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Difference and Similarity

Dreamstime_6091591 I am spending this week and next in Shanghai for my work, which pleases me greatly. It's only my third visit and the first where I have been able to stay a while. I have always been fascinated by China. This is a culture which has existed continuously for thousands of years.  I don't have any profound thoughts to offer today. Moving between an hotel and an office block in a central business district is no way to understand a civilisation. I have lived too much abroad to jump to any rapid and foolish conclusions.

My only observation so far is this. Why has our own - supposedly shallow - culture had such a powerful influence around the world? Take dress for example. The Chinese men in the streets of Shanghai are dressed exactly like their counterparts in the City of London. The women too - at least around the offices and shops of the city centre- wear "Western" dress, albeit (apart from the occasional power-dressed businesswoman or administrator) a rather girlish version.

Why? Western dress for men in particular, is boring. There is so little scope for colour or individuality (especially in a recession, when even tiny flamboyances are forbidden). Why did our choices prevail?


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Fay Levoir

As you say a business district in any town is a micro culture unto itself.
In my experience of living abroad anything imported has status value and that goes for European goods in the US as much as Western goods to a place like China.
Another take on it could be less flattering to the humble business wardrobe.
I know many People who see it as a convenient uniform that is shed at the first opportunity and not held in fondness or regard at all.
Maybe these cultures like our own are saving the good clothes for leisure time.
I hope you get an opportunity to take in some of the amazing culture during your stay.


It does seem the world is increasingly a global culture, except when people reject it, and then they define themselves by being deliberately different.

It seems always to have been true to some extent. look at how European fashion in times gone by copied Venice or Paris, or London.

But I guess it is not all one way. Japanese culture took on many western aspects and then changed them and pushed them back out into the world. Manga for instance. all those games.

Or the UK it didn't just influence India, India influenced it. The same is true of the US, or Oz, etc.


"Why? Western dress for men in particular, is boring"
To be fair, I would imagine many people from other cultures would say the same thing- just vice versa.

Such as when my Polish housemate came down to my home town the day before the modern liberty convention, and he found the mosaics and the local church, as well as the RAF mural interesting and photo-worthy, I myself, having lived with them all my life, wouldn't glance at them twice.

Just the same as I can imagine myself being interested in visiting monuments in Washington such as the White House, but wouldn't want to go anywhere near our own Houses of Parliament.

It's all much of a muchness, I guess.

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