How far does modernization shape Chinese Society today?
In recent years, many countries throughout the world have taken modernization as a goal and are working unceasingly to raise their level. The founding of the New China in 1949 opened wide the opportunity for China to realize Socialist modernization. In the last 40 years by constant effort the Chinese people have made great progress in founding an independent industrial and national economic system with its multiple dimensions. As such, it is not a surprise that with the introduction of modernization, the family structure and lifestyle of the Chinese society have altered tremendously.
- Role of Women
Modernization has caused a large change in terms of people’s mindsets and thus gradually changing the role of women in modern China. From the Han Dynasty until the modern period, scholars and rulers developed a male dominated patriarchal society in China. Confucianism was at the root of the development of the patriarchal society in China and emphasized the distinctions between the sexes and the roles they have within the society. However, when modernization in China starts after the opening of the economy in 1979, the system of free-market capitalism has reversed many of the rights and freedoms that Chinese women fought for during the Mao era. In 1992, the role of women had gone further for greater change when a law on Protection of Women’s Rights was set to protect the rights of women at home and in the family. As such, modernization has changed women’s rights and altered the traditional gender hierarchy in China, in aspects of domestic life such as marriage, as well as in the workplace. Hence, these changes altered the quality of life and the availability of opportunities to women at different junctures throughout the modern globalization process.
- Erosion of Filial Piety
Modernization has resulted in the erosion of filial piety. In terms of the Chinese tradition of being filial to one’s parents, it is widely believed that filial piety, as expressed by instrumental support and for effective bonding with parents, have decreased in western countries, and that if societal and economic modernization has been the cause, the same trend will soon be evident in China. It can be argued that in China the availability of better paid employment in cities led to many to work and live far away from their parents, thereby reducing opportunities to practice filial piety. One supposed influence on its level of modernization, as manifested in urbanization and new types of housing that disperse extended families across scattered small households — a process that some adduce as a primary mechanism eroding filial piety. Therefore, with the changing structure of modern housing, modernization can bring about a change in family relations and thus eroding the tradition of filial piety in Chinese society.
- Preservation of Chinese Traditions
Modernization does not always equate to the destruction of the Chinese traditions as it can also encourage people to preserve historical sites while promoting tourism. Many Chinese historical sites cannot be preserved without maintenance and adaptation. Adaptation is transforming the old into a practical modern solution. For instance in the old city of the Li Jiang tourism district, many of the houses were changed into shops, restaurants and hostels, allowing visitors from all over the world to learn China’s heritage. Although some argued that the entire zone has become commercialized and consequently lost its uniqueness, but on the contrary, the keen search for heritage by tourists has forced the houses to maintain their historical significance, while income generated from tourism kept this maintenance sustainable. This form of heritage renovation is currently taking place all over China, but much of it would have been impossible without destroying some aspects of the old. As such, without the benefits of gaining profits from tourism, many of the historical sites may not have been protected as they are today. Hence, in this case, modernization has created an incentive for the Chinese to preserve these sites and thus preserving the Chinese traditions.
- Influence of the Internet
However, with modernization, the use of internet has proliferated and as such, made the erosion of Chines tradition an unavoidable result of modernization. In the late 20th Century, the internet was virtually unknown in China, however, in the past 10 years the use of internet and the influence of US companies such as Google and Yahoo has surged in China. Thus, bringing searchable information including western cultures, pop music cultures and foreign concepts and influences, into Chinese culture. As a result, the Chinese especially the younger generation, have become more westernized in their taste and preferences. Therefore, with modernization, the rise of the internet has resulted in the Chinese tradition to erode to some extent.
Thus, modernization has caused detrimental effects on the Chinese education and health care system, proving to be disadvantageous, given that a large majority cannot afford these basic needs.