The East Asian Region: Confucian Heritage and Its Modern Adaptation

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Learn More. Flag as inappropriate. It syncs automatically with your account and allows you to read online or offline wherever you are. Please follow the detailed Help center instructions to transfer the files to supported eReaders. Similar ebooks. See more. Gilbert Rozman. In this volume, experts on East Asia focus on each of the past five decades to explain the weak predictive power of traditional IR theory as applied to the region and uncover the true forces driving change.

Confucianism and Tokugawa Culture. The former 8 Ibid. For our purposes, Gramsci makes a vital distinction between the physically coercive state and civil society. While he does not necessarily see civil society as autonomous from the state, by saying that they have different functions, Gramsci opens the possibility for considering civil society as separate from the state.

In stark contrast with Marx and Gramsci, Max Weber and Ernst Troeltsch argue that religious values and ideas can shape social behavior. While neither rejects the claim that an ideology can buttress the state, Weber and Troeltsch both contend that under certain circumstances a belief system can act independently — and even shape — economic structure.

Gilbert Rozman

In doing so, both thinkers reject the Marxist, materialist interpretation of religion; by contrast, they suggest that religious ideas can motivate human behavior and shape the surrounding economic and political institutions. To demonstrate his claim, Weber analyzes a very specific question: why did capitalism develop when and where it did? For Weber, the decisive factor was the formation of a Protestant religious ethic. The Reformation introduced a radically new set of values, including the notion of a personal call from God and a worldly asceticism, which proved conducive to capitalism.

Moreover, Weber offered a perceptive analysis of the different ways that religious ideas become imbedded within social institutions. Ernst Troeltsch similarly focuses on the social and political roles played by religious beliefs.

The East Asian Region : Gilbert Rozman :

His key contribution is distinguishing between a sect and a Church as sociological concepts. For Troeltsch, a sect and a church are not just different institutional forms of the Christian religion; they also have divergent social ethics, doctrines, attitudes toward the world, understandings of the religious tradition, and social classes to which they appeal.

The church is world-affirming. A more recent theory of ideology and the state uses an economic model and emphasizes the role of competition in shaping the nature and vibrancy of religious traditions. A religious marketplace that is unregulated by the government supposedly increases the overall levels of religious commitment as religious groups compete in an open market for adherents.


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  • The East Asian Region: Confucian Heritage and Its Modern Adaptation.
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  • Confucian Heritage and Its Modern Adaptation.

A religious economy that is highly regulated or controlled by the state, on the other hand, creates an unnatural religious monopoly that depresses competition and decreases religious vitality and activism. The state might be able to maintain control over the religious marketplace, but it does so by ossifying the tradition. This rational-choice model has been used to explain religious participation in the United States,33the secularization of Europe,34 religious politics in Latin America,35 and the mobilization of indigenous groups by the Catholic Church in Mexico. While Marx and Gramsci never specifically addressed the question, the logic of their thinking would lead them to view Confucianism as merely superstructure.

Marx would highlight the ways in which economic and political elites use such key Confucian values as respect for authority, filial piety, and social harmony as mere rationalization to maintain existing political and class structures. If we apply this theory to democratization, Marx would likely view any effort to forge an egalitarian, democratic Confucianism as little more than window dressing for the maintenance of economic inequalities.

He only analyzed its role, however, in ancient China, when by virtually all accounts Confucianism was merely the court ideology for the emperor and his authoritarian apparatus. What is less clear is what a Weberian analysis would suggest about its function in post-authoritarian East Asia. On the one hand, Weber recognized that religious ideas could be autonomous from the economic and political system. In the case of Confucianism, however, the ideology was so bound up with state elites and the existing power structure that it had no functional autonomy. Could one, however, project what Weber said about the autonomous role of Protestant Christianity and apply it to democratization in Confucian East Asia?

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If so, Weber would be more likely than Marx to imagine the development of a Confucian ideology that separates itself from the state and even begin to challenge it. While we recognize the logic of this claim, it would represent a non-falsifiable theory. In his terminology, Confucianism has functioned exclusively as a Church. Its ethic is universal, and it has been closely allied with the existing social order, including the ruling, upper classes. In that position, Confucianism has been able to shape the social order and its values, but it has also had to accommodate itself to a largely conservative ethic and has always been in danger of being dominated by the affluent classes, rather than dominating them.

However, Troeltsch does not reify the Church type as the essential organizational form for religion. Under certain conditions, sects and a sect-like mentality developed within Christianity. What remains to be seen is whether or not a similar type of transformation is possible within Confucianism. Rational choice theory would predict two things about Confucianism. First, it would hypothesize that state regulation of the tradition would minimize competition but work to undermine popular support for the tradition. Second, the theory would suggest that as states get out of the business of promoting a particular version of Confucianism, alternative forms of the tradition would emerge to meet popular demand.

Not only would ordinary people be more likely to embrace the tradition wholeheartedly, but an alternative form of Confucianism might well emerge that would be conducive to democracy. Public Opinion on Confucianism and Democracy Confucianism is a rich and complex tradition that does not easily lend itself to simple definitions. To measure these three core values we used one item each from waves one and two of the Asian Barometer.

Lau Baltimore: Penguin Books, We instead used the best available new question, on the authority of teachers.

The East Asian Region : Confucian Heritage and Its Modern Adaptation

As Table 1 indicates, Confucian values are broadly supported in each of the four countries. In terms of mass level support, democratization does not appear to have undermined adherence to these core values. In the five years between waves one and two, Taiwanese respondents have reduced their support by 30 percent, and support is also relatively low in democratic South Korea and semi-authoritarian Singapore.

In Table two, we have summarized our bivariate analysis of the correlation between our democracy indicator and the measures of our three Confucian values. In this graph, a negative correlation coefficient indicates that as support for the particular Confucian value rises, enthusiasm for democracy declines. A positive correlation would have indicated that as support for the Confucian value rises, so too does support for democracy. In Part II Rozman compares types of Confucianism in nineteenth-century China and Japan and their adaptability in the twentieth century, while Michael Robinson adds an overview of modern Korean perceptions of Confucianism.

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