Metaphors of Self and Self-Gifts in Interdependent Cultures: Narratives from Hong Kong

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Journal article

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Research in Consumer Behavior

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This study examines subject and self-metaphors in Cantonese in order to understand the impact of self-conceptualization on self-giving in Hong Kong. The bifurcation of the individual in Hong Kong signals the importance of the subject and the relational self in Chinese culture. The word for person (rén) is written as two individuals interacting with each other, so communication between the subject and the relational self has a significant impact on self-giving as evidenced by the most prevalent type of gift – the puritanical one. The mental accounting in this instance reflects the importance given to the consideration of others prior to or simultaneously with rewarding oneself for the successful achievement of a personal goal. Both whimsical and therapeutic gifts are fairly rare and justified in a more elaborate fashion. Indulging oneself by purchasing consumer goods or services for special occasions is acceptable when they are not provided by relevant others, such as close friends or family. Purchasing clothes and shoes for Chinese New Year is not necessarily viewed as a self-gift because this occasion is an auspicious one, requiring the wearer to attire herself in new outfits in order to attract good fortune. Finally, the presence of self-gifts in Hong Kong justifies its inclusion in the gift continuum.



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Joy, A., Hu, A., Chan, T.S., Cui, G. (2006). Metaphors of Self and Self-Gifts in Interdependent Cultures: Narratives from Hong Kong. Research in Consumer Behavior, 10, 99-126. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0885-2111%2806%2910005-8