Jing Tiankui, male and of the Han ethnic group, born in April 1943, is a native of Penglai, Shandong Province and a member of the Communist Party of China. He is currently the Deputy Director of the Academic Division of Social, Political and Legal Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. In July 1987, he graduated from the department of philosophy of the Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and received a PhD. He is a Researcher and PhD student advisor of the Institute of Sociology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, consultant to the Chinese Sociological Association, Vice-President of the China Hominology Society, and Executive Director of the China Historical Materialism Society. His academic expertise is development sociology. Since 1992, he has enjoyed a special allowance awarded by the State Council. In 1996, he won the “Young and Mid-aged Expert with Outstanding Contribution” Award.
“Compatibility and connection”
The path of life and the process of scholarship
Li Wei（hereinafter called Li）: Mr. Jing, during the road of life and the process of scholarship, what we are most interested in is your scholarship process is very distinctive. From 1980s, your research areas from social philosophy to sociology, and in recent years you turn to more specific areas of social policy, such a significant across of research area is rear among the scholars of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. This reflects what your research mental journey is?
Jing Tiankui (hereinafter called Jing): I think my academic experience can be summarized in two sentences. First, all my research purpose and interest is to explore how society exists, and why the community developments. Second, in the process of exploring the mysteries of the society, I used the approach and strategy was “compatibility and connection”. You just talked about my academic fields across several fields in recent decades, was a manifestation of my academic orientation. Of course, this scholarly research orientation had a process of development.
In 1943, I was born in a coastal city of Penglai in Shandong Province. It is a place where the wonder of mirage occurs from time to time, the legend of eight Immortals crossing the sea of Taoist also occurs in this place. It can be said this mysterious land stimulated the curiosity of my childhood. When I was in middle school, I had a dream of understanding "the mystery of the society".
In 1962, I was admitted to the Department of Philosophy, Peking University. What interests me most was the social philosophy. When I was about to graduate in 1966, "Cultural Revolution" broke out. I just witnessed this process. During the 10 years from 1968 to 1978, I firstly came to the army’s farm and the production team for working and training, and then I was transferred to the commune and county agencies working, later transferred to the theory ministry of Shanxi Daily as an editor. The experience of living and working in rural areas and grassroots made me contact more low-level people, so I had a deeper understanding towards them. During the "Cultural Revolution" period, why did hundreds of millions of people have such high political passions? Why did such a sustained social unrest for a decade? This issue bothered me, and forced me to think. Although I did not have the condition and possibility to research at that time, I kept thinking about problems of social theory area combined with the thought of society and the understanding of "Cultural Revolution". In 1978, the state restored the graduate recruitment; I passed the exam to be a graduate student of Graduate School of Philosophy of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, major in historical materialism. From then on I started my academic career with a target on society.
Ten years later I returned to the long academic research for exploring the society. I was the first batch of graduate students after the "Cultural Revolution". During the period when I was a graduate student, I published a paper "The logic point of historical materialism "in "Philosophy Research", which was the first among the graduates at that time. "Philosophy Research" added the editor’s notes, which was very rare .In 1981, a book "The key to open the society secret - Study on the logical structure of historical materialism" was published. This book could be seen as my exploration of social development from social philosophy.
The big leap of my academic experience was from social philosophy to sociology.
I particularly want to point out here is that I always think Marx's historical materialism is Marxist sociology (Lenin once said that this was the case). Its important feature is the unity of method and theory, the combination of theory and practice. The so-called "the unity of method and theory” is to say that historical materialism is not only the scientific method (as a social history) observing and transforming the society, but also a "social theory", which can be tested by the fact and confirmed by the experience .The so-called "Combination of theory and practice" is to say it had a strong partialness, it intended not only to interpret the world, but also to transform the world. Therefore, it was a very natural academic pursuit, in my opinion, from the macro level of historical materialism to the more specialized theory level of social development .Of course, this is because of my scholarly attitude “compatibility and connection”.
When I was still in the philosophy institute (1993), I founded the Social Development Research Center of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and served as director of the Center, later I was transferred to the sociology institute in 1995 as deputy director, entering into the field of sociology of development.
