Confucian Tradition, Modernization, and Globalization

In: Journal of Chinese Humanities

Drawing on important theories on tradition and modernization that developed in the past few decades, this article is intended to argue against two extreme views concerning tradition and modernity, one propagating that modernization intrinsically precludes tradition and the other claiming that, to uphold tradition, we must reject modernity. Applying the “circular model” of tradition and modernity and the paradigm of “long tradition,” we contend that tradition and modernity comprise and supplement each other and that, together, they form a continuum in the process of modernization, in contrast to the widespread view that modernization breaks away from tradition. We further examine critically various proposals on the usefulness of tradition for modern life and on the value of Confucian ethics for modernization in China. By arguing that tradition must not be separated from modernity and must be seen as part of modernization, this article concludes that only by including tradition will modernization be sustainable and that Confucian ethics can play an important role in reshaping the moral landscape of China in the rapidly modernized and globalized age.

  • BakkenBørge The Exemplary Society: Human Improvement, Social Control, and the Dangers of Modernity in China 2000 Oxford Clarendon Press

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BarkerChris Cultural Studies: Theory and Practice 2005 London Sage

  • ChuW.C.R.ChengC.T. HeroldDavid “Cultural Convulsions: Examining the Chineseness of Cyber China” Online Society in China: Creating, Celebrating, and Instrumentalising the Online Carnival 2011 London Taylor & Francis 23 39

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • FaureGuy Olivier “Chinese Society and Its New Emerging Culture” Journal of Contemporary China 2008 56 17 469 491

  • GiddensAntony Conversations with Anthony Giddens: Making Sense of Modernity 1998 Palo Alto Stanford University Press

  • GrossDavid The Past in Ruins: Tradition and the Critique of Modernity 1992 Amherst University of Massachusetts Press

  • HamiltonGary G. SmelserN.J.SwedbergR. “Civilizations and Organization of Economies” The Handbook of Economic Sociology 1994 Princeton Princeton University Press 183 205

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HobsbawnEricRangerTerence The Invention of Tradition 1983 Cambridge Cambridge University Press

  • InglehartRonaldBakerWayne E. “Modernization, Cultural Change, and the Persistence of Traditional Values” American Sociological Review 2000 65 1 19 51

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • LauD.C. Mencius 1970 London Penguin Books

  • LauD.C. Confucius—The Analects (Lun yu) 1979 London Penguin Books

  • MitterRana Modern China: A Very Short Introduction 2008 Oxford Oxford University Press

  • PearsallJudy Concise Oxford Dictionary 2001 10th ed. Oxford Oxford University Press

  • RozmanGilbertBernsteinThomas P. The Modernization of China 1981 New York Free Press

  • ShilsEdward “Tradition” Comparative Studies in Society and History 1971 13 2 122 159

  • TamneyJoseph B.Hsueh-Ling ChiangLinda Modernization, Globalization, and Confucianism in Chinese Societies 2002 New York Praeger

  • YanYunxiang YanYunxiangKleinmanArthur “The Changing Moral Landscape” Deep China: The Moral Life of the Person, What Anthropology and Psychiatry Tell Us About China Today 2011 Berkeley University of California Press 36 77

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • YaoXinzhong An Introduction to Confucianism 2000 Cambridge Cambridge University Press

  • 2

    Edward Shils, “Tradition,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 13, no. 2 (1971): 124.

  • 3

    Ronald Inglehart and Wayne E. Baker, “Modernization, Cultural Change, and the Persistence of Traditional Values,” American Sociological Review 65, no. 1 (2000).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 4

    Shils, “Tradition,” 122.

  • 6

    Shils, “Tradition,” 144.

  • 8

    Gilbert Rozman and Thomas P. Bernstein, The Modernization of China (New York: Free Press, 1981), 3.

  • 10

    Chris Barker, Cultural Studies: Theory and Practice (London: Sage, 2005), 444.

  • 11

    Rana Mitter, Modern China: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 12.

  • 12

    Antony Giddens, Conversations with Anthony Giddens: Making Sense of Modernity (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 1998), 94.

  • 13

    Inglehart and Baker, “Modernization,” 21.

  • 14

    Gross, “Rethinking Tradition,” 83.

  • 17

    Gary G. Hamilton, “Civilizations and Organization of Economies,” in The Handbook of Economic Sociology, ed. N.J. Smelser and R. Swedberg (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), 184.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 18

    Xinzhong Yao, An Introduction to Confucianism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 246-249.

  • 19

    Mitter, Modern China, 12.

  • 20

    Guy Olivier Faure, “Chinese Society and Its New Emerging Culture,” Journal of Contemporary China 56, no. 17 (2008).

  • 21

    Yunxiang Yan, “The Changing Moral Landscape,” in Deep China: The Moral Life of the Person, What Anthropology and Psychiatry Tell Us About China Today, ed. Yunxiang Yan and Arthur Kleinman (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 22

    W.C.R. Chu and C.T. Cheng, “Cultural Convulsions: Examining the Chineseness of Cyber China,” in Online Society in China: Creating, Celebrating, and Instrumentalising the Online Carnival, ed. David Herold (London: Taylor & Francis, 2011).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 24

    Børge Bakken, The Exemplary Society: Human Improvement, Social Control, and the Dangers of Modernity in China (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000), 1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 25

    Ibid., 4-5.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 254 115 5
Full Text Views 217 50 1
PDF Downloads 16 9 2