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How Chinese Canadians' Family Traditions based on Confucianism is undermining their Canadian Multicultural Experiences
Posted 7/21/10
When former Vancouver city councillor Tung Chan responded to a telephone interview from Vancouver Sun that said “we have been doing in helping Canadians to understand that people who come from different cultural backgrounds can have loyalties to this country and their birth country”.(Fowlie. 2010) While Chinese Premier Jiabao Wen gave a speech at Harvard University where he said “The Chinese nation has rich and profound cultural reserves. 'Harmony without uniformity' is a great idea put forth by ancient Chinese thinkers”.(Mission of China to UN. 2003) The term “harmony” and “loyalty” particularly caught my attention, because personally I think they have nothing to do with the modern Canadian concept of multicultural “diversity”, within the context of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act(Department of Justice Canada. 1985) section 3.1(a), (e), and (j):

(a) recognize and promote the understanding that multiculturalism reflects the cultural and racial diversity of Canadian society and acknowledges the freedom of all members of Canadian society to preserve, enhance and share their cultural heritage;

(e) ensure that all individuals receive equal treatment and equal protection under the law, while respecting and valuing their diversity;

(j) advance multiculturalism throughout Canada in harmony with the national commitment to the official languages of Canada.

Not only is the fact that to be multicultural is simply to be diverse, not harmonizing, the only requirement of harmonization is for the Canadian immigrants to be able to speak the official Canadian languages; English or French. Furthermore, this contradiction also got me to question the collective reaction of the Chinese-Canadian communities, as to how exactly is their traditional concept of “loyalty” has anything to do with their public services as Chinese-Canadians? When recently according to Canadian senator Hugh Segal(2010) the Canadian Constitution Act values civility, not loyalty. Just what is within the Chinese-Canadians' ethnic cultural traditions that constantly undermining their Canadian multiculturalism experience?

At this point, it's obvious to me that a conflict of ethnic ideologies is the cause of this undermining of Canadian multiculturalism, which lies solely on the part of the Chinese-Canadian community. When ideology within the context of sociology are “cultural beliefs that justify particular social arrangements, including patterns of inequality.”(Macionis. 2010. 231) So throughout the rest of my thesis I'll demonstrate just exactly what, how, and why such Chinese ethnic ideology is within the Chinese-Canadian immigrants' family traditions as an organizational process that prevents themselves from understanding the nature of multicultural diversity. Even though the individuals themselves are already beyond the influence of the Chinese institutional processes of politics, legislation, education, and business profession. It's for this reason that I will focus on the organized Chinese religion known as Confucianism, of its justifications on authoritarianism and patriarchy within the family organization.

There are opinions to treat Confucianism as just a philosophy, instead of being an organized religion. However when there's such traditional Chinese practice known as “Worship of Confucius”(Culture-China.com), as previously established by its own family teaching of “honor the ancestors”(Jrank. 2010). One can't argue with its spiritual and organizational influences on the Chinese family for over two thousand years.

Furthermore, the teaching itself relies heavily on both authoritarianism(Spagnoli. 2008) and patriarchy(Cho. 1998:187) for its system justification and structural organization, from within the Chinese family itself, all the way to the institutional process of the Chinese society. Such as the family teachings of “a bow to an elder, taking off shoes before entering the house, being silent and respectful to elders, bringing a gift to the host, and writing thank-you notes to a helper”(Jrank. 2010), are all a part of Confucius' concept of Li,aka proper behaviours in English. Whereas the Chinese society back in Confucius time sees any violation of Li the same as violating the law.

Other authoritarian and patriarchy family teachings within Confucianism which still exist even today includes:

Birth as a creative life form. Confucianism considers the individual as a link in the chain of existence from the past to the future. Everyone should have descendents to continue the family tree. To have no children is considered the most unforgivable thing in life. Having a child, particularly a boy, is very important to carry on the family name.

Retaining loyalty to the family and the nation.

