Cultural Norms 13021016

Cultural Norms 13021016

 What is a cultural norm? Describe the concept in relation to your countryside?   

   Cultural norms are behavioral standards that a society adopts as a whole and follows when interacting with one another. They are different according to each culture. Many Americans value eye contact during conversation, but many Asian cultures consider eye contact to be rude. Cultural norms are further broken down by sociologists into four subcategories, including folkways, mores, taboos and laws.

Generally speaking, the members of a society judge one another when a person breaks a cultural norm. This is especially true when people behave in a manner that violates a taboo, which is a norm that is so strongly upheld that breaching it results in extreme judgment and shaming from others. Examples include drug addiction, prostitution, incest and bestiality.

Breaking a folkway is a less-criticized offense because folkways are not considered as morally consequential as taboos. An example of a folkway is when a person attempts to shake another person’s hand during a first meeting and does not see the gesture returned. While the action is a bit offensive, it is not reprehensible enough to warrant feelings of disgust toward that person.

Mores are norms that define the standards of moral behavior within a culture. A common example is the unacceptability to some people that couples give birth to a child out of wedlock. Lastly, laws are norms that are clearly defined and upheld by a culture’s governing body.


    According to Flat World Education, the six elements of culture are beliefs, values, norms, language, roles and social collectives. There are shared symbols in every society that represent the elements of culture. These symbols evoke specific emotions and reactions from people.

[2]Language is the basis of interaction and communication among people. Norms are expectations and rules of behavior created by external and internal social controls. Values are the things that people consider important, such as love, loyalty, hard work, compassion, knowledge and humanitarianism. Values define what is just, fair and good in a given society. They represent a society’s ideal culture and social standards but may not reflect how people actually behave. Beliefs are the things that most people in a society consider to be true. Beliefs create a bond among people from the same culture. Roles are the things which define a person’s associates, responsibilities, power and wealth. Social collectives refer to the togetherness among people from the same culture.

   China is large country, with rich and diverse culture and traditions. Chinese people are also very aware of the Western culture and have adopted many Western ways of doing things.

Greetings and meetings etiquette in China In China

    The most appropriate and common business greeting is a firm hand shake with the words Ni Hao. Ni Hao, colloquially translates to ‘Hello’, and sometimes you may also hear variations such as, Ni Hao Ma, meaning ‘How are you?’For male to male greeting, you can emphasise that you really value the person you are greeting by a double-hand shake, where you place your left hand over their right hand. This is not advisable for greeting females, as it can be misinterpreted for being over bearing or forceful. As a lecturer you do not need to shake every student’s hand. A general group greeting from the front of the class is sufficient. If you are meeting someone in an office or meeting room, don’t just take a seat. You should always wait for gestures indicating for you to be seated. Your host will usually show you to your seat. Sometimes your host may say ‘sit down’. This is not a command or an order. It is a simple and most direct translation, meaning for you to take a seat.

Titles and names etiquette in China

   When addressing someone it is more appropriate to use Professor, Dr, Mr or Ms. Never use Miss as it has negative connotations associated with it. The Chinese do not generally use the term Mrs.

Exchanging gifts etiquette in China

   When it comes to giving gifts, the Chinese most appreciate souvenirs and products from your country or organisation. There are some products that are not suitable for giving as gifts to a Chinese person; these are: Umbrella – the Chinese word for umbrella sounds similar to being separate or to depart.

    Clock or time devices – as it symbolises death or end of life Books – as it can sometime symbolise losing; however, books about ECU or Australia are considered appropriate. Never give a Chinese person, items that are made in china.

    When exchanging gifts or business cards, always use both hands to give and receive. If you are giving a business card, make sure to face the card the right way such that the person receiving can read the card without turning it around. Similarly, when you are handed a business card, receive with both hands, pause, read the card and put it away in your business card holder, wallet or purse, or somewhere respectable, such as inside your compendium. Never put a Chinese person’s business card in your trousers pocket, especially the back pocket.

   In China, tradition suggests that the recipient should not appear greedy. Therefore, sometimes, particularly with a very traditional person, when you offer a gift, they may decline. If this is the case, offer it for second or third time, until it is accepted. Usually, after a third time they will accept. Similarly, to appear not greedy, once accepted, they may not open your gift. So when you give a Chinese person a gift and they don’t open it immediately, do not be offended by this, and do not suggest that they open it in front of you.

Social etiquette in China

   When visiting someone’s home in Asia, it is often the practice to remove your footwear and leave by the front door. This isn’t always necessary, particularly in business settings, so it is advisable to observe what your host is doing and emulate this.

Alcoholic beverages etiquette in China In China,

At most social gatherings, whether pleasure or business, alcohol is usually consumed. It is not only acceptable, but expected that you would consume alcohol when offered to you. If you are not a big drinker, still accept the offer and only take small sips. If you really don’t wish to consume alcohol at all, refuse the offer politely by providing a reason, such as you are on medication or detoxifying your liver. When drinking with your Chinese colleagues, you will often hear the word ganbei!. Ganbei‘s direct translation means drink up or bottoms up. But, in the context of social drinking, the word is used to toast drinks, same as Cheers!

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