Social Science Events & Activities

Seminar
Engaging Huangniu (brokers): Commodification of State-Society Bargaining in China (Friday 31 May 2019)

Abstract A strong authoritarian state such as China has a range of institutions and instruments at its disposal to resolve social conflicts. This study proposes a new mechanism—citizen’s engagement of a profit-seeking broker—that helps to facilitate state-society bargaining, resolve conflicts and thereby absorb social contention. This form of statesociety bargaining is conducted via professional brokers whose objective is to make a profit from the transactions. By establishing trust between the officials and citizen, the broker brings the two parties together, enables and facilitates state-society bargaining that would not have taken place otherwise. In so doing, the broker helps to resolve conflicts or protracted stand-offs that might have spilled into street protest. These profit-seekers represent commodification of state-society bargaining by matching demands from discontented citizens with supplies of special favours by state officials. This study contributes to the growing body of conflict resolution and state repression literature in China. Bio Lynette Ong is an associate professor of political science at the University of Toronto, crossly appointed at Asian Institute, Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. She teaches authoritarian politics, political economy of development and Chinese politics. She is the author or “Prosper or Perish: Credit and Fiscal Systems in Rural China” (Cornell University Press, 2012). Her publications have appeared in a range of Political Science and Asian Studies journals, including Perspectives on Politics, Comparative Politics, International Political Science Review, China Quarterly, China Journal, and Journal of Contemporary Asia, etc. Faculty host: Yongshun Cai (socai@ust.hk)

Speaker(s)
Prof. Lynette Ong
University of Toronto
Date
May 31, 2019 (Friday)
Time
12:00 noon - 1:30 pm
Venue
Room 3301 (via lifts 17-18), Academic Building, HKUST

MPhil Thesis Presentation
Experiencing Colonial Modernity: Mainland Travellers in Hong Kong, 1919-37 體驗殖民現代性: 中國大陸遊客在香港(1919-37)(Friday 17 May 2019)

Abstract This thesis investigates the mainland Chinese travellers’ observations, perceptions, and interpretation about Hong Kong, as a modern city developed under the British colonial rule, from a nationalistic perspective in the 1920-30s. Since the 1990s, scholars of Hong Kong cultural studies have started to study Chinese nationalistic imagination about the city of Hong Kong. Most of the discussions raised by these scholars were about how those visiting mainland Chinese intellectuals criticized Hong Kong’s various features which were, in their understanding, contradicting with the Chinese national interests and ethnic identity (e.g. that the Hong Kong Chinese never felt themselves belonging to China). They did not pay much attention to how those mainland Chinese intellectuals observed and engaged with the modern features of colonial Hong Kong. Moreover, those historical materials to which they referred are mostly from a book published in the early-1980s that complied of some forty pieces of Chinese intellectuals’ writings written between the 1920s and 1941, and the views of these mainlander about Hong Kong were largely negative. By utilizing a wider source or evidence, many of them have not been cited before, this thesis elaborates diversified experiences of mainland travellers in Hong Kong. It argues that Hong Kong’s modern features not only brought the mainland travellers sensational stimulation, but also took Hong Kong as their learning target in terms of civic culture, business operation, etc.; the viewpoints and attitudes of mainland travellers’ towards Hong Kong were more complicated than what many scholars have suggested in the past. Furthermore, travelogues sometimes contained incorrect information about Hong Kong and travellers also wrote with cultural or political bias. By referring to historical materials of Hong Kong, this thesis reviews these mainland traveller’ writings to see how much of those writings about Hong Kong are factually correct. 摘要 本文旨在探究1920年代至1930年代中國內地遊客如何觀察、認知及理解香港這個在英國殖民管治下發展的現代化城市。自1990年代起,香港文化研究學者開始探索1920年代至日本侵略香港前夕(1941年)中華國族主義者對香港的想像,惟當中大多以中國大陸知識份子如何批判香港一些與國族利益或國族道德互相衝突的特徵為重,對於這些知識份子如何觀察及想像香港的現代化城市一面卻只有零碎的討論。此外,這些學者所參考的文獻大多來自同一本在1980年代初出版、收錄四十多篇1925-41年期間由內地知識份子撰寫並與香港有關的文章的文集。故此,本文嘗試從一些過往學者未引用過的歷史資料中尋找案例,並加以分析,從而理解中國大陸遊客對於香港的現代化城市特徵的觀察及想像,並嘗試針對英國殖民者在引入現代化城市特徵到香港這個方面的領導角色所引起的中國大陸遊客的負面情緒與批判進行補充。本文認為,香港各種現代化城市特徵不但為中國大陸遊客帶來感官上的刺激,也成為一些來自中國大陸的遊客在個人行為、實業營辦等方面的學習對象,而中國大陸遊客批判香港的觀點亦比過往學者指出的更為複雜。另一方面,考慮到一些中國大陸遊客的旅遊紀錄可能存在一些資料上的錯誤及偏見,本文亦參考一些香港本地資料,指出這些旅遊紀錄於多大程度上合乎實際情況。

Speaker(s)
Mr. Po Ki YEUNG
Date
May 17, 2019 (Friday)
Time
3:00 pm
Venue
Room 3301, Academic Building (Lift 2)
Language
Putonghua

Joint Seminar: (SOSC/CASER)
Cultural Sources of Household Income Equality in East Asia (Friday 17 May 2019)

Abstract Sociological theories of inequality, stratification, and economic development have typically been framed in terms of the assumptions of the individualistic attainment in the cultural context of Western countries especially the U.S. Individuals are assumed to be unbridled, self-interested, rational actors while income redistribution is assumed to operate primarily through the political system via taxation and welfare state benefits. The role of public policy is often concerned with promoting “equality of opportunity” and reducing “discrimination” in order to increase equality of results. By contrast, East Asian societies (China, Korea, Japan, Singapore, and Taiwan) to varying degrees maintain cultural sources of income equality that have been largely ignored by Western sociologists. Asian social norms, cultural expectations, and institutions do not always seek to promote “equality of opportunity” but they often directly reduce income inequality. Household income equality is sometimes enhanced by Asian cultural practices associated with traditional gender roles, seniority-pay systems, age and status hierarchies, strong work norms, exam-based educational systems, and low immigration. Bio Arthur Sakamoto is Cornerstone Faculty Fellow Professor of Sociology at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. His obtained his graduate degrees in sociology at the University of Wisconsin and his bachelor’s degree in economics at Harvard University. His areas of research interest include social stratification, inequality, economic sociology, labor markets, and racial/ethnic relations. Although his primary focus is on the U.S., he has done some research on Japan, Taiwan, and Brazil. He has also published widely on Asian Americans. Faculty host: Xiaogang Wu (sowu@ust.hk)

Speaker(s)
Prof Arthur Sakamoto
Texas A&M University
Date
May 14, 2019 (Tuesday)
Time
2:30 pm - 4:00 pm
Venue
Room 3401 (via lifts 17-18), Academic Building, HKUST