Monday, Dec 22, 2014

Three fundamentals that change behaviour

Nowhere is culture changing behaviour more visible than in China.  (Reuters) Nowhere is culture changing behaviour more visible than in China. (Reuters)
Written by Shombit Sengupta | Posted: July 27, 2014 12:42 am

As incomes grew, so did adultery. Divorce rose from 3,41,000 in 1980 to 2.2 million in 2013.

Behaviour change comes in two ways: at the basic level, enterprises follow the same route avoiding product obsolescence, and, as I wrote last week, the unique way of making incredible difference, as Gillette, Sony Walkman and Apple among others did. However, prominent indicators that change behaviour are culture, food and ergonomics.

Culture: Nowhere is culture changing behaviour more visible than in China. When Deng Xiaoping led the country after Mao Zedong, he introduced reforms from 1978 with his slogan of “To get rich is glorious”. This inspired private enterprises to grow. He de-collectivised communes, shifting to the household responsibility system, making millions of peasants return to family farming. Village and town industries responded to the market. Shenzhen, a little village near Hong Kong, became an SEZ in 1979; today it’s the world’s largest manufacturing hub.

Opening up to international trade made Western influences enter politics, culture, the economy, challenging official values and moving beyond urban to rural areas. Dramatic culture change included family woes like broken homes. As incomes grew, so did adultery. Divorce rose from 3,41,000 in 1980 to 2.2 million in 2013. Suspicious wives are resorting to private detectives, who use secretive measures like attaching GPS trackers to their suspects’ cars or monitoring their calls. Such spying services are illegal but continue as privately collected evidence has been permitted in civil law suits. So traditional Chinese culture is undergoing changes akin to capitalistic societies.

Cultural attributes that change behaviour are basic functioning of day-to-day family life, health, education, economic conditions, lifestyle and livelihood generation. Religion is not a part of it unless the society is monatomic, with one religion driving the socio-eco-political spectrum. Culture started before religion or civilisation, when people discovered how to make fire, find food for survival or draw cave pictures.

It’s evident that materialism brings behavioural change. Take material comforts our godmen enjoy, like airconditioned rooms and cars, first or business class air travel, instead of meditation under the trees. Their disciples may have thrust these comforts upon them, but it’s obvious these disciples have managed to change the habits of godmen.

What’s radically changed India’s working culture is the global IT servicing industry that brings in about $80 billion every year. Young boys and girls work together at call centres. At age 18, in their first job after school, these youngsters can earn up to Rs 18,000 per month, whereas if their father was a simple worker, he’d be earning that amount perhaps after 25 years. So father-child cultural behaviour cannot be the same. News stories abound about condoms clogging call centre drains and employees being counseled because their speech has become American English, odd working hours make them miss all family functions and social contact outside office. Even continued…

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