Ordinary Ethics in China  book cover
1st Edition

Ordinary Ethics in China

Edited By

Charles Stafford

ISBN 9780857854605
Published February 14, 2013 by Routledge
288 Pages

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Book Description

Drawing on a wide range of anthropological case studies, this book focuses on ordinary ethics in contemporary China. The book examines the kinds of moral and ethical issues that emerge (sometimes almost unnoticed) in the flow of everyday life in Chinese communities.How are schoolchildren judged to be good or bad by their teachers and their peers - and how should a 'bad' student be dealt with? What exactly do children owe their parents, and how should this debt be repaid? Is it morally acceptable to be jealous if one's neighbours suddenly become rich? Should the wrongs of the past be forgotten, e.g. in the interests of communal harmony, or should they be dealt with now?In the case of China, such questions have obviously been shaped by the historical contexts against which they have been posed, and by the weight of various Chinese traditions. But this book approaches them on a human scale. More specifically, it approaches them from an anthropological perspective, based on participation in the flow of everyday life during ethnographic fieldwork in Chinese communities.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Ordinary Ethics in China Today - Charles Stafford, London School of Economics, UKRight or Wrong? A Taoqi Student in an Elite Primary School in Beijing - Chih-yuan Wang, London School of Economics, UKFilial Paths and the Ordinary Ethics of Movement - James Johnston, London School of Economics, UKThe Girls Who Are Keen to Get Married - I-chieh Fang, National Tsing Hua University, TaiwanEthical Dilemmas for Hong Kong Chinese Parents Bringing Up Children in Scotland - Eona Bell, London School of Economics, UKSome Good and Bad People in the Countryside - Charles Stafford, London School of Economics, UKThe Ethics of Envy Avoidance in Contemporary China - Hui Zhangm, Renmin University, ChinaThe Ethics of Irony: Work, Family and Fatherland in Rural China - Hans Steinm├╝ller, London School of Economics, UKSame Dream, Different Beds: Family Strategies in Rural Zhejiang - Daniel Roberts, London School of Economics, UKTools for Virtuous Action: Technology, Skills and Ordinary Ethics - Francesca Bray, Edinburgh University, UK Technologies of Ethical Imagination - Gon├žalo Santos, Max Planck Institute, Halle, GermanyPolitical History, Past Suffering and Present Sources of Moral Judgement in the PRC - Stephan Feuchtwang, London School of Economics, UKEthical Shifters in the Chinese Hiv/Aids Epidemic - Jing Shao, Nanjing University, China and Mary Scoggin, Humboldt State University, USAAfterword: the Drive for Success and the Ethics of the Striving Individual - Yunxiang Yan, University of California Los Angeles, USA

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Charles Stafford is Professor of Anthropology at the London School of Economics, and a specialist in issues related to learning and cognition. He is the author of Separation and Reunion in Modern China and co-editor of Questions of Anthropology.


This is a rich and fascinating book, providing a detailed account of the everyday ethical deliberations and moral judgements made by many Chinese people. [...] The breadth of the work means that it provides a useful resource for many researchers and students in anthropology and Chinese studies, as well as an important contribution to the growing field of ordinary ethics. - LSE Review of Books - Charlotte Goodburn, King's College London, UK