wider context. Since the context is highly biased and context-dependent, there is no agreed definition what the "West" is.
It is difficult to determine which individuals fit into which category and the East–West contrast is sometimes criticized as relativistic and arbitrary.[page needed] Globalism has spread Western ideas so widely that almost all modern cultures are, to some extent, influenced by aspects of Western culture. Stereotyped views of "the West" have been labeled Occidentalism, paralleling Orientalism—the term for the 19th-century stereotyped views of "the East".
As Europe discovered the wider world, old concepts adapted. The area that had formerly been considered the Orient ("the East") became the Near East as the interests of the European powers interfered with Meiji Japan and Qing China for the first time in the 19th century. Thus the Sino-Japanese War in 1894–1895 occurred in the Far East while the troubles surrounding the decline of the Ottoman Empire simultaneously occurred in the Near East.[a] The term Middle East in the mid-19th century included the territory east of the Ottoman Empire, but West of China—Greater Persia and Greater India—is now used synonymously with "Near East" in most languages.
Further information: History of Western civilization
The earliest civilizations which influenced the development of western culture were those of Mesopotamia; the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran: the cradle of civilization.
The Greeks contrasted themselves to their Eastern neighbors, such as the Trojans in Iliad, setting an example for later contrasts between east and west. In the Middle Ages, the Near East provided a contrast to the West, though it had been Hellenized since the time of Alexander the Great.
Concepts of what is the West arose out of legacies of the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire. Later, ideas of the west were formed by the concepts of Latin Christendom and the Holy Roman Empire. What we think of as Western thought today originates primarily from Greco-Roman and Germanic influences, and includes the ideals of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment, as well as Christian culture.
Western culture is neither homogeneous nor unchanging. As with all other cultures, it has evolved and gradually changed over time. Nevertheless, it is possible to follow the evolution and history of the West, and appreciate its similarities and differences, its borrowings from, and contributions to, other cultures of humanity.
In Homeric literature, and right up until the time of Alexander the Great, for example in the accounts of the Persian Wars of Greeks against Persians by Herodotus, we see the paradigm of a contrast between the West and East.
Nevertheless, the Greeks felt they were the most civilized and saw themselves (in the formulation of Aristotle) as something between the wild barbarians of most of Europe and the soft, slavish Middle-Easterners. Ancient Greek science, philosophy, democracy, architecture, literature, and art provided a foundation embraced and built upon by the Roman Empire as it swept up Europe, including the Hellenic World in its conquests in the 1st century BCE. In the meantime, however, Greece, under Alexander, had become a capital of the East, and part of an empire. The Celts also created some significant literature in the ancient world whenever they were given the opportunity (an example being the poet Caecilius Statius). They also developed a large amount of scientific knowledge themselves, as seen in their Coligny Calendar.
For about five hundred years, the Roman Empire maintained the Greek East and consolidated a Latin West, but an East-West division remained, reflected in many cultural norms of the two areas, including language. Although Rome, like Greece, was no longer democratic, the idea of democracy remained a part of the education of citizens.
Eventually, the empire became increasingly split into a Western and Eastern part, reviving old ideas of a contrast between an advanced East, and a rugged West. In the Roman world one could speak of three main directions: North (Celtic tribal states and Parthians), the East (lux ex oriente), and finally South, which implied danger, historically via the Punic Wars (Quid novi ex Africa?).
From the time of Alexander the Great (the Hellenistic period) Greek civilization came in contact with Jewish civilization. Christianity would eventually emerge from the syncretism of Hellenic culture, Roman culture, and Second Temple Judaism, gradually spreading across the Roman Empire and eclipsing its antecedents and influences. The rise of Christianity reshaped much of the Graeco-Roman tradition and culture; the Christianised culture would be the basis for the development of Western civilization after the fall of Rome (which resulted from increasing pressure from barbarians outside Roman culture). Roman culture also mixed with Celtic, Germanic and Slavic cultures, which slowly became integrated into Western culture: starting mainly with their acceptance of Christianity.
The Medieval West was at its broadest the same as Christendom, including both the "Latin" West, also called "Frankish" during Charlemagne's reign and the Orthodox Eastern part, where Greek remained the language of empire.
After the fall of Rome, much of Greco-Roman art, literature, science and even technology were all but lost in the western part of the old empire. However, this would become the centre of a new West. Europe fell into political anarchy, with many warring kingdoms and principalities. Under the Frankish kings, it eventually, and partially, reunified, and the anarchy evolved into feudalism.
