Asian culture from the anthropological perspective

Abstract

The Chinese living in Taiwan have adopted cremation due to a number of reasons. To assess the factors leading to cremation amongst these Chinese, this study delves into Chinese traditions as well as their attitudes towards death and bereavement.

As such, the study is in a position of highlighting the causes of cremation, and this, in turn, helps us to understand the attitude towards burial practices among Chinese living in Taiwan. The findings were attained through an ethnographic study in Taiwan, which was carried out in three interviews sessions. The study involved acquiring qualitative information from the three focus groups: the Chinese students, religious leaders, and the community.

This study is consistent with DS Sutton findings, as it affirms that burial practices are highly affected by the Asian cultural values, since their values highly emphasize on hierarchy, filial piety, as well as family centrality[1]. More so, Buddhism plays a key role in cremation amongst the Chinese living in Taiwan[2]. This information brings to light the rationale behind carrying out a culturally sensitive burial arrangement and practice amongst the Chinese in living in Taiwan.

Introduction

The practice of cremation is a contentious issue that is characterized by the gradually evolving ideas. While some Chinese argue that the traditional approach to burial practice is appropriate, the Chinese from Taiwan believe that new cultural values and social context need to be integrated into the practice, thus reflecting their attitude towards cremation.

In this respect, Fielding and Cecilia put a point across that burial practices are more inclined to people’s cultural beliefs as opposed to their gender, age, or even their education status[3]. However, a clear understanding of cremation amongst Chinese in Taiwan can be achieved if burial practices were observed in a dynamic manner, as this would help to put to light the present culture values observed by the community.

This can only be attained through observation of burial practices over a given period since this facilitates knowledge on the past as well as the evolving values within the community, and hence improving the understanding of the grief resulting from death amongst the Chinese living in Taiwan. In turn, this facilitates building a culturally sensitive intervention during burial practices.

Problem statement

The perception of Chinese relation with other people and institutions in the Taiwan helps us to understand their cultural values. However, this is faced with a challenge during burial ceremonies because burial ceremonies are considered as private affairs; hence, according to Xu Yu, little publicity is made to the people outside the family of the deceased[4].

But even though handling a discussion on burial ceremony is sensitive to this culture, it is of paramount importance to carry out a qualitative research on this issue with an aim of clearly understanding the behaviors as well as the thoughts of Chinese living in Taiwan.

Without such a study in place, a clear understanding of the Chinese living in Taiwan and their cultural belief system with regard to burial ceremonies cannot be achieved. This study, in turn, helps us to understand that the attitude of Taiwanese towards cremation highly depends on integration of their cultural values with the Buddhist practices.

Objective

This research study aimed at creating an environment of defining the causes of cremation among the Taiwan community in China. With this study in place, the researcher was in a position of finding answers to a number of complex issues that revolve around cremation in the Taiwan community.

These answers, in turn, helps to supply more answers as to what extent the cultural values affect the practice of cremation in the Taiwan community. The guiding question was to ascertain the condition under which the Chinese living in Taiwan change their culture. Hence, the research was able to highlight multiple cultural practices in Taiwan and to highlight the conditions under which the Chinese in Taiwan uphold their ethnic identity.

Justification

The study concerning the Taiwan community is paramount because it brings to light a clear understanding of their culture, hence enhancing interaction with them. More so, learning cultural diversity facilitates cohesion, because one is able to accept cultural views of other people from diverse communities without necessarily calling for debates or criticism.

The diverse knowledge on the practice of cremation facilitates understanding of the factors that lead to a change of cultural values within a given community. With this information at hand, one is able to analyze the degree to which the Chinese community is influenced by external cultural values.

Research methodology

Study Design

The study uses both quantitative and qualitative designs, with a set of dependent and independent variables. The dependent variable included participants’ attitude towards death and burial ceremonies. The independent variables, on the other hand, included education, while the demographic variables included age and race/ethnic group of the participants. The validity and reliability of the study were carefully checked in order to ascertain that the study holds a clear objective in answering the research question.

