Differences in Chinese and American Cultures

Topics: Culture, Geert Hofstede, Confucianism Pages: 13 (4559 words) Published: May 12, 2011
Differences in Chinese and American Cultures

Heidi Heslin

Thomas Edison State College


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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