Much of the basis of the post-Roman cultural world had been set before the fall of the Empire, mainly through the integration and reshaping of Roman ideas through Christian thought. The Greek and Roman paganism had been completely replaced by Christianity around the 4th and 5th centuries, since it became the official State religion following the baptism of emperor Constantine I. Orthodox Christian Christianity and the Nicene Creed served as a unifying force in Christian parts of Europe, and in some respects replaced or competed with the secular authorities. The Jewish Christian tradition out of which it had emerged was all but extinguished, and antisemitism became increasingly entrenched or even integral to Christendom. Art and literature, law, education, and politics were preserved in the teachings of the Church, in an environment that, otherwise, would have probably seen their loss. The Church founded many cathedrals, universities, monasteries and seminaries, some of which continue to exist today.
Medieval Christianity created the first modern universities. The Catholic Church established a hospital system in Medieval Europe that vastly improved upon the Roman valetudinaria and Greek healing temples. These hospitals were established to cater to "particular social groups marginalized by poverty, sickness, and age," according to historian of hospitals, Guenter Risse. Christianity played a role in ending practices common among pagan soceities, such as human sacrifice, slavery, infanticide and polygamy.Francisco de Vitoria, a disciple of Thomas Aquinas and a Catholic thinker who studied the issue regarding the human rights of colonized natives, is recognized by the United Nations as a father of international law, and now also by historians of economics and democracy as a leading light for the West's democracy and rapid economic development.Joseph Schumpeter, an economist of the twentieth century, referring to the Scholastics, wrote, "it is they who come nearer than does any other group to having been the 'founders' of scientific economics." Other economists and historians, such as Raymond de Roover, Marjorie Grice-Hutchinson, and Alejandro Chafuen, have also made similar statements. Historian Paul Legutko of Stanford University said the Catholic Church is "at the center of the development of the values, ideas, science, laws, and institutions which constitute what we call Western civilization."
In a broader sense, the Middle Ages, with its fertile encounter between Greek philosophical reasoning and Levantinemonotheism was not confined to the West but also stretched into the old East. The philosophy and science of Classical Greece was largely forgotten in Europe after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, other than in isolated monastic enclaves (notably in Ireland, which had become Christian but was never conquered by Rome). The learning of Classical Antiquity was better preserved in the ByzantineEastern Roman Empire. Justinian's Corpus Juris Civilis Roman civil law code was preserved in the East and Constantinople maintained trade and intermittent political control over outposts such as Venice in the West for centuries. Classical Greek learning was also subsumed, preserved and elaborated in the rising Eastern world, which gradually supplanted Roman-Byzantine control as a dominant cultural-political force. Thus, much of the learning of classical antiquity was slowly reintroduced to European civilization in the centuries following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire.
The rediscovery of the Justinian Code in Western Europe early in the 10th century rekindled a passion for the discipline of law, which crossed many of the re-forming boundaries between East and West. In the Catholic or Frankish west, Roman law became the foundation on which all legal concepts and systems were based. Its influence is found in all Western legal systems, although in different manners and to different extents. The study of canon law, the legal system of the Catholic Church, fused with that of Roman law to form the basis of the refounding of Western legal scholarship. During the Reformation and Enlightenment, the ideas of civil rights, equality before the law, procedural justice, and democracy as the ideal form of society began to be institutionalized as principles forming the basis of modern Western culture, particularly in Protestant regions.
In the 14th century, starting from Italy and then spreading throughout Europe, there was a massive artistic, architectural, scientific and philosophical revival, as a result of the Christian revival of Greek philosophy, and the long Christian medieval tradition that established the use of reason as one of the most important of human activities. This period is commonly referred to as the Renaissance. In the following century, this process was further enhanced by an exodus of Greek Christian priests and scholars to Italian cities such as Venice after the end of the Byzantine Empire with the fall of Constantinople.
From Late Antiquity, through the Middle Ages, and onwards, while Eastern Europe was shaped by the Orthodox Church, Southern and Central Europe were increasingly stabilized by the Catholic Church which, as Roman imperial governance faded from view, was the only consistent force in Western Europe. In 1054 came the so-called Great Schism that, following the Greek East and Latin West divide, separated Europe into religious and cultural regions present to this day. Until the Age of Enlightenment,Christian culture took over as the predominant force in Western civilization, guiding the course of philosophy, art, and science for many years. Movements in art and philosophy, such as the Humanist movement of the Renaissance and the Scholastic movement of the High Middle Ages, were motivated by a drive to connect Catholicism with Greek and Arab thought imported by Christian pilgrims. However, due to the division in Western Christianity caused by the Protestant Reformation and the Enlightenment, religious influence—especially the temporal power of the Pope—began to wane.
