Face and Communication in Chinese Context

Paweł Zygadło

The notion of face (mianzi, lian), has long been seen as an essential element of Chinese culture. As David Yao-fai Ho argued “It is virtually impossible to think of a face of [Chinese] social life to which the question of face is irrelevant. Much earlier Hu Hsien-Chin insisted that “The study of concept of ‘face’ in China reveals two sets of criteria by which prestige is gained and status secured or improved, and also how different attitudes can be reconciled within the framework of the same culture. Hwang Kuang-Kuo utilising social exchange theory claimed that proposed by him Face-Favour-Guanxi complex as a power game framework “depicts not only a prototype of social behaviour in Chinese society but also a general model for illustrating the process of social interactions in most cultures, especially that in a collectivist culture. Similarly, Stella Ting-Toomey identifi es face-giving, other directed-face and face-honouring as an important component of the collectivist cultures, that should be approached as a relational part of the face-negotiation model. Another interesting assertion has been made by Wenshan Jia for whom face and facework, is “a typical Chinese conflict-preventive mechanism and a primary means to cultivate harmonious human relations in Chinese social life.