American Popular Culture Contrast between Chinese and American Consumption Concepts Following is a story that was once rather prevalently discussed in China: A Chinese old lady and an American old lady were both, miserably, dead. They met with each other in the heaven. The Chinese old lady said, “I have been working hard for more than thirty years. The day before my death, I finally managed to buy a large house with my own earnings. But the doctor said I was overworking, and caught a cancer. I died in my newly-brought house, but I will have no chance to live there. The American old lady widened her eyes at what the Chinese old lady told her, and said, “I have also worked for more than thirty years, not to buy a house, but to redeem the banking loans. I have been living in my enormous house for thirty years. ” This is a classic and typical story which can, to some extent, reflect the different consumption concepts between Chinese and American: in America, advance consumption is what American people uphold and execute. Even if they don’t have enough money to buy what they are longing for, they can obtain a loan from the bank, and redeem it later.
While in China most Chinese advocate “secure” consumption, which means “I will not buy something beyond my consuming capability. ” Then, what are the reasons that lead to such a difference in the two types of consumption concepts? The following factors should be taken into account. • Economy Consumption, first of all, calls for money. No money, no consumption! The United States is a fairly young capitalist country with its economy growing at an astonishing speed. There is only 230 years since its independence in 1776, and at most 400 years since its colony times.
However, during these ninety years, from the foundation of the federal government in 1789 to the completion of its industrial revolution in the 1880s, America ranked first in the total industrial output value in 1894 from fourth in 1860, exceeding that of such major capitalist countries as British, France, and Germany. In 1993, America’s per capita national income exceeded 24,700 dollars, ranking first in the world. The highly advanced economy serves as the fly-wheel of American consumption. On contrary, China manifests a completely different cene in economy. China had experienced more than 100 years of the Semi-colonial and Semi-feudal Society, when China’s economy was downright destroyed. In the early phases of the socialist construction, the System of Planned Economy was established in the new-founded China. According to the criteria of the World Bank, China remained a lower-income nation in the late 1970s, even after more than 20 years’ development. Take the income standard as an example. In 1978, the average income of employees in urban areas was 615 yuan, with per capita income 316 yuan.
Farmers lived a far more serious life. According to statistics, in 1978, poverty population in the countryside is 250,000, with per capita income 133. 6 yuan. It is a fact that china has achieved great success since the policy of reform and opening up to the outside world. However, another fact is there has been only thirty years since the implementation of the policy. In addition, compared with the United States, China’s overall economy is far from solid enough to support high and huge costs of living.
In terms of economy, besides the economic growth, another important factor should be taken into consideration, that is, policies. It is said that Americans are addicted to banking loans. An important reason is the banking policy. There are various kinds of loans in America, such as Car Loans, Personal Loans, Home Equity Loans, Education Loans, Consolidation Loans and Credit-card Loans. Among all these loans, Credit-card loans play a rather important role in American people’s life. The total sum of money that Americans spend with credit-cards amounts to 15 billion dollars.
From Thanksgiving Day to Christmas day, shopping through credit-cards accounts for 30 percent of the total shopping consumption. Americans like the credit-card, simply because it is more convenient and that they can overdraw for quite a large amount of money. Although it is stipulated in the federal law that both sides of the credit should check the payment regularly, the items are very vague and not rigid. If Americans want, they can bargain with the bank. Contrarily in China, it is completely different. Every deal in the bank is calculated precisely and restrict. Social Welfare and Security System Since the establishment of social security legislation in 1935, America’s social welfare and security system has been gradually expanded and been turned into a secure framework of social welfare security. Comprehensively speaking, America’s social welfare and security system covers such programs as: Employment Security, Unemployment Welfare And Security, Old-Age Security, Health Security, Education Security, Housing Security, Veterans Security, Public Assistance Security, Natural Environment Security, And Women And Children Security.
Here is a table showing how much the American authorities devoted to its social welfare security system: |Year |Total Expenditure | | |Total Number |GNP Rate(%) |Government Expenditure Rate(%) | | |(million dollar) | | | |1961 |58236 |11. |39. 3 | |1962 |62659 |11. 6 |39. 4 | |1963 |66766 |11. 6 |39. 5 | |1964 |71491 |11. 7 |40. 0 | |1965 |77175 |11. |42. 4 | |1966 |88000 |12. 2 |43. 4 | |1967 |99710 |12. 9 |42. 4 | |1968 |13840 |13. 8 |43. 2 | |1969 |127149 |14. |44. 7 | |1970 |145893 |15. 3 |47. 8 | Such a huge amount of expenditure on social security serves as an indispensable support to American people’s consuming ability, since they don’t need to be worried that one day they will have no food, no drink, and no shelter even is they spend all their income. On contrary, the situation in China is quite different and serious.
