Excerpt from my recent research paper…
“In an evaluation of China, based on Hofstede (1984) cultural dimensions, it was conveyed that China operates with a high power dimension, low individualism and a low indulgence level. This cultural mindset allows for the approval of unequally distributed amounts of power among citizens and leaders, honors the values of the group over individual preference, and restrains desires and impulses (Hofstede’s Center Website, 2013). However, Hofstede’s (1984) cultural structure does not provide a frame of reference for subcultures within a culture. In light of the data within the current research, Hofstede’s evaluation of China is less accurate due to the emergence of the digital age in China. Currently, western culture and brands have resided in China for over 30 years, providing a subculture among Chinese youth that re-evaluates their perspective on power difference, individualism, and indulgence of their desires”
Above were my statements, but until entering into China there was no way for me to gauge personally if they were accurate.
This is what I found…
While in Shanghai, I attended a teacher’s workshop wherein American professors taught Chinese professors on the importance of active learning. In the workshop-the culture differences were mentioned concerning individualism and collectivism.The cultural differences mentioned in the workshop were in alignment with Hofstede’s calculations, but after interviewing various Chinese college students I found the shift.
The Youth are Changing…Throughout the five weeks, I interviewed various students on their perspective of life in China. The students were respectful…honored their culture & heritage… yet they were clear that being an “Individual” was a high priority. The word from every student… “Freedom”…Freedom to be what I want…Freedom to study what I want to study…Freedom to succeed in my own way.
Its important to understand, all Chinese names have a meaning that describes them as a person within the community; therefore when searching for an English name-many also want it to carry meaning as well. I asked the young man how he came up with this name. He shared, “I believe in freedom and liberty. I want to be free. I want to Let Go.”
Throughout my interviews I kept hearing this desire for freedom to choose their own path. One student shared, “I believe our country is great and it has grown, but we still want more.” Another student explained, “I thought our system was alright until I found out about America and the options that you have for success. Now I don’t feel it’s right anymore. I want to be free to be myself.” The increase of individualism also shows up in commerce.
A few billboards in a well known mall promotes this desire to “Be Yourself”
What’s Changing & What Remains?.
I believe there is still a major honor for the elders, and a respect for power difference. However, individuals seem quicker to share their points of view…(positive or negative) There is a love for community that remains strong, but the desire to “BE YOURSELF” whatever that may be…is growing among the young Chinese in a manner that is shifting former cultural thoughts of China. Only time will tell how this young generation will shape the new cultural framework of China.