Ethnographic Interview: Chinese Culture

Different cultures have unique practices that distinguish them from the rest of the world. Usually, these practices determine how individuals, families, and society operate and co-exist[1]. The Chinese are renowned for their historical traditions that date back to the Chinese dynasties. Besides the transformative changes that have occurred in Chinese society, many cultural practices remain intact. To complete this task, I interviewed a Chinese student who has spent most of her life in Hangzhou and only came to the United States for her higher education. The student provided great insights into Chinese culture.

In Chinese communities, family (Jia) is considered the central component of their culture. Although many places in China, including Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, among others, have observed a decline in their traditional extended family due to modernization, family importance in individual’s lives remain integral in many aspects of Chinese culture[2]. As the interviewee informed, ensuring that the family relationship remains warm and close is an essential life goal, and it surpasses many personal feelings. Moreover, the rules that bind families to apply are extended beyond the familial context. In Chinese culture, the family is deemed as society’s foundation. It is in the family that one self-actualizes their socialization needs, and is able to give and receive comfort and support, learns to relate with others, acquire a relational identity, and express oneself.

Friends who create a close relationship with the family are also considered members of the family. Kinship forms of addressing, such as brother, sister, uncle, and aunt, are important in reinforcing social relationships, and they dictate the communication style embraced in different relational contexts[3]. For this reason, social practices within a family setting act as the guiding principle for public socialization, and they outline behaviors considered appropriate or inappropriate in society. Consequently, individuals have to become aware of their obligations to the family at an early stage. Children are taught their essential role in families, and that their actions, whether good or bad, can uphold or taint the image of the family[4]. Hence, in Chinese culture, the socialization process originates from the family.

The interdependence and affinity associated with self and family in Chinese society present various limitations, especially when relating to the rest of the world. First, the culture places a high emphasis on one-to-one and family relationships, but it fails to address the wider social needs essential to human relationships. The Chinese culture nurtures a sense of family and self, leaving the obligation to society at bay. In most instances, Chinese people embrace one-to-one and family relationships, and they forego groups or society. As a result, in-groups, which are family-centered, remain strong and stable. Such relationships affect their charity patterns since they are more inclined to kinship lines as opposed to the public.

The society is viewed as the larger entity formed by individual families. Notably, the Chinese are a collective society that is usually inclined to group affiliation, be it, family, workgroup, school, or country. Chinese people ensure they often maintain decorum in their actions and speech to avoid embarrassing other people in public. Furthermore, individuals often sacrifice their own feelings to meet the happiness of the people, which is usually evident in their communication process characterized by silence during structured meetings. China promotes high power distance, which is attributed to the class system in society. As the interviewee informed, wealth and power are used to distinguish between the rich and the poor, and society willingly accepts the status as a cultural heritage.

In a culture where ancestral family lineage is central for the perpetuation of a family’s legacy, marriage is an essential institution intertwined with various intricate customs. The Chinese culture believes in monogamous marriages involving a husband and a wife. Upon marriage, a woman is viewed as a ‘property’ of the husband’s family, and no longer a part of her own family[5]. Traditionally, parents used to match their sons and daughters with a person that met certain criteria, including social standing, financial situation, reputation, and social relationship between the two families. Although the matchmaking tradition has slowly faded to give room individuals to make their autonomous choices, marriage is viewed as a crucial process since it connects two families. Marriage comes with responsibilities, and the husband is considered the breadwinner, who should cater to the financial needs of the family. On the other hand, a wife, though working, is expected to diligently play the role of a loving mother and a good wife.

