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CANADIAN CULTURE AND CHINESE CULTURE

Differences and Similarities of Canadian Culture and Chinese Culture


Jade Lewis
University of Kentucky

Authors Note

Jade Lewis, University of Kentucky.


Jade Lewis is in pursuit of her Undergraduate studies degree at the University of Kentucky.
This paper is for CIS 110: Composition and Communication at the University of Kentucky with
Mrs. Tabitha Dial.
Correspondence concerning this paper should be addressed to Jade Lewis at the University of
Kentucky. Email: jmle262@uky.edu.

CANADIAN CULTURE AND CHINESE CULTURE

Abstract

This paper will compare and contrast the similarities of Canadian culture and Chinese culture.
This paper will do so using Hofstedes cultural dimensions. It will compare and contrast each
culture in the dimensions of individualism/collectivism, long-term/short-term orientation, power
distance, and masculinity/femininity. This paper will also explain how Canadian culture and
Chinese culture express these dimensions. This paper will explain how each of these dimensions
effect communication in these cultures.

Keywords: cultural dimensions, individualism, collectivism, orientation, masculinity, femininity.

CANADIAN CULTURE AND CHINESE CULTURE

Culture is the values, beliefs, behavior and way of life between a group of people.
According to Manrai (2011) While culture has been defined and classified in countless ways,
researchers agree that cultural influences transcend in terms of the beliefs, norms, traditions, and
values of a society. There are similarities and differences in all cultures. A societies culture can
have effects on its peoples beliefs, behavior and way of life. Culture also has an effect on how
people communicate with one another. According to Verderber (2014) Hofstede give us a way
to understand how cultures are similar to and different from one another and to understand how
these cultural variations may affect communication (pg.4). Hofstedes cultural dimensions are:
individualism/collectivism, context, chronemics, uncertainty avoidance, power distance,
masculinity/femininity, and long-term/short-term orientation. I will compare and contrast the
similarities and differences in Canadian culture and Chinese culture using a couple of Hofstedes
cultural dimensions and show the effect this has on communication with these cultures.
Hofestedes first dimension is individualism vs collectivism. According to Li (2010) The
most prominent cultural values used to describe cultural characteristics are individualism and
collectivism (Li 2010). Individualistic cultures, as said by Verderber (2014) value personal
achievements and self achievements. According to Verberber (2014) collectivistic cultures value
how well you work with a group and contribute to the group. Canadian culture and Chinese
culture differ when it comes to individualism and collectivism. Canadian culture values
individualism, while Chinese culture values collectivism. Canadian culture values individualism
in the way it requires its members to attend to themselves and their family. Canadian cultures
express its individualistic culture through individual rights and freedom, and their economic
freedom. As said by Li (2010), Many Western countries score higher on individualism, whereas
many Asian countries, such as China, score higher on collectivism (Li 2010). Chinese culture

CANADIAN CULTURE AND CHINESE CULTURE

values collectivism in the way its members contribute and base their accomplishments on a
group rather than individual accomplishments. Chinese culture express this through things such
as hiring people who are in the family or in connection to the company, and also sending children
to boarding school. Canadian culture can also show collectivism through public schooling and
health care. As well, Chinese culture can show individualism. According to Paritzky (2011)
China is evidently influenced by western values, such as individualism, that are viewed by many
in China as successful and necessary for future economic growth. Individualism and
collectivism do have effects on communication. As said by Verderber (2014), individualism and
collectivism affect self-concept and self-esteem. People in individualist cultures form
independent self-concepts and base their self-esteem on individual accomplishments. People in
collectivist cultures form interdependent self-concepts and base their self-esteem on how well
they work in a group. (pg.5) The difference in cultures may also effect how they approach
conflict. Individualistic cultures may approach conflict head on while collectivistic cultures will
avoid conflict all together.
According to Verderber (2014), power distance is the extent members expect and accept
power being equally or unequally shared. As said in Manrai (2011), The extent to which the less
powerful members of institutions and organizations accept that power is distributed unequally
(Manrai 2011). Canadian culture is a low-power distance culture. Power in Canadian culture is
equally shared. Canada is under a federation government. Evenly distributing power of national
government and local government, while also giving its people power. However, Chinese
culture is high-power distance. Chinese culture views unequal power distribution as normal and
functional. China is a communist government giving the government complete power and giving
people very little power. Chinese culture also values greeting and treating elders and those with