When I worked in the sociology institute, I had opportunities to do a large number of social survey research, and also had a platform to study China's social development comprehensively from multi-angle and multi-level .As a latecomer developing country, China had rapid social change in the late 30 years. With the China's economy developing at very high-speed, facing a shortage of resources, population growth, polarization, social anomie and other development dilemma. This required China's social development, or social development theory to explain the scene of China's modernization process and design the development concept and development strategy appropriate to China. According to the modernization history of Western developed countries and the study of Chinese society, I thought we could reveal the development difficulties of the later developing country by perspective analysis of "Space-time structure". That was, later developing country often did not have the basic premise of the modernization process of Western countries, they faced with constraints and extrusion internal and external. Compared to the "time extension" from sociologists of Western developed countries, the globalization mean "time-space compression" for the developing countries. In 1999, I published a paper "The space-time structure of China's social development “in "Sociological Study" . In 2002, I published a book "The space-time of structure social development”. They all focused on discussing the space-time structure influence on social development, and took path beyond the evolutionary and the fixed model of Western modernization process, established a possibility of transcendence coordination relationship. The theme “The space-time structure of social development” could be seen as thinking towards social development from medium level of sociology.
In recent years, I devote a lot of energy to the study of social policy, notably thinking about the "fair bottom line" of social security. From surface of it, social security seemed to be a very specific level of sociology research, it seemed not associated with social development, but I did not discuss it in terms of social security, nor from the policy level. I considered as an important goal of social development through exploring the theoretical basis of social security–what "social justice" should be, how to build, how to realize. As we all know, for any societies, "efficiency and fairness" were most concerned about subject development, but also the most difficult problem about economic balance. In the last 30 years, China’s GDP growing quickly, "efficiency" was indeed rather high, but if keeping "sustainable development", we must consider how to distribute the proceeds of "efficiency" among the community members, how to solve the basic security needs of all members of society. I put forward the "bottom line fair" concept, it was not only a philosophy of social justice, but also included the corresponding design of social policy. Therefore, it could be seen as an exploration at the micro level of social development.
In short, from the social philosophy to sociology, and to social policy, my research fields are more and more specific, and the research results have also been applied more and more. Compatibility through academic, and indeed to explore the practice of social development reflect.
Main academic thinking
Li: In the course of several decades of academic research, you are involved at different stages in different academic fields. What do you think your academic achievements in different fields represent you academic ideas?
Jing: My main academic thinking reflected in my several representative works.
My first representative work was “The key to open the society secret - Preliminary of historical materialism logic structures” published in 1981. This book presented the logical structure of historical materialism, and proved that the "labor", as a philosophical paradigm, is a logical starting point of historical materialism. As we all know, in the past we were talking about historical materialism, mainly followed the Soviet Union textbook, historical materialism was understood as a few basic concepts and a few basic principles, namely, the productive forces and production relations, the economic base and superstructure, individual and the masses .they were pairs of concepts, and their “law” relationship was “decide” and "reflect" .This understanding was flawed. It did not make it clear what was logical link between these laws and theories, and lack of the chain of internal positive link in Hegel's "Logics" and Marx's “Das Capital”. Why have my book been finished so quickly? That was because in 1960s I studied in Peking University, I had thought about these issues. Although during the "Cultural Revolution" period, I had no conditions to do he research, but I did not stop thinking in this area, so when I was a graduate student, I quickly wrote it out. I spent a lot of time on Hegel's "Logic" and Marx's "Das Capitals". This book was the outcome of my Long-term research on logic system since I was in university. it presented a very complete and clear logical connection. I put forward the theory of “labor starting point”. "labor" as a starting point in this area. The theory entirely revel the rich content of the theory of historical materialism in the unity of history and logics through the unfold of every segments ,such as objectification of labor, labor division, labor alienation, labor socialization and labor automation, and so on. Furthermore, we confirmed it with actual progress of the society development and propose the point that social development process, human development process labor expansion process is united.
