Poverty, Shame and Ethics in Contemporary China
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Taking China as a critical case, this article questions recent literature that asserts that shame attached to poverty is both ubiquitous and always problematic. In China, the concepts of shame, loss of face, lian (integrity) and mian (reputation) once provided an ethical framework under which the existence of poverty both indicated ineffective governance and provided individuals in poverty with opportunities to demonstrate virtuous behaviour in coping with life’s hardships. Maoist rhetoric went further presenting poor peasants as national heroes albeit the outcome of Maoist policies was often to hurt the most disadvantaged most. Subsequent marketisation has transformed poverty into a manifestation of personal failing with poverty-related shame having the same likely negative consequences as found elsewhere.
CitationYANG, L., & WALKER, R. (2020). Poverty, Shame and Ethics in Contemporary China. Journal of Social Policy, 49(3), 564-581. doi:10.1017/S0047279419000667
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