In societies that have been influenced by Confucius, the traditional social structure is based on five fundamental interpersonal relationships: superior-subordinate, parent-child, husband-wife, brothers, and friends. These relationships are arranged in a hierarchy based on the members' respective position and status. For example, the first superior-subordinate relationship requires loyalty to the government or one's superior on the job. In return, the employer takes care of the employees' needs. Second, the parent-child relationship requires filial piety; children should obey, honor, and respect their parents, and parents should love their children. The husband-wife relationship prescribes that the wife submit to the husband and the husband love the wife. Young brothers should respect the older brother, while the elders should love the young ones. Among friends, righteousness and trust are the rule.

Confucianism prescribes family relationships and indicates the degree of intimacy and obligations. Anyone who is within this network is considered part of the family. Otherwise, he or she is an outsider.”(Jrank. 2010)

And it's within such framework of in-group relationship that the concept of societal control through loyalty and conformation towards the figures of authority can be observed(Cho. 1998: 187).

To be fair, there are aspects within Confucianism that's specifically regarding individual character and virtue development. However its requirements and subsequently its justification are solely based on the individual's own physical maturity, seniority, and gender role(Jrank. 2010). In other words, it completely ignores situations whereas the individual's behaviours don't match with the ideal. This was probably due to the fact that Confucius himself believed that by nature humans are all the same(Fu. 1991), thus unity is achievable through social harmony.

And for that reason alone, I think Confucius and his fellow Confucians all failed to recognize the complexity within different human societies, due to natural differences caused by human individuality. Their ethnocentric ideology basically had no room for alternative, while they overemphasized on loyalty and harmony as the only method of structural organization, not for conflict resolution.

Furthermore, I think this unrealistic expectation for loyalty towards one's family as a social norm, can cause an individual to develop a different concept on one's own self-esteem. That there could be something wrong with someone simply for being different, without them first understand what the difference may leads, or even how it was caused. As the old Chinese proverb goes: 家家有本難唸的經/every home has its own difficult ways of things. It reflects the general outlook on just how useless the Chinese family traditions within Confucianism are, during moments of real family conflicts.

As if that wasn't enough of a stretch as it is, the Chinese-Canadian families often experience organizational difficulty after they immigrated to Canada, due to a lack of support from extended family network or cheap domestic services(Ma. 2003:234). And this has nothing to do with the size of the family, but a simple matter of logistic differences. When most middle-class Chinese families were already nuclear-sized before their emigration from China, but were either being supported by an array of extended family network back in China, located at various convenient locations to assist with child-rearing duties. Or they would simply hire extra helps at home, while taking advantage of the relatively cheap Chinese labour wage. Therefore as a result they're actually very poor at maintaining and sustaining a family with their own efforts, as oppose to themselves just managing and balancing various organizational resources.

Ironic as this may sound, at least Confucianism didn't fail them at management. Assuming of course, that forming a family as Canadian immigrants is like taking over an existing successful business structure as new managements. Which was exactly how and why the Canadian media was advertizing on only the wealthiest of the Chinese-Canadian immigrants(aka the “Gucci Chinese” or “yacht people”), during the approach of the impending 1997 change of government in Hong Kong(Ma. 2003:224). This advertisement instilled a very positive yet biased outlook, and the image itself played well towards the conformation and expectation of those would-be Chinese-Canadian immigrants. In this case a partial truth is still better than a history of fear from Chinese government oppression, or so they believed.

There are reports on middle-class Chinese-Canadian families of improved intimacy within family group members, and an overall sense of appreciation on the new challenges accompanied with their Canadian experience. However this is only made possible with a healthy interaction between group members(Ma. 2003:231-232). Whereas those with poor interaction -often due to a lack of communication, overgeneralized conformation, and unrealistic expectation- had cases of issue and conflict arranging from suffering group depression, all the way up to separation. And no, I'll reserve the likes of homicide and domestic abuse to criminology.

Sometimes the relationships between Chinese-Canadian family group members and their social sphere have gone through changes, when there's a lack of social networks within extended family members. This is also true when it comes to them socializing with members of different ethnicity(Ma. 2003:237). However, this can only be done by themselves violating the traditional Chinese family teaching of in-group relationship, as well as bridging new networks through informal social organizing, and interacting with other parents who's children are among friends with theirs. While those who uphold their traditional view on in-group relationship, have reports of them experiencing either no change or with greater difficulty like isolation and alienation, in their relationships with others(Ma. 2003:235). Especially when they're in a position of themselves needing of help, regarding work and family related issues.

