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A Comparative Study of Cultural Value Orientations between Chinese and American University Students

Author: LiuChang
Tutor: FanXianLong
School: Central South University
Course: Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Keywords: Chinese and American students intercultural communication cultural value orientation cultural structure
CLC: G04
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2007
Downloads: 636
Quote: 4
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Increasing globalization and cross-cultural communication are gaining more attention every day. Culture has a subtle but far-reaching influence on human communication. Values are the core of culture and they guide our behaviors, as they lie in the deepest part of culture. Understanding value orientations of different cultures can help us to better comprehend our own culture, to understand other cultures, and to improve our experience of intercultural communication.While cultural value orientations (CVO) have been studied in a variety of disciplines, such as socialinguistics, anthropology, and psychology (just to mention a few), there are few systematic investigations conducted from the perspective of the East. Not only are these few in number, but they were done decades ago. Kluckhohn, for instance, conducted research in the 1930s, Hofstede in the 1980s, and so did Hall, Rokeach and Michical Bond. Their conclusions may no longer completely apply. The present study merits the need to explore CVO in the new century and explores what underlies the phenomena of CVO in both American culture and Chinese culture.Adopting as its theoretical basis three mechanisms of cultural change from Samovar and Porter (2000), along with the theory of the structure of culture developed by Chinese scholars Liang Shuming (梁漱溟1994) and Pang Pu (庞朴1988), a tentative framework of cultural change is constructed. Culture is subject to change through three common processes: innovation, diffusion and acculturation (Samovar 2000). Borrowing and learning from other cultures starts at the material level, which passes on to the social level, and finally the deeper moral and value systems of a culture (He Minzhi 1999).As these theories describe, economic change always precedes social and ideological change. Cultural values in modern China and America are undergoing changes accordingly due to economic globalization, a trend that is flourishing on both sides of the Pacific. Tremendous social changes are taking place on a daily basis in both China and America. To what degree is the change of cultural values taking place, and how does it operate? Further, if this change is positive, then to what degree and in what way?With these questions in mind, a multiple choice questionnaire is created and administered to Chinese students inside and outside the mainland, as well as American students studying in the USA. The questionnaire approaches these topics from the perspective of Kluckhohn’s Value Orientations of human nature, relationship to nature, time, activity, and social relationship. Altogether, 246 participants have taken the survey and 3,690 survey items have been collected. Using this data, we gain a relatively complete understanding of CVO changes. The survey targets university students as its subject, as they tend to be more open-minded and likely to adopt and practice new ideologies and lifestyles. In previous studies, such students are not selected as primary subjects, but this does not mean they are unimportant. On the contrary, one can discover a great many findings of CVO change on the basis of these subjects. By comparing overseas Chinese students with their mainland counterparts, as well as with American students, it is possible to see patterns of change that may point to the future value orientations of these cultures.The collected data indicates that CVO of the three respondents (mainland Chinese students, American students and Chinese student abroad) have changed in all five categories of orientation, though in varying degrees. However, the deeply embedded characteristics and beliefs of all three groups are not overwhelmingly altered by the intensive social changes they experience.The conclusion of the present study is that intercultural communication starts with the change of economic growth and material life improvement, from which the value systems of culture are expanded. However, no matter how many social changes have taken place in recent years, the kernel of a culture refuses to transform overnight

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