How do Burmese people resolve disputes

Dispute resolution is a social phenomenon highly dependent on the particular cultural and social influences. Since Myanmar had been in isolation for a few decades, academic studies about Myanmar in general are very limited.

Myanmar’s national culture is largely derived from the country’s traditions and influences from Buddhism. Prioritising interpersonal relationships, upholding tenderness and modesty, as well as stressing on caring for others, these elements of Burmese culture profoundly shape the preferences towards the procedures and goals of dispute resolution.

The Burmese people embrace a code of social behaviour based on anade, a term that can roughly be understood as ‘saving face’. To avoid getting shamed for inappropriate behaviours and losing face, Burmese people tend to show respect and give greater concern for the feelings of others, while scrutinising their own speech and actions to not cause trouble and make others lose face. Harmony, the desired outcome, is achieved when people minimise conflicts and confrontations by moving away from self-centredness to empathise with others.

It is possible that the characteristics of anade, which share similarities with other Asian cultures, may drive many Burmese people away from litigious and rigid means of dispute resolution, and drive them towards more non-contentious alternatives.


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