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The Civil Sphere in East Asia


David A. Palmer, Jeffrey C. Alexander, Jongryul Choi, Sunwoong Park, Hee-Jeong Lee, Agnes Shuk-mei Ku, Andrew Junker, Cheris Chan, Pun Ngai, Kenneth Tsz Fung Ng, Xiaoli Tian, Mayumi Shimizu, Yoshie Yanagihara, Kuo-ming Lin, Horng-luen Wang, Carlo Tognato, Peter Kivisto, Giuseppe Sciortino
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  • Date Published: February 2020
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108448208

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About the Authors
  • Leading sociologists who live and work in East Asia examine their region's most dangerous and explosive social problems, and some of their most stunning success stories, from the viewpoint of Civil Sphere Theory. This new and increasingly influential sociological understanding of democracy aims to describe and explain the moral codes and institutional foundations of democratic solidarity, as it manifests itself within a distinct social sphere. Part of a multi-volume project, this collection includes cases from Japan, mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea, bringing together efforts by sociologists based in East Asian academic institutions. Through an extraordinary blend of sophisticated social theory and path-breaking empirical research, The Civil Sphere in East Asia aims to advance civil sphere theory by globalizing and regionalizing it at the same time.

    • Covers an incredible range of topics, from banking crises and Presidential impeachment in Korea, to police surveillance and scandals over fertility technology in Japan, to labor struggles in China, to memory wars throughout East Asia
    • Utilizes diverse case studies across five different nations in East Asia
    • Advances civil sphere theory, a new, ambitious, and exciting sociological theory of democratic possibilities
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'At a time when civil spheres are being threatened both by internal forces and external opposition, Jeffrey C. Alexander's seminal work on Civil Sphere Theory gives a powerful sociological account of sources of fragility and resilience. With contributions from a superb team of scholars, this book demonstrates the breadth of Civil Sphere Theory.' Richard Madsden, University of California, San Diego

    'Jeffrey C. Alexander, one of America's leading cultural theorists, has been wrestling with the broad intellectual issue of how social space shapes the moral codes of societies. He has set the ambition of looking at societies around the world. For this path-breaking volume, he has collaborated with scholars of East Asia to look at the various moral codes of mainland China, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.' Ezra F. Vogel, Harvard University, Massachusetts

    'The Civil Sphere in East Asia is an ambitious work that theorizes civil society using the East Asian experiences from a comparative perspective. It will be a must read for those who seek to understand East Asian society and politics.' Gi-Wook Shin, Stanford University, Connecticut

    'Combining innovative case studies, comparative leverage, and theoretical strength, this landmark volume provides a new benchmark for comparative studies of political culture. Greater than the sum of its excellent parts, it demonstrates a robust development of civil sphere theory beyond the West and offers a new view of East Asian political cultures.' Lyn Spillman, University of Notre Dame, Indiana

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2020
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108448208
    • length: 322 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 149 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.45kg
    • contains: 2 b/w illus. 5 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction. The civil sphere in the cultural and political transformations of modern East Asia David A. Palmer and Jeffrey C. Alexander
    1. South Korea's presidential scandal and civil repair Jongryul Choi
    2. System crisis and the civil sphere: media discourse on the crisis of education in South Korea Sunwoong Park
    3. Boundary tension and reconstruction: credit information crises and the civil sphere in Korea Hee-Jeong Lee
    4. Performing civil disobedience in Hong Kong Agnes Shuk-mei Ku
    5. Fault line in the civil sphere: explaining new divisions in Hong Kong's opposition movement Andrew Junker and Cheris Chan
    6. Three moral codes and microcivil spheres in China David A. Palmer
    7. Attempting civil repair in China: SACOM's campaigns and the challenge to digital capitalism Pun Ngai and Kenneth Tsz Fung Ng
    8. Fantasy is more believable: the shadow civil sphere in Chinese online fiction Xiaoli Tian
    9. Institutions and civil instantiation: the case of modern Japanese police Mayumi Shimizu
    10. What constitutes 'autonomy' in the Japanese civil sphere? The struggle over surrogacy Yoshie Yanagihara
    11. Developing communicative institutions in local communities: the practice of participatory budgeting in Taiwan Kuo-ming Lin
    12. Reconciliation through the transnational civil sphere? Historical dialogue and the tri-national joint history project in East Asia Horng-luen Wang
    Commentary. Opening up civil sphere theory: from the United States through Latin America to East Asia Carlo Tognato
    Conclusion. Theoretical issues in comparative perspective Peter Kivisto and Giuseppe Sciortino.

  • Editors

    Jeffrey C. Alexander, Yale University, Connecticut
    Jeffrey C. Alexander is the Lillian Chavenson Saden Professor of Sociology at Yale University, Connecticut, where he founded and co-directs the Center for Cultural Sociology. He has authored and edited books in the areas of theory, politics, and culture and chaired the American Sociological Association's Theory and Culture sections. Alexander co-founded and chaired the International Sociological Association's Theory research committee and received The Foundation Mattei Dogan Prize in Sociology from that association in 2009.

    David A. Palmer, The University of Hong Kong
    David A. Palmer is an Associate Professor in the department of Sociology and in the Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences at The University of Hong Kong. His books include the award-winning Qigong Fever: Body, Science and Utopia in China (2007), Dream Trippers: Global Daoism and the Predicament of Modern Spirituality (2017), and The Religious Question in Modern China (2011), which won the Levenson Book Prize of the Association for Asian Studies.

    Sunwoong Park, Korea National University of Education
    Sunwoong Park is Professor of the Department of Social Studies at Korea National University of Education. He chaired the Korean Association for Cultural Sociology from 2014 through 2017. He has published several articles, including 'The Narrative Representations of the 5.18 Democratic Movements and their Limitations of Cultural Trauma' (with Suryun Kim) in the Korean Journal of Cultural Sociology and 'How Multicultural Youths Become Koreans' (with Hyun Jeong Woo) in Social Theory.

    Agnes Shuk-mei Ku, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
    Agnes Shuk-mei Ku is Associate Professor of Social Science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, where she previously served as Associate Dean. She is affiliated with the Center for Cultural Sociology at Yale University, Connecticut, and co-chaired a research committee (sociological theory) of the International Sociological Association. Her research interests include cultural sociology, civil society and urban space.


    David A. Palmer, Jeffrey C. Alexander, Jongryul Choi, Sunwoong Park, Hee-Jeong Lee, Agnes Shuk-mei Ku, Andrew Junker, Cheris Chan, Pun Ngai, Kenneth Tsz Fung Ng, Xiaoli Tian, Mayumi Shimizu, Yoshie Yanagihara, Kuo-ming Lin, Horng-luen Wang, Carlo Tognato, Peter Kivisto, Giuseppe Sciortino

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