Honestly speaking, my personal future outlook on the Chinese-Canadian immigrants' traditional ideology of family loyalty, harmony, and conformity isn't optimistic. When it doesn't offer sufficient conflict resolution, nor does it helps the family to cope with alternative living condition. It's also an idealistic scenario that requires optimal, if not unrealistic amount of support networks. It's based on an ill thought-out belief about the nature of human individuality, so it's incompatible with today's complex societies. And the only saving grace I can say about it, is the fact that it's still just a faulty ideology at best, and hopefully when the immigrants realized that fact for themselves, they will make changes throughout the time accordingly. Otherwise their family traditions will not do themselves justice, when their overall unrealistic expectation undermined their collective social experience with Canadian multiculturalism.

Finally, as a closing note, I'll describe my encounter just three months ago, with four Chinese-Canadian boys ages from eight to ten. They were boasting among themselves about who has the biggest house, largest yard, most toys, and best games. So I came up to them and asked: “who's here had their parents did something that made them laughed?” The collective respond I got from them was an universal blank stare, as if I just asked them about something quite alienating. Needless to say, I'm worry about their experience of growing up under the Chinese family traditions.

Reference:

1.Fowlie. Jonathan,. Jeff Lee . 2010. “Gordon Campbell slams CSIS director over foreign-infiltration allegations” The Vancouver Sun, June 24. Retrieved July 21, 2010(http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Gordon+Campbell+slams+CSIS+director+over+foreign+infiltration+allegations/3191469/story.html)

2.Wen. Jiabao,. 2003. “Turning Your Eyes to China” Mission of China to UN. December 10, Retrieved July 21, 2010(http://www.china-un.org/eng/zt/wfm/t56090.htm)

3.Department of Justice Canada. 1985. Canadian Multiculturalism Act. Ottawa, Ontario. (Also available at http://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/C-18.7/page-2.html#anchorbo-ga:s_3)

4.Hugh Segal. 2010. “Progress depends on civility.” The Kingston Whig Standard. July 17, Retrieved July 21, 2010 (http://www.thewhig.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2673308)

5.Macionis. John J.,. Linda M. Gerber. 2010 “Social Stratification.” Pp231 in Sociology 7th ed. Toronto, Ontario: Pearson Canada Inc.

6.Cultural-China.com. “The Grand Ceremony of Worship of Confucius”. Retrieved July 21, 2010(http://www.cultural-china.com/chinaWH/html/en/History140bye566.html)

7.Jrank. 2010. “Confucianism - Stages And Rituals Of Life Transformation: Family and Development”. Marriage and Family Encyclopedia. Retrieved July 21, 2010(http://family.jrank.org/pages/320/Confucianism-Stages-Rituals-Life-Transformation.html)

8.Spagnoli. Filip. 2008. “Human Rights Facts (55): China, Confucianism and Authoritarianism.” papblog. August 20. Retrieved July 21, 2010(http://filipspagnoli.wordpress.com/2008/08/20/human-rights-facts-55-china-confucianism-and-authoritarianism/)

9.Cho. Haejoang,. 1998. “Male Dominance and Mother Power: The Two Sides of Confucian Patriarchy in Korea.” Pp187 in Confucianism and the Family, edited by Walter H. Slote and George A. De Vos. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

10.Fu. Pei-Jung,. 1991. “HUMAN NATURE AND HUMAN EDUCATIO: ON HUMAN NATURE AS TENDING TOWARD GOODNESS IN CLASSICAL CONFUCIANISM.” The Council for Research in Values and Philosophy. Retrieved July 21, 2010.(http://www.crvp.org/book/Series03/III-2/chapter_ii_human_nature_and_huma.htm)

11.Man. Guida,. 2003. “The Experience of Middle-Class Women in Recent Hong Kong Chinese Immigrant Families in Canada.” Pp 221-244 in Voices: Essays on Canadian Families 2nd ed., edited by Marion Lynn. Scarborough, Ontario: Nelson Thomson Learning.
Posted 7/21/10
Confucianism is good teaching for anyone to take up. The old school knew how to get things done.
Posted 7/21/10

