Features of Chinese Traditional Culture

1341 words (5 pages) Essay

18th May 2020 Cultural Studies Reference this

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Chinese traditional culture has deeply influenced the Chinese people, especially Confucianism, which has penetrated into all aspects of the Chinese people and exerted a great influence on the thinking mode and purchasing behavior of the Chinese people. Face plays important role in Chinese culture. “Face” is the Chinese traditional culture, traditional values, and personality traits, social and cultural syntheses of combined action of the shame of orientation. Chinese are concerned with their images among in group members and often seek the inclusion of a certain social group through owning luxury brands (Yang, 1981)[1].Maintaining face is regarded as an important goal in social interactions (White et al, 2004)[2].

This can be proved by the answers of the respondents in the questionnaire. They said:

“……If all my peers have luxuries and I don’t, they may look down on me and lose face……. “[3]

” ……Many people are willing to spend months’ salary on luxury goods. Even loans to save face……. “[4]

These reflect that saving face value is the motivation for consumers to buy luxury goods. Face is very important in Chinese culture which is a person’s identity. Everyone should “save face “and avoid to “lose face”.” People attempt to get and keep face rather than losing face “(Hwang, 1987)[5]. In Chinese people’s view, we must maintain or improve our face, not lose it. If we lose face, the reputation of the whole family will be affected. So Chinese people will keep face by buying luxury goods, because if they have the ability to afford luxury goods which means they have a stable income and think they are successful people. By observation[6], my uncle is very focused on saving face. He bought a Mahogany table last year which is several times more expensive than the normal. But he insisted on buying it because he says he should invite his friends and business associates to visit our home. When people come to eat at home, they will marvel at the table, because not everyone can afford it, which also shows his social economic status and is a successful person.

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In an interview with my uncle[7], I got more detailed information. He said that luxury goods are very important in our life, because it can save face. If I had a meeting with business partners, my suit was sold locally and the quality was poor, first of all, the partners would have a bad impression on me and would laugh at me for not having enough money to buy luxury goods. Which will lead lose face. Because of the quality of my suits, they would think that my financial ability could not afford luxury brand suits, and then they would doubt our company’s finances. So owning luxury goods can show us our economic status, not lose face in front of other competitors, and also can make the cooperative company reassure our company’s finances. He also says there are a lot of fake luxury goods on the market. Because most people can’t afford it, but they don’t want to lose face in front of their peers, so they will choose to buy fake luxuries. In this way they can save face and prevent lose face.

“In general, a Chinese person is always taught to be inherently connected to others – family, close friends, good friends, or acquaintances – with varying levels of intimacy” (Hwang, 1987; Hsu, 1985)[8]As a collectivist country, China attaches great importance to interpersonal relationships(“guanqi”), which are also Chinese culture. Chinese people will use gifts to maintain the relationship and establish a network of relationships. The Chinese think it’s very important to build a network, and they can ask for help when they are in trouble. This can be seen from the questions in the questionnaire “Do you buy luxuries for your own use or as gifts to others? If it is given as a gift to others, what is the reason for choosing to give luxury goods?” According to the Chinese consumers’ responses, 36 participants said they would choose luxury goods as gifts to others. They gave reasons as follows:

” …… If the gift is cheap which will lose face…… “[9]

” ……The conspicuous signs of luxury goods can be easily recognized by others and will save face…. “[10]

So, we can conclude that traditional culture of “face” has played a core role in promoting Chinese consumers to buy luxury goods and Chinese people are willing to invest a lot of money in luxury goods in order to save face.

According to the responses of Australian participants, no one mentioned this point. Twenty-three participants said they bought luxury goods for their own use, but several participants also mentioned that they would choose luxury goods as gifts to others, but these participants said they gave them to family members or girlfriends. They don’t give them luxuries in order to save face. So, this reason will not affect Australians to buy luxury goods.

I also interviewed one of my relatives who had lived in Australia for many years. Her husband is an Australian. She said that the Chinese living in Australia now began to be influenced by the West. In the past, when they invited guests to their homes for dinner, they would prepare a table of dishes. Some of the more expensive foods were essential, such as sea cucumber and abalone. And there must be a lot of food, if the last dish is over, it means that the host is very stingy, which will lose face, so will prepare a lot of dishes. Now, influenced by the West, more and more Chinese around her are inviting guests to dinner at home, choosing to barbecue in the yard, or even let the guests barbecue themselves. They don’t think it will lose face. When her relatives ‘children were at home, they bought luxury goods every month, but when they came to Australia, the frequency of buying luxury goods declined, because her classmates seldom wore luxury brand clothes. At first, they wanted to integrate with them, so not wearing luxury brand clothes. Later, she began to get used to it and she doesn’t think luxury goods are necessary.


[1] Yang, K. (1981). Social orientation and individual modernity among Chinese students in Taiwan. Journal of Social Psychology, 113(2): 159–170.[Accessed 22 Jul

[2] White, J., Tynan, R., Galinsky, A. and Thompson, L. (2004). Face threat sensitivity in negotiation: Roadblock to agreement and joint gain. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 94(2).

[3] Questionnaire respondents’ responses

[4] Questionnaire respondents’ responses

[5] Hwang, K. (1987). Face and Favor: The Chinese Power Game. American Journal of Sociology, 92(4). [Accessed 6 Jun.2019]

[6] Personal observation.

[7] Anonymous, Chinese interview.

[8]Hwang, K. (1987). ‘The social psychology of the Chinese people’. The Psychology of the Chinese People, ed. M. H. Bond and K. Hwang. Hong Kong: Oxford University Press, 223-36.

[9] Questionnaire respondents’ responses

[10] Questionnaire respondents’ responses

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