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Abstract

The article investigates the recent (2000–2019) mainland Chinese historiography on the Sinocentric tributary system of the Míng and Qīng periods (1368–1912). The theoretical approach of the article is based on Foucauldian discourse theory, as well as Chinese theoretical scholarship on the evolution of Chinese thought. Its methodology is primarily based on Reiner Keller’s sociological discourse research method. The main body of the article is structured upon the major fields of argumentation of the discourse, identified by the author as “the validity of the term ‘tributary system,’” “the tributary system and pre-modern Chinese culture,” “the tributary system and Míng-Qīng Chinese socio-economic history,” and “the tributary system and the regional political order.” The article argues that the ‘discursive struggle’ in recent historiography on the tributary system is primarily a result of its contested interpretation and evaluation under current dominant framings of an ideal international order—one centred around the principles of national sovereignty and “win-win” economic cooperation.

Abstract

Both China and Korea face different stages of national income inequality as well as distinctive structures in their income distribution. However, not only do levels and structures of income inequality differ in China and Korea, but their measures to tackle income inequality inherently differ. This article investigates how the Chinese and Korean governments respond to income inequality in their countries by analysing fiscal policy on both the expenditure and taxation fronts. The findings show that both China and Korea have increased their redistributive efforts in the recent past; however, Korea’s commitment to tackling income inequality is stronger than that of China. Moreover, this article finds evidence for distinctive strategies for reducing income inequality in China and Korea. Responding to large income disparities at the bottom of the income distribution spectrum, the Chinese government tackles income inequality by supporting low income earners and reducing the tax burden for low income brackets. In contrast, given Korean income inequality can be largely explained by relatively large top income shares, the redistributive policy incorporates newly introduced social benefits excluding top income earners as well as income taxes aimed at the top of the income spectrum.

Abstract

Irrigated agriculture has the potential to ensure food security, contribute to sustainable management, and preserve freshwater resources. At the same time, it is connected to problems such as water scarcity, environmental degradation and pollution, and poverty. This so-called “wicked” nature is addressed by comparatively analysing the strategies used for water governance in irrigated agriculture. To highlight its cross-sectoral nature, the concept of cross-sectoral alignment is introduced based on three governance criteria. The Southeast Asian countries of Malaysia and Vietnam are used to compare strategies as their differing political systems may lead to varying strategies and can thus offer greater insight into regional water management practices. The analysis suggests that the governance strategies used for irrigated agriculture have many similarities but also distinct differences. In particular, the influence of ODA in Vietnam as well as the way farmers are included in water management stand out in regards to the differences. Similar, however, are organisational set-ups, sectoral fragmentation, and insufficient supply of participatory mechanisms as well as generally low alignment across all categories. In consideration of the global importance of water management practices, only the aligned management of freshwater resources can increase environmental health and food security in the long term.

Abstract

The article expounds and compares two representative contemporary psychotherapeutic approaches which grew out of the Buddhist cultural heritage of Japan and have proved successful in dealing with mental disorders in both Eastern and Western countries. Morita and Naikan therapies are regularly discussed and evaluated together as their compatibility and belongingness are unquestionable facts, even though they appeared at different times and in different milieus. One emerged from the clinical practice of a psychiatric department at a Tōkyō hospital where patients with neurasthenia were being treated, while the other appeared in rural Nara as a transformed version of an ancient ascetic tradition which aimed to assist devoted Buddhists attaining enlightenment. The article investigates the similarities and differences that form the foundations of the metaphysical, ethical, and therapeutic presuppositions of both therapies, pointing out the degree of their compatibility, and the possibility of conceiving a unified ethical framework for them.

Abstract

The shrinking of Japan’s rural areas, caused partly by continuous out-migration of younger people to the major cities, is an amply discussed topic in Japanese society and popular media. Even though a certain trend of counter-urbanisation exists despite larger depopulation patterns, many of these migrants do not stay permanently and therefore cannot contribute to sustaining rural areas in the long term. Previous studies argue that considering each community’s characteristics is important in order to find possible ways to sustain rural areas and attract new residents. Therefore, this study focuses on the case of Aso City, aiming to clarify the criteria that makes migration to Aso City appealing or unappealing, and to identify the factors responsible for enabling (or complicating) the act of permanently settling there. In order to do so, the author conducted a survey in Aso City using semi-structured interviews. While the beauty of the natural surroundings, quality of life, and social connectedness are the main positive qualities of Aso City, its infrastructure, demographic development, and economic situation are assessed more negatively by its residents. Further, this study shows that the better a person’s local social connections upon arrival, the more likely they are to find a place to live and work, and stay on a long-term basis. In order to attract new residents to rural areas and support their permanent settlement, it is important to help them obtain the resources necessary for settling and assist their transition into the social structure of the community.

Abstract

This article comparatively analyses the Japanese and South Korean governments’ measures directed at embracing the economic opportunities held by a growing elderly population. As highlighted in the literature review, no overarching framework for creating a global ageing strategy has been formulated to date, despite a noteworthy set of activities aimed at capturing the potential of an ageing population. By examining the strategic action plans and policies of these two East Asian countries through a general set of criteria (actors and plans, contributors and factors, actions and content), a possible universal approach is evaluated. The analysis concludes that the respective governmental measures are characterised by great similarity, reflecting the intervention possibilities of similarly structured democracies in related fields. Most notable similarities include the targeting of the small and medium enterprise sector for innovation in newly emerging industries and markets, an improvement of the research and development environment, and the evaluation of social transformations for the development of strategic solutions. The sectorial focus lies on information and communication technology solutions, artificial intelligence and robotics, and additionally focuses on health and medical care devices, as well as on devices facilitating independent living and mobility.

Abstract

This article provides an overview of the major existing scholarship pertaining to childhood religion in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). More specifically, it examines lived childhood religion in a rural village in Gānsù province. This article challenges the commonly preconceived notion that children in the PRC do not regard religious belief as important and simply mirror the religious practices of their guardians. By utilising ethnographic data, I argue that children in the PRC are capable of constructing their own unique form of lived religion that is informed by, but crucially distinct from, the religious beliefs and practices of adults. The practices and beliefs of this lived religion can be extremely important to children and the evidence from fieldwork suggests that they tend to take both their practice and belief very seriously.

Abstract

This study challenges the common belief that the ‘Trump tariffs’ are protectionist or a deliberate attack on China, the USA’s economic rival. By focusing specifically on Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 and equating its use to Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, this study instead demonstrates how the U.S. administration is actively repurposing protectionist laws to function as unilateral enforcement tools. Thus, this study argues that the tariffs enacted on steel and aluminium in 2018 under the guise of national security are not meant to protect the domestic market or to hurt the Chinese, but rather to ‘protect’ the ability of U.S. businesses to make profits abroad. By contrasting the justification for the tariffs to factual application, China is not identified as a target but rather as a convenient fig leaf. The article goes into further detail to demonstrate how the U.S. (ab)uses these tariffs during negotiations with South Korea, Japan, and other nations and finds multiple examples of how others have been affected significantly more than China. Here, the article describes how U.S. officials have mastered the art of simultaneously creating leverage, exchanging it for concessions, and keeping it.

What We Choose Not to Know and Why
Collected papers