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“Compressed modernity” and Chinese temporalities

« Compressed modernity » et temporalités chinoises

"Temporalités" journal n°26 (2017/2)

Revue « Temporalités » n° 26 (2017/2)

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Published on Tuesday, November 08, 2016


Chinese social science is largely ignored in the Western world, precisely at a time in which scientific knowledge travels along new epistemological lines within a globalized context. The Western way of thinking is opening up to the Chinese way, though, and new horizons appear as it becomes impossible, in a context of cultural globalization, to ignore continental China. In this issue of Temporalités, we will analyse, in China, the societal realities produced by, and with, Chinese temporalities related to a “compartmentalized compressed modernity”.



Chinese social science is largely ignored in the Western world, precisely at a time in which scientific knowledge travels along new epistemological lines within a globalized context. The Western way of thinking is opening up to the Chinese way, though, and new horizons appear as it becomes impossible, in a context of cultural globalization, to ignore continental China. Social science in China has been reconstructed since 1979, reflecting its true specificities associated with the history of Chinese thought, the complexity of the societal context and the proximity to European sociologies (Roulleau-Berger, Guo Yuhua, Li Peilin, Liu Shiding, 2008). To begin with, Western social science has indeed been influencing the way Chinese sociology has reinvented itself but soon enough, Chinese sociologists have gradually liberated themselves of European ways of thinking by building theories, postures and methods which stand along with, or even against European ones. Various intellectual legacies and specific theoretical perspectives now overlap and intertwine in today’s Chinese social science. Paradigms shift and hybridize while ethnocentric postures are rejected, Western intellectual templates are resisted and an effectively “situated” thought is brought forward – while European sociologies seem to have trouble incorporating extraneous ways of thinking (Roulleau-Berger, 2011, 2016).

When we assume that a situation, a process or a pattern is situated in a certain space and a certain temporality, it advises, always, of the existence and the nature of other spaces and other temporalities. Cultural globalization processes participate in the erratic flow of scientific knowledge, specifically in the field of social science, which all give way to a more universal, less hegemonic kind of sociology, which incorporates the outlooks of European, Asian, Arab, African… societies on each other. In China, intellectuals got involved in a struggle for the recognition of academic work made invisible by the effects of Western domination, and perceived as inferior to Western-produced work. Production centres of sociological knowledge have thus emerged in China, based on a unique societal experience of temporalitites.

What kind of societal experience is that? In the Chinese experience, in a context of “compartmentalized compressed modernity”–as Chang Kyung Sup puts it (2010)– industrialization and urbanization processes have sped up in the last few years, creating clashes between economical and social sequences thought of as related to a first modernity, and others related more to a second modernity, as Ulrich Beck puts it (1999). In this issue of Temporalités, we will analyse, in China, the societal realities produced by, and with, Chinese temporalities related to a “compartmentalized compressed modernity”. Chinese, European and international academicals are encouraged to study the characteristics of temporalities in big cities, in labour, in mobilities, in migrations…

1/ The building of Chinese cities has created social, ecological and environmental risks, which in turn create new inequalities (Sun Liping, 2003), vulnerabilities but also more or less constrained solidarities which induce new forms of collective action and social movements (Liu Neng, 2009 a and b). How is spatial justice dealt with in China? How does the Chinese State deal with these urban risks which create collective fears in big cities? Where, how, and following what kind of temporal conditions do fragilized social groups face social, ecological, sanitary or food-related risks?

2/ Physical and moral violence in the Chinese local or global labour market, where most workers are put under stress and experience social disqualification or non-recognition, induces fractures, pain, and identity breakage but also increasingly organized and repeated collective involvement. Why, today, does a category of Chinese workers tolerate these violent situations at work? How does the individuation of professional relationships modify professional and interpersonal temporal relationships while undoing traditional solidarities and bygone guanxis (Yang Yiyin, 2012) for the sake of excellency and success?

3/ The acceleration of economical and social times also induces spatial flows, with the increasing diversity and differentiation of internal and international migrations today (Li Peilin et Roulleau-Berger, 2013). The injunction to become flexible on the Chinese labour markets creates a great number of intracontinental mobilities, based upon the ambition and great skills, particularly of the young generations. Within the context of a “compartmentalized compressed modernity”, internal and international migrations in China showcase the processes of “downwards levelling” or “upwards levelling”. How do the temporalities related to this “oriental” modernity produce multi-situated individuals in a plurality of economical, social and symbolic spaces?

Starting from the study of “compressed modernities” and of Chinese temporalities in the above mentioned fields, what is at stake is indeed the international recognition of a non-hegemonic knowledge. We will see how new centres and new vicinities of knowledge form, how new hierarchies discreetly appear, which produce competition and rivalry of knowledge within a globalized context.

