The principle of consumerism has led to the materialization of the society which is perceived to cause cultural disintegration and degradation. To establish this argument, this paper would utilize the comparison of how consumerism works within the context of two distinctly different cultures. This is done to see how much of commercialism prevails in both countries and how this level of consumerism affects the nation’s culture through the behavior and attitudes of its people.
When nations decided to participate in trade with other nations, the exchange of goods and information also facilitate the intercontinental flow of culture which significantly altered the world (Ritzer & Malone, 2001). This event in history is broadly termed as globalization. The definition of globalization varies depending on the context by which an author wishes to use the word. Too often than not, the term globalization is associated with the concept of commercialism. However, globalization does not only account for economic activities; rather it covers a wider perspective. Given its multidimensional facet, globalization includes cultural, social, political and ideological events (Prasad, 2006).
Consequently, the plethora of controversies and debates on the significant effects of globalization on culture and the society remains under-researched. Controversies surround the effect of the globalized economy in the maintaining the integrity of cultural diversity (Acosta & Gonzalez, 2010). While many businesses take pride in their diversity protocols, there are still loopholes in this practice. Companies hire employees of diverse background to comply with ethical standards and corporate social responsibility provisions that usually come with the territory of being globalized or globally competitive. However, in their compliance, some might have overlooked the aspect that goes beyond the hiring process. This is particularly referring to the workplace environment that accounts for the bigger picture of global cultural diversity. This is a practice endorsed by the concept of free trade.
Two Cultures: Distinguishing their differences
Among the highly diverse social institution is the business sector. The major players in this industry are China and the United States. On both accounts, these two countries are exclusively identified as the world’s melting pot aside from pioneering significant breakthroughs. Independently, each country has a rich cultural heritage that distinctly sets it apart from other nations in the world.
China has a rich historical past, colored by the ancient Chinese Dynasties to make up centuries rule of the Chinese Civilization. The geographical location of US and China may have contributed to the countries differ in cultural background. Aside from the geographic location, both countries are governed by different teachings and influences. China is more conservative than the United States. They are governed and influenced by the teachings of Confucius. The Chinese are particularly influenced by Confucius teachings relating to loyalty, relationships of families and friends, and the respect of elders.
On the other hand, the Americans or rather their culture is more liberated. It must be remembered that American are freedom-loving people. They embrace the ideals of democracy, and this is something that governs their daily transaction.
Consumerism: China and the US
Considering the factors the shapes each culture—the Chinese and the Americans, it can be said that these have a great effect on how each country does business. Both cultures have positive and negative implications for businesses. In the case of China, its conservative culture and the regards of the country to the teachings of Confucius translates to how they commit to working ethics. These values translate to the principle of collectivism which has both advantages and disadvantages. Collectivism in an organization suggests teamwork and strong work ethics (Twitchell, 2006). On the other hand, collectivism may also pull an economy down because liabilities are also shared under this principle.
In the case of the US or the American culture, they value individualism. They give due importance to the principle of democracy and allowing people to have some level of freedom. This even relates to their personal affairs like in the family. At the age of emancipation, children are encouraged to live the house to be independent. Contrary to what is typically practiced in the Chinese culture, the Americans are highly independent, and they encourage their children to practice the same. Innovations are also being introduced and supported by American culture. Innovation is a product of modernization and these results from a culture that welcomes the concepts and ideologies of commercialism and free trade (Farrell, 2006).
However, if there are advantages, there are also disadvantages. The cultural influences of both countries massively affect their lives. In the case of China, its closely-knit culture facilitates communism to be freely embraced by this culture. The tendency for the Chinese culture to practice and embrace a monopolistic culture is brought about by its collective behavior. Monopoly is an important characteristic of a planned society. This only suggests that it limits the effect of competition in this particular society. A disadvantage of the American culture to its daily affairs is how its values tend to create a culture of consumerism. Although there is nothing wrong about consumerism, the effect of consumerism leads to people hoarding things and causing impulsive buying. It becomes a culture that considerably produces waste with no significant use.
Culture plays a significant role in the sense that can manipulate and control enterprise management (Mazur & Koda, 2006). For countries like China and the US, culture has been utilized to facilitate improvement. It also contributes to the countries individual status in the global economy suggesting economic competitiveness. From the global trade perspective, one can assume that culture has a significant contribution. Equity refers to getting what is due to the individual. This is by what is commensurate with the effort that one renders for the completion of a task (Green America, 2012). Some companies tend to take advantage of the worker’s condition to abuse them.
After due consideration of the cultural differences between both countries, it led to the conclusion that these differences gave each country the respectively unique characteristics that gave them leverage to conduct business from a global perspective. The Chinese cultures are collective, while the Americans are individualistic. Thus, the Chinese enterprises have been profoundly influenced by Confucius teachings relating to their values of family, loyalty, and respect. Regardless of how active the Chinese’ cultures and values are, there are also disadvantages in their cultures particularly relating to in monopoly and infringement.
As mentioned earlier, the American culture is individualistic. They manifest qualities of being fearless about progress and developments. This is where the Americans drew their advantage. The Chinese can adopt this standard of the Americans. However, like any other culture, the American culture also has a disadvantage. This western culture is disintegrating and has to bear the ill effects of consumerism.
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