The second year after the book published, "Philosophy Research" released a weighty book review. This made the book influence a lot in philosophy circles. At that time, Professor Li Xiulin of Renmin University of China got this book, and read it the whole night without sleeping. And the next morning, he took the book to the class lectured postgraduate. It was said that Beijing Normal University Library would like to borrow this book, but need book; central senior leadership had to ask for the book from publishing house. Due to this book it aroused strong repercussions in academia and ideology field, in 1982, I was as a outstanding graduate representative of the CASS was interviewed by the party and state leaders.
My representative work is a book on historical materialism research, as well as "social theory" works in the sociological sense. Marx is recognized as one of the three classical sociological masters, historical materialism is the Marxist sociology.
My second representative work “The space-time structure of social development” was published in 2002. In 1999, I published a paper "China's social development of space-time structure" in “Sociological Study”, which was the first paper to talk about space-time analysis of social development in China. From the space-time perspective to research the social development issues, this was a very rich, but long-time neglected resource by sociology. Study of social development cannot be separated from its temporal and spatial features. If departing from it, the development must be a general and abstract social development. Marx’s "Das Capital" explained that all the secrets of the development of capitalism simply because of its "time”. That was, the labor time was divided into necessary labor time and surplus labor time. And he pointed out that the only source of surplus value lied in the unpaid occupation of surplus labor time. This was the essence of “Das Capital ". Therefore, "time" was a fundamental starting point that Marx revealed capitalism as well as the mysteries of modern society development. Ferdinand Tonnies studied social community, how to distinguish between community and society? it was time or space. How to distinguish between city and country? That was the difference of temporal and spatial. Later, Merton and Sorokin published a very professional paper on time-space sociology for the first time in the United States. The first one who published a book on sociology was in the French sociologist Gul Abramovich. The tradition of space-time sociological research had been extended to Giddens, he raised the issue of space-time conversion very high, and he thought the impetus to the development of modern society was the problem present or not present, this was a time-bound, but also spatial relationships. "time-space compression" that I proposed was directly against "space-time extension" of Giddens. Of course, the word "time-space compression,” was put forward by Kazakh, mainly talking about contracting interpersonal distance in globalization. I used this concept, but I did not use Harvey's meaning. I used it to portray the basic restructure of China's social development, to talk about the conditions of development and underdevelopment. About the sociology of space and time, when I visited the University of Cambridge in 2006, Professor Patrick just wrote a book about sociology of time. We have a plan: we will translate 10 books about sociology of space and time. We are writing a textbook sociology development, which is based on space-time analysis framework. That will probably be the first development sociology textbooks based on based on space-time analysis as the framework in China.
Why did we study the development sociology with space-time structure? As we know, the center of development sociology from the modern theory to the dependency theory, world system theory, is the same one, the west society. Whether the structure was binary or ternary, their centers were the same. Such a structure cannot explain East Asia, especially China's modernization process, because time and space conditions were different. The cultural tradition reflecting time conditions and the development and opportunities reflecting space conditions could not be explained by relation analysis between center and margin referred in those theories. The development sociology from the West, it was based on social evolution from the outset, so they tended to equate "development" with "evolution". It suggested that evolutionary assumption was the basis assumptions for the development sociology. According to evolutionary assumptions, social development was a single direction, was continuous, spontaneous and had a stage. According to the above, the Western countries in the highest stage of the evolution, the developing countries varied widely in the world were in the lower stage of social evolution. According to this logic, developing countries only copied the developed countries’ mode; repeated the developed countries ’evolutionary stages, accepted the Western universal values, accepted the communication and radiation of Western culture, which was only possible way to achieve modernization. I think in this reasoning logic, we ignore a fundamental premise that is spatial and temporal characteristic. However, in the structure of space-time extension, if we can assume the infinity of resources and environment capacity, the infinity of market and demand, then this infinity becomes limited and hard constraints in the structure of space-time compression. Thus, the precondition that evolutionary hypothesis based on does not exist. Regardless of whether their social evolution itself in theory, it can withstand the scrutiny even if it can be used to explain the development of Western society to some extent, especially in the Western modernization process, then once taking into account the spatial and temporal characteristics, its reasonable premise has a problem when explaining the modernization of the developing country.
