Civilization and its Conceptualizations in Ethnology, Social Anthropology, and Sociology

Civilization and its Conceptualizations in Ethnology, Social Anthropology, and Sociology

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Journal of China in Comparative Perspective > Vol.3 > Issue 1 > Page 44-71

Civilization and its Conceptualizations in Ethnology, Social Anthropology, and Sociology

Wang Mingming

Journal of China in Comparative Perspective (JCCP) is the only peer-reviewed academic dual language journal for social scientific, humanities and comparative studies of China in the world, published biannually in June and December in print and electronic versions from 2015 by the Global China Press. Electronic articles can be accessed online from the JCCP website after you have subscribed to the journal. For institutions, we will need your IP address/es, either on-campus, off-campus or both.

JCCP DOI https://doi.org/10.24103/JCCP Crossref

DOI https://doi.org/10.24103/JCCP.2017.1.4

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Abstract

Part of this paper was written as the “Presentation of the Theme” at the academic forum “Cross-Civilization Interactions: The Perspective of Chinese Ethnology” held by the Ethnology and Sociology Institute of Xinjiang Normal University on 18-21 November 2013, while the rest of its content was presented as a lecture with the same title at the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences on 15 April 2014. This paper looks at the different definitions of the concept of civilization in Western learning in an historical and archeological context, especially the two definitions of “single or multiple” civilizations that emerged in the 18th and 19th century, and how ethnology, social anthropology, and sociology wavered between them a hundred years later. The aim of this article is to sort out the history of a pre-existent concept; however, this does not mean only summarizing the history, which hardly contains the author’s interpretive orientation. Borrowing from this configuration, I define civilization as a supra-societal system, also providing a further explanation of what a supra-social system is, while also implicitly pointing out that, since supra-social systems are part of all societies, the nationalities face a double issue – their relationship with the regional and world systems beyond them, and their relationship with the civilization intrinsic to but as well beyond them, which represent a heavy burden for them.

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Wang Mingming, Professor of Anthropology at Peking University, China

Cite this article

Wang Mingming
Civilization and its Conceptualizations in Ethnology, Social Anthropology, and Sociology
Journal of China in Comparative Perspective
Vol.3 Issue 1. 2017, p44-71
DOI https://doi.org/10.24103/JCCP.2017.1.4
Crossref

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