Engaging in Civic Life: Confucianism, Republicanism, and Ordinary Chinese in the 1940s
Catherine Chang

This paper explores the civic life of Republican Chinese in the 1940s and compares it with the Western liberal model of civic life by analyzing "public opinion" in the Chinese newspaper. Recent scholarship on the public sphere and civil society shows that the Confucian civic tradition presents a different concept of "public" from that of the Western Republican tradition. The Confucian one places each individual and his interests in a network of human relationships so that one is supposed to lead a communal life. So is a Confucian state established on such relational ties. However, Western Republicanism is founded on the concept of nondomination, calling for each citizen, who has been endowed with liberty and equality, out of his private realm to actively participate in politics in order to guarantee his rights. Using public announcements in the newspaper as the materials, this paper illustrates why and how Republican Chinese citizens sensed the urge to publicize, engage in, and mediate community disputes, in order to demonstrate the influence of both Confucian and Western Republican traditions in their civic life.

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/rhps.v3n1a4