1 Thus also hoping to avoid some of the stereotypical connotations of upper case "Culture" as a functionally isolated hermetic garden or as a fossilized or eternal present, while at the same time emphasizing the methodological emphasis of ethnoculture upon a close accounting of empirical evidence.
2 The ethnoculture shared by a group is rooted both to the context in which it developed and in the people who embody it and thus is naturally resistant to change from without. Whereas the conventional anthropological notion of "Culture" is largely defined in an historical vacuum, any ethnocultural grouping is always a part and participant of a larger range of acculturate relations with other ethnocultural groups, and thus ethnocultural identity is always historically situated in, shaped by, and finds reference within a larger social historical stream of events and actions.
3 The "triangulation" between different kinds of methods, where possible, is regarded as being particularly powerful from an empirical standpoint. The difficulty is to "triangulate" between inherently incompatible methods (i.e., qualitative and quantitative).
4 Symbolic frame tasks are based upon certain gestalt principles of presentation of incomplete or ambiguous part-whole or figure-ground relationships. It becomes the problem of the informant to successfully fill in the "gaps" within the task to make it more complete. The efficacy of the task is rooted in the notion of the continuity of perceptual experience, such that empirically measurable patterns of perceptually based response may be linked to patterns of cognition. A wide variety of different kinds of symbolic framing tasks were constructed and elicited with varying degrees of success. A variety of alternative interpretations and analytical techniques of the samples of these tasks is possible. Sharing which is statistically significant (i.e. nonrandom) is taken as possible evidence of "cultural" patterning.
5 A "waterways-maritime" hypothesis is advanced which asserts that adaptation to waterways was a basic driving mechanism of regional integration and development of protein-based food getting economies that were essential to the early development of early human civilizations in many parts of the world. Waterways and seas were both first-order "resonance dampening mechanism" which constituted important forms of environmental circumscription. The challenge of overcoming these natural obstacles presented by large bodies of water transformed them into second order "resonance amplification mechanism" in the process driving the development of human civilization.
6 Not only was the boat an early and important cultural invention to be diffused, but, more importantly, it became the primary vehicle for the widespread diffusion of culture.
Pierre-Yves Manguin focused upon the trading craft of the protohistoric period, from which he surmises the Chinese may have inherited certain features in the later designs of its ocean-going junks. He summarizes the early design of these craft: 1) Their large capacity, carrying upwards of 1,000 people and 250-1,000 tons, 2) Their lack of iron in joinery--either pegs or external bindings, 3) A hull consisting of several layers of planks, 4) the use of quarter rudders for navigation, 5) A rigging with multiple masts and sails; 6) A lack of outrigging (1980:275-6).
Not only were boats an integral part of early prehistoric Southeast Asia, but there must also have been developed an early "ocean-going" culture which elaborated and transmitted knowledge and long-distance navigation techniques such as reading of currents, star courses, and other signs, of the kind so well described by David Lewis (1974:747-781).
7 "It probably diffused from Southeast Asia and is best represented by a variety of polished and ground stone artifacts, particularly the celt. Rice cultivation, rude handmade pottery, basketry and net-making, and possibly pole houses along with such traits as tattooing and canoe-building" (Fairservice 1959:139).
8 Symbolisms serve to "locate," "mobilize," and "transform" people within natural landscapes. Symbols will also locate nature and the social body or state within the body. Symbols serve to express and to map the relations between the body and the primarily social, humanized world of nature, and then between the world and the cosmos.
9 Thus the hardworking son of a poor family may marry into the wealthy family of not so hardworking girls, or alternatively, a girl from a poor background may nevertheless be betrothed at an early age to a boy whose family achieved some success.
10 Chinese social structure is reinforced through prestige-markers of class identity, class relations and symbolisms of which all Chinese are keenly aware. There is little tolerance or charity or humility by the rich Chinese toward the poor, and the poor have few illusions in this regard either about their own poverty or the haute-couture of the wealthy.
11 It was this strategy which most of the original immigrants of the overseas Chinese were following when they first arrived in the Nanyang, and it continues today in many ways--with the exodus of labor and even skilled professional to more developed core areas, via the network of Chinatowns that are available.
12 Few Chinese men will thus remain very long in a menial or underling position whether in government or some "towkays" (literally "boss" implying a "big" business man) business, being poorly paid and without much hope of rapid advancement, before they eventually strike out on their own in some kind of entrepreneurial activity, which, through hard work and intelligence, they turn into a successful business, gradually expand, and eventually prosper, to emerge at the twilight of their careers as respectable merchants of the middle or upper middle class.