Although since the launch of the policy of the reform and opening up to the outside world, Chinese government has carried out lots of plans to improve the social welfare and security system, such as unemployment insurance, health insurance and endowment insurance, unemployment security; and has made great progress in these fields, it is still far from enough to secure the consumption of the 1. 3 billion Chinese people. That is because the system is not so satisfying.
The defects are particularly presented in two aspects. First, the coverage of the social security system is narrow and confined. According to the statistics collected in 1993, the total number of population enjoying social security was less than 200 million, only 16. 2% of its total population; the coverage rate of social security system was 30. 4%, with 9. 21% in rural areas and only 2. 2% in the countryside. The other problem is that people hold an indifferent or even antipathetic attitude to the system.
They do not want to “invest”, and so they will not be secured. Thus, their consumption desire and ability is confined and limited. • culture In spite of a short history of only 230 years since its independence in 1776, America’s consumption concept has also influenced by its culture. Hedonism is a quintessence in consuming which is very popular among American people. The basic principle of this concept is to realize today’s dream by tomorrow’s money.
They are almost indulged in a luxury life, pursuing the largest house, driving the most expensive cars, and keeping in the frontiers of new fashion. Especially with the help of commonly-used credit cards in American society, most of its people are used to overdrawing. China is a country with a time-honored history and splendid civilization. It is also a country which has been influenced most by its traditional culture. Thousands of years ago, Taoism advocated an ideology of “natural consumption”, characterized by so-called “non-color” and “non-taste” consuming way.
Mo Zi, the great thinker in ancient china, held that it is enough for us to consume what is essential to our basic living demands. The distillation of Chinese traditional culture is thrift and frugality. Under this kind of culture affection, for thousands of year, our Chinese people always lead a life of plain living and hard struggle. Guided by this kind of consumption concept, we always cut our coats according to our cloth, never readily abandon our traditional consume objectives and always say no to new products.
Although things has changed after the reform and opening up, people begin to liberate from conservation. The bred-in-the-bone culture still gives us durance. Most Chinese people are conservative when they make budget, while American would like to approach their “utmost”, and even overrun; American people like to spend lots of money on house and car, but seldom on food and drink; By contrast, Chinese people would like to spend more money on food and drink together with family or friends. • Ideology
John Dewey once said, “Individualism is the core of American culture. ” “Individualism has been deeply rooted in America’s history and society. ” There are many aspects in terms of individualism, among which self-independency is an important one, which means one should support and be responsible for his own life and work, rather than rely on his parents and other people. In American people’s eyes, it is a glory to obtain achievements through their hard work, and it is a kind of impotence to depend on other people.
Therefore, there is a strange phenomenon in America that many students have to take part-time jobs to support their own study even though their family is rich enough to support ten student-children. Under the influence of individualism, American people are only concern about themselves. There often exists a situation where American people pay individually when they, even one family, go to the restaurant. They keep a distant relationship with others. Since they don’t ever consider leaving something to their children or any others, they use up what they get immediately.
That is why many American people can afford meals today but have no money to pay for tomorrow’s food. Chinese people have for long time supported collectivism. They are educated since their infanthood that collective benefits are above all, that one should not be selfish, and that they should save what they own for the future’s or other people’s use. Chinese parents care too much about their children. It is a prevalent saying by Chinese parents that “all that we do is for you, kid. They work hard to save money and place it in the bank for their children’s education or even housing and marriage, instead of spending it directly. All told, there does exist great differences between American and Chinese consumption concept, due to reasons involving economy, social security system, culture and ideology. However, what should be pointed out and taken into consideration are the trends both in America and in china that not all American people are fast-consuming animals and not all Chinese people are living a life like that of “the Chinese old lady”.
On the contrary, hedonism are becoming more and more popular among Chinese people especially Chinese young generation. Bibliography ???????????????????????? http://www. eduhot. com/paper/jingjilunwen/jinrongzhengquan/20060615/52461/ http://economy. guoxue. com/print. php/6459 James. O. Robert? ,???? ,1990,????? ????? ,?? :????????? ?? ,2003,?????? ,?? :????? ??? ,1998,????????????? ,?? :????????? ????? ,1997,????????? ,?? :????? ??????? ,2004,???????? (??? ),?? :????? [pic]