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Overview of Culture in Taiwan

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 2371 words Published: 31st Jul 2018

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The republic of China took over Taiwan and the surrounding islands from Japan in the year 1945. The official language used is Mandarin. Taiwanese people are all citizens of the Republic of China who hold the country’s citizenship and the people living in Taiwan. There are three paradigms that are used in identifying the Taiwanese people; self-identification, national criteria and the social cultural criteria. Taiwanese are popular for holding on to most of their traditions, customs and beliefs despite the influence of modernization and external cultural influence (Schubert 2011, p. 4). In this essay, we will look at cultural aspects that define the identity of the Taiwanese Chinese and the essence of being one.

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The Taiwanese people have a considerable diversity among them in regard to genetics, cultural and linguistic. This is as a result of the assimilation of various ethnicities and tribes within china and thousands of years of immigration (Immigrant adaptation, 2012). Confucianism has had much influence on the Taiwanese culture. Confucianism is known for shaping the thoughts of the Chinese and initializes the values of filial piety, which implied the conducting of certain shared rituals (Chen 2001, p. 45).

The villagers in this society lavished on wedding and funeral ceremonies, imitating the Confucian virtues of the emperors. Most of the Taiwanese wear the Western style clothing with just a few wearing the traditional clothing on a regular basis. In terms of family matters, the Taiwanese have a family manager who is in charge of income and the family head that represents the family to the world. The families are run on set rules and the whole family traditionally stays in a large triangular house (Chen 2001, p. 48).

The cross-cultural psychology makes an effort to understand individuals of different cultures and how they interact with each other. The implicit culture theory indicates that the underlying stereotypes, assumptions, beliefs, and schemas influence the way they relate with each other. The beliefs, stereotypes, and schemas differ across cultures, and given that Taiwanese is formed of different people, some assimilated immigrants who come with their own beliefs, then the implicit culture can help us as a society to understand each other (Hsiau 2000, p. 67).

Literature and Art

The Taiwanese have literature and art that defines their culture. Dancing is part of the community activity which started as early as 8000 years ago. A dance is the main component of Taiwan culture and involves worship and prayer. The community uses sleeves, long scarves and extensions to contribute to the unique forms of dances (Hua 2001, p. 84).

Similarly, we use metaphors in this society to define people’s character traits. For example, the spider is used to represent varied things in society. In this society, the Spider symbolizes persistence and patience because of its hunting technique. The spider sets webs and waits for the prey to become ensnared. The Taiwanese use the spider web to indicate malice and mischief since the spider has poisonous venom that kills slowly (Eberhard 1974, p. 56).

The onion metaphor has been used to describe the learning styles in Taiwanese culture. The external layers of the onion represent the people’s preferences with regard to where they wish to study. As one peel the onions, the inner part represent the way people perceive information differently and the inner part of the onion represents the cognitive styles of information processing. The core of the onion represents the personality traits of the people. The metaphors describe ones character and attributes as the onions metaphor can be used to describe an extrovert or introvert (Taiwanese Literature Movement, 2011).

The five factor model of personality; extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, openness to experience and conscientiousness are used to explain the character traits of the people in different societies. The five factor model originated from two independent research traditions. The first research was that of the Lexis analysis of personality terms which occurs in Natural language. Lexis analysis insists that encoded language can be used to describe the individual differences in traits. The other approach is the factor analysis which is based on different theory-based personality inventories (Martin & Gates 1981, p. 91).

One of the researches based on the NEO Personality Inventory established that all the five factors had strong genetic bases. Despite the fact that individual differences are substantially stable, personality traits show modest maturational changes that are briefly summarized by noting that most people tend to decline N, E, and O and increase A and C in their adulthood. The model generalizes across cultures despite the differences in history, languages, political systems, religion and other cultural features. The model considers the age differences and the sex differences too (Martin & Gates 1981, p. 93).

The other forms of art found in this culture include the sculpturing, drawing and music. The society has beautiful patterns of ancient cooking utensils which are as a result of sculpturing. Using pictures and paints to express the imaginative thoughts is a common happening in Taiwanese society. Similarly, the culture has classic texts such as the Art of War and the analects of Confucius (Martin 2003, p. 23).

Customs, Traditions, and Practices of Taiwan Culture

The mainland China and Taiwan, the traditional Chinese customs and culture still hold sway. However, Cultural Revolution and political movements have contributed to the destruction of the culture and customs. The traditional religious beliefs are almost extinct. In addition, Taiwan members in the society rarely read the classics for themselves. The Taiwanese people have been able to absorb the western customs and cultures (Hsin 2012, p. 23).

Taiwanese offer traditional cuisines whose richness surpasses that of Korea and Japan. The traditional festivals have been preserved, and people still do reunite with their families in these festivals. Among the festivals are the Lantern Festivals, the Chinese New year Eve, Dragon Boat Festivals, Chinese Valentine day and the Tomb Sweeping Day among others (Martin 2003, p. 23).

The ancient Chinese did not celebrate their birthdays because it was seen as the day the mother to the child was suffering. After the Tang Dynasty, the Chinese started celebrating birthdays as a result of influence from India. The fusing of the Western and the Chinese tradition has made the celebration of birthdays more enjoyable than that of the decade. As we are not too bothered about the religious differences, we have different funeral practices in Taiwan. With the Taiwanese people having an open mind, it is easy to blend the traditional and the foreign customs. This has resulted into a diversified Taiwanese culture (Liao & Wang, 2006, p.81).

