Power, Collectivism, and the Failure of the 1911 Revolution: A Cultural Analysis

Faculty Sponsor

Yun Xia


Arts and Sciences


Chinese and Japanese Studies

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-2-2015


This paper contends that an awareness of China's national culture, particularly one informed by the use of a specific model like Geert Hofstede's cultural dimensions theory, provides valuable insight on complex issues in Chinese history. Although Hofstede's theory has been extensively studied, discussed, and cited by academics in other fields, it has yet to be widely applied by historians. This paper serves as an argument of relevance for Hofstede's theory to historical research in general, and represents a case study in using cultural models as a means of understanding history.

To demonstrate the value of this approach, I will discuss the application of Geert Hofstede's cultural dimensions theory in explaining the failure of the 1911 Revolution. This popular revolution marked the end of the Chinese dynastic system and the establishment of a Republican government in China. However, the revolution was undermined by a series of political compromises and the endurance of power structures from earlier times. This paper uses cultural dimensions theory to explain these compromises and the deeply entrenched power structures that the revolution failed to overthrow.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Jonathan Mack is a senior at Valparaiso University studying Chinese and Japanese studies and accounting. His personal focus is on international business and cross cultural management. Always an avid lover of history, he has previously participated in a historical research trip to Shanghai. While there, he studied the experience of Jewish refugees in the city and authored an article entitled “Guardians or Traitors? A Study of the Jewish Pao Chia in Shanghai.”

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