Submission guidelines

Authors should send their proposals for papers to the coordinators of the issue: Laurence Roulleau-Berger (Laurence.Roulleau-Berger@ens-lyon.fr) and Liu Neng (liun@pku.edu.cn)— with a copy to the editorial secretariat (temporalites@revues.org).

The proposal, including a title and a one-page abstract, in French and in English, of the proposed paper (5,000 characters maximum), as well as the name, the contact address and institutional affiliation of the author, should be send before December 16, 2016.

Procedures: http://temporalites.revues.org/3459

Instructions to authors: http://temporalites.revues.org/3462


  • Submission of proposals (5,000 characters maximum): 15 December 2016

  • Reply from coordinators: 15 January 2017
  • Submission of papers (50,000 characters maximum): 15 April 2017
  • Feedback following appraisal by referees: 1 June 2017
  • Submission of revised version: 1 September 2017
  • Submission of final version: 15 October 2017
  • Publication: December 2017 


  • Beck, U, 1999. World Risk Society, Polity Press
  • Beck, U., Grande, E, 2010, Varieties of second modernity: the cosmopolitan turn in social and political theory and research. The British Journal of Sociology. 61(3): 409-444
  • Bhargava, R., 2013, « Pour en finir avec l’injustice épistémique du colonialisme », Socio, n° 1, mars 2013, pp. 41-77.
  • Caille, A., Dufoix, S., 2013, Le tournant global des sciences sociales, Paris, La Découverte.
  • Chang Kyung-Sup. 2010. “The second modern condition? Compressed modernity as internalized reflexive cosmopolitization”. The British Journal of Sociology. 61 (3): 444-465.
  • Han, S.-J., Shim, Y.-H. 2010. “Redefining second modernity for East Asia: a critical assessment”. The British Journal of Sociology, 61(3): 465-488.
  • Li Peilin, 2008, Zhongguo Shehuixue de chansheng (La production de la sociologie chinoise ), in Li PeilinLi Qiang, Ma Rong (eds) : Shehuixue he zhongguo shehui, Sociologie et sociologie chinoise, Pékin, Shehui kexue wenxian chubanshe.
  • LiPeilinRoulleau-Berger, L. 2013. China’s internal and International Migration,Oxon and New York: Routledge Publishers.
  • Liu Neng,. 2009a. “Collective Actions in Changing Contemporary Chinese Society: An Overview of Three Waves of Collective Actions in the Last Three Decades”. Academia Bimestris. 2009 (4): 146-152.
  • Liu Neng 2009b. “Social Movements Theory: Paradigmatic Shifts and Its Relevance with Contemporary Chinese Field of Social Research”. The Journal of Jiangsu Administration Institute. 2009 (4): 76-82.
  • Patel, S., 2013, Towards Internationalism: Beyond Colonial and Nationalist Sociologies, in Kuhn, M., Yasawa, S., Theories about and stratégies against hegemonic social sciences, Center for glocal Studies Seijo University, Seijo, pp 119-133.
  • Roulleau-Berger, L., Guo Yuhua, Li Peilin, Liu Shiding, 2008, La nouvelle sociologie chinoise, Editions du CNRS, Paris.
  • Roulleau-Berger, L., 2011, Désoccidentaliser la sociologie : l’Europe au miroir de la Chine, La Tour d’Aigues, Editions de l’Aube.
  • Roulleau-Berger, L. and Li Peilin (eds), 2012, European and Chinese Sociologies. A new dialogue, Brill Publishers, Leiden and Boston.
  • Roulleau-Berger, L., 2016, Post-Western Revolution in Sociology. From China to Europe, Brill Publishers, Leiden and Boston.
  • Shen Yuan, 2011. Nonmingong jeiju de lishi mongyun ( Historic destiny of migrant workers’s class) pp. 109-116 in Jiangang: Xingounren jieji: guanxi, zuzhi yu jiti xindong, New Working class: relationship, organizing and collective actions, eds. G.H. Zheng and J. A. Zhu. Guangzhou: Zhongshan University.
  • Sun Liping. 2003. Duanlie : Er shi shiji jiushi niandai yilai de Zhongguo shehui (Fractures : Chinese society since the 1990’s). Beijing: Shehui kexue wenxian chubanshe.
  • Yang Yiyin. 2012. “Guanxilization and Categorization: Theoretical Considerations Based on Two Case Studies”, in Roulleau-Berger, L., Li, Peilin,European and Chinese Sociologies. A new dialogue, Leiden, Boston: Brill Publishers, p. 163-177.


  • Thursday, December 15, 2016


  • compressed modernity, temporalités, Chine, accélération, mondialisation, mobilité, ville, marché, savoir non-hégémonique


  • François Théron
    courriel : francois [dot] theron [at] uvsq [dot] fr

Information source

  • François Théron
    courriel : francois [dot] theron [at] uvsq [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« “Compressed modernity” and Chinese temporalities », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, November 08, 2016, https://doi.org/10.58079/w2m

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