Burkart Holzner is professor of sociology and public and international affairs and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of International Studies at the University of Pittsburgh.
Social Change in Contemporary China offers a wide-ranging examination of Chinese institutional change in areas of education, religion, health care, economics, labor, family, and local communities in the post-Mao era. Based on the pioneering work of sociologist C. K. Yang (1911–1999), and his institutional diffusion theory, the essays analyze and develop the theory as it applies to both public and private institutions. The interrelationship of these institutions composes what Yang termed the Chinese “system,” and affects nearly every aspect of life. Yang examined the influence of external factors on each institution, such as the influence of Westernization and Communism on family, and the impact of industrialization on rural markets. He also analyzed the impact of public opinion and past culture on institutions, therein revealing the circular nature of diffusion. Perhaps most significant are Yang’s insights on the role of religion in Chinese society. Despite the common perception that China had no religion, he uncovers the influence of classical Confucianism as the basis for many ethical value systems, and follows its diffusion into state and kinship systems, as well as Taoism and Buddhism.
Writing in the early years of Communism, Yang had little hard data with which to test his theories. The contributors to this volume expand upon Yang’s groundbreaking approach and apply the model of diffusion to a rapidly evolving contemporary China, providing a window into an increasingly modern Chinese society and its institutions.
Transparency in Global Change examines the quest for information exchange in an increasingly international, open society. Recent transformations in governments and cultures have brought about a surge in the pursuit of knowledge in areas of law, trade, professions, investment, education, and medical practice—among others. Technological advancements in communications, led by the United States, and public access to information fuel the phenomenon of transparency. This rise in transparency parallels a diminution of secrecy—though, as Burkart and Leslie Holzner point out, secrecy continues to exist on many levels. Based on current events and historical references in literature and the social sciences, <I>Transparency in Global Change</I> focuses on the turning points of information cultures, such as scandals, that lead to pressure for transparency. Moreover, the Holzners illuminate byproducts of transparency—debate, insight, and impetus for change, as transparency exposes the moral corruptions of dictatorship, empire, and inequity.