The modernization of Western countries presupposed a basic premise: resource supply was infinite; the capacity of the environment was unlimited. However, in most developed countries, resources were not abundant, what was to be done? It only depended on plunder and unequal exchange. It experienced serious environmental damage and pollution before their pre-industrialization .they adopted one of the approaches to shift the misfortune onto others, which was to transfer the polluting industries to the backward countries, polluting and damaging the environment of other States. In history, China repeatedly lost the good opportunity to change into a modern society, and now, when people are eager to modernize as quickly as possible, they have to realize that they are in the constraints of resources and environment. The time-space conditions we live in is not only limited, but also difficult to extend. It is relatively constrictive and extruded. Striction and extrusion, one is internal, the other is external. Internally, we all know, is a great contraction from resources and environment and strong rebounds. Resources and environmental issues, the serious tensions between them and the people, although it can be resolved, due to dealing with natural conditions, the chance for “negotiation” is limited. 1.3 billion people have inevitably caused tensions with the natural environment: deforestation, creating land around the lake even if only solving the adequate food and clothing. It is forced to do, because the arable land is too little per person, and they have to solve the food problem themselves, so this tension is inevitable. If solving the food and clothing while want to be wealthy, it would inevitably cause more retaliation from nature. As long as the township enterprises along Huaihe River have slightly developed, the Huaihe River pollution would reach the extent that endangers people's lives and health. Even Jiangsu and Zhejiang region known as “a land flowing with milk and honey” will change into a dirty, smelly sewage ditch. The former beautiful Taihu Lake also has to spend huge sums of money repairing. The so-called contraction and extrusion from the outside mainly result from the global expansion of world capitalist system and the disadvantage of China's late development. The nature of capitalism is its expansion, a history of capitalism is its expansion history, no matter what methods they adopt, political subversion or cultural penetration. In short, its tentacles reach all possible control area all-pervasively, all the time. The structure of this expansion is simply summarized as "centre-edge" or "center-half edge-edge" structure in the development sociology, which Wallerstein calls the capitalist world system. The countries or groups in the center of the system take advantage of their dominant position and try to interfere and control the countries located in marginal status, consolidate and expand their advantage, fix the edge, strengthen its dependence on the center; marginalized country or region can obtain dependent development, or cost a lot for fighting for self-development. Especially in recent years, the so-called economic globalization is an objective trend, but it is also a trend of thought, developed countries and multinational companies treat globalization as their reasonable basis of unlimited expansion. When the backward countries try to join the world chess game, they keenly feel the rules of the game, interest, non-standard, and even language system in this chess, are highly "center", and are firmly under the control of developed countries, they set a good "trap”. The backward countries may be pulled in by squeezing or be excluded under pressure. In short, the space the backward countries coming in are being constructed. The structure is constrictive and squeezing.
Now, social development must have space-time conversion in the concept of development, in order to go out of the development logic of Wallerstein later. Many national scholars studying on social development theory believe that Wallerstein later, the development theory basically stagnates, probably because the characteristics of space-time are ignored. We speak of "Chinese characteristics", if there is no time-space framework, the Chinese characteristics cannot explain clearly.
The next step is to write a space-time sociology book. Space-time is not an external form of social development, unlike natural time-space, there is an external scale. Social time and social space are not the external scale. For example, regional differences, how is it just a form? Regional differences contain so many reasons! A person was born in Gansu, Qinghai, is difficult to be admitted to Peking University or Tsinghua University? If a person was born in Beijing especially in Haidian District, etc, the chance to be admitted to Peking University or Tsinghua University is higher hundred times, thousand times than that of Gansu, Qinghai children! How time and space is an abstract thing? It influences people's fate profoundly!
