1st Edition

Confucian Capitalism Discourse, Practice and the Myth of Chinese Enterprise

By Souchou Yao Copyright 2002
    200 Pages
    by Routledge

    200 Pages
    by Routledge

    The discourse of Confucian Capitalism has been crucial in shaping our understanding of the brilliant economic successes of the Chinese diaspora all over the world. From this perspective, hard work, family values, and communal cohesion, as well as business practices based on sentiment, trust, and social networks, are the legendary means of explaining the wealth and commercial talent of these remarkable people. The book examines the subject of Chinese business' by exposing the enduring myth about the determining effects of these values and practices supposedly derived from Confucianism. Such myth relies on an ahistorical and essentialised notion of Chinese Culture', and brings into focus three sites of controversy: the economically driven Chinese subject, work-place relations characterised by consensus and cultural sharing, and an operating ethos of collectivist, pre-capitalist sociality.
    In its interrogation of the discourse of Confucian capitalism, it is the aim of this book to arrive at a critically informed and socially realistic understanding of Chinese business. The author combines abstract analysis with examples from anthropological fieldwork among Chinese traders in Sarawak, East Malaysia. By anchoring theoretical discussion to real case-studies, the multi-disciplinary approach of this book offers a useful insight into Chinese business activities, and contributes to current debates in cultural studies, economic anthropology, the economic performance of overseas Chinese, and neo-Confucian societies more generally.

    1. Introduction: Confucian capitalism - Discourse, practice, desire 2. Chinese business and the narrative of virtue 3. Management authority and the invention of the family 4. Guanxi I: A cultural model - Sentiment, performance and the trading of words 5. Guanxi II: Culture, strategy and the nobility of exchange 6. Cheng Chia , or Taking a wife to market: Economics, sexuality and marital choice 7. Lai Wang : Network, business opportunity and the politics of development 8. Conclusion


    Yao Souchou is affiliated to the Department of Anthropology at the University of Sydney, Australia

    'Yao strips the dreamlike veneer of confusian virtues to attribute the incredible success of ethnic Chinese phenomenon that he calls "immigrant enterprise syndrome".' - The Australian

    'A comprehensive and at times masterful deconstruction of the mystifications and blind desires that characterise much of the field of knowledge around "Chinese business". Lobbed into an MBA course or a conference on Asian business networks, its effect is potentially explosive.' - Asian Journal of Social Science