Guest Editors' Introduction: The Great Convergence? China and the United States in the New Century

By Cao, Liqun; Zhao, Shanyang | Sociological Focus, August 2009 | Go to article overview

Guest Editors' Introduction: The Great Convergence? China and the United States in the New Century


Cao, Liqun, Zhao, Shanyang, Sociological Focus


China was an important subject of sociological inquiry in the classic works of Marx and Weber and one of the important powers in Wallerstein's world-system theory (1974). It is perhaps less well known that China also plays a role in the development of modernization theory - another mainstay of comparative theories. Alexander (1995) argues that the modernization theory was first adumbrated not by Parsons, Bellah, Eisenstadt, Kerr, Inkeles, Moore or Smelser but was born with the publication of Marion Levy's 1949 classic book- The Family Revolution in Modern China.

In light of recent world events, it may be appropriate to revisit some of the archetypal sociological questions: Is the world moving toward convergence or is the world becoming more divergent? More specifically, does world development have a destination or is the world converging toward the center?

Perhaps more than their European counterparts, U.S. social scientists are likely to believe in the concept of progress and in the purposeful march of history. They also have theories to justify it. Fukuyama's epic book The End of History and the Last Man (1992) is a testament to this approach.

History, however, is not a straightforward thoroughfare. Thirty years ago, when China began its economic reform by loosening the government's stiff grip of a socialist, centrally planned economy (or command and control economy), the Western world began its own deregulation process under the leadership of then U.S. president Ronald Reagan and British prime ministet Margaret H. Thatcher. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990 further hastened the pace of more free markets and entrepreneurialism. The world has indeed developed according to the free market model. Within the academic world, Fukuyama (1992) pronounced the victory for social democratic and free market ideology over all other rival ideologies and declared the "end of history": social democracy and a free market is the ideology of the "last man." While the United States was feted and lionized for its economic success and domination in the 1990s, China, India, and others quietly caught up in the development of their economies with less government regulation than in the past, but these governments continued to have more control than the United States and Great Britain have over their economies. The world, however, developed in one direcrion: less government regulation and more free markets.

During the Bush administration (2000-2008), deregulation feigned on Wall Street. While the U.S. government constantly preached sound and prudent financial policy to the rest of the world, it continued to deregulate its own economy despite warning signs. It was believed that somehow the United States could be spared all troubles of the third world nations - a version of American exceptionalism.

The summer and fall of 2008 would prove to be memorable times for comparative researchers. On the one hand, China successfully hosted the Summer Olympics and its astronauts walked in space for the first time. These events were watched by millions of people around the globe. The success overshadowed the milk crisis that hit China in mid-September and the dismal stock market performance since January 2008. China enjoyed unprecedented international prestige and its government rode a wave of pride and patriotism within China.

Despite economic reform, all banks in China are state-owned lenders run by Chinese Communist Party apparatchiks, known more for a legacy of bad debts. For many years, Western scholars had warned of the inefficiency of the Chinese banking system. Gordon Chang, for example, predicted the demise of China in his controversial 200 1 book The Coming Collapse of China. Nicholas Vardy, chief investment officer of London, warned more specifically of the inevitable collapse of China's banks (2007). In contempt of repeated Western advice, the Chinese banking system appeared to have been spared the current wotld credit crisis. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Guest Editors' Introduction: The Great Convergence? China and the United States in the New Century
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.