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Title: Social representations of self and society : a cross-cultural investigation in Britain and Japan
Author: Kuwahara, Yukiko
ISNI:       0000 0001 3603 1739
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2004
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The theory of Individualism and Collectivism (I -C) has been pervasively used in the cross-cultural investigation as a dimension, making a typology of culture. In this project, cross-cultural differences were investigated in how people talk about their society and how the meanings of self are constructed among British and Japanese nationals, from the perspective of Social Representation Theory (Moscovici, 1984, 1988, 1998, 2001). Moreover, how individualistic and collectivistic characteristics are reflected in such representations was investigated. The approach to identity, proposed by Chryssochoou (2003), which assumes a cyclical relationship among Self-knowledge, Self-claim and Recognition to construct the sense of self, was used to investigate social representation of identity. Three empirical studies were conducted in order to investigate representation of society and identity. The first study investigated the social context in which the meaning of self is constructed and the 'Self-knowledge'. A series of semi-structured interviews were performed with British and Japanese women in order to elicit the belief about the society and success. Data was analysed by Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (Smith, 1996), in order to understand participants' subjective experience of their society and success. The second study investigated the 'Self-claim' and the social norms reflected in the way people describe themselves in different contexts.Twenty Statement Test (Kuhn and McPartland, 1954) was used to elicit 10 self-expressions from 106 British and 151 Japanese women university students. Half of the participants were asked to present themselves to their close friends, and the others, to their co-workers. Self-expressions were categorised into I dioce ntric, Allocentric, and Group self-references (Bochner, 1994) and positive, negative and neutral self-evaluations (Watkins and Gerong, 1997) in order to identify I-e elements in their self-expressions and to study cross-cultural differences in Self-claims. The third study investigated social representation of a person and how people conventionally recognise other people among 169 British and 288 Japanese women university students. Participants were presented with 4 self-expressions of a hypothetical person. Self-expressions were manipulated by ldiocentric, Allocentric and Group self-references (Bochner, 1994) in order to elicit the representation of an 'individualistic' or a 'collectivistic' person. Participants were asked to make judgment about this person in a series of questions. The evaluation of the fictitious person was expected to reveal the social norm which regulated the wayan individualistic or a collectivistic person was accepted in British and Japanese societies. Results from three empirical studies showed consistent meanings given to society and self and cyclical relationships between Self-knowledge, Self-claim and Recognition to construct the sense of self. These studies also identified both individualistic and collectivistic properties in British and Japanese society to uniquely characterise their cultures. The findings from this thesis supported the importance of meanings given to the social world and the ability of SRT to advance the knowledge in the area of cross . cultural study.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available