Aztecnology wrote:

Confucianism is good teaching for anyone to take up. The old school knew how to get things done.
Actually my argument is that it isn't, especially when it's core belief of human individuals being the same. I think Confucius and his fallow Confucians had been out-of-touch from the rest of the society for too long, when they believed that even man and woman can be the same in terms of their personality and characteristic.
Posted 7/21/10

DomFortress wrote:


Aztecnology wrote:

Confucianism is good teaching for anyone to take up. The old school knew how to get things done.
Actually my argument is that it isn't, especially when it's core belief of human individuals being the same. I think Confucius and his fallow Confucians had been out-of-touch from the rest of the society for too long, when they believed that even man and woman can be the same in terms of their personality and characteristic.


I wonder that, since people have liked to gender bend throughout history on occasions. Yet the genders are best suited to specific roles for obvious reasons. The new way of society eclipses the old, but there are always some valuable lessons to be learned from old hat ways.
Posted 7/21/10 , edited 7/21/10

Aztecnology wrote:


I wonder that, since people have liked to gender bend throughout history on occasions. Yet the genders are best suited to specific roles for obvious reasons. The new way of society eclipses the old, but there are always some valuable lessons to be learned from old hat ways.
On how to be a social shut-in? Sure, why not?

Ever wonder why Confucius insisted that the women to "submit" to their men as figures of authority, not to "communicate" equally as individuals?

I've been bashing the living hell out of Confucianism for too long, I can do so upon reflex.
Posted 7/21/10

DomFortress wrote:


Aztecnology wrote:


I wonder that, since people have liked to gender bend throughout history on occasions. Yet the genders are best suited to specific roles for obvious reasons. The new way of society eclipses the old, but there are always some valuable lessons to be learned from old hat ways.
On how to be a social shut-in? Sure, why not?

Ever wonder why Confucius insisted that the women to "submit" to their men as figures of authority, not to "communicate" equally as individuals?

I've been bashing the living hell out of Confucianism for too long, I can do so upon reflex.


Treating women as lesser beings is about the only part that bothers me aside from shutting yourself in too much with Confucianism. Wisdom is something we can decide to use to our advantage instead of thinking that life cannot be lived outside certain boundaries.
Posted 7/21/10

Aztecnology wrote:



Treating women as lesser beings is about the only part that bothers me aside from shutting yourself in too much with Confucianism. Wisdom is something we can decide to use to our advantage instead of thinking that life cannot be lived outside certain boundaries.
When you consider the facts that while the Chinese government had been running a global ad campaign with Chinese history and tradition, while they further extended their abused on "freedom of the press" within China. One can't help but to think that the Chinese Communist Party doesn't want changes from both outside and within.
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Posted 7/22/10
The laws of candida do cover ever one equally correct? Livings in a new country thing are going to be different. Chines culture will change as they integrate into the Canadian society. That choose was made when they immigrated to Canada if they wanted chines culture maybe moving to Taiwan would have been a better choose if they wanted the culture first and government second. The language issue is a smart Ideal Even if tis out of Canada this helps with integration of people. These people chose to move there nobody forced them do to it. I think you need to evaluate your on ideals and what you want for yourself and not others. I have notice in past forms you have this issue burning inside you. If Muslims move into Candia and want Sherrie law only because it there culture are you going to support them? There no need to talk about china as today or the last couple hundred years life is cheap and being killed for whatever reason starvation government. The china you’re taking about died a long time ago. Equal treatment under the law stuff like that has never been a practice in china.
Posted 7/22/10

tarakelly wrote:

The laws of candida do cover ever one equally correct? Livings in a new country thing are going to be different. Chines culture will change as they integrate into the Canadian society. That choose was made when they immigrated to Canada if they wanted chines culture maybe moving to Taiwan would have been a better choose if they wanted the culture first and government second. The language issue is a smart Ideal Even if tis out of Canada this helps with integration of people. These people chose to move there nobody forced them do to it. I think you need to evaluate your on ideals and what you want for yourself and not others. I have notice in past forms you have this issue burning inside you. If Muslims move into Candia and want Sherrie law only because it there culture are you going to support them? There no need to talk about china as today or the last couple hundred years life is cheap and being killed for whatever reason starvation government. The china you’re taking about died a long time ago. Equal treatment under the law stuff like that has never been a practice in china.
And your point is? When you have no clear and distinct idea of just what "equality" means to you.

