China's New Confucianism: Politics and Everyday Life in a Changing Society

China's New Confucianism: Politics and Everyday Life in a Changing Society

China's New Confucianism: Politics and Everyday Life in a Changing Society

China's New Confucianism: Politics and Everyday Life in a Changing Society

Synopsis

What is it like to be a Westerner teaching political philosophy in an officially Marxist state? Why do Chinese sex workers sing karaoke with their customers? And why do some Communist Party cadres get promoted if they care for their elderly parents? In this entertaining and illuminating book, one of the few Westerners to teach at a Chinese university draws on his personal experiences to paint an unexpected portrait of a society undergoing faster and more sweeping changes than anywhere else on earth. With a storyteller's eye for detail, Daniel Bell observes the rituals, routines, and tensions of daily life in China. China's New Confucianism makes the case that as the nation retreats from communism, it is embracing a new Confucianism that offers a compelling alternative to Western liberalism.


Bell provides an insider's account of Chinese culture and, along the way, debunks a variety of stereotypes. He presents the startling argument that Confucian social hierarchy can actually contribute to economic equality in China. He covers such diverse social topics as sex, sports, and the treatment of domestic workers. He considers the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, wondering whether Chinese overcompetitiveness might be tempered by Confucian civility. And he looks at education in China, showing the ways Confucianism impacts his role as a political theorist and teacher.


By examining the challenges that arise as China adapts ancient values to contemporary society, China's New Confucianism enriches the dialogue of possibilities available to this rapidly evolving nation.


In a new preface, Bell discusses the challenges of promoting Confucianism in China and the West.

Excerpt

What's the big story about the rise of modern China? Is it the continuing human rights abuses? the expansion of personal freedoms? the development of local democracy? the resilience of the authoritarian state? Or perhaps the economic miracle, with hundreds of millions lifted out of poverty? Or the hundreds of millions still living in poverty? the answer, of course, is all of the above. a joke about China is that one can say anything about it without getting it right. Another joke is that one can say anything about it without getting it wrong. Yet another joke is that the longer one stays in the country, the more intimate the grasp of the language, culture, and history, the less confident one feels about judgments and predictions. Still, there may be room for one more China story. My story is informed by personal experience living and working in Beijing. the main plot concerns the revival of the Confucian tradition in politics and everyday life. the moral of the story is that creative adaptation of the legacy can be helpful for dealing with the challenges of contemporary China. and I will try to tell the story in plain language accessible to all those who try to understand China.

My story begins by asking a few questions about modern China. in politics, why do Communist Party leaders invoke centuries-old Confucian values? Why do social critics also invoke those values? There are, perhaps, even more puzzling questions. Why do senior Communist Party leaders dye their hair black? and why do some local officials get promoted if they care for their elderly parents? Why do social critics use Mencius to criticize imperialism? We might also ask why hierarchical rituals contribute to material equality? in social life, there are more puzzles. Why is paid sex often preceded by singing duets? Why does the crime rate spike just before the Chinese New Year? Why do Chinese cheer for Goliaths in international sporting events? Why do domestic helpers want to be treated like family members? It's also worth asking some questions about my own students. Why do they send me critical emails rather than raise objections in class? Why do they sing together? and why do they want me to sing with them?

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.