Confucianism and Reflexive Modernity

Bringing Community back to Human Rights in the Age of Global Risk Society


Author: Sang-Jin Han
Confucianism and Reflexive Modernity offers an excellent example of a dialogue between East and West by linking post-Confucian developments in East Asia to a Western idea of reflexive modernity originally proposed by Ulrich Beck, Anthony Giddens, and Scott Lash in 1994. The author makes a sharp confrontation with the paradigm of Asian Value Debate led by Lee Kwan-Yew and defends a balance between individual empowerment and flourishing community for human rights, basically in line with Juergen Habermas, but in the context of global risk society, particularly from an enlightened perspective of Confucianism. The book is distinguished by sophisticated theoretical reflection, comparative reasoning, and solid empirical argument concerning Asian identity in transformation and the aspects of reflexive modernity in East Asia.

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Sang-Jin Han, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Seoul National University, taught at Peking University and Columbia University (New York) as Visiting Professor and published Divided Nations and Transitional Justice (Paradigm Publisher, 2012), Beyond Risk Society (SNU Press, 2017), Asian Tradition and Cosmopolitan Politics (Lexington Books, 2018).
“This book proposes something new and interesting: a reflexive understanding of Confucianism that could offer fresh perspectives on human rights and which could therefore also address the global risk society in which we live.” – Gregory Bracken, in: [ Full review]
Preface: Reflection on Paradoxical Modernity
List of Figures and Tables

1 Asian Identity in Transformation
 1 Conceptual Clarification
 2 Economic Dimension of Identity Transformation
 3 The Perception of Risk Society and Identity Transformation
 4 Confucian Normative Potentialities for the Future
 5 Concluding Remarks

2 Post-Confucian Development beyond the Asian Values Debate
 1 Post-Coloniality in the Global South and East Asia
 2 Japan and Korea Compared
 3 Different Traditions and Interpretations of Confucianism
 4 Where Does East Asia Stand?
 5 Lee Kuan Yew’s Confucian Governance Model
 6 Critical Evaluation
 7 Post-Traditional Interpretation of Confucianism

3 The Confucian Contribution to Human Rights
 1 Methodological Inquires
 2 The Human Rights Debate and Confucianism
 3 A Balanced Confucian Approach to Human Rights
 4 The Korean Trajectories of a Post-Confucian Development
 5  Zhongyong Revisited
 6 Toward Overlapping Consensus

4 Main Issues of Human Rights in the Context of East Asian Development
 1 Economic Development and Human Rights
 2 Political Democratization and Human Rights
 3 East Asian Culture and Human Rights
 4 Concluding Remarks

5 Individual Freedom and Flourishing Community: Searching for a Balance
 1 What Is a Human Rights Community?
 2 The Two Dimensions of a Human Rights Community
 3 Three Relationships
 4 Social Construction of Justice and Human Rights
 5 Human Rights Community and Asian Culture
 6 How to Read Chinese Discourses on Human Rights
 7 School as a Human Rights Community
 8 The Experiences of Human Rights Cities
 9 Concluding Remarks

6 The Confucian Norm of Minben and the Self-Rule by Citizens of Gwangju: A Participatory Human Rights Community
 1 Confucian Trajectory One: Authoritarian Approach to Community
 2 Confucian Trajectory Two: Participatory Normative Approach
 3 Post-Confucian Approach to Self-Determination in Gwangju
 4 Three Puzzles of the Gwangju Uprising
 5 Communitarian Self-Rule as Human Rights

7 A Universal but Non-Hegemonic Approach to Human Rights in International Politics
 1 Cosmopolitan Imagination of Differences and Diversities
 2 Asian Values Debate and China
 3  Tianxiaism Reconsidered
 4 Zhao Tingyang’s Theory of the Tianxia System
 5 Chinese Non-Hegemonic Approach to Human Rights
 6 Cosmopolitan Exploration for China

8 Intercultural Dialogue and Human Rights in North Korea
 1 Objective and Presuppositions
 2 Two Methodological Clarifications
 3 Three Steps towards Intercultural Dialogue
  3.1  Why Theoretical Innovation?
  3.2  Why Communitarian?
 4 Three Types of Disputes over Human Rights
 5 Toward Over-Lapping Consensus
 6 China and North Korea’s Two Human Rights Claims
 7 A New Quest for Universalism in China
 8 First Intermediary Reflection
 9 Three Modes of Relationships
 10 Second Intermediary Reflection
 11 National Community and Human Rights
 12 Concluding Remarks

9 Risk Society and Confucian Reflexive Modernity
 1 Cultural Transformation and Reflexive Modernity
 2 How to Manage a Risk Society?
 3 Empirical Dimensions of Reflexivity in East Asia
 4 Humanity-Oriented Confucianism and Reflexive Modernity
 5 Concluding Remarks

10 Human Catastrophe and the Struggle for Recognition
 1 Concept of Struggle for Recognition
 2 Concepts of Popular Sovereignty
 3 The Gwangju Struggle from a Perspective of Struggle for Recognition
  3.1  The Rhetorical Strategy of the Authorities
  3.2  Testimony of Gwangju Citizens
  3.3  The Gwangju Struggle and the U.S.
 4 Communal Autonomy and Popular Sovereignty
  4.1  Gwangju in May 1980
  4.2  Public Assembly and Discussion
  4.3  Care Ethic and Civil Solidarity
 5 Concluding Remarks

11 Global Risks and East Asia: A Research Program
 1 The Western Context of Research
 2 Why East Asia Should be Studied
 3 The South Korean Experience
 4 Global Risks with East Asian Sensitivity
 5 From Classification to Explanation
 6 Reflexive Modernization
 7 Concluding Remarks

Conclusion: Toward a Reflexive Sociology
 1 A Short History
 2 Reflexive Sociology in the Context of East Asian Development
 3 The Main Actor for Reflexive Modernity and Confucianism
 4 The Formation of the Public Citizens
 5 The Public Citizens as the Backbone of Civil Society
 6 Public Citizens in East Asia

Appendix: Interview Texts

Interviews with Anthony Giddens
 From Tradition to Reflexive Modernization
 Third Way Politics
 New Global Transformation Trends and the Future of Modernity

Interviews with Scott Lash
 From Reflexive Sociology to Aesthetic Reflexivity
 The Future of Global Capitalism from the Perspective of Confucianism and Digital Technology: My View of China

Interview with Tu Weiming
 Can Confucianism in the 21st Century Be a New Alternative?

Interview with Ulrich Beck
 How to Live in Global Risk Society