13 Thus entire families may work together to make a go of and extend a business, whether it is selling chicken at a couple of tables of a morning market, or photocopying in a shop house, or making and selling biscuits, or a motorcycle repair shop, or selling hardware and tools at a booth on Cheapside. Several sons may continue working for the business, in order that one son who is the oldest or the most serious in his academic studies, may go abroad to further his education and hope of gaining a better job in the world.
14 "To the Chinese, money and marriage is serious business." Family and marriage, seen from such an emic point of view, become important aspects of maintaining Chinese ethnic solidarity and enhancing social mobility. "Love will grow." Marriage frequently becomes a business merger--whether or not love is involved. "The consequence of this endogamy and residential stability is a thick web of kin and business interconnections that serve to reinforce partnerships, import-wholesale-retail distributor chains, credit arrangements, commercial apprenticeships and other business deals" (Omohundro 1977:96).
15 The options in this regard are the buying of shares in different business, or the farming out of shares in one's own business, in setting sons up in management of different businesses, and in playing the stock market and investing the money in different business ventures. It would come as a surprise to most people to realize the extent to which seemingly poor hawkers or coffee-shop owners may be shareholders in different business or watching the interest rates or values of their investments rise and fall on a daily basis.
16 Not giving "face" to poor people by rich people can be interpreted as both a statement of innate and social superiority of the rich over the poor, and also as a way of the rich "saving face" in relation to the poor, in which context "giving face" would represent a compromise and symmetry of status.
17 A noticeable difference between the poor and the rich are that the poor will extend, as a matter of "face," of course, politeness and courtesy, basic greetings and responses while the rich will tend to deliberately ignore and refuse to give face to those whom they think are in a socially inferior position.
18 The "orality" argument only goes so far against the ethnographic evidence, and to proffer it as the main or only explanation for Chinese patterns is to risk promotion of yet another false stereotype. Lack of restriction regarding orality may be a common characteristic of the poor who may be sociologically regarded as "proletariat" or working class, as well as of the middle-class and the wealthy. Chinese do seem to have a strong preoccupation with food and eating that may be said to be culturally focal.
19 The rectangular floor plan of the homes of the clan-based, proletariate Jetty communities in Georgetown are similiar in rectangular design to the floorplans of the downtown shophouse Chinese, complete with the shared walls of neighbors and second floor bedrooms. Shophouse Chinese of the downtown area represent families that are organized for business in their own homes. The incipient household organization of the Jetty Chinese becomes evident in the sundry shops and hawking activities of households which cater exclusively to the community itself. The cultural orientation of these Jetty Chinese toward gambling, which encourags risk-taking with money, can be seen to lend itself directly to the entrepeneurial, middleman orientation of the shophouse Chinese. If successful, shophouse families will expand their businesses to several adjacent or proximate shophouses and relocate to a nicer suburban residence. An alternate pattern is the conversion of shophouses to warehouses for goods, and the leasing of the upper floors to families or workers for residence. There appears a dynamic relationship within the Chinese household that may be related to the growth and disintegration of extended families. Successful entrepreneurship may at times depend upon achieving a certain individual independence from a familial orientation; at the same time, the family may provide a base of support (or alternately, a social obstacle) for entrepreneurship and socio-economic achievement. Credit, shareholding and money-lending associations and networks facilitate the movement and availability of cash and capital and provide a larger extradomestic framework for the cultural development of middleman entrepreneurship. Chinese household organization is extremely adaptable to a range of circumstances and environments--rural farming, fishing, retailing, wholesale, etc. It has also proven itself extremely flexible with the times, capable of modernizing itself.
20 In this regard, it must be emphasized that not all Chinese businesses are successful, and that for every success, there are multiple failures. At any one time, most of the businesses and business interactions may be characterized by the Chinese attempting to take immediate advantage for a small profit, in the process trading off the promise of long term gains.
21 The extent to which money and numbers are at the center of this cycle of worship is also no less than amazing. The folding, piling and burning of paper money and paper effigies of things only money can buy has become a basic and automatic part of almost every ritual performance of this religion.
22 "Action" is what Chinese call being "proud" or putting on airs and is tied to status markers such as dress, cars, and associations. It can be regarded as the symbolic expression of what Max Weber referred to as the critical market moment that demonstrates class advantage and that he calls "class situation" or "market situation." (Blumberg 1972:24)
It would be wrong to either consider that the "money-faced" orientation is characteristic of all Chinese, or that there are not other equally important facets of Chinese culture that deserve mention. Many Chinese are not only poor money-handlers, but do not value money as the end-all of life. Being "money-faced" in a less extreme form is actually quite an adaptive, admirable and achievement-oriented cultural expression.