Working Paper 122

Socialism qua Civilisation Encounters the Confucian Tradition: morality, power and social structure in Bridge village, Hunan Province, China

Tongxue Tan

Department ‘Resilience and Transformation in Eurasia’

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Working Paper 122

In China, socialism was built against the background of neo-Confucian traditions in rural society. These traditions were at the core of a social structure that Fei Xiaotong has described as the ‘differential mode of association’ (chaxu geju). Here I describe the historical change of this social structure in its vertical and horizontal aspects. Vertically, this social structure has been changed completely under socialism, when the main criteria for social stratification became political indicators. Horizontally, however, the same social structure retained its core principles: a relational ethics regulating social action according to discrete circles around the self and corresponding social roles. This was one of the important conditions for the reform in rural China in 1980s.

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