Once the world’s most technologically advanced civilisation, China is poised to yet again take this mantle having made incredible technological strides over recent decades but what does this in fact mean? What will this mean for Chinese society and what ramifications might it have for the future? This book offers an account of social change under the growing influence of communications technology in media-saturated urban China. The challenges presented by the rise of technology and its pervasive nature in the mediation of all facets of everyday life pose questions not just for Chinese society but for all contemporary media societies. Drawing on theories from the philosophy of technology and conceptual tools from political anthropology, this title moves beyond debates surrounding mediative technology as a liberating or malevolent force.
China at a Threshold addresses academic concerns surrounding communications technology and state control, looking for an interpretative approach to understand the role media might play in social change so that we might ascertain its impact on social relations. Urging a reconsideration in our understanding of technology as neither liberative nor oppressive, the author advances a proposal that brings social forces into play in their own right. Taking inspiration from thinkers in philosophy and anthropology this title investigates story-telling and liminal characters as real agents in social change so that we might identify alternative forces for change not reducible to technological impact or human proclivity.
1. China Calling?
2. China at a Threshold
3. Approaching Technology
4. Media in China
5. The Social Manifold
6. Incongruent Dreams
This series constitutes a forum for works that make use of concepts such as ‘imitation’, ‘trickster’ or ‘schismogenesis’, but which chiefly deploy the notion of ‘liminality’, as the basis of a new, anthropologically-focused paradigm in social theory. With its versatility and range of possible uses rivalling and even going beyond mainstream concepts such as ‘system’ ‘structure’ or ‘institution’, liminality is increasingly considered a new master concept that promises to spark a renewal in social thought.
In spite of the fact that charges of Eurocentrism or even ‘moderno-centrism’ are widely discussed in sociology and anthropology, it remains the case that most theoretical tools in the social sciences continue to rely on taken-for-granted approaches developed from within the modern Western intellectual tradition, whilst concepts developed on the basis of extensive anthropological evidence and which challenged commonplaces of modernist thinking, have been either marginalised and ignored, or trivialised. By challenging the assumed neo-Kantian and neo-Hegelian foundations of modern social theory, and by helping to shed new light on the fundamental ideas of major figures in social theory, such as Nietzsche, Dilthey, Weber, Elias, Voegelin, Foucault and Koselleck, whilst also establishing connections between the perspectives gained through modern social and cultural anthropology and the central concerns of classical philosophical anthropology Contemporary Liminality offers a new direction in social thought.