CANADIAN CULTURE AND CHINESE CULTURE

high distinguishes with respect before others below or younger. Power distance effects
communication through how members interact with authority. Members in Canadian culture will
more than likely be more comfortable questioning and challenging those in authority. Members
of Chinese culture will complete what is expected of them without questioning.
Each culture has its own value of traditional gender roles. Chinese culture is a masculine
culture. As said by Verderber (2014), Inahighlymasculineculture,menandwomenare

expectedtoadheretotraditionalgenderrolesandbehaviors.Theseculturesalsovalue
masculinerolesmorehighlythanfeminineones.(pg.10)FemininecultureisA situation
in which the dominant values of a society are caring for others and quality of life (Manrai
2011). MembersofChineseculturemakeworkpriorityoverfamilyandpleasure.Chinese

culturewillworklonghours,andsometimesleavetheirfamilytosucceedintheircareer
andcontributetosociety.Canadiancultureisneithermoremasculineorfeminine
culturally.Canadianmembersaredrivenwithhighstandardsforsportsandsuccessin
theircareersbutalsohaveawellbalancedworklife,whilealsomakingtimeforleisure.
Communicationiseffectedbymasculineandfeminineculturesbyhowitinterestsyouto

communicatewithothers.Masculinecultureshavestrictgenderrolesthatareexpectedto
befollowed,whilefeminineorbotharemoreaccepting,andassertiveandencourage
challenginganddisagreements.
Longtermandshorttermorientationexplainsaculturespatiencewithrewards.A
shorttermculturewillwantahereandnowreward.AssaidbyVerderber(2014)it
emphasizesquickresults,fulfillingsocialobligations,andgettingtothebottomline

CANADIAN CULTURE AND CHINESE CULTURE

efficiently(pg.11).Canadianculturevaluesshorttermculture.Theywouldratherhave
immediateresultsratherthanfutureresults.Whilealongtermculturedoesntnecessarily
needahereandnowreward.AccordingtoVerderber(2014),Longtermoriented
cultures,suchasthoseofChina,Japan,HongKong,andTaiwan,emphasizepotential
futurerewardsthatwillberealizedafterslowandsteadyperseverancetowardachieving
amutuallyacceptableresult(pg.11)Chineseculturewouldrathersaveandinvestinthe
futuretogainresults.Longtermculturesandshorttermculturescommunicate
differentlyandcancauseshockwheninteractingwithoneanother.Forexample,assaid
inVerderber(2014)Comingfromashorttermorientedculture,whenherhostsbegan
discussingbusinessideasatdinner,shelightheartedlysaid,Notalkingbusinessatthe
dinnertable(pg.11).WhilethisremarkwouldhavebeenquiteappropriateintheUnited
States,whereashorttermorientationvaluesleisuretimeasseparatefromworkingtime,
herhostspolitelyremindedherthattheyalwaystalkbusinessatthedinnertable.
Chinesebelieveworkandbusinessshouldprosperforthefutureandbelieveinhonorably
earningthisinsteadofimmediatelybeingrewardedforminimalwork.Accordingto
Merkin(2004),Therefore, it is likely that members of a LTO culture are more in- clined to use
harmonious and cooperative facework than members of short-term oriented cultures who
subscribe to the ideas of one truth, quick results, and social pressure (Merkin 2004).

Inconclusion,thereareobvioussimilaritiesanddifferencesbetweenCanadian
cultureandChineseculture.Thesesimilaritiesanddifferencecanbeeasilyunderstood

CANADIAN CULTURE AND CHINESE CULTURE

whenapplyingHofstedesculturaldimensions.Bothcultureshaveeachdimensionin
similaranddifferentways.Thecomparisonsandcontrastsmaybebasedoffofbeliefs,
behavior,values,morals,andthewayoflifeofeachculture.Canadiancultureand
Chineseculturearealmostpolaroppositesofeachotherbutstillsharesomesimilarities.
Theseculturesarealsosimilaranddifferentinthewaytheycommunicatewitheachother
andinteractwithothercultures.AssaidbyVerderber(2014),Wecandevelop
interculturalcommunicationcompetencebyfirstacknowledgingpotentialbarriersand
thenbyemployingseveralstrategiestoovercomethem(pg.13).Withthatbeingsaid,
culturemaybedifferentinthewaytheycommunicatebutyoumustunderstandand
overcomethiscommunicationgap.

CANADIAN CULTURE AND CHINESE CULTURE

References
Li, Y., Wang, M., Wang, C., & Shi, J. (2010). Individualism, collectivism, and Chinese
adolescents' aggression: Intracultural variations. Retrieved October 12, 2015, from
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v=1&t=ifo1q4z7&s=346e7ed2d6214b76bedc6e9766803a03ffc5a8a5
Manrai, L., & Manrai, A. (2011, December 1). Hofstedes cultural Dimensions and tourist
behaviors: A review and conceptual Framework*. Retrieved October 12, 2015, from
http://www.scielo.org.pe/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S207718862011000200003&lng=en&nrm=iso

Merkin, R. (2004). Cultural Long-Term Orientation and Facework Strategies. Retrieved October
12, 2015, from http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.uky.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?
sid=a5f71f9e-eb8a-4752-8288-0a9358b132c3@sessionmgr4004&vid=1&hid=4211

Paritzky, L. (2011, February 13). Individualism. Retrieved October 12, 2015, from
http://laowaiblog.com/the-road-to-individualism/

Verderber, K. S., Verderber, R. F., & Sellnow, D. D. (2014). Communicate! (14th ed.).
Boston, MA: Cengage. ISBN-13: 978-0-8400-2816-7.

CANADIAN CULTURE AND CHINESE CULTURE