Diversity in Unity as a Cultural Model for Social Harmony in China

Haiyang Zhang
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Diversity is a universal fact with many facets. It has different connotations for peoples in different time under different circumstances. In light of the ideal of building harmonious society in the current social context of current China and, according to the anthropological research on social groups, this article identifies 2 categories of diversity: the horizontal and the vertical as the most important of its expressions in China. The horizontal diversity center round wealth disparity and more in accordance with Marxian social class or stratum. The vertical one centers round cultural identity such as ethnic group, religious belief, gender and other groupings for recognition. It is more in accordance with Max Weber's proposition on subjective meaning or Hegel's dignity. Social harmony and sustainable development of China necessarily involves both. But the mainstream society tends to give due attention to the horizontal diversity because it has adequate ideological and physical resources to handle this kind of diversity. In contrast, the vertical diversity has been unduly neglected or misunderstood because it does involve more complicated dimensions and demands for more thorough social reform and ideological reshaping. Moreover, the object for managing this two kind of diversity is different: the first is to be eliminated while the second is to be preserved or promoted. It is an embarrassing fact that both the power group and Zeitgeist in modern society are better at elimination and creation than preservation and sharing. This article argues that it is the vertical kind of diversity, i.e. multiculturalism that has more positive potentials for the current world. It is the accommodation of vertical diversity that renders China an opportunity to make more substantial contribution to the world. For this reason, this article focuses on the interpretation of the expression of vertical diversity in China and elaboration of its importance for building social harmony and safeguarding the sustainable development.

Keywords: Ethnic culture, Diversity in unity, Paradox of development, Social harmony
Presentation Type: Plenary Presentation in English
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Haiyang Zhang

Deputy Dean, Department of Ethnology and Sociology, Central University of Nationalities

Haiyang Zhang received his Phd in Anthropology at CUN in 1996 and has been a Professor in Anthropology and Ethnology since 2000. In 2002, he was briefly engaged as a Visiting Scholar to Oregon State University System.

Major research areas include China and West Cultural Comparison, China's Cultural Diversity and Chinese Identity, Ecological Basis of China's Economico-Cultural Types, Ethnic Minority Rights and Interests Advocacy in West China Development, Applied Anthropology in Social Assessment of Construction and Developing Programs, History of Anthropology and Political Anthropology.

Recent published articles include 'East-West Cultural Comparison in Light of Anthropology', in Ethnic Art, No.4/2003, 'Wrestling with the Connotations of Chinese Minzu', in Gyanendra Pandey and Peter Gescheire ed.: 'The Forge of Nationhood', Sephis/Manohar, New Delhi, 2003, 'Subjectivity of the Vulnerable Groups and Inter-subjectivity of Modern Society', in SES ed., 'Ethnology in China at Width and Length', Publishing House of Nationalities, 2003. Books written and edited include 'History of Ethnology in China, Vol.2' with Jianmin Wang and Hongbao Hu, Yunnan Education Press, 1999 and 'Professor Lin Yaohua's Lectures on Social Anthropology', coeditor with Wang Ye, Lujiang Publishing House, 2003.

Ref: D05P0372