Edited By Michael B. Hinner
The Evolving Dimension of Collectivism in China
By James W. Neuliep
James W. Neuliep points out that individualism-collectivism is probably the most studied cultural dimension. He also notes that no culture is purely individualistic or collectivistic. Instead, one can actually find examples of collectivism in individualistic cultures and vice versa. It should also be noted that cultures can and do change over time so that former collectivistic cultures may become individualistic. Case in point might be China which has been considered to be a collectivistic, group-oriented society. But for several decades now, China has undergone considerable reforms which could have affected Chinese culture as well. And it seems as if the younger generation of Chinese, while still considered collectivistic, is more individualistic than their parents or grandparents.
Neuliep notes that some researchers have argued that Maoist socialism actually helped foster individualism in China by forcing individuals to reinvent themselves as a public member of the party-state political organization. In particular, women seem to have benefitted from these policies because these policies help free women from the collectivistic-oriented patrilineal familial roles where women and children were subordinate to the father or eldest male for most of their lives.
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