The sixth chapter “Where is Life Faster” discusses differences between life tempos in different cultures trying to reveal in what culture life is the fastest. The author writes that it is very interesting for him to compare one culture to another because a lot of unknown facts contributing development of psychological studies will be identified. Authors’ comparison focuses on time and speed of life. Cultural tempo is argued to affect the quality of human life.
Nevertheless, it may be tricky to compare different cultures because labeling individuals should have scientific or psychological basis. It is necessary to go beyond the boundaries in order to measure the tempo of life with accuracy and objectivity. The author finds it interesting to compare indicator of speed in working office in different countries. However, the research has failed as the author needed to find observable jobs and workers should be residents of particular country. Research at gas station has failed as well, because such businesses are not equivalent across countries.
According to author’s research, the fastest countries are Japan and Western European countries. Western Europe has nine fastest countries and Japan is the only Asian countries with life tempo. The fist place in West Europe is given to Switzerland, whereas the second is given to Ireland. Ireland is characterized by the fastest walking speed, whereas Switzerland is characterized by the splendid findings. Surprisingly, New York hasn’t gained the highest scores as some workers in office move very slowly.
In contrast, the slowest speed of life is observed in non-industrialized countries and it is the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America. The slowest is claimed to be Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico. Daily life in these countries is very slow and Brazilians, for example, “not only expected the casual approach of life, but had abandoned any semblance to of fidelity to the clock”. (p. 136) In such a way the author shows that there are many ways to measure speed of life and the results shows that different cultures has their own life tempo.
Further, the author compares Japan, the USA and Western Europe to identify which of the countries is La Dolce Vita. Much of European countries are characterized by opportunities to relax and in the pleasures of good life. Therefore, Levine suggests that La dolce Vita is easier for Europeans rather than for Asians and Africans. For example, Japanese work harder and have less time for relaxing. Europeans are claimed to live better than Americans. La Dolce Vita is welcomed in Italy as they try to balance hard work and leisure.
It is necessary to underline that working week is longer in the USA than in most of European countries. However, Japan is characterized by the longest working week. For more than half a century the working week hasn’t been changed and it is argued that time for leisure is decreasing in the country and the nation has less time for themselves. In contrast, in Europe the tendency to work has been replaced by the tendency to relax. For example, without leisure workers in France are more irritating and nervous. Therefore, Western Europeans have more vacation time.
For example, in France “workers by law receive at least five weeks and often six weeks of paid vacation”. (p. 143) When comparing countries examples of cultural differences are seen the most. However, speed of life varies across cities and regions of one country. It is true for the USA as well as the country is very large and each state has its own traditions and customs. The slightest geographical shifts are profound and for example, moving from Oklahoma to Texas is viewed as “entering France, say, out of Switzerland”.
(p. 146) The author is willing to reveal whether there are differences between New York and other large cities. Research results demonstrate that Northeastern United States is viewed as fast-spaced, whereas Californians are more relaxed. Boston and New York are the fastest cities in the country, whereas Los-Angeles is claimed to be one of the slowest in the country. One of the biggest challenges was to measure accurately walking speed as in some regions it was hard to find any walkers at all.
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Topic: Geography of Time
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