Civility and Its Development

The Experiences of China and Taiwan


David C. Schak

ISBN : 978-988-8455-97-3

Anthropology, Sociology, Psychology

September 2018

208 pages, 6″ x 9″, 5 tables

  • HK$370.00

This is the first book-length study of the development of civility in Chinese societies. Although some social scientists and political philosophers have discussed civility, none has defined it as an analytical tool to systematically measure attitudes and behavior, and few have applied it to a non-Western society. By comparing the development of civility in mainland China and Taiwan, Civility and Its Development: The Experiences of China and Taiwan analyzes the social conditions needed for civility to become established in a society. Schak argues that the attempts to impose civility top-down from the state are ineffective. Civility appeared in Taiwan only after state efforts to impose it ceased at the end of the 1980s when Taiwan began to democratize, and the PRC government civility campaigns have so far had only limited success. The book concludes with an examination of various differences between Taiwan and the PRC relevant to Taiwan’s having become a society with civility while the PRC still encounters difficulties in doing so. The essential factor in developing civility in Taiwan, Schak contends, was its evolution from a place composed of myriad small, inward-looking communities to a society in which everyone shares a strong identity and civic consciousness, and people consider others as fellow members, not anonymous strangers.

David C. Schak is currently an adjunct associate professor in the Department of International Business and Asian Studies and the Griffith Asia Institute, Griffith University, Australia. Prior to retirement he taught Asian studies at Griffith University. He is the author of A Chinese Beggars’ Den: Poverty and Mobility in an Underclass Community and co-editor of Civil Society in Asia.

“This book represents the most thorough review of what social scientists once called ‘the civilizing process’ in Chinese society. David C. Schak builds on the earlier studies on this issue and goes well beyond the established literature.” —James Watson, Fairbank Professor of Chinese Society and Professor of Anthropology, Emeritus, Harvard University

“This is a topic that people talk about all the time, and David C. Schak draws a lot of material together in a systematic and comprehensive way that can stimulate important discussions beyond the academy.” —Thomas Gold, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley