East vs. West (cont’d)

April 10, 2011

A continuation of  the previous post.

Way of Life (Blue: west; Red: east)

Networking

At a party

2. Mobility

Mobility here refers to the easiness for one to move to another place to live. In both Hong Kong and mainland China, people tend to have lower mobility when compared with those in the west (the west here mostly means the English-speaking word: UK, US, Canada, Ausralia etc, due to my limited understanding of the rest of the west)

In Hong Kong and China, children live with their parents before they are married. In the west, that might not be the case. For those who are lucky enough to make it to uni/college, most of them would move out and start building their own homes after they graduate. For those who are not able to get into tertiary education, moving out is still the option for staying with the parents is a sign of weakness. The difference in what I’d like call the “parental distance” in the upbringing means that the coming-of-age process in the east is less adventurous than the west.

To add to that factor of family attachment, there are physical limitation to mobility in the east. In Hong Kong, a city having the highest housing prices in the world, it is impossible for anyone (except investment bankers, of course) to own a decent 500-sq-foot apartment before their thirties. In China, the hukou system (everyone is registered a hukou in certain city or province and he/she is only entitled to the social security from there) means that choice concerning where to live in is limited to one’s home city or province. Being free from the rocket-high house prices and restrictive population control measures, our western counterparts enjoy a higher degree of personal mobility.

I am not suggesting this is the case for every person in the east or west, however, I believe what I’ve described paints a general picture of what the majority in both sides of the world is doing.

The difference in mobility has profound consequences. The longer time it takes for people to “individualize” in the east means that they feel the constant need for solidarity. Parties tend to be more organized and people, in certain sense, are more connected. However, the lower mobility also means that people are less adventurous and less exposed to things that are out of the ordinary. Possible consequences: conservative personalities and low tolerance (not so much to different cultures/ethnicity/race, but to things that are out of one’s definition of “normal”).

I am not trying to say that the western way is better than the eastern one, or the other way round. I just want to keep the conversation going between the east and west so that people on both side of the aisle knows more about each other. For ignorance can sometimes hurt, even kill.

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One Response to “East vs. West (cont’d)”

  1. y Says:

    “I am not trying to say that the western way is better than the eastern one, or the other way round. I just want to keep the conversation going between the east and west so that people on both side of the aisle knows more about each other. For ignorance can sometimes hurt, even kill. ” –> like!


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