What is Necessary for Civility to Develop? A Comparative Study of Taiwan and the PRC

What is Necessary for Civility to Develop? A Comparative Study of Taiwan and the PRC
Talk by David Schak, Griffith University


Thursday, November 06, 2014
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
Bunche Hall 10383



This lecture will explore the development of civility in two societies with very similar historical and cultural backgrounds and that for most of the last century were governed by Leninist parties that used campaigns to change grass-roots behaviour. Some of those desired behavioural changes were attempts to impose civility, which I define as respecting the public space and regarding all in one's society as consociates, thus deserving of considerate treatment. One of those societies, Taiwan, while being quite uncivil in the 1960s to the 1980s, became increasingly civil from the 1990s, to the extent that recent longer-term visitors from the PRC marvel and the genuine helpfulness and sincerity of the Taiwanese. In the PRC, while in the larger, more sophisticated cities, most people now queue and are generally helpful to strangers, there are other areas in which incivility prevail, e.g. driver behaviour, spitting, and following smoking restrictions. The lecture will examine these two societies to try to understand what conditions are necessary for a society to develop civility.

Dr. David Schak was educated at UC Berkeley and has an AB in Oriental Languages (1965), and an MA and PhD in Anthropology (1973). After teaching briefly in the US, he migrated to Australia in 1976 and has been affiliated with Griffith University since that time. He has spent over 15 years in Taiwan, first going there in 1959, and another three years in the PRC. He has researched and written on a variety of topics including dating as a new form of mate selection, poverty, beggars, Taiwanese business management and culture, filial daughters in industrialised Chinese society, engaged Buddhism's contributions to Taiwan's civil society, and civility.

Part of the Civility and Civil Society in Taiwan Lecture Series, Taiwan Spotlight project

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Published: Thursday, November 13, 2014