Furthermore, when Department of Justice Canada is readily to confront cultural oppression like "honor killing" for its own ideal of civility, I don't think you understand just what the meaning of "institutional process" is, within the context of sociology.

Law is still law while culture is still culture. And when Canada has more practical libertarian view on its system of governance, it's thereby you who don't understand the concept of "separating the church from the state".
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Posted 7/22/10
ahhh... dude. his thesis is that some core aspects of chinese canadian culture don't translate well to Canada. where did you get the idea he was somehow saying chinese canadians should get special treatment because they are chinese?
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Posted 7/22/10

tarakelly wrote:

You want to preserve Chines culture in Candida, all I said in around about way it going to change and I hope for the best. I have noticed you seem to have a chip on you should about being chines in Canada this is the first time you taken a Stance as a real Canadian. That something to be proud of Canada is very new compared to us. Was it after WW2 you finally cut the umbilical cord or how far wrong am I.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Murder is murder for whatever reason passing a special law for it redundant, the same stupid stuff happens down here so law makers said they did something. Law of the land trumps everything else. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------You are bigger than life from your photos and I guess your 6 feet tall and probably carry yourself in that fashion around plain folk when not in costume people are going to look at you. Here is a twist for you, like how men look at woman that has double E boobs. I hope that what it is about for you just bigger than life. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Being pleasant and friendly goes a long way. But if you’re a snob and rude people will react to that as well and being chines does not have thing to do with it but people will take what they think is a cheap shot if you let bug you that your problem. You set the tone for that it and it will have fall out on your life. The ass holes that hate just for the sake of hatting predigest wealth envy you name it.


Depends on when you call it. Canadians usually celebrate Canada's birthday on July 1st. This year Canada turned 143, we're not as old as you but we're older than your civil war. You are perhaps getting confused about Newfounland and Labrador ceasing to be it's own british dominion and joining confederation in 1949. Or maybe when we brought home the constitution in 1982.



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Posted 7/22/10
I thought that what he meant the first time around the like like normal he flips it. then he went off on on me about other issue. He make a good Politician.
Posted 7/22/10

tarakelly wrote:

I thought that what he meant the first time around the like like normal he flips it. then he went off on on me about other issue. He make a good Politician.
While I have no interest in politics as a career, you OTOH is a political propaganda machine, when you have to turn everything into a political flaming.
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Posted 7/22/10
Well the start of this mess was a political statement to some degree so Let the shit fly and see what sticks.
Posted 7/22/10

tarakelly wrote:

You want to preserve Chines culture in Candida, all I said in around about way it going to change and I hope for the best. I have noticed you seem to have a chip on you should about being chines in Canada this is the first time you taken a Stance as a real Canadian. That something to be proud of Canada is very new compared to us. Was it after WW2 you finally cut the umbilical cord or how far wrong am I.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Murder is murder for whatever reason passing a special law for it redundant, the same stupid stuff happens down here so law makers said they did something. Law of the land trumps everything else. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------You are bigger than life from your photos and I guess your 6 feet tall and probably carry yourself in that fashion around plain folk when not in costume people are going to look at you. Here is a twist for you, like how men look at woman that has double E boobs. I hope that what it is about for you just bigger than life. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Being pleasant and friendly goes a long way. But if you’re a snob and rude people will react to that as well and being chines does not have thing to do with it but people will take what they think is a cheap shot if you let bug you that your problem. You set the tone for that it and it will have fall out on your life. The ass holes that hate just for the sake of hatting predigest wealth envy you name it.


Might I suggest that you post more neatly? Your act of having ''brain damage'' is getting old.

Also, no ethnicity determines anything in a person. A man can come from a place renowned for its upstanding populace, but he might surely turn out to be a parasite.
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