The nature of relationships between Western and Non-Western societies is often largely different. One distinct difference between them is whether the relationships are voluntary or non-voluntary. Many have concluded that within Western society relationships are voluntary because of high geographical mobility, access to the internet and the increased opportunities to meet other people because of its urban setting. A Non-Western society generally lacks in these features; they have fewer urban settings and most don’t have access to things like internet dating.
Those living in a Non-Western Society also are less likely to travel to meet others, so a relationship is more likely to be based upon economic factors and family ties. Relationships in Non-Western culture are often involuntary. An issue with this theory is that it may not be a true representation of each demographic. There is research to show that some Non-Western cultures have experienced a dramatic shift towards voluntary relationships, posing the question as to whether this theory is an accurate representation.
For example, within China, arranged marriages have dropped from 70% in the 1950’s to 10% in the 1990’s. This clearly shows that the majority of marriages in China are not actually arranged as the theory implies. The decrease in arranged marriages is most likely due to the fact that Non-Western cultures are now being more exposed to Western cultures. As technologies throughout the world have advanced in recent time, more and more countries (such as China) are becoming exposed to the ideas of Western cultures and more have access to the internet and different ways of social mobility.
Because of this, arranged marriages are not as common as they used to be. This makes the theory quite an old-fashioned view of Non-Western culture. Therefore, the conclusions made by this theory won’t always be appropriate to generalise to a wider society as clearly not all relationships in Non-Western societies are involuntary. Another difference in the nature of relationships across cultures is whether the relationship is focused on the individual or on the group as a whole. Culture within Western society is often individualistic.
This is reflected upon relationships also within Western society, as the relationship is usually focused on the needs of the individual, highlighting and reinforcing the individual’s freedom of choice. Within Non-Western society, emphasis is put on the needs and interests of the entire group as it is a more collectivist culture. Relationships are often only considered when they propose economic benefits and approval by their family. Love and romance are not usually considered.
A criticism of this theory is that it lacks temporal validity. Although 1993 may seem fairly recent, we still cannot ignore that from 1993 onwards, cultures have most likely changed. Cultures across the world are now widely accepting more Western views about relationships, and so a lot more people are focusing on their individual needs. The conclusions made from this theory cannot be generalised as they may not be considered representative of today’s society. As well as this, the theory does not regard individual differences.
It ignores certain cases within Western society that don’t support the theory. For example, a person may enter a relationship simply because of the economic factors or to help support their children, even if the relationship doesn’t directly benefit them themselves. This makes the theory not suitable for generalisation, as it is not always true in some cases. Another criticism of this theory is that it suggests that Non-Western cultures only consider economic benefits, and ignore the concept of love.
This makes the theory reductionist as it also ignores the many cases within Non-Western cultures where those in an arranged marriage have fallen in love. Gupta and Singh in 1982 compared love and liking in arranged marriages to ‘love’ marriages and found that love within arranged marriages exceeded the levels found in ‘love’ marriages by 10 years, supporting the idea that arranged marriages involve a lot more than economic factors. Again, as it does not take these into account, it can’t necessarily be generalised to all Non-Western societies.