Differences in Chinese and American Cultures

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Differences in Chinese and American Cultures

Heidi Heslin

Thomas Edison State College

Introduction

The differences in Chinese culture and American culture are many. Language and dialects, the importance of family, a hierarchy, and traditions are pillars in Chinese culture. American culture is more

|Key Concepts in Understanding Chinese Culture | | | |Guanxi: Throughout much of Chinese history, the fundamental glue that has held society | |together is the concept of guanxi, relationships between people. Today this means who you | |know and what these people believe their obligations are to you. With a good network of | |contacts in China, almost anything can be accomplished. Guanxi is how things get done.  |

| | |Reciprocity:  This refers to the exchanging of favors between individuals and groups. People| |will presume upon those with whom they have guanxi, and understand the need for returning | |favors. | | | |Mianzi:  Face - losing face, saving face and giving face - is very important and should be | |taken into consideration at all times. Loosing your temper, confronting someone, putting | |someone on the spot, arrogant behavior, or failing to accord proper respect can cause a loss| |of face.  | | | |Li and Surface Harmony:  Originally li meant to sacrifice, but today it is translated as the| |art of being polite and courteous. Proper etiquette preserves harmony and face. Therefore, | |the true emotions of a person do not matter as long as surface harmony is maintained. For | |example, a public argument, or a boss reprimanding a staff member in front of others would | |disturb surface harmony and cause a loss of face. This is why the Chinese often use an | |intermediary to deliver bad news or unpleasant messages. | |The most fundamental cultural difference between Chinese and Americans relates to the role | |of the individual. The Chinese place great importance on the group and consensus. One’s | |status in society dictates how one treats others and is treated by others.  | |Keqi:  Ke means guest and qi means behavior. It not only means considerate, polite, and well| |mannered, but also represents humbleness and modesty. It is impolite to be arrogant and brag| |about oneself or one’s inner circle. The expression is most often used in the negative, as | |in buyao keqi, meaning “you shouldn’t be so kind and polite to me,” or “you’re welcome.” | | | |Inner and outer circles: The rules of behavior set forth by Confucius apply to one's inner | |circle, i.e. family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. They do not, as a rule, apply | |to people outside the circle, i.e. strangers. It is not considered rude to bump into someone| |without offering an apology.  | | | |The Western concept of being kind to strangers seems strange to the Chinese. This also | |explains why there is no strong concept of philanthropy in China. |

Early Chinese philosophical and historical texts contain sophisticated conceptions of the nature of the cosmos. These ideas predate the formal development of...
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