From the late 15th century to the 17th century, Western culture began to spread to other parts of the world through explorers and missionaries during the Age of Discovery, and by imperialists from the 17th century to the early 20th century. During the Great Divergence, a term coined by Samuel Huntington the Western world overcame pre-modern growth constraints and emerged during the 19th century as the most powerful and wealthy world civilization of the time, eclipsing Qing China, Mughal India, Tokugawa Japan, and the Ottoman Empire. The process was accompanied and reinforced by the Age of Discovery and continued into the modern period. Scholars have proposed a wide variety of theories to explain why the Great Divergence happened, including lack of government intervention, geography, colonialism, and customary traditions.
Coming into the modern era, the historical understanding of the East-West contrast—as the opposition of Christendom to its geographical neighbors—began to weaken. As religion became less important, and Europeans came into increasing contact with far away peoples, the old concept of Western culture began a slow evolution towards what it is today. The Age of Discovery faded into the Age of Enlightenment of the 18th century, during which cultural and intellectual forces in Western Europe emphasized reason, analysis, and individualism rather than traditional lines of authority. It challenged the authority of institutions that were deeply rooted in society, such as the Catholic Church; there was much talk of ways to reform society with toleration, science and skepticism.
Philosophers of the Enlightenment included Francis Bacon, René Descartes, John Locke, Baruch Spinoza, Voltaire (1694–1778), David Hume, and Immanuel Kant. influenced society by publishing widely read works. Upon learning about enlightened views, some rulers met with intellectuals and tried to apply their reforms, such as allowing for toleration, or accepting multiple religions, in what became known as enlightened absolutism. New ideas and beliefs spread around Europe and were fostered by an increase in literacy due to a departure from solely religious texts. Publications include Encyclopédie (1751–72) that was edited by Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert. The Dictionnaire philosophique (Philosophical Dictionary, 1764) and Letters on the English (1733) written by Voltaire spread the ideals of the Enlightenment.
Coinciding with the Age of Enlightenment was the scientific revolution, spearheaded by Newton. This included the emergence of modern science, during which developments in mathematics, physics, astronomy, biology (including human anatomy) and chemistry transformed views of society and nature. While its dates are disputed, the publication in 1543 of Nicolaus Copernicus's De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres) is often cited as marking the beginning of the scientific revolution, and its completion is attributed to the "grand synthesis" of Newton's 1687 Principia.
The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in the period from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840. This included going from hand production methods to machines, new chemical manufacturing and iron production processes, improved efficiency of water power, the increasing use of steam power, and the development of machine tools. These transitions began in Great Britain, and spread to Western Europe and North America within a few decades.
The Industrial Revolution marks a major turning point in history; almost every aspect of daily life was influenced in some way. In particular, average income and population began to exhibit unprecedented sustained growth. Some economists say that the major impact of the Industrial Revolution was that the standard of living for the general population began to increase consistently for the first time in history, although others have said that it did not begin to meaningfully improve until the late 19th and 20th centuries. The precise start and end of the Industrial Revolution is still debated among historians, as is the pace of economic and social changes.GDP per capita was broadly stable before the Industrial Revolution and the emergence of the modern capitalist economy, while the Industrial Revolution began an era of per-capita economic growth in capitalist economies. Economic historians are in agreement that the onset of the Industrial Revolution is the most important event in the history of humanity since the domestication of animals, plants and fire.
The First Industrial Revolution evolved into the Second Industrial Revolution in the transition years between 1840 and 1870, when technological and economic progress continued with the increasing adoption of steam transport (steam-powered railways, boats, and ships), the large-scale manufacture of machine tools and the increasing use of machinery in steam-powered factories.
Arts and humanities
Some cultural and artistic modalities are characteristically Western in origin and form. While dance, music, visual art, story-telling, and architecture are human universals, they are expressed in the West in certain characteristic ways.
In Western dance, music, plays and other arts, the performers are only very infrequently masked. There are essentially no taboos against depicting a god, or other religious figures, in a representational fashion.
