order to assess whether and to what extent such assumptions might be justiï¬ed. All societies are suis generis. Nonetheless, the application of generalized concepts and approaches can help characterize a society by identifying the similarities and differences against such implicit yardsticks. The end result might conceivably be a justiï¬cation of this universalism, but it is perhaps more likely to identify differences that will require the amendation of concepts and theories if their general explanatory power is to be maintained. The constant need to adjust concepts and approaches as the focus of comparison widens is particularly important at present when considering the interactions of political, economic, social, and cultural change in contemporary China. Post-Mao China has coincided with dramatic political changes internationally, especially during the last decade, that have all but universalized the project of modernization around a single model. It has become increasingly difï¬cult to inquire, as was once extremely fashionable, about the convergent or divergent trends in the various patterns of relationships between state and society.2 Convergence is now more or less assumed as a corollary of internationalization, with debate focusing on different paths and stages of development.3 All the same the homogenizing impact of globalization may
positions asia critique – Duke University Press
Published: Mar 1, 2001
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