Sociology as the Study of Civilization

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No. 12, 2021


Sociology as the Study of Civilization



Qu Jingdong


The founding fathers of sociology all used the civilizing process of modernity as a starting point for their provision of an empirically grounded holistic analysis and judgment of the overall character of social construction. The emergence of Chinese sociology and the way questions are raised in the course of its academic progress have always been closely linked to the overall structure of Chinese civilization in terms of its intellectual foundations, institutional forms, cultural patterns, national identity and political framework, and also to the way in which China interacted with and communicated with the world and their mutual shaping. In this regard, the intellectual approaches and problem horizons of the classical Western sociologists, rather than giving us a path to follow and defining the way we think, have inspired, through their extraordinary intellectual efforts, the spectacular intellectual landscape that Chinese sociology presents at the point where its own civilization meets and collides with the modern world. At present, the development of Chinese society is facing an era unprecedented in world history. Sociological studies in China should take on the mission given by the times and incorporate into its perspectives those elements of civilization that have played and are still playing a living role in the evolution of society, and should take a long-term view of what is happening in China and the world. If Chinas modernization quest is to be elevated from the theoretical level to the level of the fundamental human condition and is to create a new form of human civilization, sociology in China needs to break new ground while returning to the classical realm.