There exist harmful socializing practices among the Taiwanese youth. On normal family interactions, a caregiver spends time with children on a variety of playing and mundane activities. Research indicates that more than 300 events of shame are identified in over a hundred hours of video typed spontaneous home interactions (Katz & Rubinstein 2003, p.19).

Language and Ethnicity

Taiwan is a multiethnic and multi lingual society. The majority of the ethnic groups are the Holos with 73.3%, mainlanders 13%, Hakka 12% and the indigenous 1.7%. The Holo, Hakka and the mainlanders constitute the Han people whose language is a contrast to the Abogriges. The Abogriges differ from the Han people by their ethnic language. Language and ethnicity are bound to change with alterations in the environment. Research has indicated that the Hakka are losing their mother tongue faster than their identity. The Taiwanese identity has been promoted through its language (Davison 2004, p. 45).

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Religion and Rituals

Religion plays an essential role in the cultural identity of the Taiwanese. The Chinese folk religion has had a profound influence on the people. Taoism and Confucianism share aspects of a religion without a demand for exclusive adherence, which culminates to cultural syncretism and tolerance. In the 20th century, the Confucianism was a state official philosophy that governed the moral code with some religious elements like the ancestor worship (Davison 2004, p. 48).

One of the ancient rituals is the Ji-tong ritual. It involves people hitting themselves on the head until a gush of blood comes out. Tainan and Lugang are the destinations popularly known for the ancient China’s culture, old temples and the traditional religious practices. Probability of witnessing the Ji-tong ritual in these places is half given that the ritual takes place on the birthdays of the Chinese gods. As such, the people depend much on the spiritual communication (Davison 2004, p. 56).

The Taiwan’s indigenous people ritual is often focused on the adulthood, good harvest, hunting and spirits’ rituals. The aim of these rituals is to request for good fortune, consolidating peoples’ hearts, thanksgiving and survival training. The rituals are considered the major spiritual symbols of the Taiwanese traditional culture (Davison 2004, p. 58).


According to Murray & Hong (1994), the Chinese culture is more of collectivist than individualist. However, both the individualist and collectivist values are endorsed in this society. Two layers of personal relationship have been identified to distinguish how people conduct their social interactions. The in-group perceives others to be part of them while the out-group does not consider themselves as part. In Taiwanese culture, our immediate family members always constitute our in-group while our current and potential enemies constitute the out-groups. As much as we are collectivists, the world sees us as middle group because we do not view the people outside the in-group as totally out-group. We do not categorize them immediately as in-group or out-group when we meet people for the first time. Being a Taiwanese teaches one to be part a member of the larger society and not to be individualistic (Murray & Hong 1994, p. 64)

There is flexible acculturation during the transmigration process of the Taiwanese in China. The Taiwanese government has identified three strategies that enable flexible acculturation; reinvention of the ethnic identities, spatial movements and the graduated sovereignty. The different transmigration processes have been found to have influence on the Taiwanese women social image, ties to the children, careers, spatial relocation and self-perception. In the Taiwanese acculturation, we single out the extramarital affairs between the Taiwanese men and the Chinese women (Liu 2008, p. 70).

Family Importance in Taiwan Culture

Taiwan culture emphasize on familial bonds as it shapes the culture of the entire nation. Family plays an influential role in the Chinese culture despite the modernization role of family in China has shifted. The Taiwanese believe that the family membership is inherited through the father. This implies that families are normally headed by the Chinese male members in that family. The elders in the society command much respect and have the most authority (Lu 1997, p. 96).

According to the filial piety rationale, the older people within the family have the prevailing will over the younger and inferior members of the society. The culture emphasizes on paying reverence to the ancestors that have passed on, especially the male with failure to do so attracts bad luck to the family. Families that lack the male descendants are thought to become volatile ghosts upon death. In the family set up, each position has its own name allocated to it. For example, father’s older brother is referred to as the Bo fu, while the younger one is shu fu. In the modern society, women are gaining more power in the family set-up which has challenged the traditional patriarchal set-up. The young ones have apparently been allowed to have a say in their future life unlike in the previous decades (Lu 1997, p. 96).

The Chinese citizens of the Han descent had a child policy in 1979, which stipulated that a couple ought to only bear one child to themselves (Gu 2006, p. 21). The law was to help control the Chinese population boom. A couple faced a hefty fine on breaking this rule. A great number of cases of sterilization and forced abortions existed in this era. The policy was exempted for a family that bore male children as maleness is highly valued in the Chinese culture (Schubert 2011, p. 33).

The relationship guanxi describes the basic dynamics in personalized networks of influence, in the Chinese society. In this relationship, the people are to be of equal social status. It refers to the social benefits gained from the school friends, extended family workmates and members of the same organization. The Guanxi relationship echoes the collectivism that is emphasized in this culture. The collectivism just as Guanxi relationship helps maintain the family and friend contacts and strengthen the bond between groups of people and family. The reciprocal favors are the ones that maintain this Guanxi web where failure to reciprocate is considered an unforgivable offense (Lin 2011, p. 42).

In conclusion, being a member of the Taiwanese brings a sense of belonging. The cultures and traditions are friendly to assimilate. This has seen most immigrants being assimilated into this culture without much difficulty. The society is more accepting to the out-group than any other countries. We hold the family set up of importance to the image of the entire country. We uphold the cultural values emphasized in the Confucianism and classics. In addition, the people in this culture are allowed to perform their religious rituals in regard to their religion.


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