China, civilizational comparisons, social reality


The paper argues that the rise of China to a position of prominence in the contemporary world offers Western scholars a greatly expanded comparative perspective and, thus, an opportunity to re-assess their fundamental view of social reality. This comparative perspective draws attention to supra-national cultural unities, “civilizations,” first suggested by both Durkheim and Weber.

There are deficiencies in the current understanding of “civilization” in the social science literature, among others exemplified by “civilizational analysis,” and so this paper proposes a new concept which adds to the conceptual apparatus of sociological theory a new — fully independent of others — variant of the cultural process.

This independence makes distinctions between civilizations the root cause of socio-cultural diversity. Combined with the idea of humanity as a culturally constituted reality sui generis, this concept allows the construction of the theoretical scaffolding necessary for systematic cross-civilizational comparison and comprehensive understanding of social life.