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LIA’s French Opening Ceremony : 2nd Conference’s Presentation « Uncertainties, Social Conflict and Mobilizations in China and in Europe »

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According to Beck European societies have entered a second phase of modernity characterised by the need to face up simultanously to processes of individualisation, underemployment and environmental and financial risks at a global level. However, this second phase of modernity cannot be considered without also taking account of the various forms of modernity in other parts of the world. From this point of view, the second phase of modernity can be considered only in conjunction with the modernity of other societies, such as Chinese society.

While conflicts are emerging between different orders of recognition in European and Chinese societies, at the same time spaces of social recomposition are emerging in which individual and collective identities are being reconstructed in contexts of strain and tension. We can say that the processes of domination that have been extensively investigated in European sociology area now being investigated in Chinese sociology at a number of different levels. Thus the apparatuses of domination may be described as instituteed and reticular and as dispersed and multi-sited. The multiple modernities also contain forms of sub- jectivity situated in different societal spaces. Processes of individuation are very pronounced in European societies and emerging in China ; in both societies, individus are facing situations characterised by inequalities and paradoxical injunctions, which are produced by radically dif- ferent political and economic histories. They are confronted by double-bind situations generated by different societies, also become actors in order to manage their ‘blurred’ identities and become involved in processes of social reconstruction. Capabilities influence the ways in which these stocks of resources are reconstructed and the forms that reconstruction takes.

In Western Europe, for example, individuals are increasingly constructing their identities around a multiplicity of roles and affiliations linked to a diverse range of socialisation spaces. However, hierarchies of inequalities have proliferated and the forms of access to government of self have become increasingly differentiated. Strong tensions between differentiation and social integration run through Chinese society, reflecting a mode of entry into a form of modernity linked to the market economy. A capitalist order that sets those best endowed with social, economic and cultural resources against those least well endowed with such resources has been super- imposed on top of a socialist order. The ‘class struggle’ and the ‘struggle for position’ have become jumbled together rather than succeeding one another, as they would have done in Western Europe. Against this background, a process of individuation has become established in Chinese society through the weakening of collective structures and the declared egalitarianism of socialist ideology, leading to ever increasing inequalities ; and while affirmation of the process of individuation also means freedom of choice and increased risk, subjectivity does not yet appear to be a collective issue in Chinese society, although it is gradually emerging.Retour ligne automatique
Some of the individuals who experience the moral ordeal of contempt and are thus refused certain forms of social recognition develop forms of collective resistance. They bring to light a social struggle that takes the form of a practical process in the course of which individual experiences of ‘dis- tancing’ and contempt are collectively reinterpreted. Situations in which entire populations are ‘distanced’ may in turn give rise to conflicts, social movements and riots. However, while they may regen- erate social affiliations, they may also produce new forms of social exclusion.

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