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The quest for democracy: Intellectuals and the state in contemporary China.

Mok, Ka Ho (1994) The quest for democracy: Intellectuals and the state in contemporary China. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The present study first establishes a framework for examining sociologically how ideas are formed with particular reference to the examination of Chinese intellectuals' conceptualization of democracy. The basis for this framework is K. Mannheim's sociology of knowledge, together with A. Gramsci's sociology of intellectuals and P. Bourdieu's notion of intellectual field. Deriving the insights from these scholars we hope to establish a more coherent conceptual framework for the analysis of intellectual production. With this framework in hand, the next step was to determine a reasonable approach to the examination of the ideological formation of Chinese intellectuals. The source of information for the study came from the first-hand intensive interviews with the selected intellectuals. Besides, the present study also scrutinizes the works of these intellectuals whose works have spanned the years especially from the May Fourth Movement (1919) to the June Fourth Incident (1989). Their perceptions of democracy, freedom and human rights provide vital clues for determining the complete picture of the evolution on the idea of democracy in contemporary China. No one intellectual has managed to suggest what democracy is, but using the theoretical framework and examining the interviews, writings and speeches of these intellectuals over a period of several years have allowed this researcher to develop a systematic and a more integrated view of democracy as formulated by Chinese intellectuals. In the process of analyzing the ideological production of Chinese intellectuals, this writer has also discovered the emergence of new and different relationships which have developed between Chinese intellectuals and the state. At the same time as they have become more independent, the nature of their critique has changed. In the past Chinese intellectuals criticized only the corruption of government and never the system of government itself. But post-Mao intellectuals have thrown off the fetters of their predecessors and turned their attacks on the system of their repressive Communist regime. Those who, in an earlier era, were fiercely loyal to the Communist ideals now speak only of the myth of a Communist utopia. Their criticism of the crises in China and their critique of state socialism reveal not only their scepticism of socialist praxis but also their wishes to make China more democratic. One point which deserves special attention is that the present research finds that the sixth generation of intellectuals has become more conscious about their independent role, rethinking a new relationship with the state and they have distinguished themselves from the establishment. The most significant finding of the present research is the fact that the ideological formation is greatly affected by the social location, the educational orientation and generational location of intellectuals. More importantly, a deeper understanding of how Chinese intellectuals conceive the ideas of democracy is significantly determined by the particular socio-historical and socio-cultural contexts in which the ideas are formed. The present study also observes that intellectual radicalism is greatly constrained by the socioeconomic and political opportunities that intellectuals have access. With different social locations and socio-economic-political opportunities to which intellectuals access, they may adopt different strategies in coping with the state. After the June Fourth massacre, many Chinese intellectuals with critical thinking were forced to exile overseas. The writer also finds that these exiled intellectuals have deeper reflection of democracy and also their relationship with the state especially when their socio-political circumstances have changed. Adding these observations together, it is highly indicative to us that Chinese intellectuals have struggled for a more autonomous social position and endeavored to have a new relationship with the state. (Abstract shortened by UMI.).

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, International Law and Relations
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

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