ISBN: 9788791114991

Politics, Culture and Self: East Asian and North European Attitudes


Geir Helgesen and Søren Risbjerg Thomsen (eds)

2006, 293 (xviii+275) pp.
16 figures., 40 tables
Paperback, 15x23 cm

Globalization may be undermining Kipling’s assertion that “East is East and West is West” but arguably this is more in the realms of technological advances and consumer behavior than in political culture. In the latter arena, much is still made of the contrasts between Eastern culture, characterized by collectivism and belief in authority, and Western culture, characterized by individualism and belief in democracy. Such comfortable assumptions will be shattered for readers of Politics, Culture and Self.

This volume indeed confirms that differences between East Asia and Northern Europe do exist. Provocatively, however, it also points to major similarities (e.g., regarding social harmony and the role of the family in society) as well as significant contrasts mirrored within the two regions (e.g., concerning interpersonal and institutional trust).

These results are of special interest because of the care taken to reduce “cultural contamination.” The data is derived from extensive and in‐depth surveys conducted by a cross‐cultural research team in East Asia and Northern Europe. Here, methodological techniques were used to control for non‐cultural differences as well as cultural variation in how people respond to questionnaires. This survey data is augmented by a wealth of historical and analytical contexts that will make the book an essential item in the library of anyone concerned with issues relating to political behavior at all levels.

What others are saying

“A fascinating attempt to peel away the preconceived opinions and characteristics we confer upon our counterparts and instead paint a more realistic picture” — John Quigley, Eurasia Bulletin


  • Based on data derived from extensive and in-depth surveys conducted by a cross-cultural research team in East Asia and Northern Europe
  • Great care taken to reduce “cultural contamination”
  • Data augmented by a wealth of historical and analytical contexts
  • An essential read for anyone concerned with political behaviour

About the Editors

Geir Helgesen is a senior researcher at the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS) in Copenhagen. Søren Risbjerg Thomsen is professor of Political Science at the University of Aarhus, Denmark.


    East Asia | Northern Europe | cross‐culture | sociopolitics | individualism

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