The qualitative study was achieved through a close analysis of materials that were grounded with theories of cultural values of Chinese from a historical point of view. The quantitative study, on the other hand, emanated from a sample size of Chinese living in Taiwan. The study was designed in such a way that it created room for an effective analysis of the content in various textbooks and journals, and this formed the basis of question that were used in the ethnography study.

Participants

A sample population of 600 participants was taken out of more than one 1000 people living in Taiwan. The sample size for the Chinese participants was based on random sampling in order to ensure that all Chinese in Taiwan were well represented. The study also consisted of a sample size of 80 religious leaders, who were also selected in a random manner.

It turned out that a vast majority of the religious leaders were from Buddhist religion. In addition, the study included 200 social community workers of Taiwan. These groups were subjected to interviews and focus groups, in which the facilitators were able to acquire in depth knowledge on experience about death and burial ceremonies amongst Chinese.

The students were given an opportunity to elicit their childhood experience in the Taiwan community. The religious leaders were given an opportunity to express their views concerning burial ceremonies. The social community workers were also given an opportunity to air their views, as they offer detailed services to the deceased family during the mourning period.

Research tools

The researcher organized the ideas collected from the textbooks and journals articles. This information helped to determine the scope of the research and to define the extent to which death and burial ceremonies are affected by cultural values within the Taiwan community. This was followed by determining the evidence that demonstrates the challenges facing cremation within the Chinese community. The journals consist of content that bring rise to various questions that called for answers as the study advanced.

Therefore, the information obtained from the journal articles was properly organized, and it served as the basis of coming up with the questionnaire that was used in the ethnography study. The participants were then provided with the discussion question after they were assured of their anonymity rights within the research study. The guiding research question within the focus group was to identify the circumstances that led the Chinese living in Taiwan to adopt cremation.

Data collection

The participants were subjected to the interview process, which was divided into three parts. The first part collected the demographic variable of the participants, namely, age, gender, race/ethnicity, as well as the education background; the second part collected the participants’ attitude towards death and burial ceremonies; and the third part of data collection, which was done shortly after the participant attended a cremation ceremony, was able to collect participants’ attitude towards cremation.

To increase the validity of the study, the focus groups were offered a questionnaire that was designed in a manner that accommodated diverse responses from the participants. The assessment of the participants’ attitudes’ was also based on observing the participants as they attended the cremation ceremony. Data from the three focus groups was successfully collected, and the statistical information was later entered in the computer system for analysis.

Data Analysis

Having data scanned into temporary database and verifying it using SPSS package helped to obtain the mean of the three focus groups. The SPSS package helped to analyze the data in the form of percentage, and the ANOVA test was used to compare the mean between the three focus groups.

Besides getting the differences between the three focus groups, the qualitative information from the ethnographic study was successfully attained through domain analysis of the Chinese living in Taiwan. This information facilitated a clear understanding of the factors that have led to an increase in the practice of cremation, as well as the impact of cremation on the Taiwan community.

Data presentation

Data analysis was handled in a manner that facilitated proper interpretation of results in addressing the objectives of the study: the causes of cremation among the Taiwan community in China. Additionally, the presentation facilitated an accurate understanding of the questions emanating from the study: how the cultural beliefs system and values affect the practice of cremation in the Taiwan community. The SPSS Software enhanced data interpretation through application of statistical tests and generation of graphs.

Discussion

The findings in the study show that the attitude towards cremation does not discriminate against age, gender, as well as the educational background of Chinese community living in Taiwan. More over, there lacks a significant difference between the three focus groups, namely, the students, the religious leaders, and the community, as their attitude towards cremation remains positive. This is portrayed through a close mean value between the groups, as well as the standard deviation within the groups as illustrated in table A. below

GroupsNumber of ParticipantsMeanStd. Deviation
Attitude Towards CremationStudents60013.5672.44949
Religious leaders8014.0002.50713
Community Workers20014.6072.57689