Preferences and Culture (2) – What do mean by that?

Here is the definition of preferences from the Free Online Dictionary

a. The selecting of someone or something over another or others.
b. The right or chance to so choose.
c. Someone or something so chosen. See Synonyms at choice.

In the pure economic sense i.e. in the classical Adam Smith’s thinking, preferences are based on the individual. This thinking is in line with the axiom that each individual maximizes his or her utility.

However, more recent thinking on preferences usually includes the role of culture*.

For example, certain food might be preferred by individuals within one culture, whilst other kinds of food might be preferred by individuals within another culture. Preferences can also influence other types of consumption as well – from clothing, shoes and even to cars and houses. It even applies to choosing wives and girlfriends and mistresses. And this even applies to voting (i.e. participation in political processes)

Perhaps I might add one thing that is relevant here. Major political parties in Malaysia like to say that they are defending the “culture” of their target voters. In saying that what these parties are trying to do is to equate their parties to the cultures of their voters. This is done with the premise that voters are not (or less likely) to act in contrary to the benefit and advancement of their culture. Of course, such practices can only succeed in places where individual choice are subordinated to collective goals and aspirations.


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