I wonder if there is a Korean or Japanese equivalent. According to Fei, Chinese society is fundamentally rural from the soil ; from this foundation Fei builds up his analysis. Born from a rural society, Chinese people have a different conception of individual and the group. Fei uses the image of the rice straw bound into small bundles, which are then bound into bigger bundles to represent this social structure. They are self-centered. As the sphere around the self expands and contracts, there is an elasticity in social relationships, and the public and private are also constantly shifting and ambiguous.
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His world was one plagued with political corruption and abject poverty. He grew up in a gentry but yet not wealthy family. Park , the University of Chicago sociologist. For an M. Radcliffe-Brown , Fei learned to focus on the functional interrelationships of various "parts" of a community and on the meaning of a culture as seen by its members.
He devised survey methods which incorporated the functional approach It went on to become a staple of American university courses on China. The compilation and U. Fei no longer taught, and published less and less. Twenty-three years of his life, he would later write, years that should have been his most productive period, were simply lost, wasted. At the height of the Cultural Revolution , physically attacked by Red Guards , forced to clean toilets, he contemplated suicide.
He visited the United States again and was subsequently able to arrange the visits to China of American social scientists to help with the gigantic task of training a whole new cadre of Chinese sociologists. His influence is thought to have been important in convincing the government to promote rural industry, whose rapid growth in the s raised the income of hundreds of millions of villagers all over China.
Virtually every week in the s his name was in the newspapers and his face on television. He played a role in promoting and directing the reestablishment of sociology and anthropology in China, training scholars and developing teaching materials after thirty years of prohibition. Fei Xiaotong is also known for his influential theory on ethnic groups in Chinese history , which follows the tradition of Lewis H.
Virtually all of his old books were republished during these years, and he turned out new books and articles in even greater quantity. Many of the themes were familiar. He repeatedly and forcefully set forth the case for sociology and anthropology in China if modernization were to succeed. He reminisced about his village fieldwork, his studies, and his teachers.
There were articles and books on rural industrialization, small towns, national minorities, and developing frontier areas. He championed the cause of intellectuals. He recounted what he had learned from his trips abroad, and made some new translations from English. There was even a little book of his poetry. What is different in all this new writing is political caution; Fei had too much to do and too little time in these last decades to risk playing with fire again.
He was Professor of Sociology at Peking University at the time of his death on April 24, in Beijing at the age of A memorial has been set up in the Department of Sociology at the university, where he has taught and directed since the s.
Preface by Bronislaw Malinowski. London: G. Routledge and New York: Dutton, , and various reprints and a Japanese translation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Shanghai: Shenghuo, Shanghai: Shangwu, Shanghai: Guancha, Fei Xiaotong et al.
Beijing: New World Press, Ningxia Renmin Chubanshe, Beijing: Qunyan chubanshe,
In its first complete English-language edition, it is likely to have a wide impact on Western social theorists. Trivia About From the Soil: All Chinese are born into unchosen associations that are sanctified by the concept of ritual. This profound, challenging book is both succinct and accessible. Noah is currently reading it Oct 31, Uqbar rated it really liked it Apr 02, Therefore, an action can only be vei judged on the basis of not what was done, but rather on who did it and why. Fei Xiaotong and the Beginnings of a Chinese Sociology. They claim to have understand the misery of them, they endevour to make best to help them. Xiaotong makes fascinating, and at times profound, observations on nearly every page.
From the Soil by Fei Xiaotong