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Political Science Research on China: Making the Most of Diversity

  • Björn Alpermann
Chapter

Abstract

Chinese social sciences have seen enormous development over the past three decades of reform and opening-up. However, some authors also voice a critical view. For instance, in a recent article Deng Zhenglai rekindled debate on past developments in China’s social sciences and prospects for the future. In particular he raised the issue of “indigenization” (bentuhua) of social science and urged his fellow Chinese scholars to “shed the Western-centric worldview brought about by ‘Westernization’ so as to recover or rediscover ‘China’ and to create our own ideal picture of social order” (Deng, unpublished conference paper). Several other Chinese authors similarly discussed indigenization of Western political science theories, concepts and methods as a necessity to raise the profile and quality of the discipline in China (Wen 2007; Wang 2008). While this is a Chinese debate it needs to be informed about development trends in international social sciences. Therefore, I use this symposium as an opportunity to present an outsider’s observations to this debate. However, as a Western, more specifically a German, scholar in contemporary Chinese studies I limit my observations in several respects. For one, I will only talk about political science, the discipline I know best, not social sciences in general. Secondly, I deliberately choose to focus on methodological issues rather than theoretical or substantive ones more commonly associated with this debate (Sartori 1970). My goal is not to lecture Chinese colleagues participating in the discussion on the proper conduct of scientific research on Chinese politics. Rather, I will offer some reflections on Westernpolitical science research in general and studies on China’s politics in particular. In doing so, I hope to shed some new light on the issues under discussion by adding a fresh perspective.

Keywords

Political Science Comparative Politics Village Election Methodological Debate Scientific Inference 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Contemporary Chinese StudiesUniversity of WürzburgWürzburgGermany

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