My third representative work is "Bottom line fair and flexible adjustment of social security" and a series of text works on "bottom line equity theory". The reform and building of social security system have been carried out over 20 years; it carries out only on the policy level and experience level. I think first of all we should find out what the basic concept of social security is? If this makes clear, next is how to reform the old-age security and health insurance, and so on. What it depends on to carry out social security, if not clear, the other would be incomprehensible. In 2001 Yang Tuan, Tang Jun and I co-authored a book “Social security system of basic integration” the chapter. “The concept meaning of basic integration” was written by me. Before that I considered what the theoretical basis of this system was. In 2003, "Social Science Front" published my article, which extended thinking about the theoretical basis of social security. In 2004, my colleagues and I published a book "Social justice theory and policy". In 2004, at the 36th World Congress of Sociology, I formally proposed the concept “bottom line fair” in my speech, After that, the "Guangming Daily" published a portion of its introduction. In the same year, the sixth edition of "Sociological Research" also published the paper "Bottom line fair and flexible adjustment of social security”. There were about 20 national newspapers and magazines extracted and reprinted this article, some counterparts in social security research also responded to the concept. In March, 2006, I talked about the concept expansion of "fair bottom line" in sociology institute, which was the level of social theory. Since 2005, I conducted my research using “bottom line fair and harmonious society” as the theme; the monograph would be published in the near future. I thought the bottom line was not only a concept basis of social security, but also an important concept foundation of harmonious society. In addition, my students and I co-wrote a book on rural cooperative medicals, and also wrote some articles on how to use the bottom line theory to solve the interest regulation problem, social security extension.
In China, the vigorous promotion of social security system reform and construction is indeed with the establishment of socialist market economic system. But this does not mean that social security must be attached to a market economy. In fact, even if our nation did not carry out market economy, it should carry out social security. However, the independent status of social security once had been intentionally or unintentionally masked, it seemed to meet the state-owned enterprise reform. We needed to engage in social security in order to take away the social unburden and enhance the enterprises’ competitiveness. Later, it seemed to solve the problem of placement of laid-off workers, migrant workers. As a result, social security appeared to be only temporary in order to solve specific problems, but as long-term, basic institutional arrangements’ significance had been diluted, and its social function was ignored. In my opinion, the primary function of social security was to provide the system basis for social justice. Social security system around the world had huge difference for various reasons, but this system had a common concept foundation. This foundation was the concept of social justice. In market economic society, if there was no adequate social justice, this society cannot be a civilized modern society. Therefore, from the "Beveridge Report" to the Nordic Social Democratic Party's "principle of equality”, from the "basic needs" to "fundamental rights", the basic concept of social justice had been preserved. Thus the social security as a tool of the foil of the market economy, government easing social conflicts became an important base of modern civilized society.
I think, in our country, at least in the present and the future of a long historical period, we should treat the bottom line as the basic concept of social security system. "The bottom line fair" was a concept identifying and describing the degree of society fair. Based on the basic theory of social security, this degree was the "basic needs." However, from the requirements to determine the degree of social equity perspective, the "basic needs" would have a more substantial change with economic development. It was more sensitive to its level of economic development, and had greater flexibility, which was not stable enough, and not easy to define. It should and also could find more "need" of stability from the "basic needs" - "basic needs", which included: food and clothing needs (survival needs); basic education needs (development needs); public health and medical care needs (health needs). This was the "bottom line"，everyone was not immune and the community had recognized. The "bottom line" was divided into consistency and of differences social members’right, the portion under the bottom line reflected the "right consistency", the portion above the bottom line reflected the "right differences”. Thus, the bottom line equity could be defined as: All citizens had the right consistency in front of this "bottom line". When the economic level was low, the government needed to hold the bottom line equity to ensure that every citizen had the basic livelihood guarantee, lived a dignified life. When the economical level was increased, the government still should hold the bottom line equity; in order to prevent social security level continues to rise rigidly. Above the bottom line, the government's responsibility was to adjust the gap between rich and poor, strengthen the revenue capacity, rather than engage in "welfare state" policy. As far as the market mechanism, the portion under the bottom line was not the area that played a role in market mechanism, but was the area that guaranteeing the public finance. The portion above the bottom line should rely on market regulation. The relationship between the government regulation and market regulation was the key to solve the stiff issue of social security. The bottom line equity was not only suit for the economic development stage in the lower level, but also suited for economic development stage in the lower level. In other words, it should be to the most critical mechanism that ensuring the social security developed healthily and sustainably - at present, extending the coverage and equity; in the future, preventing excessive unfairness and benefits.