Nonetheless, marriage traditions have contributed to significant cases of violence in Chinese culture. Traditional civic and cultural values indicate that as a country is guided by its laws, a family should have rules[6]. These values are nurtured by Confucian ethics widely embraced in China and are essential in regulating marriages and families. For instance, punishment is deemed appropriate and is applied to a member of the family who breaks the set rules. As a result, physical abuse is accepted and is considered a family issue as opposed to a public matter[7]. ictims of family violence tend to withhold from reporting such cases due to the wide acceptance. Furthermore, Chinese people believe that revealing family issues to the public are defaming. For this reason, the public also shuns from intervening in the event of violence, since they hold on the belief that advising a fighting couple is inappropriate since they easily solve their issue and dine together. While some of these concepts have changed with modernization and implementation of new laws, the interviewee believes that the marriage customs play an integral role in differentiating the Chinese culture from the rest of the world, but they also need challenging to eliminate some of the negative customs that persist to modern society.

In connection with the concept of violence in marriages and families, the Chinese traditions place the privilege of divorce and remarriage on men. Notably, the feudal system of ethics and law guide these practices. As explained by the interviewee, Chinese history believes that man and wife are synonymous with sky and land, respectively, and that the land has no power to leave the sky whatsoever. Embracing this notion implies that even when the husband is bad, the wife has no mandate to initiate a divorce[8]. Such moral principles embraced in the Chinese culture seem to differ with the western culture, as in the case of the United States, where both husband and wife can file a divorce when subjected to an abusive or cheating spouse. However, the Chinese custom also ensures long-lasting relationships, characterized by minimal divorces, unlike in the United States, where a huge percentage of marriages end up with a divorce.

In any culture, communication is essential in establishing and sustaining relationships. In Chinese culture, communication is not an isolated phenomenon, but an integral cultural element in the social context. Chinese people believe that communication is centered on three core dimensions: feeling (gan qing), human feeling (ren qing), and reciprocity (bao)[9]. The relational principles of these dimensions have a strong impact on effective communication. Chinese people believe that understanding one’s feelings and those of others helps one in being an effective communicator who avoids conflicts at all costs. To become an effective communicator, Chinese culture holds that implicit communication, politeness, listening centeredness, and focus on insiders help to validate effective communication[10]. For this reason, both verbal and non-verbal communications are highly upheld. In some cases, non-verbal communication is revered than verbal communication.

Since Chinese culture is highly influenced by Confucius philosophy, they remain more reserved, and their gestures do not express much. Nonetheless, non-verbal communication, ranging from facial expression, tonal voice, and body posture, helps in conveying the intended message[11]. For instance, a frown is considered a form of disagreement. For this reason, a communicator has to maintain an impassive expression when speaking. Furthermore, staring at a person in the eyes is considered disrespectful. As a result, Chinese people shun from making eye contact, even in public. Additionally, the Chinese embrace polite nods as a form of greeting. Unlike in the United States where shaking hands is frequent, Chinese people avoid these forms of greetings.

Compared to other cultures, the Chinese place high importance on non-verbal communication, which might be conflicting issues when communicating with non-Chinese people. Furthermore, the impassive nature of their communication may often lead to misinterpretation or failure to receive a message with the intended importance. From the interviewee’s perspective, the Chinese view communication as a common avenue to understanding others. Therefore, it is important to understand and interpret even the slightest cues since they matter a lot.

 

 

Bibliography

Bodley, John. Cultural Anthropology: Tribes, States, and the Global System. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2019.

Gao, Ge and Stella Ting-Toomey. Communicating Effectively with the Chinese. Sage Publications, 2018.

Hiew, Danika, Kim Halford, Fons Van de Vijver and Shuang Liu. Communication and Relationship Satisfaction in Chinese, Western, and Intercultural Chinese–Western Couples. Journal of Family Psychology (2015): 1-12. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/fam0000144

Sheng, Xuewen. “Chinese Families,” In Handbook of World Families, eds. Bert N. Adams, Jan Trost, Jan E. Trost. Sage Publications Inc., 2005.

