The Collapse of the Market and the Transformation of Moral Involvement in Urban China

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Adam Smith first suggested there is a strong link between the development of a nationalistic-oriented government, the rise of a capitalistic economy, and the expansion of an empathic gaze toward another's plight. From this, it follows that once someone becomes aware of misfortune or an injustice, an ethical imperative will arise to do something to alleviate the suffering of others. From this it follows that the more fully integrated a community, the greater its interdependence within the global economy. Communities that are less linked to a national or global economy should have a weakly internalised set of social values such as justice and altruism. To date, there is no study designed to probe this hypothesis. China presents an opportune moment to revisit this discussion. In this paper, I will examine the transformation of the Chinese moral universe as it is reflected primarily in their changing evaluation of the role of the lawyer in Chinese society. In addition, cultural attitudes and patterns of charity donation will also be discussed.


Adam Smith; Altruism; Charity donation; Chinese society; Cooperation; Culture; Cultural attitudes; Globalisation; Justice; Lawyers; Market reform; Moral involvement; Social values; Urban China; Work enterprise system


Anthropology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social and Cultural Anthropology

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