The research of this bottom line equity reflected the academic pursuit I insisted. That was compatible with the research linking road. The three monographs, including the level of social theory, development sociology and social policy, reflected the connection from theory to policy.
Li: Compared with other subjects of social sciences, sociology is more tortuous in history of China’s development. It is only twenty years of resuming the subject construction since the reform and opening up. However, in recent years, the voice of sociology influences the government and society more and more, almost a "Significant study". Can you talk about your contribution to the subject construction of sociology except for the academic research?
Jing: In addition to academic, for the promotion of sociology, I have three things worth talking about. The first thing is the popularity of sociology. I participate in and promote sociology into the textbooks of primary and secondary school. The Ministry of Education wants to write a textbook, I suggest adding an optional class of "society". In my opinion, if the students do not know the relationship with their parents at home, and do not know the relationship with the teachers in school, then the patriotism is of no avail. As the head editor of textbook “society”, I was involved in examining the lecture of” society" for primary senior students and middle school students. This textbook included some basic knowledge of sociology. It was useful for the growth of children, but also useful for the popularity of sociology. The second thing was in February, 2005, researcher Li Peilin and I gave lessons to the Central Political Bureau. It was the first time to discuss the sociological issues with central senior leaders face to face. As for the construction of sociology, it was good for the central leadership to contact the sociology directly. After the lesson, General Secretary Hu Jintao said that now the central government proposed to build the socialist harmonious society, the spring of sociology was coming. Then, we presented nine research tasks. It could be said that the concern from central leadership for sociology was unprecedented. It was meaningful for promoting the research of sociology and enhancing the status of sociology. The third was during the period when I was the director of sociology institute; I successfully hosted the 36th World Conference of Sociology. Before that, the World Conference of Sociology was held in Europe, America and other developed countries. For more than a century, this was the first time for International Sociology Association to host the World Congress of Sociology in a developing country. I bid for the conference. With the support of the institute leader and the effort of all the colleagues, the conference was very successful and satisfactory. A leader commented that the 36th World Conference of sociology was the most successful international conference the Academy of Social Sciences ever held. I thought, it should play its due role in China's sociology discipline construction to let children know about sociology, seek direct communicating and discussing with the issues of sociology with central leaders, and let foreign counterparts understand the sociology of China.
Prospects of China's future development on sociology
Li: We know that society development theory, or the root of the development sociology is in the West. It is mainly a theory generalization based on the historical experience of the industrial, economic and social change from the 16th century in Western world. Nearly 30 years of reform and opening up of China can be called the most ambitious social change since the 20th century. What effect does China's social development influence on social development theory?
Jing: This question is really worth of concerning. How to treat, interpret and evaluate the rapid economic growth and social change in China's since 1978 is a global issue. A Nobel Prize winner once said, if the economists could well explain China's economic growth, they would get the Nobel Prize. To the sociologist, the search for the mystery of China's social development was a difficult challenge, but also the most valuable issue.
The theory of society development after Wallerstein's world system theory became blurred. One of the main reasons was that since the 1980s, East Asia, especially China's rise, broke the Western barriers of development based on the evolution theory and modern theory. The advent of globalization and post-industrial society made the existing development theory reconsider the problem of its starting point. We should pay attention to Wallerstein's later theory tends. We could adopt a new perspective to research the development issues, such as space-time analysis. If China kept its current trend, and then after 10 to 20 years development, China could really realize peaceful rise, then it would be able to become a worldwide development paradigm, the theory of society development from China's must move toward the front of the world academic circles. As a Chinese scholar, we must focus on 10 to 20 years later; what did world sociology need us to answer? Chinese scholars, including sociologists, would also be able to "rise". It is our own theory that would have the right to speak in the future. If we cannot explain our affairs clearly, it was impossible to get the respect and affirmation of international scholars.