 

 

Appendix

Interview Questions

  1. What is the meaning of a family and how does culture affect familial relationships?
  2. What is the impact of family on human socialization in your culture?
  3. What elements of the Chinese society differentiate its culture from the rest of the world?
  4. What is the cultural perception of marriage among Chinese people?
  5. From a traditional and contemporary perspective, what makes Chinese marriages unique?
  6. How does your culture view domestic violence in marriages?
  7. Are divorce and remarriage acceptable in your community? If yes, which party can initiate these processes?
  8. What communication elements are crucial to effective communication in your community?
  9. Does your culture place the same importance on verbal and nonverbal communication? Why do you believe so?

[1] John Bodley. Cultural Anthropology: Tribes, States, and the Global System (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2019), 7.

[2] Gao, Ge and Stella Ting-Toomey. Communicating Effectively with the Chinese (Sage Publications, 2018), 13.

[3] Ibid., 14.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Danika Hiew, Kim Halford, Fons Van de Vijver and Shuang Liu. Communication and Relationship Satisfaction, 2.

[6] Xuewen Sheng. “Chinese Families,” In Handbook of World Families, eds. Bert N. Adams, Jan Trost, Jan E. Trost (Sage Publications Inc., 2005), 108.

[7] Ibid., 112

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ge Gao and Stella Ting-Toomey. Communicating Effectively with the Chinese (Sage Publications, 2018), 19-20.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

Friend Essay
Calculate your paper price
Pages (550 words)
Approximate price: -

Why Work with Us

High Quality Essays

FriendEssay helps with essay papers for all levels of academic courses such as high school, undergraduate or graduate level assignments (any subject). The Asssignment writers at Friend Essays have years of experience in helping students write their essays with expertise in various fields like Engineering, Economics, Marketing etc. You can trust our essay writers to take care of your work without any mistakes or plagiarism. Whether you need a simple 5-page essay or an extensive thesis paper on a complex topic - we will do it with professionalism, accuracy, and skill.

Experienced Academic Writers

All of our paper writers are native English speakers with at least three years’ experience in essay writing. They know what they are doing when it comes to essay formatting requirements for the different types of papers; MLA, APA or Harvard formats - we can handle them all without any difficulty whatsoever.

Free Unlimited Revisions

Paper modifications are like a breath of fresh air! If you need any revisions done on your paper, simply click the revision button and we will happily help.

Swift Delivery and 100% Money Back Guarantee

Friend essay is different from other essay writing companies because they are the only company in the world that offers a money back guaranty on any order!

Original and Confidential

We're committed to making sure that all documents we produce for you are 100% original. Not only do our editors check every quotation in a text, but they also promise the utmost confidentiality with each document service.

24/7 Customer Support

The customer support agents at our company are always available to help you. They can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and will work hard each time they try to get in touch with you so that the experience is as good as it gets.

Try it now!

Calculate the price of your order

Total price:
$0.00

How it works?

Follow these simple steps to get your paper done

Place your order

Fill in the order form and provide all details of your assignment.

Proceed with the payment

Choose the payment system that suits you most.

Receive the final file

Once your paper is ready, we will email it to you.

Our Services

Looking for online essay writer to do an assignment for you? FriendEssay offers a wide range of academic help service such as admission essay writing, research paper help, dissertation writing among others. Simply place an order to get a discount today!

Essays

Homework Help Services

The best part is that we offer essay help on any topic - whether it's literature, history, math or even philosophy! Our specialists know their way around these subjects like no other which means they'll take care of your work as if it were their own and get back to you with quality essays within the time frame specified by our customer service team.

Admissions

Business and Admission Essay

For those seeking professional business writing services such as resume writing, business plan writing, admission essays writing, we are also here for you. We have professionals in distinct business areas who have handled all types of business needs. So, worry no more.

Reviews

Articles and Blog Writing Services

We also specialize in article and blog writing services, so if you're looking to get some content published on the web and need a reliable content writer, simple check the “help with my assignment” service from FriendEssay.com!

Reviews

Editing Support

Whether you need someone who will write an essay from scratch on a topic of your choice or if you want us to edit one already written by yourself, FriendEssay has talented professionals available 24/seven so there's never any essay help delay