On Different Values of Individualism in Chinese and American Cultures

Topics: Individualism, Chinese language, Sociology Pages: 12 (3846 words) Published: May 16, 2013
On Different Values of Individualism in Chinese and American Cultures

1. Introduction
Everyone, every social class and every country have their own unique values. It is the fact that value is the core of cross-culture communication and the differences of culture among countries depend on different values. Value exerts great influence on everyone’s daily life. Scores of people rely on value to obtain knowledge, master the basic skills and foster correct world outlook. China and America are two opposite countries in terms of different values. It exists in many different fields in China and America such as politics, literature and family structure. The essence of these differences actually reflects the cultural differences. The word individualism also shows us two entirely different values. Due to the different understanding and comprehension, it is quite important to research on the topic on different values of individualism in Chinese and American Cultures. People need to find out other cultures through the core value rather than measure other cultures by native values. Foreign language learners should strive to overcome cultural differences and avoid mistakes in communication after we understand different meanings of individualism between China and America. In The Contemporary Chinese Dictionary(1997), People who just care about themselves put individual interests above collective interests and that is a wrong thought, which means some people only mind his own business instead of other people’s feeling. The pattern of Chinese culture focuses on inner world and embodies in introspection and wisdom. Nevertheless, American culture keeps a watchful eye on outside world. Only in this way, they can express their feeling outwardly. American life also shows the epitome of driving force in these modern societies(Adams, 1938). It advocates each person should have rights to acquire maximum property (Yuan Yan, 2001). Wang Jintang (1997), who ever compiled the famous work American society and culture, thinks that American individualism is a kind of self-motivation, autonomous choice, self-reliance and respect for others. Why are there different values of individualism? Moreover, why is it expressed in different forms in politics, literature, family and polite manner? These attribute to their religion and geographic environment. China is a country with vast territory and densely populated nation in the world. People are accustomed to living in groups. It is typical pattern such as northern traditional quadrangles, which many people get together and help each other. As time went by, they have formed a firm sense of collective belonging. As a result, individualism is not as important as collectivism in China. However, America is a young country without the history of feudal society. From the outset, the concept of capitalism is deeply rooted in people’s mind. They rely on their own power and lead lives on their own to achieve American Dream. In addition, America is a country with vast of land and fewer people. They have a large field rather than busting quadrangles in China. American people believe in Christianity and they insist that only God is real. All men are created equal and born with the natural right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Conversely, Buddhism and Confucianism run throughout Chinese culture. The Confucianism view that heaven, earth and human blend into a harmonious unity. Human could not survive without mutual exchanges. Everyone should focus on overall situation. People should consider other peoples’ interests first.

2. The Definition of Individualism

The idea of individualism can be divided into two parts, namely in a broad sense and in a narrow sense. In a broad sense, with the development of relations of production in the capitalist countries, many people were oppressed by anti-feudalism and struggled against hierarchy. Therefore, the clear target in that period is to take...
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