American Popular Culture
Contrast between Chinese and American Consumption Concepts
Following is a story that was once rather prevalently discussed in China: A Chinese old lady and an American old lady were both, miserably, dead. They met with each other in the heaven. The Chinese old lady said, “I have been working hard for more than thirty years. The day before my death, I finally managed to buy a large house with my own earnings. But the doctor said I was overworking, and caught a cancer. I died in my newly-brought house, but I will have no chance to live there.” The American old lady widened her eyes at what the Chinese old lady told her, and said, “I have also worked for more than thirty years, not to buy a house, but to redeem the banking loans. I have been living in my enormous house for thirty years.” This is a classic and typical story which can, to some extent, reflect the different consumption concepts between Chinese and American: in America, advance consumption is what American people uphold and execute. Even if they don’t have enough money to buy what they are longing for, they can obtain a loan from the bank, and redeem it later. While in China most Chinese advocate “secure” consumption, which means “I will not buy something beyond my consuming capability.” Then, what are the reasons that lead to such a difference in the two types of consumption concepts? The following factors should be taken into account. • Economy
Consumption, first of all, calls for money. No money, no consumption! The United States is a fairly young capitalist country with its economy growing at an astonishing speed. There is only 230 years since its independence in 1776, and at most 400 years since its colony times. However, during these ninety years, from the foundation of the federal government in 1789 to the completion of its industrial revolution in the 1880s, America ranked first in the total industrial output value in 1894 from fourth in 1860, exceeding that of such major capitalist countries as British, France, and Germany. In 1993, America’s per capita national income exceeded 24,700 dollars, ranking first in the world. The highly advanced economy serves as the fly-wheel of American consumption. On contrary, China manifests a completely different scene in economy. China had experienced more than 100 years of the Semi-colonial and Semi-feudal Society, when China’s economy was downright destroyed. In the early phases of the socialist construction, the System of Planned Economy was established in the new-founded China. According to the criteria of the World Bank, China remained a lower-income nation in the late 1970s, even after more than 20 years’ development. Take the income standard as an example. In 1978, the average income of employees in urban areas was 615 yuan, with per capita income 316 yuan. Farmers lived a far more serious life. According to statistics, in 1978, poverty population in the countryside is 250,000, with per capita income 133.6 yuan. It is a fact that china has achieved great success since the policy of reform and opening up to the outside world. However, another fact is there has been only thirty years since the implementation of the policy. In addition, compared with the United States, China’s overall economy is far from solid enough to support high and huge costs of living. In terms of economy, besides the economic growth, another important factor should be taken into consideration, that is, policies. It is said that Americans are addicted to banking loans. An important reason is the banking policy. There are various kinds of loans in America, such as Car Loans, Personal Loans, Home Equity Loans, Education Loans, Consolidation Loans and Credit-card Loans. Among all these loans, Credit-card loans play a rather important role in American people’s life. The total sum of money that Americans spend with credit-cards amounts to 15 billion dollars. From Thanksgiving Day to Christmas...
James. O. Robert著，贾秀东译，1990，《美国神话 美国现实》，北京：中国社会科学出版社
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