Individualist and collectivist cultural frameworks have been the dominant research paradigm in cross-cultural studies despite evidence of conceptual and measurement problems with collectivism. We propose a new theoretical framework of psychological functioning in Chinese societies that captures some of the useful elements of collectivism without its drawbacks. The relational orientation framework takes into account the variety of relations in an individual’s social and cultural environment. The model comprises a structural–relational factor grounded in sociological structuration theory and relational orientation characteristics, and a rational–relational factor that captures important aspects of agency based on social exchange theory. We discuss the framework’s role in providing an alternative to methodological individualism for research in Chinese societies.
- Chinese culture
- theoretical model