Your posts develops many points I find interesting. I will ask a few quick questions about some of these.
You begin by categorising people into three types based on their beliefs about values. I wonder if rather than separating these beliefs into types of people, is it possible that each individual holds all three kinds of belief, and that the belief is different depending on the type of value itself? Rokeach favoured a ranking system for values held by the individual(Hitlin & Piliavin, 2004) based on the understanding that certain values have more importance than others. Rokeach and Cochrane (1972) used these rankings to deliberately induce self-dissatisfaction in test subjects by pointing out “possible incompatibilities existing between their values” (p. 286) in order to assess if the resulting cognitive dissonance mediated long-term value and attitudinal change. Perhaps, rather than their being three kinds of people, there are three kinds of value, which may be in competition with each other in the same individual. What do you think?
Like you, I have left my home country to live and work abroad. Seeing the differences between our homes and the new is very easy, but understanding the values in the new takes a long time especially if the surface differences obscure underlying similarities. How did the relocation affect how you view your values? I’d like to offer a brief example from my own experience. In my first few months in Japan in 1997, I found myself repeatedly asking the question about what is a ‘good person’ in the Japanese sense? I asked this question to many and found the range of answers fascinating. Unfortunately, the Japanese value of hard work extended far beyond my own and I experienced difficulty accepting, among other things, the amount of unpaid overtime expected (Tanaka, 2014). Being ‘good’ included the imperative not to complain to social superiors and to accept orders unquestioningly. The notion of ‘hard work’ seems relatively straightforward, and agreeing on its value appears unproblematic. However, when the notion is unpacked, it is seen to contain highly divergent aspects that may be culturally definable. Have you found a supposedly common value between your home country and your adopted home that, once investigated, revealed some very different constituents?
I’m interested in your assertion that you try to be as neutral as possible. Is there a possibility that expressing neutrality is in itself emblematic of a value and that that may introduce some conflict at times? A simple example of this that often happens to me is around sports matches. I’m not at all interested in sport, by the way, but when the World Cup football is on and everyone is following Japan, my neutrality (because I am very neutral during events like the Olympics and the World Cup) is sometimes remarked upon as coldness, uncaring and not being socially involved with my students. Another example is my dislike for Disney. I don’t show that in my professional work but choose to remain neutral whenever students ask how often I’ve been to Disney World! I’m more careful now, but I have inadvertently created psychological distances between myself as a teacher role and my students who suddenly stop trying to engage me in discussion. Much work is available on the difficulties inherent in attempting to adopt a neutral stance (e.g. Balch, 2006; Ryu & Cervero, 2011; Stevenson, 2010). This is a fascinating topic. What is your stance on it?
Balch, S. H. (2006). The dubious value of value neutrality. Academic Questions, 19(4), 44–48. doi:10.1007/s12129-006-1035-3
Hitlin, S., & Piliavin, J. A. (2004). Values: Reviving a Dormant Concept. Annual Review of Sociology, 30(1), 359–393. doi:10.1146/annurev.soc.30.012703.110640
Rokeach, M., & Cochrane, R. (1972). Self-Confrontation and Confrontation With Another as Determinants of Long-Term Value Change’. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 2(4), 283–292. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.1972.tb01280.x
Ryu, K., & Cervero, R. M. (2011). The Role of Confucian Cultural Values and Politics in Planning Educational Programs for Adults in Korea. Adult Education Quarterly, 61(2), 139–160. doi:10.1177/0741713610380440
Stevenson, N. (2010). Critical Pedagogy, Democracy, and Capitalism: Education Without Enemies or Borders. Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies, 32(1), 66–92. doi:10.1080/10714410903482674
Tanaka, Y. (2014). The Family in Human Resource Management. In K. Sugeno (Ed.), Japan Labor Review: Labor and family formation (pp. 67–85). Tokyo.