China as a Complex Risk Society

This paper analyzes post-Mao China as a complex risk society in which social, economic, and ecological risk syndromes pertaining to highly diverse levels and systems of development are manifested simultaneously. Complex risk society is a theoretical extension of Ulrich Beck’s thesis on risk society, focusing on complex developmental temporalities that are pervasively symptomatic of rapidly but asymmetrically developing political economies. In my earlier study, Korea was defined as a complex risk society in which risk syndromes of developed, undeveloped, and compressively developing societies are concurrently generated. In the current study, post-Mao China is also analyzed as a complex risk society which is, in fact, more complex than Korea. Paradoxically, due to its explosive development in the post-Mao era which even dwarfs Korea, China is now confronted by all of its capitalist neighbour’s risk syndromes. Besides, due to its so-called gradual approach to reform, China is beset with a complicated mix of socialist and post-socialist syndromes of risks. Gradual reform is in practice a sort of peripatetic pluralism in economic and social reform for maximizing developmental utilities of all types of human, material, and institutional resources—a policy line inevitably accompanied by similarly plural sources and factors of social, economic, and ecological risks. The unprecedented temporal and systemic complexity in China’s risk structure has crucial implications for the country’s much deplored tendency for inequalities. In particular, class inequalities and regional disparities seem to be manifest in risk dimensions no less critically than in material dimensions. The state’s developmentalism alone is no solution for risk complexities or inequalities.
Keywords China   Chine   complex risk society   compressed modernity   desigualdad   developmental temporalities   gradual reform   inequality   inégalités   modernidad comprimida   reforma gradual   réforme graduelle   sociedad de riesgo compleja   société du risque complexe   system transition   temporalidades del desarrollo   temporalités du développement   transición sistémica   transition systémique  modernité compressée
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