Inside China
Becoming "Modern"
China Popular Culture
80后
Culture Shock
Additional categories . . .
Reading the Paper
Pic of the Day by Category
Home  /  Inside China  /  Confucianism – New Agent of Modernity?
Confucianism – New Agent of Modernity? print version
Confucianism (儒家思想) nowadays isn't being revived only in a nostalgic fashion, but is also being modified into a value system justifying China's unique form of capitalism.
Whether it is caused by post-modern global thinking or by the Chinese will to move away from Maoism and return to their roots, old traditions are being strongly revived in China throughout the last 20 years or so. This process is managed carefully by the Chinese State, which remains in the driver's seat and intensifies the need to adopt the Confucianism doctrine with caution, in other words, cherish some of its values but negecting some elements which can be interpreted as 'feudal' (封建).

More recently, it seems that Confucianism is adapted as a set of values in China's unique process of modernization. In many recent articles and speeches, Confucianism isn't considered as a force which contradicts capitalism, nor does it object the concept of personal profit, but rather as a set of guidelines, which emphasize the just and fair fashion in which capitalist conducts should be performed.

Though it is not always associated with high morality, the familiar concept of guanxi (关系), personal relationships, usually between a person of a lower status and one of a higher one, or between someone in 'need' and someone in 'power', which are so essential when advancing in life in China (finding a job, receiving benefits, entering a good school, etc) is highly associated with Confucianism. Perhaps the reason for this is regarding the four classic asymmetrical ties in the root of Confucius's thought (emperor-citizen, father-son, husband-wife, elder brother-young brother) as a past extension of guanxi, or perhaps it's the humanistic nature of such personal ties, which transcend above dull laws or individualistic aspirations, that makes so many Chinese associate guanxi with Confucianism.

Similarly to many other domains in China, guanxi is abundantly common in Chinese capitalist structures. The fact that this system is advantageous not only for the private merchant and consumer, but also for the development of the state, (or at least is not an obstacle for China's development), provides an intriguing challenge to the notion that Western modern values are a key for an successful modernization process.

Filial piety and a strong loyalty to China are traditional practices or sentiments which are strongly linked with China's modernization. These values are present in the relationship between Chinese living outside China (huaqiao - 华侨) and their motherland. The exposure to Western life standards affect huaqiao thinking in many ways, still they often keep practicing 'traditional' guanxi based conducts. Such conducts take place within the huaqiao communities, as well as between them and friends or relatives who remain in China.

Though the attitude of Chinese who remain in the homeland (zuguo - 祖国) towards the huaqiao isn't always positive, as the latter are often referred by Chinese (as well as by the Chinese government) as the 'married-out' daughter (who had to leave home like a new bride who moves away to live with her husband's family). Still, this 'daughter' not only provides financial aid to homeland relatives and institutes, but also remains patriotic, to the extent which can promote Chinese State's agenda in many ways.

Confucianist values have clearly been modified from early traditional practices up to 2010's guanxi. Still, the fact that many traditional conducts, which are very Chinese in their essence and are miles away from common Western values, serve as an agent for China's progress has already left some Western ethno-centric scholars speechless.

Assisting Source: Ong, Aihwa. 1996. "Anthropology, China and Modernities: The Geopolitics of Cultural Knowledge".


Want to contribute something to this topic? - 想添加与这个话题有关的内容?


Tell a friend - 发给朋友

China LinksLanguage CenterPicture of the DayChinese Language PartnerAbout 关于Contact 联系Sitemap
© 2012 All rights reserved to thinkingchinese.com