An Introduction To Social Values In Translation

It’s important for translation professionals to understand the significance of social values in the international marketplace.  For this reason, we will devote this blog entry and the next one to understanding social issues.  Before we offer a discussion on social values in other cultures, it important to provide a brief introduction and overview on social values in North America.  This discussion is offered by a Boston French Translation professional and a Washington D.C. French Translation professional.

According to our Boston French Translation professional, as a result of changing social values, organizations such as the American Red Cross and the Boy Scouts of America have lost more than 25-percent of their volunteers during the past two decade.  The dwindling of volunteers occurred because it was becoming increasingly acceptable for suburban women to work outside of the home at the same time feminist groups were expressing negative attitudes towards volunteer work activities that once dominated many women’s lives.

A social value is a statement about a culture’s shared ides of what ought to be an expression of preferred acting.  For example, we learn from those around us that it is wrong to lie or steal.  A belief is a statement concerning the existence and characteristics of physical and social phenomena.  We believe that cigarette smoking causes heart disease.  Even a totally foolish belief may affect how people behave.  It is the marketer’s job to “read” the social environment and reflect the surrounding culture’s values and beliefs in a marketing strategy.

Consider how Americans feel about time.  According to our Washington D.C. Portuguese Translation professional, there is a growing trend to place a premium on time because of an increased interest in leisure time pursuits.  One researcher suggests that American consumers are less concerned with the system and order than they were in the past and that there is a growing acceptance that it is perfectly all right to give in to moods and occasions.  Such changing social values could result in fewer shopping lists and more spur-of-the-moment or impulse purchases, as well as in less loyalty to weekly television programs or nightly newscast teams.

Social values influence not only marketing strategy but other environmental variables as well.  The social values that lying and stealing are wrong are reflected in laws dealing with deceptive advertising.  The belief that smoking is injurious to health has led to legislation dealing with smoking in public places and the barring of cigarette commercials on television and radio.  The belief that children are more susceptible to persuasion than adults may ultimately lead to stringent laws governing advertising on children’s television programs.

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