[extropy-chat] When Did (or Do) People Start Locking Doors?

Anders Sandberg asa at nada.kth.se
Thu Dec 21 08:36:16 UTC 2006

Amara Graps wrote:
> When I visited Turkey earlier this year for my second time, I noticed
> (rather: 'shocked') again about how clean is Turkey. Now, you must
> remember
> that I've been living in southern Italy for almost four years; that's my
> baseline comparison, so such an observation is relative.
> my observation is the following, in units of Trash :
> the wealthiest parts of Rome = the poorest parts of Istanbul
> Does such data follow your theory above, Anders? I'm not sure. We have
> an interesting data set.

I think it is affected by culture to some extent. I noticed that on
cultural dimensions (http://www.geert-hofstede.com/) Turkey scores lower
on the individuality scale, so the social control and tendency to help
one's collective might be stronger than in Italy. But there is also the
fact that Italian muncipal management is like it is - I wouldn't be too
surprised of learning that street cleaning is heavily regulated and rigid

My guess is that the main part of the difference is due to different
living patterns. Turkey still has a stronger local social network with
extended families living nearby compared to Italy, where they are more
dispersed. This would lead to more strong "protected spaces" in
neighbourhoods where littering would be frowned upon by people you know if
you live there, and people more ready to complain if you are an outsider.

But this is guesses. I must admit I'm an amateur when it comes to
littering psychology.

Right now I'm back in Sweden, and here the worst kind of littering is of
course due to recycling programs forcing people to bring out their trash
to "environmental containers" in the street, where they try to put it in
the right one (often making mistakes, making the recycling very
inefficient). Since the emptying schedule is set centrally they tend to
overflow, producing significant piles of litter. It is going to be
interesting to see how many of the containers crammed with christmas
wrappings will be set on fire by new years fireworks this year. But at
least it is litter sacrificed at the altar of the environment!

Anders Sandberg,
Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics
Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University

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