In music, Catholic monks developed the first forms of modern Western musical notation in order to standardize liturgy throughout the worldwide Church, and an enormous body of religious music has been composed for it through the ages. This led directly to the emergence and development of European classical music, and its many derivatives. The Baroque style, which encompassed music, art, and architecture, was particularly encouraged by the post-Reformation Catholic Church as such forms offered a means of religious expression that was stirring and emotional, intended to stimulate religious fervor.
The symphony, concerto, sonata, opera, and oratorio have their origins in Italy. Many musical instruments developed in the West have come to see widespread use all over the world; among them are the violin, piano, pipe organ, saxophone, trombone, clarinet, accordion, and the theremin. The solo piano, symphony orchestra, and the string quartet are also significant musical innovations of the West.
Painting and photography
Jan van Eyck, among other renaissance painters, made great advances in oil painting, and perspective drawings and paintings had their earliest practitioners in Florence. In art, the Celtic knot is a very distinctive Western repeated motif. Depictions of the nude human male and female in photography, painting, and sculpture are frequently considered to have special artistic merit. Realistic portraiture is especially valued.
Photography, and the motion picture as both a technology and basis for entirely new art forms were also developed in the West.
Dance and performing arts
The ballet is a distinctively Western form of performance dance. The ballroom dance is an important Western variety of dance for the elite. The polka, the square dance, and the Irish step dance are very well known Western forms of folk dance.
Greek and Roman theatre are considered the antecedents of modern theatre, and forms such as medieval theatre, passion plays, morality plays, and Commedia dell'arte are considered highly influential. Elizabethan theater, with such luminaries as William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, and Ben Jonson, is considered one of the most formative and important eras for modern drama.
The soap opera, a popular culture dramatic form, originated in the United States first on radio in the 1930s, then a couple of decades later on television. The music video was also developed in the West in the middle of the 20th century. Musical theatre was developed in the West in the 19th and 20th Centuries, from music hall, comic opera, and Vaudeville; with significant contributions from the Jewish diaspora, African-Americans, and other marginalized peoples.
While epic literary works in verse such as the Mahabharata and Homer's Iliad are ancient and occurred worldwide, the prose novel as a distinct form of storytelling, with developed, consistent human characters and, typically, some connected overall plot (although both of these characteristics have sometimes been modified and played with in later times), was popularized by the West in the 17th and 18th centuries. Of course, extended prose fiction had existed much earlier; both novels of adventure and romance in the Hellenistic world and in Heian Japan. Both Petronius' Satyricon (c. 60 CE) and the Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu (c. 1000 CE) have been cited as the world's first major novel but they had a very limited long-term impact on literary writing beyond their own day until much more recent times.
Tragedy, from its ritually and mythologically inspired Greek origins to modern forms where struggle and downfall are often rooted in psychological or social, rather than mythical, motives, is also widely considered a specifically European creation and can be seen as a forerunner of some aspects of both the novel and of classical opera.
Important western architectural motifs include the Doric, Corinthian, and Ionic columns, and the Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque, and Victorian styles are still widely recognised, and used even today, in the West. Much of western architecture emphasizes repetition of simple motifs, straight lines and expansive, undecorated planes. A modern ubiquitous architectural form that emphasizes this characteristic is the skyscraper, first developed in New York, London, and Chicago.
Scientific and technological inventions and discoveries
Japan is often considered more "Western" in culture than other Asian countries. Compared to the United States, there are certainly a lot of similarities. But Japan and the U.S. do have many cultural differences as well. Though no people can be generalized as a whole, and, like America, culture can very from region to region, here are some things that stick out to American expatriates living in Japan.
1. Japanese attitudes toward religion: not Christian, and it's not important anyway. The vast majority of Japanese people identify as Shintoist or Buddhist, or both at the same time. Though Christian missionaries have been present in Japan for hundreds of years, there has been little effect on Japan's religious identity and philosophy. Therefore, issues that are based in typical debate in the Abrahamic faiths, such as gay marriage or teaching creationism in schools, lack a religious foundation in Japan. Japanese people's approach to Shinto and Buddhism is also largely reserved to traditions, celebrations and superstitions more than strong spiritual belief. For example, in America, a politician's religious affiliation may become the cause of heavy debate, but there are few such issues in Japan.
2. Japanese people tend to be more formal. This one is a generalization that depends on which region of Japan we are referring to, but overall Japan, especially Tokyo, is known for being "colder" than most areas of the United States. People stand a relatively far distance apart when speaking, and last names with honorifics are used. An example can be seen in different approaches to customer service. In America, ideal customer service is usually warm and friendly. In Japan, it is formal and unobtrusive. Waiters don't usually stop by tables to ask customers how the food is and what their weekend plans are, and strangers won't often chat while waiting for the bus. Physically touching is also more sparse in Japan than it is in America.
