Individualist or Collectivist Culture

Throughout my years studying communication, I have learned about Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions. One of these being individualism or collectivism. In an individualist culture the people are focused on themselves. People in these cultures take care of their immediate family, and might help others, but it is not expected. In a collectivist culture the people are more focused on ‘we’ and not ‘I’. People take a lot of pride and time into relationships. The United States is individualistic and China is collectivist.  This blog post will discuss the ways I saw the collectivist nature of the culture.

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Dinner in Nanjing

Most meals in China were served family style. People would pick different dishes they thought everyone would enjoy, and then these were put onto a large Lazy Susan in the middle of the table. Everyone would help themselves to the food, and more dishes would be brought out throughout the meal. There are some restaurants like this in America, but they were very prevalent in China.

Family is very important in China. Not just the immediate family, but the whole family. I noticed there were large families at the places we visited, and that the elders had special privileges. Rebecca told us that after a person turns 60, they can get into any state parks for free. This includes most of the historical sites we visited. When at these areas I noticed that there were a lot of older individuals who would be talking and playing different games together. Rebecca said it was to help them stay connected with others and not to be lonely. She also told us that sometimes parents would send their children to live with the grandparents to attend school. Depending on where people live and how long they have been there, it sometimes is necessary for the children to live the grandparents in the parents’ hometown. The parents send money for the children and visit as much as possible. This closeness in the families was inspiring.

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Seniors playing games together at the park at the Temple of Heaven.

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