Using a variety of methods learnt from her sociological and social anthropological training both in China and the West, and based on long-term, in-depth fieldwork in a Chinese village on the topics of "reciprocity, social support and creativity", the author has reached her concept of "lishang-wanglai" by combining related Chinese notions of guanxi, mianzi (face), renqing, especially li shang wanglai, and Fei Xiaotong's chaxugeju (social egoism). This concept consists of generous, expressive, instrumental and negative forms of reciprocity (wanglai), governed by criteria of moral judgment, human feeling, rational calculation and spiritual belief (lishang), and combines a static model and dynamic networks with an integration of social support networks. The author then proposes that the driving force of the lishang-wanglai model is social creativity. This book showcases how an in-depth and comprehensive study of "relationships" or "relatedness", the core of Chinese social and cultural contexts, can increase our general understanding of human society. At the same time, it offers a theoretical paradigm for establishing a "Sociology of China" and a "Social Anthropology of China" from the perspective of Chinese scholars. Although the concept of "lishang-wanglai" is forged from studies of rural Chinese society, this book will help scholars from sociology, anthropology, political science, social policy, administrative science, management science, international relations, development studies, China studies, as well as researchers for governmental and non-governmental policy-oriented studies, cultural or business consultants, and people inside and outside China who seek a better understanding of the nature and rules of change in Chinese society.
Recommendations from scholars:
This book brings all of the work of "the particularistic alongside the universal, the socially loaded gift alongside impersonal exchange" together as never before, more comprehensively and grounded in the most thorough ethnography.Taking up the classical schema of reciprocal and impersonal relations produced by Marshall Sahlins, Chang Xiangqun extends it and gives it life by showing how such a schema can work dynamically ---- Professor Stephan Feuchtwang, London School of Economics, UK
Chang Xiangqun has provided a wonderful in depth analysis of rural central Chinese social relationships and a rich informed and vibrant chronicle ordinary village life. An excellent ethnographic account. This is how anthropology should be ---- Professor William Jankowiak, UNLY, USA