3.Japanese people are nationalistic but overall not very political. Politicians in Japan have a shockingly low approval rate. Politicians are quick to resign after making mistakes, causing Japan to switch Prime Ministers almost once a year since 2005. Japan has a Parliament system with many parties, and politicians don't tend to win with a majority vote. In fact, Japanese people have a notoriously low voting rate. On the other hand, Japanese people tend to have a lot of love for their country, and celebrate their unique history, language and culture in a way not dissimilar to Americans.
4. Though America is made up of people from many different countries, Japan is overwhelmingly Japanese. The population of Japan is about 98% ethnic Japanese, and the biggest minority groups are Korean and Chinese people. Because most Japanese citizens have an identical ethnic and national identity, seeing people who don't appear to be of East Asian descent can lead to instant assumptions of being a foreigner, whether tourist or temporary resident. This can affect society in the sense that because Japanese people view their culture as homogeneous, it is expected that everyone understands the traditions and rules of society.
5. Japanese people bow. Though well known that many Asian countries bow instead of shaking hands, Japanese people bow in more situations than just greetings. Bowing can be done in apologizing and thanking as well. Though in business people might bow deeply to a 45 degree angle, most bows are a casual bob of the head and slight incline of the back. However, Japanese people are well aware that foreigners usually shake hands and might readily offer their hands in greeting instead.
6. Japanese people will often live with their parents until they get married. There is much less social stigma about an unmarried person living with Mom and Dad after college. In fact, it isn't unheard of for newlyweds to live with one partner's parents until they can find a place of their own.
7. No tipping in Japan! Tipping is not done or rare at best. It can even be insulting to tip, as though its an affront on the employee's salary. If you leave a few bills on the table after eating out, prepare to have the waiter run after you with your "forgotten" item. In America, tips are, in philosophy, meant to show appreciation for good service. Considering that many jobs such as waiters that are usually tipped get paid minimum wage or less, tipping has become a necessity.
8. Space in Japan is more precious. Because Japan is an island country and only about the size of California, and much of the land it has is mountainous terrain, what land there is is precious and often expensive. Sizes of apartments and houses are usually much smaller, and yards are often tiny if they exist at all. Still, Japanese people have learned to adapt in ways to maximize space, but it can nonetheless be shocking for an American who might take space for granted.
9. Americans tend to be more direct and blunt, whereas Japanese people are more subtle. Being too direct in Japan can be considered rude. This can be seen in body language, too. People in the U.S. are taught to look directly in someone's eyes when speaking or listening to show they are actively participating in the conversation. In Japan, extended eye contact can be uncomfortable between people who aren't close, and eyes are often adverted. Japanese people also tend to be more reserved than Americans, and share less personal or sensitive information, often even with close friends.
10. Gender roles are strict. In 2012, Japan ranked an embarrassing 101st on the Global Gender Gap Report, which measured women's equality. America ranked 22nd. There are very few female politicians and CEOs. When women join companies, they are often expected to quit when they get married to become housewives and stay-at-home mothers. The concept of masculinity can also be very strict, though among youth culture - typically university age or younger - there is some gender androgyny celebrated in fashion, appearances and roles.
11. In Japan, social hierarchy is important. The junior/senior relationship is very important in Japan. A company employee who is younger and probably hasn't worked at the company as long as his older coworker will be a "junior" to the "senior." It is the same for students, especially in school clubs. In theory, the senior is a mentor for the junior, and it is the junior's duty to help out the senior and the other members of the group. These roles aren't non-existent in America, but roles are often based on personal accomplishments, and they aren't always respected as a rule, either.
12. Japan is a collectivist culture, whereas the United States is more individualistic. Japanese culture is focused on groups and communities. Satisfaction and pride is meant to be found within the group you belong to. In the United States, people tend to find satisfaction in their own accomplishments, and focus on their own aspirations. An example of this is that in Japanese business culture, employees tend to work for one company for their entire lives. Company loyalty is valued, and promotions are often given on a seniority basis. In America, people focus on their careers independent from the companies they work for, and will often change companies a number of times throughout their professional lives. Promotions are supposed to be given on a basis of merit. In Japan, this can also influence a mindset of how people live in society. People tend to follow rules more seriously, from something as simple as trying not to litter - which makes big cities like Tokyo surprisingly clean.