As for me, I concerned more about how to introduce the spatial and temporal characteristics, relations to the theory of development sociology, and explained the social development characteristics of the post-developed countries such as China. We had already talked about the space-time conditions of China development, the differences between China and the West, and the opinion of "time-space compression”, and here I want to talk about what the perspective of time- space sociology can do on the development theory. First, you can try to adopt the framework of time-space sociology to sort out the fresh empirical fact of China social development. For example, every year, hundreds of millions of migrant workers in China flow to and from the Midwest and southeast coast, rural and urban. This is not only the geographical spatial displacement, but also the social spatial and temporal scales trade. From rural to town and to city, spanning the space of different systems setting up, and crossing different cultures and lifestyles. It has sociological significance that reflects its social system, social relations and social networks, forming the socialization of people in the meantime, taking place the change of social stratification and social structure. Secondly, we can use the perspective of time-space sociology to explain the concept and proposition of the unique experience in reform and opening up in China. Many major propositions of China reform and development are directly the proposition of sociology, for example, “development is the absolute principle” which needs us to further elaborate their academic content. The Central government proposes "five balances" is also a sociological proposition. The coordination development of economic and society is the basic problem throughout the whole process of sociology development. The coordination development between city and country of economy is proper meaning of socialist modernization. It is the transitional issues of social structure in sociology for the agricultural country like China. The regional coordinated development, in fact, is a problem of sociology that concerns about the first rich, after rich, and all rich. The harmonious development between man and nature is the highest proposition of environmental sociology. Coordinating the domestic and foreign development and opening up, is a major social problem that must be cautious in dealing with for all the developing countries in the process of economic globalization. The in-depth research and interpretation in the new time-space framework of reform and opening up space should be an important content of our sociology development and teaching materials construction. Finally, based on abutment experience and a large number of concepts, we can establish a theory framework with new time and space characteristics for reform and opening up in China. Thus we can dialogue with the West social development theory at the theoretical level, surpass their development concept based on social evolution. The sociology of China based on the magnificent reform and opening up and great practice of modernization construction is bound to have a place in the world of sociology building.
Li: Finally, I would like you to talk more about the scholarly approach, or specific to the thinking of sociological method. You advocated and adhered to the scholarly approach of “compatibility and connection”, but in fact we saw many scholars later become experts, rather than a great master like encyclopedia. This seemed to be an issue easy to learn but difficult to do. What is your idea of "compatibility through", and how to achieve it?
Jing: I think the best method of studying of social sciences, especially sociology, is through a fundamental characteristic of "compatibility through". In other words, the aspects of sociology with other subjects’ methods should be compatible in the horizontal, and sociology approach with other levels’ methods should be linked in the vertical. This is because its inherent tension of discipline nature and methods. Sociology originated at the era of subject differentiation development, each subject extract economic relations, legal relations, political relations, history progress relationships from the whole society as their own research subject. It formed the specific way to study the specific problems. In general, the more simple and limited the research subject was, the more specialized and sophisticated the research method was. However, each subject research was the portion of more and more detailed, the social integrity would eliminate. Sociology as Comet’s hope was "social physics”, just like physics was a basic subject in the natural sciences system, sociology was the basic discipline in the social sciences system. Pareto said, compared to other specialized disciplines of social science, sociology was a "comprehensive and focused on the general study of human society". Even if sociology was a social discipline with other social sciences disciplines, it still cannot avoid the contradiction of the goal of comprehensiveness and decomposability of categorized approach. To solve this problem, the founding fathers of sociology adopted the policy of recruitment and election in the approach. This had two meanings: First, it was totally based on the characteristics of the study and research question, and adopting the appropriate methods to make full use of them and complement them with each other. The second was trying to find the biding point of different methods, so that made them each fit and absorb with each other. The two meanings were the compatibility of the method. The classic Master of sociology all used the compatibility of methods to achieve the comprehensive model of discipline. In social studies, Marx flexibly used of philosophical method, empirical research methods or even mathematical method; he combined it so wonderfullly and naturally. After the course of long-term development, sociology had made considerable progress in the direction of the discipline , case interviews, questionnaires and other methods becoming more mature, and statistical analysis methods were used more fashionably, empirical research had become common practice. At the same time, there was still retaining sufficient free space between the methods. European continent paid attention on mental analysis, while the United State paid attention to experience. And sometime it was qualitative or quantitative. What’s more, sociology continued to absorb and learn other ways in order to enrich and develop itself. Psychological method, semiotics method, the phenomenological method, cultural analysis method, system analysis method, spirit analysis method, network analysis method were all widely used, which gave birth to the interaction theory, exchange theory, communication theory, phenomenology, sociology, cultural sociology, institutional sociology, social networks, social capital theory, and feminist sociology, etc., forming the situation of flowers and vitality today. Sociology went to the maturity, and at the same time went to opening up .it became "one" subject, as well as formed a wide range of patterns. The development process of the whole subject indicated that sociology had been able achieve such a significant development in a short period of time (a half-century for a subject was not too long) due to its compatibility of method.
