One of the most widely used characterisations of East Asian culture, and of China in particular, is ‘collectivism’ as opposed to individualism. This notion is axiomatic across many disciplines, ranging from management science to neuroscience, which draw on empirical research, such as value surveys, to support this fundamental assumption. In this seminar, we will take representative examples, such as the Hofstede cultural dimensions and the World Values Survey, and apply a constructive critique which proceeds from Fei Xiaotong’s conceptualisation of Chinese and Western culture. Through closer examination of both theory and data, we achieve a much richer understanding of individualism in different cultural contexts, thus debunking the stereotype of Asian ‘collectivism’.
Carsten Herrmann-Pillath is Professor and Permanent Fellow at the Max Weber Centre for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies, University of Erfurt, Germany. His major fields of research are economics and philosophy, institutional change and economic development, international economics and Chinese economic studies. He has published widely in economics, the humanities and the sciences, including 16 books and over 400 papers in academic journals such as the European Economic Review, Journal of Economic Methodology, Journal of Comparative Economics, Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies, Schmollers Jahrbuch and European Journal of Political Economy. His most recent book is China’s Economic Culture: The Ritual Order of State and Markets (Routledge, 2017).