Monday, October 6, 2014

[Friday Seminar Recap] Civility in Chinese Society: The People’s Republic of China

Civility in Chinese Society: The People’s Republic of China 

Speaker: David SCHAK  
(Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Asian Studies and International Business Griffith University)  
Time: 12:30 p.m., Friday, 5 September 2014  
Venue: Room 12 Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK 


Professor David Schak
Professor David Schak’s presentation compared the development of civility in Taiwan and the PRC with an aim to understand the conditions under which civility develops in a society (details).

Prof. Schak said there are two aspects to civility: being considerate to others, including strangers, and having a stakeholder relationship with the public sphere. He said civility is quite wide-ranging, and even includes how people treat animals. He suggested that civility in Chinese society is influenced by the “Differentiated Mode of Association” (差序格局). In his research, he studied citizens’ civility by talking to people and observing their behavior, especially the behaviors named in civility campaigns, including littering, spitting, smoking, queuing and the treatment of strangers.

Professor David Schak
 Prof. Schak argued that the cultural background for civility in Taiwan and People’s Republic of China are similar. Both societies also used various campaigns to promote civility from the 1930s, from the New Life Movement to the “Five Stresses, Four Beauties, Three Loves” campaign, but top down campaigns did not work. He noted that there was a significant increase in civility in Taiwan starting the early 1990s, a change that was only partly due to democratization. He concluded that democracy was helpful but not necessary for civility, but good governance was important. There was no sufficient condition, but two necessary ones: a desire for civility and a critical mass of post-industrial values.

The attendants
Many interesting questions were asked in the Q&A section. Some participants shared their personal observations of littering in Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and asked whether Prof. Schak considers civilityto be a linear process like evolutionary theory, but Dr. Schak argued that a society lacking civility is a society where the strong prey on the weak. Some other participants asked whether Prof. Schak thought there could be “too much civility” such that it could harm society, but Dr. Schak said he could not imagine that. 

please click here for the introduction of the seminar.

No comments:

Post a Comment