Battlepanda: Blame culture


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Blame culture

The French work less because they are a bunch of leisure lovin', 2 hour lunch takin', grandmaman visitin' nation of slackers while Americans work so darn much because of our vaulted Puritan ethics and inborn desire for consumer goods over family time. Cultural differences, right?

Except the French were working 10% more than us as recently as the 1970. Man, 'culture' sure moves fast nowadays.

Matt Singer from Left in the West puts it very well indeed:
Interesting, so what some would put forward as mere individual choice is really the result of the active structuring of the economy? You wouldn’t say.

Hmm, maybe there is good reason to look to social engineering, since it, um, seems to matter.

'Culture' functions as a 'just-so story' in these contexts. Explaining away differences between nations while glossing over the differences in institutions that underly those differences by using the language of individual choice/responsibility. The great thing is, there are usually enough mutually contradictory stereotypes about every country/culture/group to justify any outcome. For example, if we turned overnight into a nation of conscious scrimpers who worked short weeks in order to do stuff around the house and spend time with family, I'm sure it would take no time at all for conventional wisdom to declare that our colonial past has predictably produced a proud, resourceful people who valued self-reliance and close-knit communities over paid work and money-grubbing.