If compatibility was the horizontal integration, then linking was the vertical integration, compatibility and linking constitutes a vertical and horizontal two dimension in the methods of comprehensive discipline of sociology. Sociology should be linking in the method, because it must solve the contradiction between the unity of subject position and the multilevel nature of discipline system. Before the half a century, Fei Xiaotong in the "Rural China” pointed out: "But in the development trend, it was not easy for sociology to have an independent range with political science, economics in a level. It could only get a comprehensive position of researching social phenomena from another level.” He pointed out two lines maintaining its comprehensiveness of sociology: One was researching the overall social structure in the particular and limited time-space coordinate, which was the community research. Another was searching universal social phenomenon. That was, researching the form of social action, called "pure sociology." In addition to the mentioned above, social statistics had been widely promoted and became a basic skill technology because of the rapid development o computer technology, software and data processing technology at present. It also made up the limitation of individual case experience description, because it was more suitable for large-scale, longitudinal study. In fact, sociology (as well as other disciplines) was partly technicalization, or formed a technical level. Different parts of sociology, in fact, were no longer at the same level, but straight through the series from philosophical level to technical level. In this case, insisting on differentiation between the levels had been outdated. And it was impossible to find anchor points of sociology in cross section. We must achieve compatibility between the different levels, in order to adhere to the comprehensiveness of sociology. This mean that we should connect the philosophical level, the specific science and humanities disciplines level, applications and technical level. It was both abstract and concrete. It had not only logical reasoning, but also experienced evidence. Link the upper and lower, which had depth and penetrating. This was a very attractive and challenging ideal goals and higher realm.
Modern scientific and academic, had gone through the era of disciplinary differentiation into disciplinary integration. “compatibility and connection” of this era, no longer solely relied on individual great scholars, but relied on the collaboration of academic community. This collaboration should have a few foundations: One was the diversity of specialization. A subject of course should pursue the specialization, but the specialization had different meanings in different times. In the time of the scientific development, if the subject was not specialized, then it had no independent status. But in the era of interdisciplinary synthesis, if blindly stick to the original sense of specialization, it might lose many development opportunities. Specialization cannot be confused with uniformity in the method. On the contrary, specialization, diversity and diversification, always went hand in hand. Only in the diversification was specialization the truly meaningful. That was to say, in the research community, we must aggregate multiple areas of knowledge and perspective. Next was standardization. Standardization was conducive to the definition of academic issues, academic accumulation, comparison and exchange. In the case of many fields collaborative research, standardization was essential. So far, we did not do enough in the standardization area. However, standardization must conducive to stimulating the freedom creativity and freedom expression of thought rather than hamper it. Standardization cannot flow in the stylization, even not stereotyped. In the promotion of standardization, the standardization was cause of depressed subjects. The third was the formation of school. School was a group of researchers or generations of researchers, it focused on a problem from different angles, different areas of knowledge, resulting in an academic community that used the common concepts, methods and analytical perspectives. Foreign Vienna School, Copenhagen School, Frankfurt School was the case. Thus, in the field of social development theory, if we could continue to persist, setup certain objectives, result in a common concept, methods and analysis perspective, it was possible to create a school of social development theory for China.
Li Wei: Male, doctor degree, associate researcher, director of social development research office of Sociology Institute in Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Translated by Xu Qiyuan.
Translated by Xu Qiyuan.
Editor: Wang Daohang